Posts tagged ‘anarchy’

My Old Book Now Newly Published!

Yall, I thought I had lost all digital copies of my old book, The South is Still Rising: Radical and Anarchist Movements in Richmond, VA from 1994-2004. The independent, IWW union print shop I used to publish the first 2 editions is out of business. Thanks to extra time during this quarantine, I have been able to find it!! And the cover artwork my friend Will Gowdy designed for me! So now my book is available on amazon as a paperback and kindle as an ebook. I am not loving amazon, but I do not have another way I can afford to get my book out there into the world at this time. There are hard copies of this and my newer haiku book at Small Friend Books and Records and Chop Suey Books two local Richmond book stores I love.

Amazon link here:

The South is Still Rising Book

This book was something I researched and wrote as my Div 3 at Hampshire College – basically a senior thesis if you will. It has info on food not bombs, civil rights, critical mass, queer liberation, earth liberation, anti war and other movements in Richmond. Please review and rate if you have read it, and consider buying to help me out if you can

Writing to Political Prisoners

This is a revamp of a guide I put together years ago. If anyone has any updates or changes please email me! 

Writing political prisoners is an important way of lending support to folks incarcerated due to their beliefs. There are many types of political prisoners on the left – animal liberation, earth liberation/environmental, black Panthers/liberation, indigenous movements, anarchists, marxists, etc. Incarceration is isolating and difficult. Letters are something that can help bolster spirits of those inside. 

Here are some tips:
A Few Do’s and Don’ts in Correspondence 

A few dos and don’ts on writing prisoners whose backgrounds/politics you may not know. 

Dos 

Do use common sense. Use a “neutral” address for yourself, such as a Post Office Box, for correspondence. 

Do not divulge sensitive personal information (i.e. your home address, phone number, credit card and bank details, people’s full names, etc. ) to a prisoner, particularly one you have never dealt with before. This is for your security and that of the prisoner. Be aware that authorities often read these letters and sensitive information can get into the wrong hands. Occasionally, prisoners have misused this information as well.
Do not send money or honor immediate requests for money.
Do think ahead. Research local prison regulations. Learn about the prisoner before writing. Make sure to put a return address on your envelope. When first writing to an incarcerated person make sure you ask them specifically what the rules are for writing letters, and make a careful note of them. No one under eighteen years of age should be writing a prisoner — again, this is for the prisoner’s security as well as the writer’s. 

Do be forward and clear in your letter as well as your intentions. Say who you are, and if it’s relevant that you’re with an organization. Be upfront about your politics and say where you heard about the prisoners and her/his case. If you are interested in starting a pen-pal relationship and that is all, say so. Ask if they would like to correspond and if they’d like to discuss any topics, as well as what topics they don’t wish to discuss. Keep your first letter reasonably short and to the point.
Do be patient. Prisoners may not write back or may take awhile. They may occasionally sound cynical, angry or disinterested in their words — keep in mind many “supporters” or people who’ve written before may have stopped writing them, made promises/lied to them, or they just had a rough day and they’re venting that on paper. Responding to an angry letter with more anger is not helpful.
Do deal with the right channels. If a prisoner wants you to send a book, ask what channels their institution requires for that, or refer them to a Book-to-Prisoners project near their unit. If a prisoner is getting out in the next few weeks, do not offer your place to stay (no matter how desperate they sound) unless you have corresponded for a significant amount of time and are in contact with both a parole officer and a prison intermediary (e.g. prison chaplain). Even in cases like this, it is far more helpful to a prisoner to help them secure employment and develop a support base (whether that is through her/his church/mosque, family, friends, etc. ) than to Chances are, there’s a legal process to be dealt with in cases like this and they need to be followed by both you and the prisoner. However, use your head and don’t land in a bad situation or one that will land the prisoner back in jail.
Don’ts
Do not make promises. Many well-meaning people write letters offering support to a prisoner, or make offers for help out of good will. Unfortunately, most never follow through and build false hope in a prisoner. This is not fair to them. If you’re writing, don’t make promises. Don’t offer to do a support campaign if you can’t make that time.
Don’t offer to send items when you can’t afford it. Be honest. It’s best to start writing and keep it that way, at least until a relationship is established. 

Do not romanticize prisons or prisoners. Many activists have ideas about who prisoners are, why they’re locked up, the system, etc. While it’s correct to have political clarity about incarceration and the nature of the criminal justice system, it is not correct to romanticize a prisoner, anything they might be locked up for (especially a “social crime”) and their lives. They’re people just like you, and have strengths and weaknesses. It is dangerous to assume that anyone (free or jailed) is able to overcome all their personal weaknesses, or be completely truthful, or are not dealing with the stressful situation they’re in in negative ways. Some are estranged from their families as a direct result of their own actions. Some may have learned manipulative behaviors over the years. Prisoners are people like you.
Do not discuss potentially illegal political action with a prisoner. Again, this is for your security and theirs. Prisoners have and can be implicated for outside action that violates the law and you should be mindful that, if authorities even find such information in the hands of prisoners, prisoners can face added time and harsh treatment.
Do not attempt to place political judgments on prisoners’ experiences. Some prisoners, out of desperation, write publications to get pen pals and may not agree completely with the views of the paper, but read it for information. Some prisoners have been converted to Christianity or are Muslims. Some have views that may be somewhat backward. Rather than attack a prisoner, it’s best to be polite, but firm, if there’s something you’d rather not discuss or find objectionable.
Do not attack or insult a prisoner because of their religions, preferences or experiences. If the prisoner declares her/himself a white supremacist, you are well within your rights to explain your disagreements, encourage them to reconsider their views and discontinue the relationship; please be aware that several white supremacist gangs have ties to the outside from prison and it is smart not to get into insults or threats against such prisoners.

 Don’t send literature unless requested and be aware you don’t have to go with every request. 

Good luck!

Here is a great resource from February of 2017 from the New York City Anarchist Black Cross that gives you background on various political prisoners and how to write them: https://animalliberationpressoffice.org/NAALPO/2017/03/13/u-s-political-prisoner-and-prisoner-of-war-listing/

Anarchist Housekeeping: Collective Living Under Capitalism Accepting Submissions

​Please repost/share this for us, we’d really like to get a diverse and well rounded amount of submissions! 

“But who will do the dishes after the revolution?” This tired question has been asked to countless anarchists, communists, and others pursuing systemic change. But, we don’t have to wait for the rev to give an answer. Anarchist Housekeeping: Collective Living Under Capitalism is an attempt to cobble together the stories of anarchist collective living within the United States. The goal of this anthology is to share what it takes to build a successful collective, what works and what doesn’t, what you wish you knew, why you think collectives matter, and what we can take away from collective projects.
Submission Deadline- November 1, 2017

Send to mokarnage@gmail.com

7/15/17

Air conditioners

Are antihuman machines

Deadaptation
It’s hot and humid

But if you drink water and 

Work it will be fine
Reenactors all

Wearing wool pants in this heat

Sweaty balls I guess
Chaffing thighs, chub rub

Surely not part of design

Blame factory foods

Anarchist Housekeeping: Collective Living Under Capitalism Anthology Submissions Now Being Accepted!

4 years ago I had an idea for an anthology I wanted to put together. I wanted to create a work that would serve as a how to, or how to not, for people intersted in creating or moving into an anarchist collective house or community. I was discouraged from the project by criticism regarding my own mistakes when it came to collective living. 4 years later and I am not living in a collective, but the project still interests me, and still seems to be something that could give voice to many people as well as help people avoid making mistakes like mine or other people’s. My own failures and mistakes in collective living are just part of why I think this project is important, and I do not think will hinder my ability as an editor. I have a strong background in writing and editing. I have one self published book, and have published probably a dozen zines over the years.

Over the years I have participated in many discussions with people who have lived in anarchist collectives and folks interested in the idea. It seems high time to put advice, history, and stories from a diverse group of people together. When I say diverse I am including race, class, gender, sexuality, age, geographic location, ability, etc. All of these types of issues can affect how well anarchist collective living works, or doesn’t.

 I want to put together an anthology of essays on collective living in anarchist spaces. I haven’t seen one that was a helpful/informative guide or something with advice, shared lessons learned, examples of how different spaces pull it off. I’ll edit and try to have published via PM Press or AK Press or some other radical/anarchist publisher.

In terms of submissions, a wide variety of forms will be considered. Lists, poems, essays, historical nonfiction, and photographs are the forms I can think of but others may have more. If you have or are currently living in an anarchist collective housing situation, please consider sharing your experience, ideas, lessons, history, etc.

Anyone who wants to submit a proposal should email me at mokarnage@gmail.com Deadline for submissions is Nov 1, 2017

please share this with folks you know who live in or have lived in anarchist collectives. I will be emailing all the anarchist collectives I can get info on, but I know that won’t reach everyone who might be interested in this project!

2017 Gaia Women’s Gathering Herbal Conference

This herbal conference is coming up very soon. May 5-7 please register asap to get a spot.click here for the registration and website: Gaia Gathering

I will be teaching two courses which I am very excited about. My bio and the course descriptions are below:

Mo Karnage is a new mom living on a farm, the Heathen Homestead, in Beaverdam, VA. Mo is a sober, vegan, queer, genderqueer, witchy zine loving anarchist. Mo is working on balancing construction, activism, writing and herbalism in their life.”

“Know Your Rights Workshop

MO KARNAGE

This workshop will teach attendees, through a series of interactive skits, what their rights are when dealing with the police, and how to best assert their rights to protect themselves. This workshop comes from the non hierarchical organization of Copwatch, and is a great starting point for anyone learning to drive or becoming politically active.”

“Prisons, PTSD/PICS, and Herbs: A Growing Need

MO KARNAGE

This workshop will address the situation within the U.S. Prison Industrial Complex, explore how and how much this results in instances of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Post Incarceration Syndrome, and where herbalism can fit in as a potential method to reduce rates of recidivism. Herbal medicine has a strong potential to intervene in the viscious cycles of trauma and incarceration, and help make the world a better place for everyone. Some of the descriptions in this workshop may be upsetting or triggering to folks, so please feel free to leave the room as needed, and to ask for support.”

 

Valentine’s Day

​Listening to NPR makes my hyper aware that all over the world people are being tortured/killed/raped/massacred/imprisoned/enslaved/robbed/etc. Pretty much all over the place all of the time. The fact that we are not currently dealing with that in a civil war/evil dictator type way right now is a goddamned miracle. But we can and should look around us and take lessons and get prepared. Regimes and warring groups all over invade areas, murder/rape/capture etc. There are rampant food shortages, droughts, etc. That is always possible here. Are you preparing your community and family to be more inter- and self sufficient? What are you going to do to protect your loved ones when that day comes? Happy Valentine’s Day yall!

Image

I made an art

IMG_20141204_130850

2 New Zines

I’ve got a new personal zine out as well as a new collaboration!! Check them out at the links on archive.org  below!Both zines debuted at the 8th annual Richmond Zine Fest!

Fragments of Karnage #365 – featuring poems, essays and articles, and more!

And Issue 1 of Calm Down, a call out for more effective tactics in radical/social justice/ anarchist movements.
Calm Down

Code Enforcement- the Slappin’ Hand of Gentrification

Code Enforcement- the Slappin’ Hand of Gentrification

“This used to be the United States,” Soffee said. “It wasn’t against the law to be poor.” – RTD 6/29/14 pg A6

Over several months I have heard from a friend who lives in a local trailer park, and a friend who’s relative manages said trailer park, about the plight they are going through dealing with the City of Richmond’s Code Enforcement Officers. The strong armed campaign to force compliance with building codes to Rudd’s Trailer Park on Southside made the front page of the Richmond Times Dispatch today, opening the issue up to larger dialogue. If you have not yet read the article in the Sunday June 29, 2014 paper please take a few minutes to check it out.

The long and the short of it is, Code Enforcement has decided to focus on the 9 trailer parks remaining in the City of Richmond. To understand the whole reason behind what they are doing, and why what they are doing is problematic, we need to first understand some basic ideas about code enforcement. We also need to understand the context of targeting people who are low income, who may not have English as their first language, and who’s culture is different than the WASP mentality from which much of our local government stems. Additionally, we are – I repeat again and again – talking about a City with a 27% poverty rate, and where 40% of our youth live in poverty. Everything is about context.

Code Enforcement is not a neutral tool, and it is not an inevitable force. In fact, the way in which the City of Richmond (and many other places) uses code enforcement, especially via the CAPS program, reeks of selective enforcement. Selective enforcement being where laws are used at the whim of officials and not uniformly applied to everyone in a fair manner. One example of selective enforcement by CAPS was when several years ago they issued me a citation for my rotten soffets. I acknowledged my rotten soffets, and explained my plan to eventually get a loan to do roof and soffet repairs. But I asked the guy if he was issuing everyone in the neighborhood a citation – almost all of the homes feature rotten soffets. He said he was not, I accused him of selective enforcement, and he dropped the citation. Selective Enforcement is one of the major problems with how CAPS functions generally, and how this new attack on trailer parks specifically just stinks.

CAPS stands for Community Assisted Public Safety, and is a combination of Code Enforcement officers, Cops, and community members who snitch on their neighbors. Officially this involves five departments – Planning and Developement Review, Police, Fire, Finance, and the Virginia Department of Health. What it means on the ground is that they have meetings, like the MPACT ones, where citizens are able to make complaints. Then a code enforcement officer, often escorted by a cop (at least when they come to my house), shows up at the property to look at whatever the complaint was about, and to try to develop a laundry list of other violations.

If you haven’t read up on CAPS I suggest you take a look yourself, to see some of what is behind their attempts at “compliance”.
First off, the word compliance just leaves me with an icky feeling. Ugh -authoritarian much? Secondly, the way that CAPS functions gives NIMBY (not in my backyard) types, gentrifiers, and developers a platform through which they can try to impose their value systems on their neighbors. CAPS facilitates the prioritization of money over community, and the perpetuation of petty grudges and disagreements which then become backed by the power of the state. Concrete example of value systems conflicting- once a Code Enforcement officer came to my house, and I suspect knowing I wasn’t home, spray painted over the word “fuck” which was painted on my back fence which we use as a public graffiti wall. When I called him, irate, he explained he assumed it was not supposed to be there. I had to emphasize that, yes, I really did intend for the word Fuck to be on my fence and I did not appreciate his vandalism of my property.

At the Wingnut Anarchist Collective we have probably had CAPS called on us at least 6 times over the past 5 years. Primarily it seems to be the result of the police or yuppie neighbors who are mad about something we are doing (like our giant anti-cop mural), which happens to be legal, but so get code enforcement to come around to seek out anything that doesn’t meet code they can possibly spot. Generally code enforcement officers and cops are greeted by video cameras and curse words, cause we don’t want to encourage their return. We are privileged enough and have been educated on our rights and the local laws and codes enough that often we have been able to successfully argue back against bogus citations. Not everyone is in a position to do so.

You might also be tempted to think that every violation that Code Enforcement cites someone for is valid, but oh my you would be incorrect. I’ve had citations for ordinances which didn’t actually define any of the relevant terms, and for ordinances that the code enforcement officer didn’t actually seem to know what they meant.  I’ve known people who received violations for things like peeling paint, having recently repainted their property, only to eventually discover that the code enforcement officer found one house on the block with peeling paint, and simply went ahead and issued everyone on the block the same citation. Another friend was working through the code enforcement process recently over a non-functioning car, only to end up having code enforcement come and tow the car days after he brought the vehicle into compliance with tags etc. When you hear that code enforcement issued however many citations, take it with a handful of salt, and a critical eye. And hope that the folks who have the citations against them have the ability to push back against the irrational bureaucracy, read between the lines, and know enough to never trust a government official.

Assumingly the motivation behind CAPS comes from this tired old Broken Window Theory that law enforcement have been flapping their gums about since the late 70’s and early 80’s. Theory goes, that vandalism and ‘disorder’ in an urban environment spawn or contribute to further criminal activity. Primarily this theory has resulted in police working towards covering graffiti, enforcing building codes, and other petty visual issues in communities.

The broken window theory has also notably been the motivator behind such other authoritarian approaches like NYPD’s notorious stop and frisk program. Having witnessed the RPD engaging in similar stop and frisk harassment of primarily young men of color, it seems as though RPD has bought into broken window theory hook, line, and sinker.

One of the major problems I have with the broken window theory isn’t even that it is necessarily incorrect. Perhaps it is correct, and fixing up the physical environment somewhere convinces criminals to leave that area. But there’s the major problem I do have- also known as the bubble effect. Criminals maybe leave one area, but by failing to address the root cause of criminal behavior, you are simply perpetually moving the criminal activity around but never actually solving it. Crime isn’t solved because someone get’s their windows repaired (which I will repair for money by the way, holler), crime is ‘solved’ because there are jobs with dignity available, counseling, recovery programs, a well adjusted society, educational opportunities, access to healthy food, transportation, etc. The same thing goes for poverty or homelessness. Every single effort to move the poor around (cough privatizing Monroe Park cough), including the economics of gentrification and property taxes, does not end poverty. Mayor Jones might be content to do his best to relocate poor people outside of the Richmond City boundaries, but those efforts will not produce a successful and happy society nor an end to poverty or crime. We have to think regionally, and we have to work towards a more just society. Not one where we have forced the poor into the suburbs because of the reverse white flight tendencies of liberals.

Gentrification is the process through which low income people are forced out of one area due to increases in property tax and rent. In 2006, according to the RTD, Rudd’s Trailer Park was assessed at $908,000 – now in 2014 it is assessed at almost $2.5 million. That means an increase in property taxes annually – going from $10,896 in 2006 to $30,000 now (1.2% property tax rate). While the trailer park is different than single family homes the pricnciple is still the same. The landlord has to pay higher taxes, and no doubt that cost is reflected in increased rental rates for all tenants. Leaving tenants with less extra cash to take care of things like maintenance and repairs.

I propose that the City of Richmond work to slow down gentrification through several related policy changes. We should put a moratorium on zoning changes, a moratorium on increases in property assessments for single family dwellings, and start demanding through a combination of legal and PR means that any “non-profit” organization which pays any employee over $150,000 a year including bonuses, benefits, and petty cash have to start paying property tax on all of their holdings within City limits. This makes sense to me, given the million dollar paycheck VCU pays it’s basketball coach and the over $200,000 Venture Richmond’s head Jack Berry hauls in – just as 2 examples of what “non-profits” are doing with their money instead of pitching in to the property tax fund to benefit our local schools and other public resources.

City Building Inspector Mark Bridgman was quoted in Sunday’s paper stating that any people kicked out of their house through a condemnation would be given the information of the Department of Social Services offices on Southside. As if that guaranteed housing, as if that solved their problems, or was any kind of balm to the wound of displacement. As if that was sufficient in any way, or in any way guaranteed that these folks would not end up living in another below building code dwelling. Come the fuck on. Once the City’s Code Enforcement officers stick that orange Condemned sticker on a property, it is illegal for anyone, including the owner, to be staying there. The orange stickers then give cops the go ahead to patrol the buildings to make sure that no one take shelter in the dwelling.

Where we live is about a lot more than the building we live in. People live in communities, and it is through those communities that relationships and support structures are fostered and nurtured. Getting the address for DSS is a joke. The value of community is why organizations such as RePHRAME exist to try to protect residents of Public Housing from displacement as well. If we value the well being of people, then we have to value their relationships as well. You are not looking out for someone’s well being if all you do is insist they live in a house of particular building code standards. We need to be broader minded than that. Safety, sustainability, and community need to go together.

I am not arguing that anyone should live in unsafe structures. I am not for unhealthy conditions. But code enforcement, the way Richmond is implementing it, does not ultimately stop that from happening. It is a strong armed approach, which results in dislocation of primarily low income people, the trauma of the disruption of community and support networks, and gentrification.

Targeting some of the most impoverished neighborhoods is just code enforcement going for the low hanging fruit. Yes, folks need the larger society’s help. No, that does not look a damn thing like code enforcement coming in to intimidate and strike fear into people’s hearts. Soffee, the manager of Rudd’s trailer park gets it right when he said that “instead of ‘putting people out,’ the city should be focusing on how it can help them fix the mobile homes” (RTD 6/29/14 A6).

When folks can not afford to bring their homes up to code, we should help them. Whether that be via non-profits, government grants, or just community efforts. We should also take a holistic approach. Why perhaps have folks ended up where they are? We can work as a City to make sure we have public side walks, affordable and effective public transportation, healthy affordable food, educational classes etc. available in those areas. Folks who can’t get to decent jobs, or stay healthy enough to work consistently, aren’t going to have an easy time affording home repairs.

Unfortunately, this recent push to enforce the cleanup of local trailer parks is par for the course of bad policy by the City of Richmond. Instead of looking to the roots of the problem, instead of offering positive and productive community oriented solutions, the government does everything it can to criminalize and invisibilize poverty.
These efforts to make poverty go away won’t be successful, but they will cause a lot of pain and suffering, and cost the tax payers a lot of money in the mean time. Capitalism and the State do not hold the answers to our problems, and we need to seek community oriented solutions to local issues. While at the same time we hold the state back, and stand up against unjust enforcement and unjust laws.

If you want to “like” Rudd’s Trailer Park and start or join in on a conversation about how we can help folks in Richmond’s trailer parks you can check them out online – Rudd’s Trailer Park.

Tag Cloud