Archive for the collective liberation Category

Southeast Climate Convergence Participants Demand Climate Justice in Richmond

Posted in climate justice, collective liberation, resistance, student power on August 11, 2008 by Jasper Conner

Southeast Climate Convergence Participants Demand Climate Justice in Richmond Virginia from Bank of America and other Dirty Energy Companies

Two cliamte justice activists lockdown to a Bank of America branch in Richmond to call attention to their funding of Coal and Nuclear energy that devistates Virginia communties

Two cliamte justice activists lockdown to a Bank of America branch in Richmond to call attention to their funding of Coal and Nuclear energy that devistates Virginia communties

The Southeast Climate Convergence which lasted from August 5th through the 11th culminated today in an action demanding an end to coal fire and nuclear power that destroys our environments and cripples communities. During the Convergence, activists and organizers throughout the South came together to learn about Environmental Justice issues such as Mountain Top Removal and the vibrant social movements that are organizing for sustainable economies and the dignity of their communities.

Law enforcement responded to people demanding that Dominion Virginia Power become responsible in its energy production choices with a swarming presence, surveillance and intimidation. Police were in full force in an attempt to impede our growing environmental justice movement.

“This expensive diversion of public funds from protecting the public to protecting a powerful group that is harming the public—Dominion—is just as irresponsible as using coal and nuclear power when cheaper, cleaner and safer options are available now,” Blue Ridge Earth First! activist Willie Oaks said, “We’ve been to hearings, circulated petitions, talked with our elected officials and more, and Dominion’s harmful projects are still moving ahead. We now feel compelled by our consciences to take further non-violent action.”

Activists with Blue Ridge Earth First!, Rising Tide, Mountain Justice, and the Southeast Climate Convergence assembled to insist that Dominion Power immediately halt construction of a new coal-fired power plant in Wise County, and abandon plans to build a third reactor at the North Anna Nuclear Power Station in Louisa County. This is the latest in a long campaign against Dominion’s plans.

“They’re terrified of the power that the environmental justice movement is building and they know dirty energy is coming to an end. You can’t hold back the ocean forever,” Jasper Conner of Students for a Democratic Society said.

Over 40 protesters began marching at Monroe Park around noon and made stops at the offices of Massey Energy Corp., Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Dominion Virginia Power, and concluded with a lock down the Bank of America sign at their S 12 St and E Main St office. The crowd included jesters and people holding larger-than-life puppets, banners and signs to raise awareness about the problems and actual solutions to climate change, and draw connections between local issues and those in other communities around the world.

“A new coal plant in Wise County would increase the demand for coal in a county that has already had 25% of its land destroyed by mountaintop removal mining, as well as put more mercury in our streams and carbon dioxide in our air. We cannot allow this,” Eric Blevins of Mountain Justice said.

Carrying banners reading, “No Nukes, No Coal, No Kidding” and “Social Change not Climate Change,” people marched to the headquarters of Massey Energy, Dominion, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and Bank of America.

At Massey Energy, a notorious coal company involved in mountaintop removal coal mining, activists surrounded the entrance and yelled, “Hands off our mountains!.” The group then moved on to the Department of Environmental Quality which recently rubber stamped Dominion’s dirty coal plant in Wise County, VA. Next the group brought the party to Dominion, who is building the aforementioned coal plant as well as proposing a new nuke plant in Louisa County, VA. Chanting “No coal, no nukes, we won’t stop until you do!” the activists attempted to take over Dominion’s plaza but were repelled by police on horses. In a show of interspecies solidarity one horse bucked a cop off its back.

To wrap things up for the day, the crowd moved on to the the towering Bank of America building, one of the largest funders of the coal industry. In impressive feat of stealth two activists manage to infiltrate the beefed up security at the building and locked to a sign outside of the customer entrance. Marchers supported the lockdown with a die in on the sidewalk. Police eventually cut free the two that were locked down and charged them with tresspassing.

The activists say that coal and nuclear power are outdated options that are unacceptable in a world facing drastic climate change. No nuclear reactor has been built in the U.S. in the past 30 years. “The nuclear ‘relapse’ carries with it uranium mining that disproportionately occurs on indigenous lands, and diverts enormous public resources from real climate solutions to a false one. No viable disposal method has been created in 50 years of research for the radioactive waste that persists for hundreds of thousands of years,” Morgan Kipler of Blue Ridge Earth First! said.

The facts behind proposed solutions for climate change are often distorted in the press, according to the activists. “The corporate media is carrying paid propaganda spreading the falsehoods that using coal and uranium as fuel will ever be clean, will ever address the clear and present danger of the climate crisis,” said Mary Olson, Southeast Regional Coordinator for Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “Coal and nuclear will never be safe or clean.”

Today’s action was not an isolated event, but is rather another event in a growing movement for environmental justice that’s seeing victories all across the entire planet.

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For photos of the day’s events, including the two brave activists who U-locked their necks to Dirty Energy promoting Bank of America, follow the link!

For more information about the day’s actions.

For updates about the three US Climate Convergences.

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Right now we’re asking for folks to donate money to the legal fund to get these brave activists out of jail.

You can donate by following the link and clicking on the paypal button at the top. http://www.risingtidenorthamerica.org/wordpress/category/asheville-rising-tide/

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Strategizing for a Living Revolution

Posted in collective liberation, movement strategy, resistance with tags , , on April 4, 2008 by Jasper Conner

I want to encourage folks to check out an article in the Resources section of Aaron Petcoff’s blog.  I’m sending folks there, instead of to a link of the article because I know how excited I get when I get mad blog hits, so you should follow the link below. The piece was written by George Lakey about movement strategy. By looking at global struggles against repressive regimes, global capitalism, racism, and other systems of domination, Lakey lays out a formula for thinking about systemic change. This piece does way more than teach an extremely smart strategy for broad based change, its also just really inspiring to read about successful movements. Its hard to remember sometimes that winning is a possibility, so check out this piece, get smarter, be inspired, and other generally positive things.

Strategizing for a Living Revolution

An Article by Jonathan Barry on collective liberation(Boston sds)

Posted in collective liberation with tags on January 15, 2008 by Jasper Conner

So the following is an article by Jonathan Barry (Boston sds) discussing how our work toward collective liberation needs to be informed by an understanding of our own personal histories and experience with identity.

Here is a link to Jonathan’s blog, and below is his article.

Interrogating White Patriarchy- Constructing Personal Histories

Often, as a white male activist, I find myself wondering where my energy comes from. Maybe I should rephrase that… when I have the time I often find myself wondering where the root of my tireless commitment to “the movement” comes from. This is never something I have allowed myself to explore because the answers are pessimistic and discouraging, not to mention difficult to come by. For me, when I sit alone, there is an omnipresent pain and anxiety at the core of my being. I believe activism, as with most endeavors in my life, is a way to channel my fear of confronting the terrifying realities of my past into another space. Just as somebody would self-anesthetize with drugs or booze; I self-anesthetize with organizing, among other things.

Organizing is in and of itself is not a destructive activity, however, coming from a place of anxiety and urgency, rather than love and conscious intentionality, I believe it can do more harm than good. I could also add guilt into the equation for most white folks. I believe, correctly or incorrectly, that fear and anxiety and the urgency to be rid of them lie at the heart of what drives most men in our society. I must be conscious of this or my life becomes a means of displacing these emotions on others. This urgency, often combined with white guilt, can become a primary vehicle for re-enacting oppressive modes of thought and being, particularly in progressive circles. The tendency to look at other people as objects of oppressive systems rather than people with agency can lock interpersonal relationships into the framework of white supremacy or sexism (or any oppressive system for that matter).

It has also been my experience that over-intellectualization of anti-oppression work further distances my analytical perceptions from actual lived experience. By just “keeping me busy,” organizing work can be a tool to challenge white supremacy and patriarchy on an institutional level while also maintaining the distance between my conscious (often intellectual) worldview and the core of my being (for me, my emotional being) that is most handicapped by patriarchy and white supremacy. I believe binary thinking like this is a product of our society and forces many institutionally privileged people who study or think about systems of oppression to separate lived experience from ideological framework instead of one informing the other. For example, many white people or men who think about white supremacy or patriarchy frame sexism as a “women’s issue” or racism as “something that I don’t live through”. While men and whites are by no means the targets of such systems of oppression, the personal and psychological wounds for people who are “privileged” are real and by connecting personal experience to theoretical framework, I believe it is possible to gain a much more real understanding that can inform actions and activism. Unfortunately, the drive for consumption and immediate gratification that is instilled in us by a capitalist system works to placate deep pain and drive a deep wedge between what we think of ourselves and who we are. In my opinion, unless there is a conscious effort to bridge the gap, I believe the divide deepens over time, fed by a drug that draws from the exploitation of others to ease the pain of those in power.

In this way, I disagree with those who stress the critical importance of strategic planning of organizing in liberation work but do not acknowledge the centrality of the healing process in the life of an activist like myself. Combining theory, action and reflection in a cycle of praxis, as is outlined by Paolo Friere in his famous book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, is essential to a process of developing critical consciousness. We must embody the change we hope to make. I believe in this statement wholeheartedly. As men and white people, or anyone who benefits from institutionalized privilege, we must come into touch with the fears, anxieties and guilt of what it means to be ourselves in a white patriarchal capitalist society. The process of interrogating who we are and critically evaluating past experiences can be a tool for developing fuller understandings of what we are fighting against, just as research into social constructions of whiteness can illuminate the shadows of its historical specificity.

My own conception of colonization stems from my experience growing up with a father who handcuffed my own development as a person by (sometimes) violently enforcing his vision for my own growth and imposing his own boundaries on what I could think or how I could act. I now see his desire to “help” me become a man is couched in his own inability to be his own man in the most tender and loving send of what it means to be a man. He needs to deal with his own anger, fear of loss and pain before he can ever think about helping me or before we can ever again have a functional relationship. His need to help is a prison cell for my own growth. This experience has shed light on what my own presence may mean in non-white and feminist activist circles.

In addition, my experience and reflections on traveling home this fall to see my parents (mom and step dad) have helped me to more fully understand the pain of what it means to be tokenized. Going home is painful for me. It is not a friendly place. My parents are friendly to me but it is not a place where I can feel at ease with who I am. It is hostile, for whatever reason. Yet still, my parents want me to come home. When I am home, they do not take the time to sit and see how I am or how I have changed. Though they lament that I do not seem happy. When I attempt to articulate my feelings, I only offend them and then am left feeling guilty. At a deep level, my parents are not interested in who I am as a person, only the spectacle of my happy presence in their home, just as most straights enjoy and crave the spectacle of a queer presence to subsidize their own sexual emptiness.

These connections are real for me although they may not make sense for the outsider. In sharing these stories, I hope to lay groundwork for other white people and men to delve into their own histories- either personal or collective- to better understand the context in which our identities are born and the privileges they carry.

I find that the only way I can bring something new and valuable to the discussion on race, gender, sexuality (and capitalism) is to come in touch with my own emotions and how I was formed in this society. While the archive of work on these subjects is extensive, I believe it is essential for all white people, men and straight folks to make the connections personal so as to embody the discourse we espouse. In this way, I (we) can bring can bring something real to the conversation, articulate on my (our) own terms that which I (we) consume as part of organizing for power and the liberation of all peoples everywhere. For me then, counseling, quiet reflection, and scary messy conversations with others about common past experiences is also the work of revolution. This is not to say it can take the place of real struggle against oppressive institutions to build power and win concrete objectives, but it is work that must be done.