Tonight, Atlanta's campaign against the police continues.
An ongoing campaign to stop the police, who have been murdering Atlantans at an increasing rate recently, and who have been repressing Occupy Atlanta demonstrators, had a march today to commemorate the 5th year after the murder of 92 year old Kathryn Johnston. Demonstrators also remembered 19 year old Joetavious Stafford, killed by a MARTA cop on his way home from homecoming just last month, and Dwight Person who was executed by police in the service of a fraudulent no-knock warrant just 5 days ago. Demonstrators also cried the names of Oscar Grant and Sean Bell and reminded each other of the ongoing repression in Oakland, Seattle, Chapel Hill, Boston, New York, Cairo, Greece and around the world. The narrative of this growing campaign has been explicityl anti-police, as a mechanism of control. Calls to fight "police brutality" have been marginal as well as calls for "justice" or "accountability" - the marchers and literature have focused almost exclusively on the police as an apparatus and on how much "fuck" them all.
By 8:30, the park was filled with almost 100 people who had shown up for the march. Roughly half of them had shown up en bloc - black hoods, pants, gloves, flags and goggles were seen en masse. Additionally, street kids with red and blue bandanas were out showing colors and ready to throw down (hostility between street gangs has been, for a few, suspended in favor of fighting the police and growing Occupy Atlanta). With over half of the soon-to-be-marchers masked, a group of anarchists began passing out stacks of anti-cop fliers (which totaled 2,000) and insisted that people distribute them however they see fit during the march, whether by tossing them or passing them to bystanders. A large banner was unfurled reading "Cops, Pigs = Murderers" an a bass drum inscribed with a red Circle-A on its side began picking up a beat. Many of these faces were new and many of them were obscured by goggles, tied shirts, bandanas, and ski masks.
At one point, someone called for the demonstrators to meet by "the big tree" to discuss the route of the march. Immediately following the call to meet-up, I overheard a kid wearing a red bandana yell "Man, fuck!" to his other friend in red. I asked him what the problem was and he looked at me and said, "These people always out here talking 'solidarity-this', 'solidarity-that' but as soon as a cop kills someone all I see are these black masks, red masks, and blue masks." I told him I knew what he meant but that at least he now knew who was down. He agreed.
After a few brief reminders about the details of the murder, which amplified the palpable anger of the march, a man asked if the march was going to remain "non-violent", to which nobody responded at all. This man would later be seen run up to cops with both fingers in the air screaming "fuck the police." I guess everything changes rapidly in the streets.
Marchers began chanting "Our passion for freedom is stronger than their prisons" and made their way to the police station located immediately across the street from the park - we were gonna take the fight right up to their shit. The march spilled across the street and up to the glass doors and windows of the station and demonstrators began chanting into the station at the police officers inside who stood confused and surprised. As fliers rained down on the crowd, the march wound its up up to Peachtree Street, going toward the Five Points MARTA station. Chanting "Cops,Pigs, Murderers" and "No Justice, no peace/fuck the police" the march entered the station. Our voices reverberated off of the walls all around the terminal which quickly filled with police. In response, the demonstrators turned their backs to the police with their hands up chanting "Shot in the back/there's no excuse for that" and "Hey hey/ho ho/ what did you do to Joe?".
"Shot in the back/There's No Excuse for That!"
At this point, fliers were blowing everywhere and several citizen-cops began picking them up off of the ground feverishly. When one kid donning a red bandana asked a peace police officer named Daniel, in a truly inquisitive tone, why he was doing that, he responded that the kid needed to "shut the fuck up, you pussy-bitch." Quite violent rhetoric coming from one of the neo-Gandhians. Coupled with the violence of actively censoring the political outreach of demonstrators, I would say this kid and those who share his intense hatred of freedom are pushing the limits of absurdity.
Rather then wait around for the police, the march wound its way back into the street headed toward Mitchell. At this point, protesters who had at previous demonstrations always remained on the sidewalks spilled into the street. Citizen-cops who had urged us to stop using "violent" language against the police just a few weeks ago began leading chants such as "Fuck the pigs, we don't need 'em all we want is total freedom". Something really is happening in this city.
Turning left onto a one-way, the marchers headed toward the Pryor Street police station. Upon arrival, there was a "mic-check". While blocking traffic, a demonstrator reminded everyone of the magnitude of the struggle and encouraged us to, again, remember Kathryn Johnston, Joetavious Stafford, Dwight Person, and Troy Davis who was unjustly murdered by the state recently for allegedly killing a cop in 1989.
As a few chanted "Atlanta - Oakland - Egypt - France: Fuck the pigs and fucking dance" the march continued to make its rowdy way up the street back toward the park.
Upon arrival to the park, the march decided that it would march up Peacthree Street toward the business district - the "neighborhood of the 1% in this city" as one demonstrator phrased it. Although in retrospect, maybe the march should've ended here, at the time it seemed like a good idea: spirits were high and the march was still ready to roll out.
After several blocks of blocking traffic in all lanes going both ways, and a few minutes of rowdiness in a Suntrust Plaza, the march continued up Baker street and made the first right onto another one-way. After a few blocks in this direction, it was brought to the attention of the march by friends driving around the block that riot police and busses had stationed themselves at Courtland and Auburn, just a few blocks away from our current location and right where we were headed. Following a brief and impromptu assembly, the marchers decided that, rather than face-off with the boys in blue, tonight they would call the march a victory and seize full control over the terms of engagement. With a few welps of joy and advice on how to disperse the march into small groups of friends walking in multiple directions, the march ended on a high note.
No arrests, no injury and an overwhelming presence of masked protesters who maintained the anti-police discourse over the liberal "police brutality" narrative. The masked protesters also maintained an open and impromptu public discourse over the trajectory the march should take, encouraging those who dissented with the majority to go through with their plans anyway autonomously - the element of social management was broken down completely during the march except for the few citizen-police picking up leaflets at the beginning off of the ground.
The march, which was roughly an hour and a half, was larger then any of the other marches that have happened in the last 2 weeks and more broadly participated in. Several people, at different points, even ran off of the sidewalks to enthusiastically join the march.
Afterword, many radicals, including mostly anarchists but also several Marxists, gathered at a local house to celebrate the event (a ritual we agreed to continue going forward) and the birthday of one of the participants. Gathering around a fire (start off tee-pee, transition to log cabin to allow the flames to breath), many discussed their feelings about the march and their surprise at the overwhelming force that we have become at these marches. We also revelled about anti-nazi street battles that we've heard about in other places (particularly in Trenton and Phoenix) and discussed prison revolts and the general state of prisons in Georgia (the jails are run by the guards, the prisons by the prisoners).
The struggle goes on.
Solidarity with our comrades in Chapel Hill who also marched tonight against the police.
The text of the leaflet distributed (2,000 were thrown into the air and passed out to bystanders):
Atlanta's Cop Problem
Kathryn Johnston - November 21, 2006
Police murder 92 year old Kathryn Johnston - undercover cops raid the house with a "no-knock" warrant and shoot 39 times.
Atlanta Eagle Bar - September 10, 2009
SWAT raids gay bar with no probably cause - with guns drawn, officers make homophobic/transphobic slurs to club patrons and illegaly detain eveyrone in the club for an excessive period of time.
Brian Kidd and Shawn Venegas - January 2011
Police pull over two men in broad daylight and perform illegal cavity searches by the side of the road and sexually molest the men by groping their genitalia.
Roxanne Taylor - May 27, 2011
58 year old woman shot and killed by APD after allegedly stealing from a drug store.
Minors Molested by APD - September, 2011
Several minors sue City of Atlanta for being illegally strip searched in public and suffering groping and molestation by APD - som claims of anal penetrations with police batons.
Joetavious Stafford - October 15, 2011
19 year old shot by the MARTA police 3 times - twice in the back as he lay face down - as he comes home from a homecoming football game. Initial reports that he was armed are denied by eyewitnesses.
Dwight Person - November 17, 2011
54 year old veteran, and father of 2, is shot to death in his East Point home by APD.
The police, protectors of this social order, security guards of the 1% who control us, are everywhere. Their control, their violence, is everywhere that nothing happens. All adventure, managed;all desire; disarmed: all passion, sated; all fires, extinguished -- but in us is a fire that never goes out.
There can be no dialogue with the terrorists in blue. As they run over our comrades with motorcylces, abduct our friends from the city sidewalks and quarantine our loved-ones inside their prison walls, they fan the flames of our discontent.
In Seattle, Chapel Hill, Greece, Chile, Bahrain, Egypt, Oakland, Denver, Moscow the struggle against the police grows. Inside Pelican Bay, the memory of Attica lives.
Fire to the prisons and the society that created them. (A)
Several hundred other leaflets where distributed as well:
The back: OCCUPY EVERYTHING! DON'T FUCK WITH ATLANTA
Occupy Everything! (Really)
In a crisis, it does not make sense anymore to beg. Though it is certainly no longer possible, many of us do not year to "go back" to the golden-age of our grandparents generation - a Keynesian control that resulted in the complete flattening out of any adventure, on the one hand, and the real subsumption of product into an every-expanding, ecologically perilous, global factory on the other. The age of austerity, which we face today, is a necessary result of the so-called "responsible capitalism" of the last few decades.
Although we are active in the current "Occupy Together" movement, many of us are distressed by the presence of those for whom the seizure of public parks and plazas represents a forum in which to "voice grievances" to Power - as if anyone was listening anyway.
The point of an occupation is not to "send a message" to Power, nor is it to demand to Power this-or-that resotration of normalcy. The occupation is a commoning, if you will, of resources and tools. The occupation must expand to all other spheres of social life as a necessary consequence of what it is: we must take over more shit so we can share it!; communization of this sort does not need to wait for the proper structures or the "right time" just as we do not need to go to culinary school before planning pot-luck dinners with our friends and neighbors. It is this sense of urgency that brought us into the parks int he first place - when so many in the established "activist" milieu remained skeptical, we came together to act outside of the political script to create something that was frankly unimaginable in scope just a few months ago.
The precedent has been set, and eveyrone already feels it on the tip of their tongues anyway:
To move forward, we have to start taking over buildings.
In Oakland, as well as in Chapel Hill, the landscape of struggle is being questioned altogether - that is to say, the struggle over landscape is being addressed for the first time in a meaningful way: how are we supposed to defend a park from police violence? how are we supposed to stay warm in the winter?
The answer is obvious to many of us.
This question, the question of weathering abuse as well as the question of expansion, is not a new one. Many of us occupiers have spent the last several weeks buildings relationships with houseless people - ask them how they live through the winter. more than likely, there are vacant buildings all over your city and most, if not all, of them can be used in new and exciting ways. Or perhaps the city is littered with buildings begging for a new content - universities come to mind as does city hall.
"Stop taking orders - Start taking over."
Our comrades in Europe have been taking over buildings for decades now. Abandoned buildings everywhere have been transformed in "social centers" that serve as matrices of struggle and activity in the face of global capitalism which would render the buildings lifeless. Perhaps the "Occupy Together" movement can learn some lessons from the autonomous movements of decades past in the European context and expand on it for the American landscape.
-some scheming anarchists.