Spring is coming haiku pt. 1

Half of my haiku from the winter/Spring.

Next Haiku battle in RVA will be on April 15th at 8pm at Balliceaux, so get to writing yours and come throw down after the Raise Up! Fight for $15 rally which is at 5pm in Monroe Park!!

When I like redneck
But they not like me back. So
Mad I spit my dip!!!

Might take zumba class
At the Y. Just because I
Like to say ZUMBA!

Raven Mack you are
My friend because you are one
Disgruntled redneck

embodiement of
Evil, winter sticks around
Pants oppressin me

Warm up the coffee
dads new dog from milwaukee
book on the couch me

Do you drive a big
Truck? Climate change in my pants
Rising tide pussy

Rain comes down today
Why do anything – ok
Going to the gym

Sometimes i feel like
Sobbing my honey bees left
And i am alone

No one will ever
Match the greatness of the dip
dick and diesel tour

Another year gone
Without seeing monster jam
My soul remains crushed

Bored broke basically
Freezing what are yall doing
This stupid evening?

Whats love got to do
With it? Fucking everything
Dont you get it yet

Heart hurting for good
Reasons. Hoping for the best
We can do it babe

Public Parks are one of the only great services provided by the government, and have value for many. Public parks provide and preserve green space and nature. In urban areas, like Richmond, these green spaces are critical for our sanity and health. Parks provide space for recreation – pick up games of football or frisbee, hula hooping, or tag. Parks provide space for meeting – picnics, friendships, organizations, and chance encounters with strangers. Public Parks provide a place where free speech can be exercised – folks can preach or protest or table without getting kicked out. Parks protect the rights and ability of poor people and people without property to have space to meet, greet, eat, play, and speak.

Rich people do not have the same need for the commons that poorer folks do. If you can afford property you can ensure you ability to access all of the things that a public commons can provide. Hell, you can have your meetings at the Jefferson Hotel, and join sports leagues or gyms. With the suburbanization of America, the concept of the public commons was neglected. Private shopping centers replaced public meeting places. And the consequences are things like the concept of loitering (existing without purchasing) and trespassing charges. You have no right to free speech at a private mall. You have no right to wear, say, or do what you want. And you are ultimately only allowed access if you are spending money or look like you have the potential to.

While the suburbs developed largely with the lack of public commons / public parks, most urban areas have managed to hang onto public parks. Something else is happening here. The public parks in Richmond seem to be slowly slipping out of public hands. The parks are not getting destroyed, but they are having entrance fees for events, new rules, new security, and other restrictive aspects applied to them. This neoliberal trend of privatizing the public needs to be confronted and stopped.

You might not have noticed what is happening with the parks in Richmond, so here are some examples for you.

Brown’s Island, and the Friday Night Cheers concert series used to be free. Now, Brown’s Island is “overseen” by Venture Richmond. Venture Richmond receives hundred of thousands of dollars annually from the City of Richmond. Members of City Council, Dominion Power, Massey Coal, all the major banks, lawyers and more sit on the Board of Venture Richmond. They very clearly represent the interests of those with money and power in Richmond. Under Venture Richmond, the Friday Night Cheers concert series now costs money, making Brown’s Island inaccessible to the public during those events. The finances of these things don’t make much sense, for the public that is. In many cases, Venture Richmond seems to be skirting the law. They take public money regularly, they avoid paying taxes on the property they manage, and yet they are profiting from events they hold. Tredegar Green is one aspect of Venture Richmond’s strange and likely corrupt relationship with public parks.

Monroe Park is now leased the the private group the Monroe Park Conservancy at the rate of  $1 a year for a 30 year lease. The plans presented by the Conservancy are a very transparent attempt to gentrify the park and remove the visibly homeless. Monroe Park has been the site of free food programs such as the weekly Food Not Bombs for over 21 years, and a site of public protest for even longer. The entire process of privatization by the Conservancy (who’s board consists of multiple Venture Richmond members and mostly rich and powerful folks) has been very UNtransparent. When the renovation plans for Monroe Park came under fire, the conservancy removed the plans from the internet. The Wingnut Anarchist Collective had saved a copy and was able to make the plans accessible again. Even now, the status of the Conservancy’s fundraising (they need to come up with 3 million), timeline for development, etc. are not publicly available. City Council members are even unsure as to the status of this project. For now, Monroe Park remains the same, but at any point this could change. Which would lead to a major social and political struggle.

Now Kanawha Plaza is on the chopping block. Renovation plans for Kanawha Plaza come with the post script, that once renovated Venture Richmond might be given control of the park. The WHY aspect of this change of management is ignored in the Times Dispatch article. The motivation or need for such a change is ignored.

Also largely ignored in Richmond is the history of inappropriate and largely corrupt action by Venture Richmond. From their spending on the political lobbying Loving RVA campaign to support the Mayor’s terrible Shockoe Baseball Stadium plan to the admission by Henry Marsh that Richmond Renaissance, the precursor to Venture Richmond was a “shadow government”, Venture Richmond has its own agenda, and does not seem to give a shit about what the people of Richmond want.

The best solution to neglected public parks is not privatization. It is for the local government to stop the neglect! Maintenance, provision of public restrooms, adequate lighting, and more would all allow public parks to thrive while still remaining public. The success of the James River Park System shows that Richmond can totally do successful public parks. We have problems in some existing parks. We should choose the logical solutions, not If people and organizations like Venture Richmond or the Monroe Park Conservancy are simply genuinely concerned with improving public parks, then surely they would be willing to do so without taking control or profiting off of them.

If Venture Richmond and the Monroe Park Conservancy and others are not interested in supporting thriving public parks without taking control of them, well then we, the public, need to  be highly suspicious of their motives. It is difficult enough for the public’s desires to be truly represented by local government. Throw in corporate control, and I wonder about how well tolerated say, No Atlantic Coast Pipeline protests might be. I know from the wording in the Monroe Park Renovation plans that visibly poor people are being explicitly targeted. It is past time to stop the privatizing of our public parks. Let’s stop spending money on Venture Richmond and start spending it on our schools and parks and other amenities that everyone regardless of income needs access to.

Come on Richmond, let’s do this.

I often have the same conversation with folks about anarchism. People want to know what an anarchist world would look like. I tell them, that if someone has a plan for that future, an answer to that question, run in the opposite direction.

Anyone who says they know what will work is probably a liar. And of course any move towards an anarchist society needs to avoid recreating hierarchies. Anyone with a set idea in their head, is likely to work towards that idea, creating power around it and themselves. We need to avoid ego and avoid placing ideas on unwilling persons and communities to move forward. We have to respect autonomy of communities and individuals.

Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is ridiculous. I argue that our current society does exactly that. We are so wrapped up in the system of capitalism and ‘democracy’ that most don’t even see how these systems will never give us what we want. If what we want is freedom, justice, liberty, sustainability, etc.  We have a ton of historical examples that can be drawn from to move forward – from worker co-ops, to income sharing communities, to publishing collectives, to radical unions and more.  I think the trick here, is to not be sold on any one tactic off the bat.

Identifying with an idea is a dangerous start. When we create our identities we often become defensive about them. Working towards a better world, we are going to make mistakes. The key, in my opinion, is to not fear mistakes. The system we currently have does not work.

Let me say that again, the system we currently have does not work.

What are we so scared of? If we try something new, and it doesn’t work, then we have learned something important.

Fear generally, and fear of failure specifically, holds us back from attaining better things.

But if we start off identifying with an idea, building power around an idea, we will be less willing to admit when the idea does not work out. Instead, we could try ideas for set periods of time, or until the results were obvious. The possibilities are fairly endless.

We need ideas, and we need communities willing to try various ideas. And we probably need to create a method of documenting successes and failures of different ideas, so no one is forced to reinvent the wheel. Touring speakers, zines, books, documentaries, online articles and more could be our methods of dispersing ideas and lessons learned from their implementation.

This should also all be done in the context of recognizing that different things will work for different people in different places. Realities of environment and natural resources will impact what different communities will be able to do that will work for them. The more locally specific we make our ideas for communities, the better they will work out in the long run.

What would an Anarchist Society look like? What do you think?

A society which values autonomy, mutual aid, sustainability, non violence, liberty, AND  experimentation sounds like a good start to me.

Part 5/7 – Citizens Opposed to Monroe Park Conservancy Lease – 2014 March 18 – Land Use – Richmond City Council – Richmond, VA from Silver Persinger on Vimeo.

In the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter protests in and around Richmond, NBC 12 reports that a public forum is scheduled between police and protesters.

donttalktocop

I am not an organizer of these protests although I have participated in several and support the movement as much as I can. And I am white, and it is certainly delicate territory for me to critique organizing being done by folks of color. But in this case, I think it is necessary, as a safety precaution and because this sort of event has the potential to affect activists of all types in Richmond.

I support 110% the concept of Diversity of Tactics. No one has to organize like anyone else, as long as we have points of agreement we are working towards. However, I am highly skeptical of and concerned about a meeting with the Police.

Generally speaking, when organizing protests or events, folks I organize with operate with the idea of having as little interaction as possible with the police. This is coming from a largely anarchist organizing scene, so if these protesters are not anarchists, that might explain their different approach. But anarchist or not, it can be very harmful to a movement to have some folks deal with the police. There are many reasons for that.

Significantly, is that Police can lie. They are trained interrogators, and when involved in a conversation they can lie and manipulate you with ease. While the police can lie, you can not. It is illegal for you to lie to the police. If you want to know your rights, check out this post full of useful info, or get in touch and I or someone else will happily come to your group to do a Know Your Rights or How to Copwatch workshop. Trust me, many cops do not know your rights, and aren’t required to tell you much about them. They aren’t even legally required to give you a verbal Miranda Rights anymore. The news article says “They say they’ll be asking questions like “If an officer asks me to take my hands out of my pockets, do I have to?”” – look, you do not have to go talk to the police to find this information out. Yes, you do need to take your hands out of your pockets or else the police might think you are doing something dangerous and shoot you. When you are detained the police have the right to pat you down to feel for any weapons. They can not go into your pockets for anything other than something which feels like a weapon unless you give consent. Never give them consent to search. Always say, “I do not consent to a search”. But do not physically resist a search, just repeat loudly that you do not consent. See you do not need to go to police to get this information.

Additionally, police operate with a hierarchical system. They assume everyone else does too. I couldn’t count the number of times some cop has asked us to speak to whomever is in charge, just to receive laughter in response. No one is in charge silly cop. Of course, that is after they usually approach the biggest white male first, under the assumption that they are in charge. What this means in terms of talking to the police, is that if one person or group of persons comes to any agreement with the police, the police are liable to hold the entirety of ‘demonstrators’ to those agreements. Even though many who might protest a variety of issues had no say in those agreements.

In certain protest situations, this has resulted in protesters who had agreements with the cops, actually policing other protesters. Sometimes this means protesters trying to detain, assault, or have arrested others involved in the protest. This pretty obviously sucks. Even if things do not get to that point, any agreement with the police by some protesters basically gives the police leverage to try to hold all protesters to that agreement, and places more folks in potential danger.

The location of the forum, is at the Police Training Academy on Northside, hardly neutral ground. There are folks who might want to participate who validly do not feel at all safe in that space. There are tons of folks who do not feel comfortable sharing any space with police. And folks who do feel safe in those spaces need to be careful to not speak for those who do not. This is a highly tricky situation.

The forum is also a fairly transparent means through which the police are trying to get good media coverage. They are being nice, reasonable etc. These are still the police who terrorize men of color, engage in stop and frisk activities in Northside neighborhoods and others too, lock up all kinds of people for non violent offenses, and generally harm our communities. They do not have to be regularly murdering people in a direct manner for their very existence to be oppressive and harmful.

The article also says that questions from demonstrators will be submitted written and read by a third party. I don’t know about yall, but thats not how I imagine a DIALOGUE going. Conceivably questions might be ignored or censored as the police please. It seems that there is no assurance of an opportunity for response or rebuttal. So this might just be a forum to give the police a platform to answer soft questions and look good for the media. Not a win in my mind.

It is unstated as to whether or not ‘demonstrators’ will be allowed to bring in recording devices to capture their own take on the situation.

City Council’s new President Michelle Mosby is quoted talking about “mutual respect” between protesters and police. Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. NOPE! I speak for myself only, but am fairly certain there are plenty of folks in Richmond who do not have respect for the enforcement arm of racism, capitalism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, etc. I mean, the police!

The question of legitimacy and the process of de-legitimization is also present here. Who represents these movements and has the legitimacy to engage with the police. What does this do to others in the movements who do not want to talk to the police or support this tactic. There are certainly people of color who are not supportive of this forum, if my facebook feed is at all representative. Unfortunately, this forum will de-legitimize those protesters in the polices’ eyes.

Movements need leadership, but not necessarily leaders. If folks are perceived as in charge by the police, this also puts them in a tricky situation of being accountable for an entire movement. It can be dangerous to be a police liason. And it can put folks in a position of being pressured by police to force protesters to engage in something they do not want to do.

If you are talking to the police, be very careful. Be considerate of others involved in the movements, and make an effort to avoid speaking for or representing others. Ask tough questions if you are going to ask questions. And remember that people choose to be police, choose to enforce unjust laws, choose to engage in a system of racism and transphobia, and generally choose to be oppressive.

That’s all I’ve got right now. Just make sure this is something you want to do and that the benefits outweigh the risks.
See you in the streets.
Over n Out.

2014 April 9 – Special Meeting of Land Use To Consider Monroe Park Bids – Richmond City Council – Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger on Vimeo.

Part 6/10 – 2014 April 14 – Citizen Comment Period – Richmond City Council Meeting – Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger on Vimeo.

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