Limits of Dissent

When you have been publishing for over 150 years like The Nation has, you could say you’ve seen it all.  This magazine has seen robber barons, segregationists, and now Donald Trump.  They have also seen various resistance movements rise up; labor, women, homosexuals and immigrants.

The March 27 issue featured a “Field Guide” to the new resistance.   To no surprise, there was one segment of the movement missing.  There was no mention of groups like One People’s Project or It’s Going Down.  The groups that are fighting the Trump agenda, especially its attacks on refugees, immigrants and people of color.

To me, it’s been a common theme of the long-time voice of the American Left.  Since the election the magazine has called for resistance, but been reluctant to support much of the organizations taking direct action.  An annual list of groups to support did not even include the National Lawyers Guild.

But why is there is reluctance?  Part of it may be with the nature of traditional media in this digital age, much of the readership of The Nation may simply be too old to take to the streets.  At 42, I may be at the younger end of the magazine’s readership, but I also realize that I am too old to “take to the streets” with the black block. But the readers could at least contribute money to aid efforts.

Another theory has to do with an idea that I noticed during the anti-war movement of the early 2000s.  There seems to be almost an East Coast and West Coast divide in terms of activist tactics.  The Nation, being based out of New York City, may be more along the Eastern lines of focusing on political action.  The activists in the streets are more along the Western model, with an emphasis on direct action.

Am I going to drop my subscription to The Nation?  No, but I may look to augment it with publications like Jacobian or In These Times, to go with my subscription to 2600.


A Cold Wind Blowing In?

Today, Saturday, is the day I usually head to a local farmers’ market to pick up organic produce, yogurt, etc.  Today, as ICE raids continue in Harrisburg, I took it upon myself to check in to hear if any reports of agents at the market had been reported.  I am pleased to report that my sources have not heard of any activity.

On my way back to my apartment, I got to thinking that ICE will soon expand their reach into my area.  They may have already, and I just don’t know.

There are reasons for concern, in my opinion.  There’s a hotel, which is an industry that especially the cleaning staff, tends to rely on immigrants.  There is still a place that makes hot dogs in my area, at least I think.  Meat packing is an industry that makes use of immigrants as laborers.  There are several warehouses in my area, and a farmers’ market.

Of course, I don’t think an ICE presence would be a real concern.  The area I live in is called by many the “White Shore”.  Save for an Indian and Pakistani,  community that seems to be based mainly in my complex, the area I live in is almost lily-white.

Now if ICE starts going after folks in that community, there may be some opportunities to act.

Breaking ICE?

On March 9, 2017, ICE came to Harrisburg.  Raids were reported in the largely minority Allison Hill neighborhood, so a training by PICC and Juntos on “Deportation Defense” took on even more importance.

The event, in the International Service Center at Market Square Presbyterian Church, attracted a diverse crowd.  Members represented several races and groups and came from as far as Pittsburgh.

The presentation began with a look at the current raids, and what can be done to stop them.  The simple question of “Do you have a warrant?,” seems to go a long way.  The idea of making immigrants, etc out to be criminals, and the need to build community resistance through education were also topics.

The presence of ICE agents in courts, and handling checkpoints on the roads, brought the collaborations between police and ICE into some focus.

After a lunch of Chinese food, the second half of the training, focused on the actual defense, began.  This was a three-pronged approach beginning with a plan for deportation.  The next, and main component, was having a “Defense Packet” at the ready.  This packet, consisting of documents like pay stubs,  passports, and other records and information, would be useful should deportation proceedings begin.  A final component is a temporary guardianship for minor children.

I came to this event in a panic over hearing that ICE had come to Harrisburg.  I left the event with ideas on how I can perhaps join with other activists to resist.  One idea would be to educate people on what their rights are.  A second is to assist people in creating their “Defense Packets”.  The final, and most, radical option may be to make Harrisburg a “station city” in a modern “Underground Railroad”.





A More Organic Brew?


Last Wednesday, February 22, I assisted in a search.  Our missing person, Senator Pat Toomey.  I joined with two fellow activists to see if we could locate him and bring our concerns, and those of Planned Parenthood, to the Senator.   Our search proved futile, as the Senator was nowhere to be found.

Senators and Representatives being absent was a common theme it seems during this Congressional Recess, of course those who did appear in public, especially in “Town Halls”, often got a earful.  Even is places like Utah, Congresspeople found themselves dealing with voices of the opposition.

The whole thing reminded many of the “Tea Party” allies who gathered at events after Obama was elected.  The fact that they were loud and in large numbers is one common thread.  But there are differences as well.

For one this “Resistance” seems a bit more organic.  There is evidence that the “Tea Party” was a movement bankrolled by specific interests and individuals and groups.  The folks that gathered at the town halls, are not, as a whole “paid protestors”.  They aren’t really protestors even, they are constituents.

A second issue is also a concern.  The “Tea Party” took their anger, even if it was manufactured, and turned it into political action.  Since many members of the “Resistance” see the system itself as flawed, if not failed, getting them to become an electoral force may be easier said than done.

America Is Still Standing–UP!

It has been two weeks and one day since Donald Trump took office.  There has been a flurry of executive orders, riled up allies, and gaffes like the “Bowling Green Massacre”.

There have also been protests, literally since day 1.  His second day in office brought one of the largest protests in history, that my hometown area even got into the act.  There were demonstrations at airports and tech companies.  Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had over 2000 people for an rally in support of immigrants.  Harrisburg’s turn is tomorrow, February 5th.

Trump and his authoritarian followers have to be surprised and perhaps a bit aggravated that these protests are ongoing.  They may have figured that after the election that progressives, especially millennials, would go back to the “safe spaces”.  I am sure a lot of them have, but many are taking to the streets.

There is more where this came from, there are events in April in the works and it seems that most actions Trump take produce a reaction from activists.

I am still reading Peoples History of The United States, so I am becoming aware that America’s true history may be one of repression and resistance.  What is happening in opposition to Trump may just be another generation taking their turn.

Plan B-Sides

A few of you may remember that I had expressed and interest in attending the annual Defcon computer conference. I actually viewed a few videos from past events and realized that even a 42 year old newbie would have a place.

Alas, Uncle Sam and H&R Block had other ideas.  A little part-time side job had me having to owe money to the government, and H&R Block to prepare my taxes.

It’s not a total loss, I had been taking money out of my checks from this gig, and can cover the amount I owe and the cost of preparation.   I will have to set my sights on Rochester’s annual B-Sides conference.  An added bonus is that I’ll be joined by fellow blogger The Radical Geek!

I just have to see how much rooms cost and how long it would take to get there.

Local anti-travel ban rally put together in one day —

My old home region steps up again!

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Friday, there was a Rally for Freedom and Justice protest in downtown Youngstown in response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban. More than 250 people showed up — all of whom were likely thrilled by Saturday’s suspension of the ban by the U.S. government. “We stood there in the freezing cold,” said Ohio…

via Local anti-travel ban rally put together in one day —

Ready To Resist?

On Thursday, January 19th, I got an unexpected text from a fellow activist.  She needed a ride to the “DisruptJ20” event.  I had already planned to be a driver, but did not expect to actually have to drive folks to the meet site.   It was no big deal and I took a detour to pick them up before heading to the site.  Once we got there we met the another group of activists and headed to DC.

After about two hours on the road, we arrived at our quarters for the evening, a church that had given their space to the activists for the evening.  After a few hours of fitful sleep, my alarm went off at 4:30AM on January 20th.

After a quick breakfast, we reconvened with our group and a group of activists from North Carolina with a group called “Redneck Revolt”.  I’m not too familiar with this group, but it sounds like an effort to get rural voters to start voting and acting in their economic self-interest again.  It sounds like a good idea, but I see flaws that I will explore in a later post.

A few of us went to another activists car to grab water, and then we began what be a common theme of the day–walking. Our first destination was Logan Circle, where the anarchist “Black Bloc” were staging.

Now, you  may be asking how I got stuck with the “Black Bloc”, and I think it was confusion on my part and the part of our main local organizer.  I was supposed to be elsewhere, and could have made a good rally point at McPherson Square, the designated “safe space” for activists.

I was both energized and frightened by what I saw.  Energized by hearing chants of “No fascist U.S.A” and “Black Lives Matter”, but also frighted by the seemingly random destruction I saw; store windows being smashed, newspaper machines being thrown into the streets, etc.

When I saw the riot police, I had enough.  I told the activist I was paired off with that I was not proceeding any further.  We let the police herd the other protesters while we stood on the sidewalk.

So now we had another issue, we had also lost the rest of our group.  I suggested that we head back to where the event had started.  She agreed, and we headed back to Logan Circle.  A few minutes after sitting down, we were directed to McPherson Square.  We were essentially retracing steps; we even saw folks cleaning up from the march we had been on!

There we found a few of our ranks, and I had time to grab lunch.  Our lead organizer was OK, but we were still missing several members.  One of our missing members happened to be one of my passengers, so locating him was of critical importance! He was found, after much walking, at a co-working space.

That gave us an opportunity to rest and hydrate a bit.  And after a few hours we began the walk to the church, and then to my car.  Around 8:15PM, my two companions were dropped off at their house, and around 8:30 on the 20th, I arrived back at my apartment.

What I think we, and other activists did, especially the “Black Bloc” is announce to Trump that we are ready!  On Friday, store windows were smashed, soon it could be a Muslim processing center.  On Friday, seven of the twelve checkpoints for the Inauguration were blocked; soon it could be an immigrant neighborhood that Immigration and Customs is trying to conduct a sweep in.  On Friday, a limousine was set on fire; soon it could be a truck carrying the materials for Trump’s wall.  I’d be following these from afar, then closing in to photograph both the actions and the interactions with law enforcement.

But, this kind of direct action may not be necessary, if legislative actions are taken to resist the most extreme elements of Trump’s agenda.  Perhaps a warning has also been sent to the Democrats then, resist Trump’s extremism–or other people will!