Recent events have made it clear just how serious repression is likely to get in the near future. As yesterday’s mass arrest in London shows, repression during the Olympics is likely to be very widespread, targeting anyone who even looks like they might do something out of line. It’s understandable for people’s attention to be drawn to the security circus around the games, but it’s worth being aware that right now the American state is taking a different course, specifically cracking down on anarchists. This week, three houses were raided in Portland, and subpoenas served to a number of individuals in Portland, Olympia and Seattle, summoning them to appear at a grand jury on Thursday August 2nd. This follows on from more house raids in Seattle earlier in July, and is clearly one aspect of the broader project of repression that’s seen the FBI setting up fake terror plots. The FBI’s search warrant states that they are looking to seize items which may be evidence regarding the crimes of conspiracy to destroy government property, interstate travel with intent to riot, and conspiracy to travel interstate with intent to riot. Those items include: Clothing and related items worn during commission of offenses; paint; sticks and flags similar to those used or carried during the commission of the offenses, and material for making flags; anti-government or anarchist literature, documentation or communications related to the offenses, flares, computers or electronic storage media of any kind.
So, anti-government or anarchist literature, paint, black hoodies, and material for making flags are all evidence of crimes now. For those of you who aren’t aware what a grand jury is, they’re pretty serious shit. The famous Fifth Amendment, which gives you the right to silence, doesn’t apply to them; in fact, it starts “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury…” If someone who’s been subpoenaed for a Grand Jury refuses to testify, they can be jailed for contempt of court. To go over that again: you can be arrested, and have your house raided, and whether or not they find any anarchist literature, flag material, or other suspicious items, you can be summoned to testify, and then sent down for refusing to do so, regardless of there being no evidence to suggest you’ve committed any other crimes. Independent journalist Josh Wolf served 226 days just for refusing to turn over footage to a Grand Jury. Of course, none of this changes the fact that the best strategy is still always no comment. Being found guilty of contempt of court is nowhere near as bad as being found guilty of the stuff they’re trying to pin on you, and that’s most likely to happen when people start snitching. So far, everything I’ve seen suggests that all of those subpoenaed intend to stay defiant and strong. A Committee Against Political Repression’s been set up to oppose the raids and Grand Jury – I have to say that I can’t work out how legit it is, or whether it’s a front for some left group, but it’s definitely being supported by a lot of groups that seem fairly trustworthy. A solidarity demo will be taking place outside the courthouse on Thursday, and on the more insurrectionary side of things, there’s a call-out for days of action against repression from the 1st-10th August. That’s all I can find at the moment, I’ll share more information when it becomes publicly available.
The state is fucking ruthless, and the days ahead are going to be scary, but if the FBI feels threatened, that means we’re doing something right. It’s important to avoid getting sucked into the kind of isolated spiral of escalating violence that the Italian state was able to create with the strategy of tension, but at the same time we need to keep it spiky. The lesson of Cleveland is that you shouldn’t trust people who offer you explosives and try to get you to blow things up, but that doesn’t mean we should retreat into paranoia either. It’s a tricky job, but we need to stay accessible, welcoming, and militant. When we can relate effectively to people outside the anarchist ghetto – and relate to them as militant anarchists, without hiding who were are – then it’s possible to persuade large numbers of people to support things like the Oakland General Strike, the West Coast Port Shutdown, or the student revolt in Quebec. And when those sorts of things happen, our enemies get scared.
Other stuff: as I’ve said, Ruth, Jess and Charlotte’s attempt to get their money back off Victorstone is worth supporting. Housing stuff is important and winnable – we can’t beat the state very often in a straight fight, but we can beat small parasites like landlords and letting agencies if we stick together. I don’t have that much to say about the Remploy strikes: most of the reports I’ve seen sound quite positive, the picket line I visited felt pretty depressing, with a lot of people crossing. The fact that any strike action’s being taken at all is a good thing by the standards of British unions at the moment – they’re out again on Monday 6th August, which’ll be the third day of action – as is the fact that it’s being taken nationally rather than leaving the affected factories to fight alone, but overall… it doesn’t feel like they’re going to win. I hate to sound like an ultra-left robot hammering home the same point every time I write about a strike, but any effective action will have to go beyond the limits of what the national union is willing to endorse. Speaking of which, 100 posties took unofficial action in Somerset this week, and secured a fast victory with the reinstatement of a sacked union rep. Wildcats can and do win. Hopefully the cleaners currently out on strike in London will have picked up some of the fighting spirit that’s seen cleaners at Exchange Tower and NTT Communications secure victories recently.
Finally, it sounds like detainees at Morton Hall Immigration Removals Centre in Lincolnshire are on hunger strike; and early reports from this weekend’s scheduled clash with the far-right suggest that, as usual whenever they venture north of the border, things went badly for the fascists. There’s rumours that Nick Griffin himself was treated to a traditional warm Scottish welcome, although I’ve yet to see any mmore detailed confirmation.