“Block Traffic and You Die”

The state legislature passed a bill on Wednesday authorizing police officers to stop highway protesting “by any means necessary.”
You might be under the mistaken impression that this was North Dakota. This was Indiana.

The bill then authorizes the responding officers to clear roads “by any means necessary.”

Critics are calling it the “Block Traffic and You Die” bill, an apt name for a bill that has co-opted the phrase “any means necessary,” used famously in speech delivered by Malcolm X during the Civil Rights movement, turning it into a threat against government dissent (with no apparent awareness of the irony).

Indiana is just the latest Republican state government in the past few weeks to pass so-called ‘obstruction bills’ which are just "thinly disguised efforts to squash any government dissent".
The Intercept reported on this trend a few days ago.

In North Dakota, for instance, Republicans introduced a bill last week that would allow motorists to run over and kill any protester obstructing a highway as long as a driver does so accidentally. In Minnesota, a bill introduced by Republicans last week seeks to dramatically stiffen fines for freeway protests and would allow prosecutors to seek a full year of jail time for protesters blocking a highway. Republicans in Washington state have proposed a plan to reclassify as a felony civil disobedience protests that are deemed “economic terrorism.” Republicans in Michigan introduced and then last month shelved an anti-picketing law that would increase penalties against protestors and would make it easier for businesses to sue individual protestors for their actions. And in Iowa a Republican lawmaker has pledged to introduce legislation to crack down on highway protests.
“This trend of anti-protest legislation dressed up as ‘obstruction’ bills is deeply troubling,” said Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, who views such bills as violations of the First Amendment. “A law that would allow the state to charge a protester $10,000 for stepping in the wrong place, or encourage a driver to get away with manslaughter because the victim was protesting, is about one thing: chilling protest.”

One thing that any student of history can tell you is that no protest movement that is polite and doesn't disrupt anything or anyone has ever changed anything.
All protest movements that stay within their "free speech zones" and don't threaten the establishment can be safely ignored.

How do politicians justify these draconian laws? By calling the protesters ‘economic terrorists,' as Washington State Senator Eric Ericksen recently said.
Which is a reflection on our current political system, which values the unobstructed flow of money above civil rights, democracy, and the lives of citizens.

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Steven D's picture

will add this the US Criminal Code at their earliest opportunity.

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"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

Bollox Ref's picture

and then give them a whiff of grapeshot.

That's the ticket! Carry on, what.
/s

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

Deja's picture

Due to economic terrorism toward tax payers, elected officials are no longer paid salaries - it's pro bono, out of the goodness of their steel hearts.

Also, if you can run over protestors, can you run over crotch rocket bikers who shut down highways with their bullshit? At least protestors are trying to do something productive.

Oh wait, I answered my own question. No - keywords: bullshit vs productive. Got it.

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Song of the lark's picture

It's always been this way. It's just more explicit now. What is the end game here? Protests are usually framed as non violent. Harsh measures can work for a awhile to put down dissent. Eventually however draconian punishment leads to protesters arming up. See deracinated farmers in Syria. Sometimes there is a middle route like Tahrir square in Egypt, some sense of freedom for a awhile then military take over. Dissent goes underground until population, and high food prices bring it to the fore again. In the US we have a long way to fall and we are all wired up (connected). Expect that the "crisis" will be very sudden and overwhelming. It took ten years to stop the war in Vietnam. Now it will take ten months, or ten weeks or ten minutes. Not sure how this will turn out, it might be fall of the current government and new elections or martial law in some states. Learning how to go grey and become mobile might be useful in the future. A financial crisis is the most likely prologue. Watch Japan and China, and Italy and Greece as models of Keynsian endgame. Beware of techno Utopians. They don't understand Thermodynamic Collapse, and limits to growth.

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Lily O Lady's picture

homicide less attractive.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Big Al's picture

That said, I've tried to think of the positive impact the blocking of roads and freeways might have, whether it is a useful tactic. I can't think of any way it contributes toward the goal of making our politicians listen to us. In fact, it appears to have the opposite effect on our politicians as these stupid fucking laws indicate. I live in the Portland, OR area and there have been many protests here where the freeways, roads and bridges have been blocked. I've reviewed the media and the comments from people after such actions and what it really does is piss a lot of people off and completely turn them off from the protesters primary goals. It can be a dangerous tactic in that it can prevent people and first responders from getting to where they need to be.
In short, it doesn't work.

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CS in AZ's picture

@Big Al

Protests that block freeways are dangerous to the protesters and to everyone else, and they are ineffective at doing anything except making people angry and turning them against the protesters.

I used to live in Southern California and I remember well how much hatred and rage was generated when anyone blocks freeway traffic. One time someone climbed out on one of the overpasses and was threatening to jump off. The freeway was closed down while cops or whoever tried to talk them down. Traffic backed up for miles, thousands of people trapped on the freeway for hours. People there were so pissed they were openly yelling "just fucking jump you asshole!" All over town people were calling in to radio shows on air and saying things like the person should be shot to get them off the overpass and open the road. Seriously.

It's a terrible tactic. Vietnam war protests were huge and they disrupted campuses and blocked certain buildings but they did not go out of their way to endanger lives and hurt ordinary people. It was effective. It is absolutely not effective to block major freeways or traffic. Everyone hates that and they don't care why it's happening, they want the idiots in the road dealt with and have zero sympathy for them.

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blazinAZ's picture

@Big Al

I think there is a lot to be said for disrupting the status quo, no matter what that looks like. Personally, I don't care that people are pissed off because they are late to work or can't shop or the McDonald's is boarded up. There needs to be disruption.

The treatment of people of color and poor people in this country creates enormous inconvenience for them, to say the least, and if middle-class people or other folks (bystanders not involved in actively protesting) are unable to go about their business, ignoring the oppression happening all around them, that's OK with me.

When we're assessing whether these protests "work," I don't think the goal is to convince anyone to join the action or even to support the cause. I think the goal is to stop capitalism for a minute or an hour or a day. And I support that. If the inconvenience turns someone off and they withdraw their support for black lives or NoDAPL, then they weren't that supportive to begin with. As the slogan goes "If we don't get it [justice], shut it [capitalism] down!"

The argument about emergency vehicles is a red-herring, in my mind. First, poor communities often are underserved by those who are supposed to help (like fire dept and ambulances). Second, every time I've witnessed an action that is blocking roadways or stores, the protesters have been very willing to let emergency vehicles through.

I've also had the experience of not knowing a blockade was going to take place and being caught in the resulting traffic, and I was always really happy that some folks were taking action and standing up against business as usual.

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There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you.
--Amiri Baraka

Deja's picture

@blazinAZ What about the poor people trying to get to work? When I'm late I get half a point assessed. If I hit 3 points, I get an official warning.

When I was stuck on a freeway that was shut down because of floodwaters, half a point.

When I had a blowout 15 miles away from the freeway, on a deadly , dark highway, a whole point because I just took the whole day off rather than drive 70 miles round trip for the rest of the 3 hr workday.

What about the working poor trying to get to daycare before they close, or someone being late for an interview, or a probation/parole appointment that could end in incarceration?

It seems you think the only people inconvenienced by a total shutdown of roadways are rich people. There are millions of us just trying to keep our heads above water, and a total shutdown of roadways could cost some of us our jobs, or daycare providers, freedom, etc..

It's possible to march without shutting down roadways. Hell, the cops will even accompany the march, rather than arrest people. That's what the "permit" is for, actually.

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blazinAZ's picture

@Deja

I don't have a job (like you're describing) where I get dinged if I'm late, but I'm self-employed, so if I'm delayed getting back here to work, I too am losing money. But they make us fight each other for scraps.

Just like strikes in support of unionization also hurt working people (those who are striking and those who either need the services or are inconvenienced by not being able to get to their own jobs), road shutdowns and mall shutdowns and bank shutdowns are gonna hurt. In the short term. But the damage being done by the oligarchs is more extreme damage and it's for the long term.

It seems that there's no "right" way to protest, and someone is always going to object. I'm not a one-tactic person, and I'm always open to hear what else we could be doing. But I think that these kinds of disruption are a helpful tactic. Just like people locking themselves to drilling equipment or, here in Tucson, to a bus taking migrants to detention.

No, this kind of protest by itself will not bring down the system, but it's a poke at it. They don't need an excuse to use state violence, so the argument that it "makes things worse" doesn't work for me. The indigenous people of this country and the black people kidnapped and brought here have always experienced this level of state violence.

I do hear you, Deja, about the short-term harms to working people. But what level of systemic discomfort will be necessary for people to act? What if half the people stuck in traffic because NoDAPL --or any movement-- shut down a roadway actually locked up their cars, left them where they were as an additional obstruction, and joined the protest? What would that look like, and feel like?

I know everyone can't do those kinds of things. But how bad does it have to be before we act?

Thx for sharing your views and for listening to mine.

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There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you.
--Amiri Baraka

Deja's picture

@blazinAZ but, the long run for the working poor is way harder to envision, especially without a job. I'd love to do what you described: getting blocked, and getting out of my truck, and joining the protest. However, reality says I'd likely attempt to drive through the grass, jump a curb or two, whatever necessary to get to my job. I get paid shit, but the health benefits and paid time off is phenomenal, and I pay about $130/mo for both health & dental insurance for my two kids and myself. (Three days in the hospital, recently, and my share is less than $1200, including my deductible, but most don't have it that good.)

I don't know what the answer is, but I know that preventing people from getting to work, or doctor appointments, or job interviews, etc., will hurt the cause with people like me. It's not just taking from me, but my kids too.

I hope that we can find common ground without hurting innocent people. Otherwise, the protesters are no better than the oligarchs, imo.

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Bisbonian's picture

that people are pissed off because they are late to work."

Then, how do you think they are going to feel about the cause you are protesting about?

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

blazinAZ's picture

@Bisbonian
I hear your question, and I don't see an easy answer. What are we supposed to do? There will always be a reason to dismiss any movement for justice. People will always be pissed that we're protesting in any form.

yall mad.JPG

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There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you.
--Amiri Baraka

Lily O Lady's picture

@Big Al from population centers on historic tribal lands. Their protest does seem to have earned them public sympathy. I think the efficacy depends on the context. It appears that the government wants to continue the genocide of native peoples with impunity.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Big Al's picture

@Lily O Lady That's a good point and not a tactic I would disagree with under those circumstances. I was referring to the city tactics used like I've seen in Seattle and Portland, which are becoming a norm.

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Lily O Lady's picture

@Big Al to be alienating rather than incurring sympathy.

Still, running people down should not be legal. Permission to murder spreads violence, IMO.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Bisbonian's picture

@Lily O Lady they are not the ones that blocked the road.

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

Mark from Queens's picture

@Lily O Lady There was an intensely Revolutionary spirit among the farmers who were being pillaged by the bankers. They striked, were armed, shut down highways and in some instances physically prevented farm foreclosure. Of course so few, having gone up in the American education system, ever heard these proliferate stories about how widespread and serious these radical folks across the Midwest were. Many across all classes and stations in life feared a genuine full-blown Revolution, stemming from the Great Depression.

In the Dec 1932 issue of Harper's Magazine, journalist Mary Heaton Vorse filed this report called "Rebellion in the Cornbelt: (American Farmers Beat Their Plowshares Into Swords)":

As we went from picket line to picket line the talk harked back continually to 1776 when other farmers blockaded the highways. Up in James they had a "battle" with deputies last Wednesday. They liken it to a revolutionary battle. Over in Stevens in South Dakota, across the Missouri to Nebraska, we find similar groups of farmers who talk of "revolution." These farmers feel that they have a historic mission. The word "revolution" occurs often among them, but what they mean is a farmers' revolt. They do not understand revolution in the communist sense. They think of themselves as fighting the banking interests of the East or the "international bankers" about whom they are perpetually talking.

Farmers by hundreds lined the roads. They blockaded the roads with spiked telegraph poles and logs. They took away a sheriff's badge and his gun and threw them in a cornfield. Gallons of milk ran down roadway ditches. Gallons of confiscated milk were distributed free on the streets of Sioux City.

Omaha, Council Bluffs, and Des Moines were blockaded as well as Sioux City. In all these cities numerous deputies were sworn in to help the respective sheriffs. The Governor of Iowa ordered the roads cleared. Trucks attempted to rush through the lines of picketing farmers. A few trucks were escorted through the farmers' lines by armed deputies.

The armed deputies at James, ten miles out of Sioux City, started to convoy a fleet of thirty trucks through the lines. Guns were pointed. The farmers stood fast. Before an audience of bystanders the trucks were turned back. No shots were fired.

On another highway, farmers bared their breasts, daring the armed deputies to shoot. The deputies did not take the dare.

At Council Bluffs there were sixty arrests. A thousand farmers marched on the jail. The prisoners were hastily released on nominal bail.

To me the only way we're ever going to see a similar revolutionary spirit is when the Trump dupes in the Midwest, who perhaps have been stung hardest, begin to abandon the cult of personality around the Con Man once they realize they've been lied to and divided and conquered, and that Mexican and immigrant and black labor face the same destitution they have, and Gays and women and who want an abortion and ISIS coming to their towns are not their problems.

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"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

Lily O Lady's picture

@Mark from Queens from your quote,

. . . farmers bared their breasts daring armed deputies to shoot. The deputies did not take the dare.

Today I fear that in the face of mass demonstrations, deputies would fire.

Barricades were common during the Paris Commune (see Wikipedia). But capitalism is now such an indomitable force that it will allow nothing to interfere. Murder in the name of capitalism is now being ruled as justice. These are dark days.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Mark from Queens's picture

@Lily O Lady Until we can get people off the teat of capitalist propaganda, which has been lodged in our collective subconscience though the purposely elusive American Dream, the falsehoods of American Exceptionalism and a false equivalency with worship of the rich (you can be too!), it's going to be difficult.

Occupy definitely made serious inroads and Bernie drove it home to an electorate. When explained in the simplest and most direct terms, of how concentrated wealth (the only end game of capitalism) results in monopoly and monopoly means no small business, lower wages, expensive healthcare, the working class divided and conquered and no regard for the environment, people get it.

I'd like to see more targeted protest, such as UK and US Uncut started, which in my opinion, laid some of the groundwork for Occupy. They focused on exposing corporate tax dodgers, by going into stores pre-determined for supporters to meet, and at a specific time all reading from a text a summary of how that store (Verizon, big department store chains, etc) had either hid tax money, paid low wages or is involved in some social or environmental travesty. If nothing else it gets people thinking and starting to connect the dots, which is what need to happen. Puncture the false cocoon of mindless consumerism, then getting people to stop supporting these corporate robber barons.

Until we can truly begin altering the conversation, in which we get people to stop subconsciously worshipping their masters and the deity of capitalism, we probably won't be capable of those glorious mass movements that erupted all throughout the country in the 1930's. But if things get worse economically, and they very well could under this uber-crony capitalist douchebag, we're going to see something. Maybe not armed men in the ditches of highways preventing trucks from getting by, but hopefully serious shut downs of business as usual.

You now, the tea drinkers of Boston probably weren't happy that they couldn't brew their Indian-imported leaves in the hot kettle for breakfast. But they understood the larger point. That solidarity is missing today. Again, the propaganda of self-interest, tied to capitalism, has been etched into too many as the American Dream(TM), than what it originally was intended to mean.

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"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

Lily O Lady's picture

@Mark from Queens everyone looking out for numbers one, not realizing that that means no one has their back. When I joined TOP I decried the power of propaganda to work against us. Little did I know how TOP would enable neoliberal propaganda.

OWS did help to raise consciousness. In Atlanta they turned John Lewis away. I was sad for him at the time, but they were right! Lewis has been caught red-handed catapulting the propaganda right out there, keeping us distracted and divided.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

@Lily O Lady I think about how little he practices what he preaches.

I guess he's proud to be part of the status quo. When he was young, that was a nearly impossible dream.

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blazinAZ's picture

@Lily O Lady

I remember arguing that he should have waited his turn to speak like everyone else. Some liberal folks were like "but he's John Lewis, civil rights icon." If he was really down with Occupy, he would have understood the process, but instead he just wanted to show up and have a readymade audience.

I really appreciate your saying that you have decided they were right. He has lost his way, proven by his unwarranted attack on Bernie.

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There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you.
--Amiri Baraka

QMS's picture

@Mark from Queens can't agree enough with your points. specially altering the conversation. this we can do. thanks mark

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Hawkfish's picture

@Mark from Queens I made this strange connection the other day about how this phrase has a long anti-semitic history. It doesn't help that one of the principal criminal banking organisations (Goldman Sachs) has a Jewish-sounding name. (It may in fact be Jewish, but I refuse to look that up as it would just play into the whole anti-semitic mind-set.)

Language matters, though, and so I wonder if part of the problem we have calling attention to the problems with the banking sector is the reluctance of people to look like they have been taken in by The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or other such trash.

Controlling the narrative happens in many different ways I guess.

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We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed.
- Greta Thunberg

Alex Ocana's picture

@Big Al As a Bolivian who has blocked many roads and helped topple governments, I would say that blocking roads is a highly effective method of non-violent protest. This is especially so if the goals are clear, specific and have popular support.

It needs to get less timid to be successful. Old junk cars that run out of gas, sharpened jumping jacks, a couple of kilometers of stones, mobile blockades (disperse/regroup/disperse/regroup), stone-throwing, are all useful non-violent tactics.

Look for an issue that most citizens can agree on helps. It needs to be sustained and national.

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From the Light House.

Big Al's picture

@Alex Ocana is the issue. We can't agree on THE issue because we have so many issues. It's like not seeing the forest through the trees.

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@Big Al It is irrelevant to the passage of laws permitting vehicular murder, isn't it? I might agree with you but these laws are beyond the ken. The logic or illogic of the tactic is no excuse for the passage or exercise of such laws.

Surely there is some constitutional basis for challenge in the courts?

This is outrageous. What is next, the right to kill people who dare to write letters to the editor that criticize the state?

Legalized murder. It was bad enough when stand your ground came about (and note how much/often that law has been abused), but this seriously threatens citizen rights, along with their lives. What, no exception for children or infants? What about the disabled who just can't get out of the way fast enough? If it wasn't so draconian it would be laughable.

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sojourns's picture

Some will just blow up a road.

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"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones."
John Cage

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1] They are lefties [i.e. anyone not a paid up member of the KKK or NRA]

2] You pretend/lie that you were cleaning your gun at the time.

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"stand your ground" and "your home is your castle" laws, which should be grouped under "License to kill."

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I'm sure they'll reconsider legalizing vehicular homicide once cops and road workers start getting run down.

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They say that there's a broken light for every heart on Broadway
They say that life's a game and then they take the board away
They give you masks and costumes and an outline of the story
And leave you all to improvise their vicious cabaret-- A. Moore

Big Al's picture

I look at where we're at in this country and it just keeps getting worse, so from that perspective I view nothing we've done in the past as "working". They disrupt traffic for a few days or nights, everyone gets pissed, they feel they made a point, then shit just gets worse.
It doesn't work, not for bringing down the power, which is my goal. We need people power for that it's that simple and that has to come from a lot more than protests. It has to be a sustained organized movement.
I used to feel similar to what you've described in your comment and can relate, but after deep thought about what "can we do", I don't think that's a productive action. I don't see a payoff.

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@Big Al Is that all dems/progressives are good at? Because they sure can't get behind popular policies or block unpopular ones.

And obviously, they can't win elections (or electoral votes.)

Pink hats? Really? As a lifelong feminist, the current protests are just embarrassing. They think pink hats mean something? I can see the men just tremble with fear - "oh noes, not the pink hats! we better get our stuff in order now!"

I'm beginning to think that protests are just a feel-good distractions from what should be going on - like finding candidates who know what public service means.

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dfarrah

@Big Al
while at the same time not disturbing anyone in the slightest.

You'll have to let me know how that is possible, because I don't see it happening.

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Big Al's picture

@gjohnsit I said I didn't see a payoff in blocking freeways and roads in major cities. It's obvious some people do, so I'm completely open to debate on that tactic. All options on the table. But they need to be productive.

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@Big Al The people never have enough power to make one sweeping broad move that is an instant success. We have to keep picking and pecking and disrupting and we must be willing to die in order to keep doing the same.

So roadblocks are just one of the tiny nicks we can make. Interrupt their money making. Yes, a roadblock does that in a teeny tiny way. If people can't or don't get to work, money is not made. A nation-wide strike would be great and more of a cut than a nick of a roadblock, but they both yield blood, no matter how small the drop.

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blazinAZ's picture

We need people power for that it's that simple and that has to come from a lot more than protests. It has to be a sustained organized movement.

A movement doing what? You say in your comment "bringing down the power, which is my goal." How does that get accomplished if protesters who disrupt the status quo are criticized both for their tactics and for being ineffective?

How do we bring down the power (which to me is systemic capitalism and militarism) without poking at it, undermining it, eroding it little by little? Armed revolution?

Those in power will not willingly hand it over just because we say "there's a lot of us who want this."

I really want to know your deep thought about what can we do. I mean, concrete actions we should be taking today, since disruption is not it.

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There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you.
--Amiri Baraka

Alex Ocana's picture

@blazinAZ One serious problem is that there is no alternative structure even proposed, much less in place. There is not even grounding in any ideology that could form the basis of an structure. So, if the capitalist government were toppled tomorrow, there would be nothing to replace it with, and result in a chaotic bloodbath led by the strongest troglodyte goons.

A good place to start is with block committees and neighborhood committees where everyone is represented to improve their block and neighborhood and make alliances with neighboring commitees for larger projects. These replace the existing structure/dependence on capitalist govt. structure. There could also be neighborhood women's committees to handle all sorts of female empowerment issues. If faced with violence, neighborhood defense units can be established.

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From the Light House.

@Alex Ocana that after 9/11 I thought the proper response was to form neighborhood civil defense groups rather than "go shopping". It would have done much to heal divisions within a given neighborhood and it would have provided a plan to deal with natural disasters or military or other threats. It also would have given the people the sense of purpose they craved following the shock of 9/11.

Of course, they couldn't do that, because it was essential to keep the people divided.

But I would propose that at the local political level such an effort could be initiated. It doesn't cost money to have meetings and take an inventory of skill sets and tools. The challenge would to get people to participate.

Given enough information, who wouldn't want to participate? People want to know who works at their children's schools so they can be charged with getting them safely home or to to a pre-arranged site. People want to know who has medical skills to help with injured people. The list goes on. In our neighborhood we'd want to know who has a bulldozer or a backhoe - every neighborhood is unique.

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blazinAZ's picture

@Alex Ocana
with both this comment and your other one above. A multiplicity of tactics is in order, and we have to acknowledge that not everyone will be happy with every tactic.

Although this isn't the most attractive image, I remember years ago hearing an activist describe our work as termites in the walls of a house (the house = capitalism). Often, you don't see the destruction taking place, little by little, inch by inch, but eventually the house will fall.

We must keep resisting in all kinds of ways. Organizing locally is one way; blocking roads is another; boycotts are another. And some of us are still willing to vote on the local level to try to effect change.

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There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you.
--Amiri Baraka

snoopydawg's picture

@blazinAZ but we have to find a plan to hurt them economically. That is going to take people boycotting buying anything that isn't essential for weeks or longer.
But until enough people are or have been pushed to the breaking point, it's not going to happen.
There are a lot of people who are comfortable with their lives and don't want to jeopardize it.
Or too poor to risk losing what they have.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

blazinAZ's picture

@snoopydawg

I think it's those of us in the middle who are the most fearful of speaking out because we have a tiny bit to lose. And when you have that tiny bit, who wants to give it up?

I do agree with the idea of boycotts, and I think it should be widespread. But aim carefully -- at major corporations that damage the environment, oppress their workers, don't pay taxes, support the war machine, etc. It's the same philosophy as moving your money out of major banks.

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There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you.
--Amiri Baraka

QMS's picture

@Johnny Q @blazinAZ one supportive exchange at a time. may take awhile, but we are heading toward a cohesive block.

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jwa13's picture

see, e.g., http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=caltrops

Many styles, multiple suppliers, and discounts for bulk purchases! Who knew??!

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When Cicero had finished speaking, the people said “How well he spoke”.
When Demosthenes had finished speaking, the people said “Let us march”.

travelerxxx's picture

@jwa13

Well, today I learned what caltrops are, and that you can even buy them on eBay.

We could have made good use of them about 50 years ago...

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PriceRip's picture

          I am predisposed to be "on the side of", "in accord with", and "sympathetic to" protestors. Radical Unionizing Red history is in my blood.

          I cannot abide the bullshit of "safe space" to perform your "acceptable mode" of protest. Being too polite just doesn't jibe with the nature of protest. But, disrupting traffic flow on a highway, is a form of "the tragedy of the commons".

          Back in the day we all started developing strategies for fostering non-violence. Perhaps today we need to work out ways to deal with the very real threat of repeating 4 May 1970 many times over. There has got to be a better way.

          If I am on my way to the hospital · · · has already happened once in my life · · ·

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Creosote.'s picture

@ CZ in AZ upthread, should read, [at Columbia] "they did not go out of their way to endanger lives and hurt ordinary people."

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CS in AZ's picture

@Creosote.

Typo corrected!

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LeChienHarry's picture

very good discussions on: means; goals; objectives. One I see from the US forays into other governments: when you take out an existing leader or organization whether they are good or bad, if there is no plan for how to fill the vacuum, things go badly, often quite quickly.

In Europe, large demonstrations, which shut down public thoroughfares are common and accepted. In France the first things hit by protestors are the means of transport: refineries, rail, ports. Have not seen public roadways totally barricaded. Often public squares protests spill over into adjoining roads. And if a busload of passengers have been inconvenienced by previous manifestations, they are let through. Or the road is on a Sunday when few folks with cars need the road.

Here is Chis Hedges interviewing a long term activist and his recipes for grass roots movements. Sorry if this is a repeat. Don't mean to spam, but thought this interview is one of the best on the topic.

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You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again you did not know. ~ William Wiberforce

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Alphalop's picture

That only mostly causes problems for would be allies.

Go after the structure/people that are keeping you down.

Blockade City hall and government offices.

Blockade shipping hubs, large bank buildings, police academies and court houses.

Block the State Legislature.

But for shits sake, stop blocking regular people going about their day, all that does is piss off potential allies rather than garner sympathy.

Pretty much everyone on here knows where I lie on the political spectrum and even I can't help but mutter, "Dumb Fucks..." every time I see them doing this nonsense.

It's worse than being non-productive, it's counter-productive.

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"I used to vote Republican & Democrat, I also used to shit my pants. Eventually I got smart enough to stop doing both things." -Me

blazinAZ's picture

@Alphalop

When people protest at the legislature, they're accused of interrupting the state's business. When they blockade shipping hubs or railroads, they're accused of hurting those workers and harming people economically.

All of those places you name have working people who will be harmed in some way by blockading actions.

Forgive the HuffPo link, but here's a blockading action that just happened down here on the border. Some people objected to the prevention of free movement for people who wanted to cross.

The protesters, who were angered by steep hikes in gas prices in Mexico, shut down southbound traffic at the San Diego-Tijuana San Ysidro crossing, which is the busiest station along the entire 2,000-mile border between Mexico and the U.S. About 50 million people make the journey through the crossing annually.

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There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you.
--Amiri Baraka

Alex Ocana's picture

@Alphalop The Failure of Nonviolence by Peter Gelderloos

https://web.stanford.edu/group/peacejustice/Gelderloos-Failure-of-Nonvio...

Perhaps the most important argument against nonviolence is that violence as a concept is ambiguous to the point of being incoherent. It is a concept that is prone to manipulation, and its definition is in the hands of the media and the government, so that those who base their struggle on trying to avoid it will forever be taking cues and following the lead of those in power.

How was the category of “violence” introduced in our strategic debates? I would argue that it was introduced by the very institution that serves as the gatekeeper to people's perception of violence: the media. It is the media who constantly discipline social movements to adopt these categories and defend themselves from the ever-ready accusation of being “violent”. As soon as dissidents try to defend themselves by arguing that they are not violent, they have fallen into the trap, taking up the values of the State and adopting its preferred category.

Aside from uncleanliness or hygiene, the principal term used to unleash a moral panic and mobilize elite action was “violence”. Among the elite. . . “violence” was [is] a euphemism for a threat to the ruling order and its illusion of social peace, with which the class struggle, the brutality of patriarchy, and the murderousness of colonialism are hidden. The newspapers did not talk about violence when cops killed strikers, when landlords evicted families, or when poor people died of hunger. They talked about violence when workers went on strike, when tenants stopped paying rent, when street vendors refused to surrender their wares to the cops (who would harass them at the behest of the store owners), and when anarchists carried out sabotage or held unpermitted marches.

One of the advantages of moralizing elite discourses, and of democratic government as well, is that they train the oppressed to adopt the mentality and the language of the oppressor.

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From the Light House.

blazinAZ's picture

@Alex Ocana

Thank you, Alex, for your comments in this thread.

Here's another great (long) piece by Gelderloos: "How Nonviolence Protects the State"
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-gelderloos-how-nonviolence...

We are advocates of a diversity of tactics, meaning effective combinations drawn from a full range of tactics that might lead to liberation from all the components of this oppressive system: white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and the state. We believe that tactics should be chosen to fit the particular situation, not drawn from a preconceived moral code.

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There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you.
--Amiri Baraka

Alex Ocana's picture

@blazinAZ BlazinAZ

the components of this oppressive system: white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and the state. We believe that tactics should be chosen to fit the particular situation, not drawn from a preconceived moral code.

Rojava (multi-ethnic, non-sectarian many Kurdish) has tens of thousands of volunteers fighting ISIS, the Turks, al-Qaedah clones and even the corrupt Iraqi Kurdish govt. AKA the four oppressions mentioned. They have been pretty successful with antiquated weapons against modern military machines. Sometimes to survive, one needs violence.

https://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/charter-of-the-social-contract/

https://www.facebook.com/ari.murad/videos/1618456471504865/

Sure, I am anti-war and anti-intervention and anti-fascist, but I supported Assad (Russians et al) running the damn jihadis out of East Aleppo because the facts on the ground say that many more lives would be destroyed by leaving the jihad fanatics in Aleppo. War was the only way to peace.

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From the Light House.

link

Over the weekend, readers alerted me to two additional anti-protesting bills, both introduced by Republicans, that are pending in Virginia and Colorado. This brings the number of states that have in recent weeks floated such proposals to at least eight.

In Colorado, Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg has introduced a bill that would greatly increase penalties for environmental protesters. Under the proposed law, obstructing or tampering with oil and gas equipment would be reclassified from a misdemeanor to a “class 6” felony, a category of crime that reportedly can be punished by up to 18 months behind bars and a fine of up to $100,000.
...
In Virginia, state lawmakers are considering an anti-protesting law that is apparently broader in scope. A bill pending in the state’s Senate would dramatically increase penalties for people who engage in an “unlawful assembly” after “having been lawfully warned to disperse.” Currently, this law is classified as a class 3 misdemeanor, which according to Virginia statute carries only a maximum $500 fine. Yet the bill proposed by Republican state Sen. Richard H. Stuart elevates such infraction to a class 1 misdemeanor, which means protesters would expect up to a year of incarceration and a fine of up to $2,500.

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan says there is a possibility that the bill will pass both chambers of the Virginia state legislature and says the state Senate could vote on it as early as Monday afternoon. However, McClellan expects that, if successful in the General Assembly, the bill would likely receive a veto from Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe.

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on the George Washington Bridge to get back at a Democratic opponent, i.e. Bridgegate, that was anathema but when left-leaning protesters do it that's OK? People can get fired for lateness (no excuses allowed), ambulances get delayed and people die, daycare kids don't get picked up, and mothers in labor and their babies are put at risk. Blocking traffic is easy but also stupid, dangerous, petty, and clueless. Organizing against politicians through electoral means is hard but more effective and doesn't put lives at risk.

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Alex Ocana's picture

@Writerinres "Organizing against politicians through electoral means. . . " is being co-opted into the violence of the corporate police state structure.

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From the Light House.