(ed. The following post presents an anarchist comrade’s perspective on the current challenges facing the movement in Chicago. OLAASM has added a few hyperlinks to the text to [hopefully] help contextualize some of the subjects the comrade addresses. Otherwise, all of the content is presented as it was submitted.)
When the Chicago Teacher’s Union went on strike, we took to the picket lines and scanned the signs. One of the signs tried to highlight the central issue of reaction language, it stated “Why won’t the Board of Education Listen?” This was carried by the rank-and-file as they chanted “This is What Democracy Looks Like!”
Huh? No, it’s not. In fact, this is the exact /opposite/ of what Democracy looks like. In fact, the language used by the rank and file only served to show just how pathetically reactionary the Left is. It helps us, the victims of class conflict, feel solidarity with each other. It does nothing to overturn the conditions we suffer under. Don’t kid yourself, it does nothing to remove power from the ruling elites.
At the same time of the strike,there was a mild effort to question why an unelected school board was making decisions for the entire City. There was a moderate effort to put a referendum forward for an elected school board. It was quickly stonewalled by useless politicians. There was never an effort to ask why five people, none of whose children attend public schools in Chicago, are making decisions for us. Instead, people walked around in circles and patted each other on the back and discuss “power to the people”.
We attempted to push back. The Anarchists / Marxists / syndicalists published information which called out the violence with which State power was enforced. We talked about the violence of children crossing established gang lines, we talked about the violence with which the people have no power over their place of employment. In fact, the only line fucking liberals responded to was by defending the violence with which police monitored the daily marches. We were often shouted down and the police thanked for “keeping us (the union members) safe.” Our attempts to remind them of earlier attacks by the police in the in the 1933 Teacher’s Strike where ignored. And yet, the anarchists (myself included) were targeted with undercover cops trying to follow us home. Typical Liberals.
After the death of Aaron Swartz, there was a discussion I had with another comrade. It was the question of “prosecutor overreach” in the case brought against the late Aaron Swartz and if that had a role in his death. The position I took was that the prosecutor did not overreach. We shouldn’t make that argument.
It’s easy for us to be reactionary and say they did over prosecute, that they hounded him far worse than they would in other cases. I still stand firm that the prosecutor did nothing wrong, because I think that position more correctly makes the point that we radicals should be making; All Prosecutors are Bastards. For every one they “over prosecute”, there are many more cases they do “by the book” which result in mass incarceration, families ripped apart, deportation, or incidents swept under the rug.
This is not meant to deflect criticism against Carmen Ortiz or excuse her role in any way, because of her a person is dead. It just strikes me that Liberals shouldn’t have to make excuses when they should just state the situation /as it is/ and point out that///by itself is the problem.
Here in Chicago, there is also a 40-year old case of a high ranking police office Jon Burge and his pigs torturing at least 150 people over many years into false confessions. There is still a backlog of 100 cases to be reviewed for the torture committee. (Incidentally, one of the things cut from the State of Illinois’ budget last year was this committee’s funding. It’s a nice system.) Jon Burge is in Federal Prison for 4 1/2 years for perjury charges, but not for crimes such as electrically shocking genitals, breaking fingers, and suffocating people with plastic bags.
Putting aside the absurdity of this use of State Power to punish “bad pigs”, I was shocked at the tepid reaction of many in Chicago. There are, of course, multi-million dollar settlements paid out (not out of the CPD budget but from taxpayers) and calls for “justice” for the victims. One such victim, Stanley Wrice, was exonerated after 31 years in prison. While these events unfold, reactionary Liberals will (and have) asked for two things: “justice” for the victims and a civilian review board for the Police. What these demands, and particularly this language does is mask the true rot that is the Chicago Police Department.
No amount of money will ever replace a life stolen because of the police. Ever. And yet, liberals hold on to this idea of “justice” being found somewhere in our legal system (a preposterous assumption). The second grand assumption is to believe that somehow we can “democratize” police departments. The truth is that regardless of who is in charge police department, the rank-and-file mostly do anything they want.
Some institutions can’t be democratized and we should just get rid of them.
An Anarchist from Chicago