What is your group, and how did it come together? Were you inspired by, or involved in, protests against recent police killings, such as Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, etc? What about earlier incidents, like Katrina, Oscar Grant, or the Jena 6?
J: We met after a local demonstration that was called at demo at a combination of meetings, rallies, and a newly-formed study group.
C: We are a mixed race group of angry people, who started working together.
S: I was involved in some protests. Continual protesting has produced no changes in the governmental system. Police are still being terrorists and the system still continues to endorse the police terrorism.
Y: I was inspired by the Ferguson moment. L seemed to have started paying attention during Oscar Grant.
J: Yea, it was Oscar Grant that made me pay attention as well. I found it really inspiring and it was one of the first things that seemed to be people using their power to threaten the system. Meserle was only indicted after days of rioting.
T: Maybe it would be interesting to talk about why we ended up having the relationships with each other that we have. Like, why are we sitting in this room with each other instead of anyone else who was at the original protest.
Y: I look for the people wearing black; the disgruntled people in the back of the room.
J: Being anti-reform has been something that’s come up a lot. Especially looking at other groups in town and then at the system and feeling like there’s no way to reform this; it’s all gotta go.
The rioting in Ferguson and Baltimore was controversial throughout the nation. What role do you think rioting plays in the movement?
S: What do they mean by “rioting”? “Rioting” is violence. My answer to this is the same as my answer to the first question.
C: I think demonstrating, property destruction, and violence.
J: I’m thinking of Ferguson and Baltimore, compared to New York where people were out in the streets a bunch and were blocking things, but there were intense frontal conflicts with the police and pretty generalized property destruction.
C: I think I have more of a question: they refer to a number of different movements throughout the interview questions: Black Lives Matter, the struggle for black liberation, the anti police brutality movement. Which movement are they referring to? Also, what is a movement?
S: People have received warrants for walking on a bridge. I and many others are targeted by the government because we have attended many events. I said police look forward to riots and peaceful protests. This allows the government to continue destroying us by-way-of genocide, unnecessary arrests, physical and mental injuries, loss of incomes, loss of jobs, and much more.
J: Is there something else that we should be doing to resist this?
S: I’m sure there’s other things we can do, but what they are I have yet to find out. Going to the police station, the city hall, and the Capital are of no use. These tactics do not make any changes. But I don’t know what we can do.
J: I think that the several weeks of rioting really drew a lot of people out in a way that hadn’t been seen in Austin in a long time. And in a way where people were coming together consistently afterwards; all sorts of different groups of people were getting together consistently afterwards to ask that question: what to do? That was largely inspired by Ferguson where people were coming out every day to ask that same question. and it was a mix of peaceful demonstrations and riots and street fights with the police into the evening but that it was people who were consistently coming together to build with each other. Baltimore happening after that provided some fuel.
S: There were a ton of articles that came out that seemed to be liberal defenses of rioting. They refer to all of the riots that preceded the Civil Rights Act, The articles are saying, “No, let people riot because that’s how change is made”. I wonder to what was in their minds when they asked the question:”What is the relationship between the rioting and the movement?”
T: This question made me wonder: how does our own organizing or the types of events or spaces that we’ve been trying to create relate to things that are riot-like or that contain the same spirit as the rebellion in Ferguson?
C: I feel like one of the most consistent things in our organizing has been holding space for people to feel how they want to feel or be mad if they want to be mad which is different from most things in this city. Like, gatekeeper organizations being like “these are the rules of etiquette for this demonstration; you will bow and curtsy and high five all the officers”. I don’t think we could ever organize a riot; that seems like a funny thing. I think it just happens spontaneously; when people are just fed the fuck up or are tired of slogans or asking for change. They’re just like “I just wanna see this shit go or if not, I just wanna punch a cop in the face.” In that book, The Baltimore Rebellion: A Teen Epistolary there was one tweet that was like “I just wanna hit one cop in the face, just one.” It was kids just being mad, being like “I hate this shit! I’m gonna get me some new shoes and I’m gonna hit a cop and call it a day.” Yea, and there was another tweet that was like “This isn’t over until the body count is equal.” which I was maybe a fan of.
J: I think to draw on something that you were saying it’s like things like creating space for things to generalize. I think that it’s a certain generalized thing where there’s a ton of people asking the question: how can I get even with the system or how can I express my rage with this system? It’s a more general discontent and that leads people like the BART police or Meserle to be indicted after days of rioting or the officers in the freddie gray case to be indicted in the days after that and all of the stuff that happened in Ferguson where every power in the country was like How do we fix this thing? Who can we send in that will make people go home? This armed dissatisfaction; people taking things into their own hands rather than waiting to be called out by somebody who has the answer.
Y: To answer the question: what role does rioting play in this movement, specifically in terms of my experience and the discussions I was having, I feel like it created two poles. People would either be like “I can empathize with that, I’ve been at my last end and I’ve wanted to see things burn” and there were other people who were like “but what about the CVS?” It made my facebook experience very easy to know who to unfriend. I think that was the same time that starbucks was doing the “let’s talk about race” campaign. As most controversial things, I think that it created conversation about respectability: I know that I spent some time saying “it’s an uprising, not a riot” and then reconsidering why was I doing that? I had a lot of internal struggle during that time period and it was really good for me to figure out what was my uncomfortability with words. Seeing this unfold allowed me to process the power of words.
T: One final thing to add: something else that we’ve tried to do is encourage a spirit of open-endedness; not trying set boundaries for what’s possible at a particular event. Encouraging people, like you said, to come with whatever they’ve got and feel like this is their space to share whatever that is. But, that there’s also a refusal to put limitations on what happens and let the energy ride, to see where people want to take it. Letting people feel what they want to feel produces the generalizability that circumnavigates representatives or circumnavigates the people who would impose limitations. I think those are things that we brought to our organizing, but that also exist in a riot. Maybe a riot is a particularly powerful expression of that open-endedness. That said, we’re also only talking about a certain part of what we’ve been doing in our organizing. We’ve also been doing study groups and potlucks and other types of things. It might be interesting at some point to think about how those things connect to the riot as well.
Some groups have proposed reforms that they think will help lower the rate of police brutality, such as body cams, campaign zero, sensitivity training for cops, or civilian review boards. Do you advocate for any reforms? Do you think these reforms will be effective?
S: The entire government needs to be overturned! The policing system is a part of the U.S. Department of Justice. Reforms are like “putting a new tire on an old car”. The new tire will eventually need to be replaced, also. To say nothing of the hundreds of other parts to “old car”. Recently, the creators of the Black Lives Matter movement referred to police brutality and murders as police terrorism and state-sanctioned violence. Body cams, campaign zero, sensitivity trainings, and civilian review boards are a far cry from creating a just system for all. It’s state-sanctioned, it’s not just the police! The ones that we vote for are the ones letting it happen.
C: That’s the funny thing about Austin right now too, is that there’s this conglomeration of people who are wanting—I don’t know, it just feels like off-brand campaign zero or something?
T: All of the slogans, but none of the concrete demands?
C: Yea…then seeing Austin Justice Coalition do the same thing, but worse.
J: Well, BLM Austin has concrete demands that are similar to campaign zero.
C: I think they just took them from campaign zero, right? If you can sit down and talk to [Chief of Police] Acevedo and he’s like not mad at you once during the conversation, then something’s off in the most obvious liberal sense. If the police are totally chill with your reforms, then you’re probably doing more harm than good.
J: Well yea, especially in Austin, right, where Acevedo was like coming out as a reformer. Because he participated in the president’s council on 21st Century Policing and has come back to town and was like—
T: “I’m here to help!”
J: Yea, “People don’t like me in the policing world.”
C: What a maverick.
Y: Yea, and they’re going to put body cams downtown and Acevedo is like “I wish there was a way that the police didn’t have to turn off and on the cameras manually.” And it’s just like yea, there’s a way—we live in the 21st century—we have technology, and so it’s like any reform that we get is just kind of half measures or just attempts to seem like someone’s trying.
C: I’m sure that body cameras will make getting caught easier. It won’t get them to stop shooting anybody
T: Or, it already has and it hasn’t mattered.
J: What was that statistic that came out recently that was like number of deaths by police this year and was like, what, zero convictions? I think it was zero.
C: Nah, it was negative.
T: They actually let a few cops who were in prison for other reasons out.
J: And this is within the whole country where some people have cameras already, some where there was footage.
S: A body cam showed a policeman running after an unarmed man and killing the man. That should have been an automatic conviction—an automatic firing, but he’s still working. So what good are body cameras?
C: Yea, I think these things are more dangerous than helpful. Here in Austin, where we have ‘sensitive’ cops who pretend to be black (as part of training) so they get it and who have social justice language are much more of a dangerous enemy. So now a cop can hit you in the face and be like “no, it’s ok. I get it. Social Justice…but I’m punching you because I have to.” and then the rest of the city is like “but he had to. He said he’s sorry and that he gets it.” It’s much more dangerous to me.
T: He acknowledged his privilege before he punched you.
The movement has sparked wide-ranging online discussions of strategies for black liberation. What do you think of strategies such as “buying black”? Forming black worker or consumer cooperatives? Strengthening the black family? Are there any other strategies you’re seeing discussed that you feel strongly about, for or against?
T: Maybe it’s just not obvious to everyone why black capitalism isn’t going to free black people.
Y: Austin’s a really good example in that there’s a strong “buying black” sort of thing here, but I don’t know how to measure if it’s been successful or not.
J: I think the idea of buying black crosses over with gentrification. A lot of the events where people have been talking about supporting black businesses, there’s sort of an undercurrent that they’re talking about: supporting east Austin businesses so that they can stay vibrant and be a part of that community. The other place that I see the buying black piece coming from—and strengthening the black family—in Austin has been from the conservative Nation of Islam. At their events and at the speeches that they’ve given, you hear about those often. Recently with the Justice or Else movement, I’ve seen that as a big promoter of buying black and explicitly talking about boycotting white-owned business and using the black dollar to pull out of the white economy and put it into the black economy. And that seems to be their strategy that will bring down this entire system just by moving our money to black people from white people.
S: “Buying Black”is a good idea, but not many Blacks have their own businesses and not many Blacks have their own products. For myself, I do artwork. I do crafts. They pile up in my apartment. I can’t sell in this city. There are many prominent art shows and art fairs in Austin, such as the Blue Genie and the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. It costs $700 and $800 to rent a small space at this events. Some of these events want 40 or 50% of your profits. So if I sell this for $2, I’ve got to give them half of my money. So Buying Black is a theory but it not easily applicable.
J: Because black people have been kept out.
S: Kept out, yea. I was at this church on MLK, a few weeks ago it seemed like there were mostly muslims there at a town hall meeting. Black entrepreneurs were able to display their items at a “Black Expo” in the lobby of the church. After the event, an older black couple came outside and bought two of my pieces because they said they heard about this “buying black” thing. But that was only two people, or a couple, one person, one person buying from me that night. I was invited to participate for free.
C: I saw a good thread on facebook from one of the people in Out of the Flames [of Ferguson] talking about buying black stuff with another person and talking about how, even if you’re supporting a black-owned business who— So ideally, a black-owned business would be owned by a black person in a black neighborhood supporting a black community and employs black workers, for that business to succeed, in order for the owner to want to sustain that business, in order to make a profit that would require them to make most of the money and, in essence, exploit their own workers who are black people. So it’s exploiting black bodies for money, for profit, to sustain themselves and they were talking about how they were a tutor where they were paid $10/hr to tutor three kids an hour and it cost… how much did it cost… I forgot how much it cost per hour for the parents to pay, but in the end, the company made $150. And this person got paid $10 of it. So the business gets to take $140/hr and if there’s 10 workers working, that’s $1400/hr where as workers are getting just $10/hr. So it’s still exploitative toward black folks and requires the same sorts of problems that we see in current capitalism, except now the people who take our money are black.
T: Right, there’s an intense history of people with power working with people who don’t look like them to sell out other people who do. History hasn’t given us many reasons to trust the good intentions of this group of capitalists vs this other group of capitalists, regardless of how they look. Also, the people making the most waves are people who don’t have very much spending money. Most folks don’t have the dollars to invest in their own community.
C: The slogan isn’t support black people, it’s just “buying black.” going off of the families thing, too, I was in a car ride with some BLM organizer here who talked about how some black people don’t want queer black people around or see them as a problem affecting the black family.
S: What did you say?
C:I didn’t really—but was talking to me about how queer black folks are a problem for black families or how lots of black folks don’t want that.
J: Is it that queer people don’t reproduce more black people?
C: Yea, and also disrupt the family structure and also homophobic and transphobic. Because I’m like, not going to marry or live my life in this way. Or i dunno, I’ve heard people say these, like “buy black” or “support black families” but also do gross shit like sell people out to the police. If we can’t even keep each other out of state violence then why the fuck would I buy something from you?
Y: Yea, I feel like this city subscribes to this buying black theory, but they are also spending money on this “I am black Austin” campaign. So it’s like they’re pursuing a certain kind of black person to move here, but they’re not actually finding solutions for gentrification. Which is frustrating. But I will say that, last christmas eve, nationwide boycotts resulted in 13% decrease from last year’s profits. I work in retail specifically and mall traffic is really low. It’s causing Macy’s to cut out 40 stores this year.Capitalists are freaking out because of online shopping and decreased mall traffic. I do think that the boycotts at Mall of America was a big deal, so I do think that those are effective.
J: The effectiveness of the boycott and seeing that at the Mall of America in Minneapolis and then in Chicago where they did a huge march on Black Friday disrupting this economic activity and basically keeping these people from getting dollars. That brings people together to disrupt the flow of capitalism, or the flow of money. Buying black or a very general sense of a boycott just puts you back into your role as a consumer and if you don’t have money then you’re limited in in this role as a consumer. Anybody, regardless of what they have, could go out and shut down the Mile in Chicago with all the fancy stores or shut down the Mall of America or could shut down the Blue Cat Cafe or disrupt their business. So I think there’s two kinds of boycott. One that brings people together to disrupt the flow, and one that puts you back into your role as consumer. I think it might be useful to distinguish between those two things.
What has been your orientation to the Say Her Name protests? What ways do you see questions of gender arising in the movement? Do you see a revitalization of feminism occurring? If so, what are its features? If not, why?
S: I’m not familiar with these say her name protests.
J: I think of the vigils after Sandra Bland died.
C: Yea, the events where they would call out the names of the black women who had died and they would say “say her name” between the names.
T: To be cynical for a second: I feel as though it’s mostly been on the level of representation. So, there’s a lot of discussion about elevating people: the people who initiated the hashtag, many of the people we can point to as leaders, and a lot of new names that have made it into the movement discourse. Which is significant, but it seems to be more on the level of recognition and representation than people being oriented toward gender differently in a way that has actually been liberatory for black women generally.
J: In a more positive way, it’s been asking the question: why is it only black men who get riots or big uprising or movements? I think that the idea of the say her name protests is to elevate women who have been killed by police in the broader movement space so I think it comes from a genuine question, or a provocation: let’s mourn black women and black trans women who’ve been killed as well. In Austin, you see people who put the call out for the say her name protests but then have gender politics that throw out queer people or view queer people as a problem for the black community. You can value black women and value black transwomen and say their names in demonstrations but could be awful to women and queer and trans people in other ways.
C: Yea, I feel like it was really important for those reasons. Like, why aren’t there riots for anybody but black men? Although, I think in Austin, that’s been some of my least favorite stuff. It’s been the most scripted and the most strict stuff that’s happened. Even the way you mourn was told to you: you have to do it this way. So I’m not sure if I’d call it a revitalization of feminism because in that same breath they take to the internet to slut shame and attack another black woman because she was someone who had different politics. But I haven’t been too plugged into it in other places, but here it’s been the weirdest, most contradictory sort of stuff.
Y: I was aware of Say Her Name stuff that had been going on in Oakland specifically from @brownblaze. They did a lot of Say Her Name protests that were really powerful and then seeing the Rekia Boyd protest in chicago where no one really showed. But specifically in Austin, I remember going to PTF (People’s Task Force) meetings and hearing the same names read out loud, or announced: Larry Jackson, Freddie Gray, Mike Brown, and then when someone was like “Hey, what about black women?” Then you started seeing more names added, like Rekia Boyd. So it feels like coverage, but not intentional coverage. There have been plenty of black women that face police brutality in Austin and Texas, but they aren’t in the name bill. It’s just organizers who are like “ok, now Women matter. I guess we just gotta add them in and we’re gonna choose the biggest names we find on the internet.”
J: I think also that a lot went into making Sandra Bland’s death really very intense but I think that asking that question: “why don’t we mourn black women” sort of primed more people to feel really intensely and connected to this case and there’s a whole list of reasons why her death was really intense, but the organizing in waller and in Houston and around here was very powerful and came from the spot of asking that question.
T: Do we think that we’re closer to witnessing a riot happen because of the death of a black woman now than we were beforehand?
J: In Waller there were some pretty intense conflicts with the police at the Waller County Jail or wherever they were holding her. I mean it wasn’t riot-scale, but it seemed like there was a lot of militancy around it.
C: I guess I’m thinking back to the question of “what causes a riot” or “how do riots happen” and I feel like… people cause riots. And people are full of contradictions and so depending on where you’re located and that sort of thing. I feel like a group of kids might be just as likely to start chucking shit if it was a black woman who was a close friend or something.
T: Yea, I guess I wonder just how far outside of movement space has the say her name stuff reached? Whereas it feels like Ferguson and Baltimore touched black folks all over the place, so, not just activists.
S: It’s not just the blacks, there are all kinds of races participating in this because all races are tired of this, not just blacks anymore. I heard one white man say that it’s our tax money that we are paying these policemen and politicians to do what they do and it’s something that we need to address now is our tax money is paying these policemen and paying these politicians who are not taking care of us.
What do you feel is the place of nonprofit organizations in the movement? Are they a positive or negative influence, and why?
S: Nonprofit organizations are helpful to individuals not to large groups. I read the introduction to Captive Genders, page 26, “The Hero Mindset” about the non profit. Barack Obama put together a task force of different nonprofit organizations and prestigious individuals to investigate the policing in Ferguson, MO. This was after he also sent troops there to hurt the people who were fighting or who were rioting, but he sent a task force to investigate policing in just one little city when there’s millions of cities in this country. Does he think we are stupid? You know, it’s happening everywhere. It’s happened before, it’s happened here with Larry Jackson and all of the people who have been killed here in Austin so why would he use our tax money to investigate one little suburb in one city.
J: It’s interesting that you say that they first sent in the troops and then they send in the nonprofits.
C: I’d say that my answer would be that nonprofits are parasitic and can’t exist without the suffering of people. Nonprofits wouldn’t be around if people had the shit that they needed and nonprofits tend to just act as gatekeepers for resources. I don’t think that they do anything for movements besides come in and start taking what they can: energy, momentum, influence, or actual resources.
S: There’s no long-term goals. “Here’s some candy, take care of yourself at this moment. Here’s some clothes to wear for this day.” There’s no long term solutions for nonprofits.
J: Have we felt this in Austin?
S: Oh yes.
J: With the Black Lives Matter movement in particular, or just in the city, living?.
S: Yes, just living.
T: To me, with respect to the movement here, it’s less about nonprofits popping up and more to do with the sense I have that the types of people who have become leaders in the movement are more oriented to the non profit set of tools than whatever confrontational or more open-ended set of tools that other people have brought to the table. I’m thinking of people who are more friendly with funders and politicians and voting and ‘sending a message’ rather than being powerful together, immediately.
Y: I feel like with non profits you have to be good at writing grants, which is a skill set that’s not for everyone. There’s also a lot of nepotism and barriers. Plus, there’s a different language around non profits that’s not very accessible to everyone. I feel like crowd funding has helped in some sense where people can attain money for things, but then you need the social revenue and social media to get it out there to lots of people and that’s not very easy. And then there’s really shitty fundraiser aspects of crowdfunding where Darren Wilson was getting a ton of money. Darren Wilson, the person who killed Mike Brown, raised almost a million dollars for legal fees and started his new life with his new wife after not facing any consequences for murder. So yea, money, capitalism, it’s gross.
What relationship should the Black Lives Matter movement have to the established political parties, if any? To the electoral system in general?
C: None, none, none. Everybody wants to get fucking elected. Especially in this goddamn city.
J: Everybody read S’s article in The Challenger called ‘But I Voted.’
What relationship does the Black Lives Matter movement have to other movements in the U.S, like the immigrants rights, prisoners, or student movements? How do they mutually influence one another other?
Y: I feel like they support each other and sometimes compete.
C: I feel like there’s a lot on this one. I don’t know where to start or something.
J: About immigrant stuff?
C: Yea, that was the first thing we discussed when we met up for the first time.
J: What did y’all talk about? What was the connection for y’all?
C: We just talked about the ways that people are like oh we should have these two groups that should come together and then we were both just like there is so much shit about bringing black and brown people into a room together sometimes. With racism and anti-blackness and other shit anti immigration stuff that exists in that. So we were just griping about the flippant way in which people are like these two things should work together without talking about all the other shit that goes into that.
T: Is Palestine Ferguson?
J: I think that the post-Ferguson movement produced a lot of spaces where people were constantly coming together to ask the questions of the day. This interfaced with other movements as there were moments that happened in each other these struggles. So, thinking about hunger strikes at Karnes, close by to Austin, and other immigrant detention centers, folks who had met each other in the post-Ferguson movement were more aware. To me, the tricky question is who is having relationships? Can we tell if the people who are coming out to Ferguson stuff are interacting with the people who are coming out for immigrants rights stuff in any meaningful way? Or vice versa?
T: I want to wear the Afro-pessimist hat for a second and ask if that could be interpreted as other movements benefiting from black revolt/black death but not feeding back into it?
C: Or gaining something from Black people dying.
T: Yea, not necessarily consciously, but it seems like a bunch of people are galvanized by the movement and then take that energy elsewhere, away from the struggle for black liberation.
C: I feel like people had backs here somewhat. But I would say yes on a larger scale. I feel super weird about “we are mike brown” or “we are ferguson” or shit like that in other places. So, not talking about it in a way that was critical, or exploring the ways in which that was similar or the ways that the people were mad or fucked up but we’re just taking it and using it to move their own shit.
T: Oh, people are mad about this, so we can use it as a way to connect to our thing that people aren’t as mad about.
J: I think that there have been people who’ve shown up and who have built relationships with organizations that have been awful and has been pretty opportunistic.
S: They backed off? Or what did you say?
J: People have been trying to build relationships with BLMA in the last few months after all this shit happened where people were being thrown to the police before the September 19th demo. Or Undoing Racism organizers showing up to groom and meet black organizers to be like “Hi, come to my project. Be a face in my world” and not taking the time to build working relationships with people or find out what the desires of the other people are or meet on an even playing field or whatever.
T: I don’t know if I have much to say about this one. I feel like my approach is often to just hang out and wait until something hits home. I don’t pay a ton of attention to what’s going on elsewhere until people here start talking about it.
Recent years have seen a resurgence of right-wing violence, such as the Charleston Emmanuel AME massacre and the shooting of protesters in Minneapolis. How should we orient ourselves to this rise in violence?
J: I hear people talk about guns and I’m curious about guns but I honestly don’t know what I would do with a gun. I mean, I know how to shoot, I know how to use a gun but I don’t know how I would use a gun in a movement context. Or I don’t know if having a demonstration and having armed defense is something that I feel personally capable of. I would want to take anybody else’s lead on that. Like, if you have a good idea, demonstrate it.
C: I feel like we oriented in a way that made sense here. When shit started happening, in the study group we were reading the Robert F. Williams piece. And so we started to hand that out to people and have that discussion with them. Not necessarily a discussion but just asking the question.
T: Armed self defense?
C: Yea, I feel like here, that was the thing that made the most sense
J: I mean, I said masks before and I think that both Charleston and Minneapolis are examples of where that violence has come very directly to people without any warning and without any particular targets in mind, just black people. To our knowledge, they weren’t targeting individual people. I think that as far as the right wing upsurge in austin, so watching right wing people get a hold of people’s information and photographs and names and using harassment to target militants, I think that our tactic of using masks, some degree of internet anonymity or non-participation, trying not to put too many details about ourselves online has kept us largely safe from harassment and trying to promote those practices to other people and I don’t think that would stop somebody from walking into a demonstration with a gun and just like taking out whoever they can get but with the type of right wing harassment that we’ve seen in austin, being careful about what parts of identities are like out.
C: We’re also staying almost as plugged in as possible. Red Guards was on the neo nazi thing since it first started happening on the east side. and then we were [watching] the KKK and seeing where that was going and doing research and studying and watching documentaries. I still have that confederate group’s calendar on my calendar. So I feel like trying to preempt it as best we can.
J: Counterintelligence. In addition to being really plugged in, knowing when each of these different right wing forces are meeting or demonstrating and organizing to the best of our ability to disrupt and shut down those events. Just trying to stay on top of where the right is raising its head and trying to defeat them before it gets to guns or to shame or frustrate their activities so they know that they can’t just organize unchallenged. Not giving them the space to organize in public unchallenged is a way that we’ve addressed this question. I think that’s more a question of right wing movements than right wing violence.
T: I don’t know, that’s been a question I’ve had about Monkeywrench Books. We got a threatening message through our contact form a while ago that said really really intense things and then more recently had someone who was open carrying and had a “don’t tread on me” hat come and take a photograph of the store. He just walked up and took a photo and walked off. To what extent is that space a target because it has a huge Mike Brown banner and another big poster in the window that says “we don’t talk to police.” So, while individuals might be able to obscure their identities, having a public space and making that space one that is hostile to white supremacy and is actively organizing against it makes it pretty easy to find. Will we just have to eat whatever offensive we get, should we be worrying about the safety of volunteers, can we prepare for an attack in any particular way? There’s a bunch of questions there.
Y: Yea, it’s tough finding that balance between anonymity and being out there in the world because you want to know people and make it so people know how to find you. I feel like the study group encouraged me to try and be more intentional and present in seeing people every once in awhile and being offline. And I think if we were to move to a more heightened armed state it would be better if more people were less online.