Tag Archives: news

Account of Bloomington’s May Day 2015

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Received from BACF and transmitted:

Last Friday, May First, hundreds of activists from Bloomington gathered at the Indiana University Sample Gates and took to the streets to celebrate International Worker’s Day. This holiday, known as May Day has been celebrated across the world since 1886 in honor of the struggle of labor against capitalism. The first May Day occurred in Chicago as a general strike of hundreds of thousands of workers demanding the eight hour day. Three days later in Haymarket Square,a large gathering in support of the strike was attacked by the police, in the confusion a bomb was thrown into the crowd killing several people. The Chicago police arrested and falsely accused several anarchist activists of the bombing, some of whom were executed or imprisoned. Since then, May Day has been an international symbol of resistance for socialists, anarchists and communists alike. The U.$. and its capitalist government has done everything in its power to erase May Day from the collective memory of the working class, but here in Bloomington in solidarity with others across the nation we took a step toward reclaiming what rightfully belongs to us!

This May Day held special significance as the attention of the masses has been drawn to the Baltimore Uprising as the latest example of mass resistance to capitalist state repression. This fact was not lost on us, and our plan to reclaim May Day quickly became an opportunity to unite the struggle against police violence with the struggle against capitalism by holding a Memorial for Freddie Gray at the conclusion of the May Day march. Our hopes for this endeavor were exceeded by the impressive turnout to both the May Day Rally and the Freddie Gray Memorial. Activists from various student and community organizations opened lines of communication that have put into motion plans to address policing and labor rights in Bloomington.

Both demonstrations took to the streets after a short rally, marching down the middle of Kirkwood avenue and back up Third Street past the Bloomington Police Department. Demonstrators carried signs inscribed with messages of “All Power to Labor” and “Black Lives Matter” side by side, indicating the unity of these struggles. Both marches blocked intersections turning ownership of the streets to us, making our message unavoidable. This experience was significant for the power of its expression but also for teaching us about the efficacy of certain tactics. We have learned that the tactics of demonstrating and marching must be suited to the cohesion of the crowd and the way the political message is mediated by national events. These are the conditions which made the marches, especially the second, successful.

Despite these minor errors, the large turnout and opening of lines of communication have created a foundation on which we can build. Those who spoke at the May Day rally helped make it clear that all struggles against oppression are aspects of the class struggle. We believe we have helped to bring this idea to the Bloomington community. For us, this is only a beginning but it was a strong one. We would like to thank everyone who attended the two demonstrations Friday for your participation and solidarity. We would also like to thank all those groups and individuals who assisted us in spreading the word, you were absolutely essential to drawing a crowd that large in such short notice.
Bloomington Anti-Capitalist Front

Tweets from IU Student Detained in Egypt

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It sucks that these tweets will probably be used against Luke Gates, an IU student studying abroad in Cairo who was recently detained by Egyptian police for allegedly participating in recent riots, but they sure are great.  The detention of these three Americans seems like a weak attempt on the part of the Egyptian military to de-legitimize the protests, or blame the riots on “outside agitators.”  We’d like to subvert their intentions by using this opportunity to draw connections between the struggles in Egypt and our struggles here in Indiana and the U.S. more broadly.  Total solidarity with the accused!

From CBS news:

In his Twitter account, one of the three U.S. students detained by Egyptian military admits throwing rocks during the Tahrir Square protests and complains about his eyes stinging from tear gas, the shock of seeing dead bodies and hurting his knee and arm in a crowd surge.

Luke Gates, 21, an exchange student from Bloomington, Indiana, is one of three U.S. students detained by Egyptian military for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails during the protests at Egypt’s Tahrir Square. Gates is a junior with a double major in political science and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

In his tweets, which ended Nov. 21, Gates runs the gamut of youthful anguish – “College is such a joke,” “What are you doing seriously?” and “I just don’t want to feel anymore.”

He also appears to get swept up in the excitement of the protests:

    • Nov. 21: reports of tear gas being fired from AUC campus on Tahrir, university officials have started investigating
    • Nov. 20: back to tahrir tonight, as police set fires to everything, no doubt they will blame it on protesters
    • Nov. 20: earlier tonight rubber bullets a charge and then a retreat, my knee and elbow are f***ed up #toolegit seeing all of this #tahrir
    • Nov. 19: 6 hours at tahrir, enough tear gas for tonight
    • Nov. 19: we were throwing rocks and one guy accidentally threw his phone =(
    • Nov. 19: now class? ugh. my arm is sore and my eyes still burn a little
    • Nov. 19: saw them hanging from the bridge, and you realize death is the only thing thats immortal
    • Nov. 19: its only scary cuz i feel so reckless
    • Nov. 19: yes live bullets we have the shells, i was here!!
    • Nov. 19: wish the protests in new york looked like the ones in tahrir. #pu***es

The three Americans attend the American University in Cairo as exchange students. The school, which sits on Tahrir Square, the central protest site, confirmed the students’ arrest. In addition to Gates, the other two students are Derrik Sweeney, from Georgetown University and Greg Porter from Drexel University.

Casualties of I-69

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I-69 construction is creating conditions that have led to deaths, severe injuries and extreme damage to property and aquifers in Daviess and Greene Counties.

On October 10, 2011, three Daviess County citizens were killed when a truck, hauling gravel for I-69 construction, slammed into two disabled vans, killing the two occupants of the vans and a farmer who was assisting at the scene.

On October 31, 2011, four people were seriously hurt when two trucks collided head-on near the US-231 interchange that is under construction for I-69.  A local resident confirmed that the accident occurred in the work zone for I-69. This site was the scene of another accident on 14 October, 2011.

Bloomington and IU Responding to #OccupyWallStreet

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Discussions have begun this weekend on IU’s campus regarding a local response to #OccupyWallStreet and similar protests springing up all over the United States.  In the “Occupy Bloomington” rendition, an interest in manifesting an anti-state, anti-capitalist project was put on the table, while managing to avoid or at least confront much of the nationalist and reformist jargon that has seeped its way into the discourse of the Zuccoti Park occupation.  Pretty interesting beginnings, we’re curious to see where this will lead…

So keep an eye out; we’ll be posting updates here from various sources.

There will be another meeting on Tuesday, October 4th at 7 pm in People’s Park (at Kirkwood and Grant in downtown Bloomington).

Suggestions were made that people coming to the meeting on Tuesday bring written position papers as to help clarify their positions to other people, either to be passed out, passed around or read to the group.  Also, the suggestion was made that people familiarize themselves with similar occupation-style protests, both currently in the United States as well as the plaza occupations that happened all over Europe earlier this summer in response to the debt crisis. 

Lockout at Local Plant Continues Over Retirement Negotiations

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Workers being hung out to dry by both their employers and their union bureaucrats: it’s business as usual.  However, we thought we’d highlight this particularly disgusting move by National Gypsum, located in Shoals, Indiana.  As  far as we’re aware, the lockout is now on it’s third week.

When asked if the other facilities could make up for the loss of product from the Shoals plant, Spurlock said, “Demand is very low now because of the housing recession.”

from Indiana Economic Digest

SHOALS — National Gypsum has locked workers out of its mine and plant in Martin County. At issue is the workers’ retirement package.

“We regret having to take this action, but we believe this is the next practical step towards reaching a contract agreement,” Greg Berry, plant manager, said in a prepared statement. “Our employees will return to work as soon as they can vote on a contract, and the contract is ratified. We believe our offer is fair and allows us to remain competitive and to continue to provide jobs and benefits to our associates for the long term. … We are looking forward to getting a contract approved by our associates and returning to normal operations in the near future.”

“Our members are standing up for the middle class,” said United Steel Worker District 7 Director Jim Robinson in a prepared statement. “This is not merely an issue for the shop floor today, but for future generations. They are unwilling to give away their children’s and grandchildren’s right to a secure retirement.”

Nancy Spurlock, a spokeswoman for National Gypsum, said the company and employees represented by the USW have not been able to agree on a retirement package.

The company’s offer splits employees by age.

Those age 40 and older would stay on the company’s traditional pension plan.

Those age 39 and younger would be put on a 401(k)-type plan.

In both cases, the company would contribute to the employee’s retirement package, she said. Employees would decide how to invest their 401(k) plans. Those plans also would be portable, meaning if an employee left the company, the money would go with him.

“All of our salaried employees have this plan,” she said, as do hourly workers at 33 of the company’s 36 locations.

Union officials said the membership at the local has been united in protecting the pension benefit plan.

“Replacing a defined benefit plan with a 401(k) plan with a non-binding employer match undermines an essential cornerstone of the middle class existence: the right to retire in dignity after delivering to an employer a career of loyal and productive work,” Robinson said.

National Gypsum is one of the largest gypsum wallboard producers in the United States. It operates 17 wallboard production plants and eight gypsum mines and quarries.

The Shoals plant and mine have been in production since 1956.

When asked if the other facilities could make up for the loss of product from the Shoals plant, Spurlock said, “Demand is very low now because of the housing recession.”

In all, 99 people work at the Shoals operation; 81 of them are union workers affected by the lockout, she said.