Category Archives: Action

Graffiti in Memory of Pipeline Resister, James Marker

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Reposted from It’s Going Down:

Last night we tagged a Duke Energy office with words “James Marker, #NoSabalTrail.” This was done in memory of James Leroy Marker, who was killed by Florida police after using a high powered rifle to sabotage the Sabal Trail Pipeline. Duke Energy is heavily invested in this pipeline and is therefore complicit in James Marker’s murder.

This fracked methane pipeline threatens unique ecosystems associated with the Floridan aquifer, including countless rivers, lakes and streams and the associated flora and fauna. Though this was but a small act, it serves as a reminder that pipeline resistance isn’t limited to construction sites or public rallies.

Vengeance for James Leroy Marker! Down with the pipeline and its world!

Taking on Murray

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Received and posted:

In the early afternoon on April 11th, 2017, students chalked outside of Franklin Hall: “Pseudo-science advances one racist at a time.” Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, would arrive at Indiana University that evening to present an invited lecture. At 4PM, the Indiana University Police Department (IUPD) began to set up gates around Franklin Hall in preparation. A crowd gathered as police lugged in large bags with riot gear: gas masks, helmets and face shields, combat gloves, batons.

Murray’s academic work has been pivotal in reawakening and legitimizing the pseudoscience of race. Rather than a critique of race rooted in a history of Western European colonialism and oppression, Murray offers us an account of intelligence and class structure that rests on a flimsy and ahistorical conceptualization of race. His book The Bell Curve argues that people of color and women are all inherently less intelligent than affluent white men. Murray weaves this claim into a framework of economic class, arguing that intellectual inferiority accounts for the economic class structure in which affluent white men dominate. Murray’s argument allows for intelligent women and people of color only as exceptions to the rule, intellectual elites on the peripheries of their respective demographics. Since the book’s publication in 1994, Murray has stood strong by the racist implications of his work in The Bell Curve, decrying Affirmative Action and other social welfare programs that seek to alleviate some of the struggles of poverty and working-class life. He has continued to publish white-supremacist and patriarchal works, such as his 2005 essay “Where are the female Einsteins?”.

Two hours after the fences were erected, President’s Hall — a cathedral-ceiling lecture hall in Franklin reserved for administrative meetings and esteemed guest speakers — became a platform for white supremacy, thinly-veiled in the rhetoric of science. The brick footpath under Indiana University’s iconic Sample Gates became a scene of police intimidation and, later, brutality. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and community members arrived to reject Murray’s academic work and his commitment to white supremacy, all disavowing the invitation he received to speak at IU.

Meanwhile, officers surveyed and photographed the crowd from the rooftop of the adjacent building. Another two cops, then three, hawkishly followed a person in black bloc.

Charles Murray’s lecture comes less than a week after dozens of students marched down Indiana Avenue to deliver a modest demand to the office of IU Provost Lauren Robel: provide social justice education and hire more faculty of color. Students have sworn to escalate the situation if these demands are not met in one week. The demand cites a resolution passed by the Bloomington Faculty Council (BFC), the University’s governing faculty body, exactly one year prior. The BFC resolved to hire more underrepresented faculty and to admit more students who receive Pell Grants. A year later, the BFC and Office of the Provost have provided only empty words, a slew of diversity statements and a buzz-word ridden responses to Donald Trump’s immigration ban. Their resolution to affect substantive, material change in the lives of marginalized students and faculty remains unfulfilled — to no one’s surprise.

The University administration’s apathy toward modest student demands made the silence surrounding Murray’s lecture all the more deafening. The talk remained unannounced, even to professors, staff, and students who would find their classes and labs on lockdown, until just a few days prior. On April 10th, the Media School and Political Science Department were notified for the first time that the IUPD would ticket and police the event, and that Franklin Hall would be heavily restricted and surveilled. 

A few days after the event, the organizers and funding sources behind Murray’s lecture are still largely unknown. The Political Science Department’s Tocqueville Program, directed by tenured professor Aurelian Craiutu, hosted and moderated the lecture, claiming some responsibility for inviting Murray. News sources (WFHB, WTHR, IndyStar) shifted a large share of the responsibility for Murray’s invitation to a student chapter of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, the AEI Executive Council. Yet, there is no AEI student organization registered with Indiana University, and unregistered student groups lack the ability to reserve on-campus spaces or fund university events.

As word of the lecture spread, the University responded by cloaking Murray’s invitation in free speech rhetoric, justifying the lecture under the need for a platform that respects all views. This justification, which manifested largely through a standardized response to criticism on Twitter, demonstrated the University’s willingness to adapt their liberal values to reproduce systems of oppression.

And yet, as of a week before the talk, Craiutu said in an interview that he was not sure whether they would even offer a Q&A session at the end of the talk. Students who attended the talk in dissent noted that there was a heavily-moderated Q&A; Craiutu and Murray took questions written on slips of paper and selected the ones they would answer.

Standing on a raised flower bed outside Franklin Hall, students from Students Against State Violence, the English Grad Student Solidarity group, Young Democratic Socialists, and UndocuHoosiers Bloomington addressed the crowd. They condemned the University’s student newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student (IDS), for repeatedly framing student protests as violent and unruly, in need of police to maintain order. These students asked their peers to look at the police, who came prepared with riot gear and zip ties and batons to protect Murray. They asked their peers to consider the destruction that Murray’s claims have wrought on marginalized students and communities, and they asked “Where is the violence really coming from?”

Students cheered, bearing signs that said “IU Betrayed Us”, “Decolonize IU”, and “IU, No Platform for White Supremacy”.

And then a dance party and noise demo broke out.

Students wheeled around a speaker on a small cart, passing out glow-stick bracelets and necklaces. Another brought a blonde wig, a cardboard cut-out of a Pepsi can, and a sign that read “Kendall Jenner Photo Booth”. Someone handed an officer a Pepsi. It erupted in a volcano of carbonated fizz, and the officer stormed off.

When a student inside reported that Murray moved to the far corner of the lecture hall away from the noise, the party moved seamlessly to that corner.

A little over an hour after it began, Murray’s lecture ended. Students crowded around the building’s exits, inserting their engagement with the guest speaker where the University, IUPD, Bloomington PD, and the Indiana State Police had denied it previously. Students flooded a small parking lot of police escort vehicles with their bodies. Others rallied around the southeast entrance, the northwest entrance, the east and west.  

On the northwest side, one IU staffer laid down in front of a car, blocking the only exit for nearly a dozen police vehicles. IUPD Lieutenant Andy Stephenson jeered at her: “When it gets crazy, all of your friends are going to leave you here alone.”

She knew better.

Another officer at the northwest exit told them that “Murray is long gone.” Students demanded proof, sending two students  and one staff member into Franklin Hall to see the “tunnels” he supposedly left through (there were none). Outside, students blocked the police motorcade, locking arms at the entrance to the lot, not letting any vehicle leave without all of its windows down. One student representative checked each car to make sure Charles Murray was not in the vehicle before letting it through the student barrier.

Moments later on the southeast side, a sleek black car crept off of Indiana Avenue onto the footpath that runs between the University’s iconic Sample Gates. Without warning, an officer violently shoved one young woman aside. She crumbled into hard ground, sustaining injuries to her hip and leg. The car crept forward, and Murray appeared through the front door of the building. He slithered into the car.

Police assaulted two more students to prevent any possibility of engagement with Murray, destabilizing students’ footing, throwing their bodies back into IU’s unforgiving red brick path. One student was shoved down three times without pause, not allowed to regain his balance until the falls made him light-headed. He would later report minor injuries to his ankles and wrists. But each student bounced back up and confronted police, shouting at them.

Officers detained another student, Eight O’Clock, who had been walking ahead of the car on the footpath, not engaging with officers or with the car. They held her for half an hour without providing a reason for her detainment. Escorted by police, she disappeared into Franklin Hall.

Murray disappeared, too, the black car speeding down the footpath, into campus.

In the moments that followed, students rallied to release their peer from police custody.  They shook the fence that police had set up hours prior, and they moved through its gaps, shouting “Let her go! Let her go!” At one point, students locked arms and advanced on police. The police retreated to the top steps of Franklin Hall.

Hours into protest and long after Murray left, the crowd continued to grow in support of Eight O’Clock. Students challenged the role of the police, their preparedness and willingness to assault students who showed up in dissent, their ability to unthinkingly protect a white supremacist.

Then Eight O’Clock appeared through Sample Gates; she was immediately encircled by her peers.

After rallies and disruptions and police assaults on students, dissonant stories poured out from the University and IDS, drawing their conclusions from police records and the administration’s rhetorical weapons of choice. The student experience had been lost: “no injuries” said the IDS, “a victory for free speech” said Provost Lauren Robel.

Professor’s Office Sabotaged During Murray Talk

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 Reposted from It’s Going Down:

While private security and cops from three different agencies were locking down and surrounding Franklin Hall on Tuesday night in defense of “scientist” and writer Charles Murray (who spews all manner of racist, misogynist, and oppressive ideas and “research”) and hundreds of Indiana University students, faculty, and others were gathered for a protest, we went to IU professor Aurelian Craiutu’s office to glue the locks and paint an anti-racist message.

Aurelian is the head of the Tocqueville Program – part of the Political Science Department – that invited Murray to speak at IU in order to explore, he said, the “Trump phenomenon.” Whatever the reason for the invitation, we abhor it. While we have no faith in the university, we do think that public figures like Charles Murray and the institutions and people who support him should be confronted. But those confrontations do not always have to take place on terrain that is presented to us. We don’t have to wait until a profiteering racist shows up on campus…or remain within the police barricades. While public opposition can be important, there is much that can be done when one is not surrounded on all sides by rows of police and cell phone cameras. Nor must we remain within the ideological terrain of the institutions regarding civility and the sanctity of property. Outrage at small acts of vandalism is laughable alongside the experience of so many students and others who are just now losing trust in the university that they expected to protect them. But now the interests and character of IU are made clear.

Shout out to all those who stood up against Murray, his supporters, and the massive police force assembled to protect him. Our anger didn’t subside when Murray was escorted off campus. One can move rather freely through many parts of campus. Glue is cheap. Let’s be creative.

J20 Black Bloc Reportback

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Reposted from It’s Going Down:

People worked their way out of the shadows to meet at People’s Park. Participants were handed complimentary gift bags which included a handout on safety in the streets, face and hand coverings, noisemakers, and other fun items for a night out on the town. It feels like a sign of the times that all of these tools were enthusiastically accepted and used by most people who received them. It doesn’t seem hard for people to understand that in order to fight this regime and its “Alt Right” foot soldiers, we need to begin to protect ourselves and each other.

Stickers put over parking meters

While the small, but energetic, crowd of around 30 took the streets shouting “Fuck Donald Trump”, crews broke off in relative ease to relax by each of the city’s parking meters down Kirkwood, the main street in town. The meters were decorated with stickers drawing connections between the meters and the police (meter money helps fund the BPD). Stickers decorated with “Don’t Feed the Pigs,” solidarity slogans with refugees and prisoners, anti-police and Trump messages were placed strategically on the solar panels that power the meters in an attempt to sabotage their functioning. And let’s just say the pigs will go a little hungrier these days as the locks on over 35 meters were disabled with glue and/or had their card and coin slots blocked with expanding foam.

Dumpster rolled into street

Dumpster tipped over in the street

But our bellies were full of rage! As the march approached the building of Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing, balls full of paint were passed throughout the march. Individuals threw a dozen paint balls at the building as chants went up against Trump and the national security apparatus he now controls. The School of Informatics and Computing is directly tied to the ever-increasing web of control that Obama has perfected over the past 8 years, and which Trump will now inherit. The department’s Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research is funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and prison profiteers Eli Lilly and Company; it has ties to the National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and it has connections to JP Morgan Chase and AT&T, Microsoft and IBM Life Sciences, and other architects of the open air prison in which we live.

IU School of Informatics hit with paint

Onwards towards the Monroe County Jail! But first, it seemed like the right time to drag a bank’s rolling dumpster into the street, overturn it, and scatter its contents. With the dumpster blocking traffic, we came upon the jail, which received a beautiful new paint job as the crowd rained paint balls down on its pristine Indiana limestone. People are sick of suffering as their friends and family are locked up by the pigs with the guns and the pigs with the gavels, and are ready to fight back. Freedom to the prisoners!

County Jail hit with paint

Metal trash cans, news boxes, sandwich boards, flares, and flash fireworks were thrown and brought into the street as we proceeded back down Kirkwood keeping cars at a safe distance from the crowd. Why waste our time getting in petty back and forths with bystanders or people when there are more fun things to do?

Banner reading: "For FREEDOM FROM the American Dream"

With streets blocked and the spirit of the crowd strengthened by the progression of attacks up to this point, individuals began kicking things up a notch. Multiple ATMs were smashed, a bank entrance was repainted, and a bank window was smashed. We know that the coming years will require much of us. We have many skills to develop, projects to create, and social spaces to liberate. But without a capacity to fight – to attack those who want to murder, imprison, and deport us – our struggle will remain forever on the defensive. Last night showed that caring for each other, getting organized, being courageous, challenging our self-imposed boundaries, and attacking our oppressors is not only possible, but joyous, playful, transformative, and effective.

Banner: "All We Want Is Total Freedom"

As the march hit its end, we made our way to IU’s sample gates where a smoke bomb was let off and people dispersed into the night laughing and celebrating. Day one of the Trump administration, day one of a new terrain of revolt and social struggle. We have only begun to fight.

smoke cannister

New Year’s Eve Banner Drops

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Reposted from Plain Words:

Breaking away from the jail demo tradition, we kicked off the new year with something fresh and exciting. At the stroke of midnight we dropped four banners and let five thousand fliers rain down from two downtown parking garages. United with friends, we reveled in the togetherness we will carry with us into the new year. 2016 was shitty and we expect that 2017 will be as well; however, we recognize the need to continue fighting. With these modest acts, we sharpened coordination practices that we will need in the coming months and years. Each of the banners reflects an element of our revolt we intend to strengthen and spread over the next year – combative memory for our fallen fighters, solidarity with our imprisoned comrades, determination to continue fighting no matter what is thrown at us, and struggle against immediate manifestations of power.

As December ends, we also take time to remember the lives of our fallen warriors. William Avalon Rodgers was an Earth liberationist who took his own life on December 21, 2005 while in jail awaiting trial on arson charges. Kuwasi Balagoon was a former Black Panther, fighter in the Black Liberation Army, bisexual, and anarchist who died in prison from medical neglect due to AIDS-related illness on December 13, 1986.

December 2016 marks 11 years since Avalon’s death and 30 since Kuwasi’s. We will not allow those who sacrificed everything for freedom to be forgotten. As we continue our struggles against Power, we keep alive the memory of Kuwasi, Avalon, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, Sebastián Oversluij, Lambros Foundas, Mauricio Morales, Feral Pines, and all of our other comrades who have passed on. Memory, like fire, burns our enemies and keeps us warm.

We are consistently inspired by Marius Mason’s spirit and take strength from each of his paintings, poems, and letters. In an attempt to return the favor, we also chose to highlight his acts this New Year’s Eve. For many years, Marius lived and took action in Bloomington and we intend to maintain the passion and fighting spirit that he once embodied here.

As a quaint college town and liberal bastion in a red state, Bloomington’s iteration of state violence often takes the form of closing off public space to undesirable populations to maintain a sterile, commerce-friendly environment. One of the primary targets of this cleansing is the sizable homeless population. The city has deployed social worker cops, signs discouraging giving money to people on the street, and several new security cameras in popular hangouts like People’s Park. Despite their language of safety and compassion, we know that the city government has no interest in genuine solutions to the problems of poverty, unaffordable housing, and addiction; in reality, it exists to manage and police the conditions that create these problems. We have made a choice to not fall for the soft policing of the non-profits and charities that are in the pocket of the city.

Whatever 2017 brings, we plan to face it head on.