J19 Minneapolis: Well, We Tried To Have a Dance Party

From It’s Going Down

And we failed, maybe.

Following the election, we recognized and felt – like so many others – the gathering of momentum against a Trump world. When people started making plans for J20, we wanted to harness some of the energy that built and dissipated after the election and just create some space to congregate, talk, and breathe under no ideology, no platform, and no unified aesthetic. So we called for a dance party on January 19th in a commercial district with the simple idea in mind to dance and block the operation of the city in some way. We were going to blast music and hand out fireworks and encourage rowdy—but relatively low-level criminal—behavior and hopefully meet up afterwards at a bar to talk about where to go next. Taking to the streets the night before the inauguration was chosen to set it aside from the non-profits’ permitted events and build momentum for the days (weeks, years!) to come.

We got a sound system, some fireworks, and made a simple banner. Basic shit. We passed out flyers around town at parties, bars, and shows. Many people we talked to seemed excited, and, by the last weekend before the event, some people we tried to give flyers to had already heard about it. This process was sometimes awkward and took us out of our comfort zone, forcing us to ask new questions: How much can you emphasize a desire to block the conduits of the city without freaking someone out? How can you tie the idea of a dance party to anti-Trump sentiment? From the beginning, we had decided to avoid the “subcultural” spaces in hopes that we might connect with different people who may have never thought of how to oppose the much-hated cheeto or the apparatuses of the state. We hoped we might expose ourselves to difference and have to explain things anew, outside of coded language and subcultural signifiers.

We also made a Facebook, which may have been our downfall, but we’ll get to that.

Our goal from the beginning was to open up a space for meeting people, specifically people who were afraid, angry, and confused by the Trump presidency and wanted to meet others and gather strength and have fun with them. There was no “event beneath the event,” so to speak, no hidden agendas. We wanted to create a fun situation with new people. No point to prove.

At most demonstrations and public events in the Twin Cities, the police maintain a safe distance, observing and waiting until something drastic happens, like a broken window. The night of the phantom dance party, however, as two groups of freaks in fabulous dance-party rags—pink balaclavas on our heads like a weird gang of petty thieves—rolled up with a stroller (cradling the small sound system) they were greeted by: pigs, pigs crawling everywhere (if only they were literal pigs it would have been really cute). Not only were there lines of cop cars, vans, private security guards, and even fucking tactical vehicles, but they actually occupied the space where we intended to start things by driving their vehicles into and blocking the area.

We moved into a parking lot to get out of sight, but were followed by the most obvious undercover in the world who peaked around the corner and gleefully ran back to report to his squad that he’d found the bad kids. We had to ditch the spot—at least to get rid of the fireworks—and regroup. Our friends were calling us to say they’d ditched after seeing the scene, and we imagine many others did the same. One friend who walked from the next neighborhood away said he saw cops parked at steady intervals for about a mile.

So we retreated. We were sad, yes, very sad, but we’d like to give credence to the tactical retreat.

One major lesson is to certainly use social media more strategically for such things in the future…cops love Facebook. Another is that the cops appear to be really afraid of non-permitted events in the city. This is important. In breakaway marches in the past, participants have broken windows, shot off fireworks, and disrupted traffic downtown, sometimes for hours, with a very small police presence and no arrests. This is because downtown Minneapolis is a non-space where there is no possibility of building momentum or gaining useful territory. Downtown is the symbol and paradigm of pure function with no necessary human contact. But we continue to drift toward safe non-spaces, as the freeway has now become (when permitted marches take it late at night or on weekends, as we’ve seen recently). We always find ourselves wandering about in the concrete desert of downtown with no people around and very few consequential transit conduits, police at an eerie distance. But call for an event in bustling-with-bros Uptown Minneapolis and MPD acts like you’ve declared war on the city itself (of course, not entirely untrue).

Anarchists talk often about “easily reproducible actions.” All too frequently, such actions are actually inundated with aesthetic choices and preconditions that most people are not aware of. If someone is not already wearing all black, how can they be expected to just join a bloc where they would be the obvious exception? Regular-ass people don’t wear all black. All jokes aside, pretty much anything besides a monochromatic get-up makes joining easier for people on the street. Fashion is a tactical concern. In this case, black is not practical, it’s symbolic. And surely an action is not easily reproducible when aesthetic cohesion is a prerequisite. This is not to say that black bloc as a tactic is ineffective but that it’s effectiveness has static patterns and that it is not as generalizable as it is purported to be. The aborted dance party was an experiment in breaking away from anarchist patterns of organizing as well as from gathering around identifiable signifiers. It fell too short to reveal anything about the latter. But, we do believe that if our goal is to produce ungovernable situations we need to work on broadening strategies in both of these realms. We retreated this time, but no-one noticed except the police and our friends. Failure? Nah, just strategy, bebe!

We saw the next day at the “mega-march” held by the “Resist From Day One Coalition MN” that at least some of our tactical ideas were well-conceived. A sound system, for example, invites people to join better than chanting, and encourages rowdiness and a sense of joy—even in a slow-ass march—and fireworks do too. Neither playing music nor shooting off fireworks are arrestable offenses, as MPD pointed out on their twitter, and both can potentially provide cover for riskier maneuvers. If enough people start dancing and shooting fireworks and refuse to leave the street, then the non-profits and the police have already lost control.

If our goal is to produce ungovernable situations, we believe all effort should go into developing broad, less-identifiable, and less risky maneuvers. Then maybe more people would come out of hiding, feeling emboldened to do riskier things together with more joyousness and less fear.

Autonomous Organizing in the Age of Trump

From Nightfall

So they really went and did it. This time last year the Trump campaign was only just beginning to lose it’s comedic factor. Now Trump is just days away from taking office, and many are at a loss on how to navigate this new reality. Without promising any solutions, we would like to outline a combative strategy against the incoming regime and all manifestations of oppression and authority.

In the days following the election, even cities where riots did not erupt from anti-Trump demonstrations witnessed an antagonism unprecedented in recent history. In every metropolis throughout the country social peace was shattered, even where it was strongest. Even as the immediate momentum slows, calls to disrupt the inauguration ceremony on January 20th have picked up steam. Interfering with this spectacle holds potential, but the prospect of decentralizing conflict on the 20th and beyond is what really piques our interest. The model we elaborate here provides us with a loose strategy for spreading ungovernability, reducing the capacity of the Trump regime, and by extension local authorities of all parties, from operating.

This strategy is what we, and others like us around the world, call autonomous self-organization. Let’s take a moment to unpack what we mean by this. First of all, when we speak of autonomous action we refer to action taken outside of or separate from official groups and organizations. While useful at times, formalized relations such as these can not only hinder our ability to act but also leave us vulnerable to repression when actions can be tied to offices, spokespeople, or membership lists. For these reasons, affinity groups are often proposed as an alternative to organizations. Affinity groups refer to those friendships that most of us already have—those handfuls of comrades with which we have built, or are building, a deep trust. With our affinity groups or even alone we have the freedom to take initiative, acting on our own accord and on our own timelines without waiting for instructions or invitations.

In refusing to become followers in struggle we are also refusing to gather followers for ourselves. For this reason reproducibility is prioritized when acting. Spray paint is 97¢ if you can’t steal it, every home has a hammer, and concealing your identity is simple if you think ahead (see our September issue for some tips). The easier an act is to reproduce the more likely it is to generalize, and as attacks spread and more people join in it becomes more difficult for authorities to profile possible suspects, creating space for more to participate and for bolder actions to be taken. While isolated acts are manageable, generalized unrest can and does make it harder for law enforcement to operate, harder for them to harass, arrest, evict or deport us.

It is important to note that the framework of autonomous self-organization is not exclusive to small or clandestine actions. It can also inform how we approach mass actions such as demonstrations. Rather than the traditional march where we follow the bullhorn from point A to B, we can come together as a cluster of individuals and affinity groups who cooperate to carry out larger, public actions. The tradition of protest marshals solidifies a hierarchy between organizers and participants, stifling self-organization even when marshals aren’t directly facilitating the work of the police. Instead, different individuals and groups can come prepared to achieve their own goals, whether this means bringing a banner along with flyers to hand out, acting as a self-defense squad against right-wing threats, or having the tools necessary to carry out a targeted attack when the time is right. In this sense, every public call should be viewed as a call for self-organization, a call to step up with our own contributions, with the hope that they can come together to strike a chord.

It might be difficult to imagine anything meaningful produced in our current context from a handful of isolated acts of resistance, yet the world abounds with examples: gentrifying businesses closing in San Francisco after repeated vandalism, immigration enforcement raids aborted in London after spontaneous blockades, eviction lawyers in Berlin dropping cases after their cars are burned. These are small victories within western urban centers, but we have just as much to learn from the self-organized communities of southern Mexico, the squatted forest of the ZAD, or the maroons of the eighteenth-century South.

Over the past year, the Twin Cities has seen a number of acts that loosely fit within this framework. Some are claimed through anonymous communiques submitted to counter-information websites such as Conflict MN or It’s Going Down. Others simply rely on the eyes of witnesses and passerby, leaving us guessing as to their intentions or allegiances.

In the spirit of self-organization, we at Nightfall have no interest in becoming the single voice of anti-authoritarian views and critique in the Twin Cities. The actions we cover and the events we promote are not representative of any single group but instead resonate with us regardless of their stated affiliations or lack thereof. We look forward to others with whom this newspaper resonates putting their voices and clarifications out into the world in whatever format appeals to them. This newspaper only requires a printer and a few dedicated friends.

So far we have described a framework of attack—something we find to be a crucial component of liberatory struggle. However it is just that: a component. Equally important is to support each other and build communities to sustain ourselves. The balance between these two has been described elsewhere as spreading anarchy and living communism. Any attempt to sever one component from the other will surely lead to defeat. As a friend once said, the commune is that which sustains the attack and the attack is that which enlarges the commune. We briefly explore this in a separate article [in issue 4.]

Everyone agrees, the situation is bleak. The Democratic Party is scrambling for relevancy, desperate to redirect different struggles and campaigns into membership drives. Every leftist group sees an opportunity for a new organization to take the Democrats’ place; that this organization is always their own is surely just a coincidence. These false solutions only offer the certainty of defeat, of death. We see in autonomous self-organization the potential for something more than bare survival, something like life. Our lives belong to no vanguard, organizer, or leader—only to ourselves.

A First-Hand Account of the Fuck Trump March in Minneapolis

Anonymous submission to Conflict Minnesota

aLast Thursday night, Socialist Alternative and other left-wing and progressive nonprofits and political parties (Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Students for a Democratic Society, and more) held a demonstration to protest the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. The crowd was huge, bigger than any march I’ve seen in Minneapolis in a while. In fact, the last time I saw a crowd this big it was the march put on by what would eventually become Black Lives Matter the day after a grand jury announced its decision to not prosecute Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown.

I go into this march with my own reservations about participating in a Socialist Alternative action, knowing that they are not for confrontational tactics and tend to only have photo op “actions” to appeal to their fanbase of well off progressive white people who probably voted for Bernie. But upon seeing the crowd and the fact that many people’s reactions to myself and my affinity group all wearing masks was a positive one (or became positive once it was explained) has me feeling optimistic. Maybe the sheer number of people at this march, about 5,000 or so I’d say, will be too much for the parade marshals to handle? Maybe people will be able to carry out some creative actions that up the ante and make a clear statement that we reject not just Donald Trump but the sham of capitalist democracy altogether? Maybe it’ll fuckin’ pop off? These are all the questions my affinity group had been asking each other while chain smoking cigarettes and waiting for the march to start.

bWe finally get out on the street, and the size and scope of the crowd becomes even more apparent to me. After a few more minutes of speeches, we finally start to march. The march kicks off and almost immediately it is greeted with applause and excited cheers. The march was in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, a neighborhood known for its large population of East African immigrants, some of them refugees fleeing conflicts the United States is fueling in Somalia and Ethiopia. Chants of “say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here!” are met with raised fists and cheering from the neighborhood’s East African population. This was a really nice sight to behold and it was great seeing a neighborhood I spend so much time in coming out to the streets like this. Here’s hoping it happens again soon.

The march is stopped on Cedar Avenue right in front of Palmer’s bar and the Cedar Cultural Center. I’m confused. Why are we stopping? Soon I see marshals telling people to make room for cars to drive through. This is stupid. Absolutely stupid. If the job of the parade marshals is to supposedly “keep us safe” why are they letting drivers through the crowd? While most of the drivers had passengers hanging outside the windows with their fists up in support and nothing happened, what if one of these drivers was a Trump supporter and decided to run us down? Later on I discover that the march had been stalled to allow our real escort, the Minneapolis Police Department, time to catch up and learn our route. Infuriating to say the least, but predictable behavior from Socialist Alternative.

The march kicks off again, this time bound for the GOP Headquarters in the Seward neighborhood just barely a mile away. The march remains largely tame, with the Twin Cities IWW General Defense Committee occasionally starting up more militant chants or changing “not my president” to “no more presidents” only to be immediately shut down and called “outside agitators” by marshals in yellow vests. Again, predictable behavior coming from Socialist Alternative. At this point, it should be very blatantly obvious that the official “left” in Minneapolis, the protest and movement managers, have no interest in showing meaningful opposition to a genocidal social order. Instead, they’d rather be the loyal opposition with occasionally fiery rhetoric, padding the resumes of would-be city councilmen and women, future interns for the DFL, or perhaps even a chance at landing on the board of directors of some progressive nonprofit. As such, while there is potential in intervening in marches and actions put on by these organizations and pushing for militancy or supporting already existing radical elements (case in point, the pitched street fighting on the night of November 18th during the Black Lives Matter occupation of the 4th Precinct) what should be expected from these organizations is a very strictly choreographed protest theater performance.

Upon arriving at the GOP headquarters, things start to get interesting. I hear some cheering and some people saying “stop that shit!” I look over and see that the GOP headquarters now reads “FUCK TRUMP” in black spray paint. Whoever you are invisible, anonymous graffito, I salute you. As we’re standing around in front of the GOP headquarters I can overhear a few arguments, with some of the protesters calling the vandalism of the GOP headquarters “violence.” This is pretty ridiculous, but with so many of the participants being first time protesters by their own admission, it makes sense that their first taste of seeing a small, symbolic act of resistance is met with immediate opposition. We’ve been conditioned to believe that as long as we are respectable, as long as we are peaceful, and as long as we give coherent demands that power will listen to us and give in to our demands. I was at that point once and after the dust settled from the eviction of Zuccoti Park and the death of Occupy I no longer had any faith in the State, capitalism, or any of the protest managers. I attempt to explain why people might take action such as this small act of vandalism and that the police will brutalize us regardless of whether or not we spray paint a few walls, peacefully disrupt traffic, or start tearing shit up and turning over cop cars. The police will only tolerate even the most peaceful protest for so long before the tear gas, pepper spray, and batons come out. To assume that protesters who take militant direct action deserve whatever police violence eventually comes down on them is not only victim blaming, it also hurts the movement itself. In light of a Trump presidency, our only enemies should be the police who will enforce Trump’s laws, the capitalists who will profit from Trump’s rule, and the liberals and protest managers who will collaborate with Trump’s regime. We all need to get very serious about resisting fascism, and if people are scared of or upset by a little spray paint we got a long way to go.

The march continues winding through Seward. As we pass by the onramp to get onto I-94, a crowd surges towards it. Parade marshals urge people to continue marching down Riverside avenue and to stay away from the highway. These pleas are ignored. More and more people sprint towards the highway and soon a few hundred people have taken over one, then two, then four, and eventually all 8 lanes of I-94. Tactics honed over the last 2 years of anti-police brutality demonstrations were put to good use. Once on the highway, the march takes on a different tone. Marshals have briefly been outmaneuvered and the police are nowhere to be found. I see “fuck Trump” graffiti on just about every flat surface and start laughing.

cAs we continue marching down I-94, I am excited but also nervous. The last time I was on this highway I was in St. Paul on July 9th and a flashbang grenade went off just a few inches away from my face. Having those traumatic images still fresh in my mind, once we’re in sight of the police line I am hopeful but still more than just a little worried about what might follow. Protesters link arms and begin marching towards the police. The exit ramp to get back out onto the street and wind up back where we started in Cedar-Riverside is still unblocked at this point. Another exit ramp is also not blocked, and the only police vehicle visible is a paddy wagon not nearly big enough to contain all 3,000 of us or so still on the highway. But before we could even directly confront the police and possibly clash with them, marshals run to the front and begin demanding that we stop, in the name of “keeping everyone safe.” Police soon have us completely cut off and the only way out is scrambling up a hill. I see that marshals are negotiating with police. After a thirty or forty minute standoff, the police eventually allow us to leave through the exit ramp that put us right by the Triple Rock Social Club and back in Cedar-Riverside. My affinity group disperses and we regroup at a comrade’s home, debriefing, unwinding, and plotting for next time.

The next few years of a Trump presidency are going to be interesting to say the least. The thin veneer of compassion and respectability that is neoliberalism has been pulled down to reveal the brutality and barbarity of capitalism. A resurgence of extreme nationalist politics is gaining ground in countries that have been ravaged by neoliberal policies. At the same time, combatants have brought the struggle to new heights of intensity in places like Greece, Spain, England, France, and now the United States. If the past 8 years of an Obama presidency gave us Ferguson, Charlotte, Baltimore, Milwaukee, the prison strike, Occupy Wall Street, Standing Rock, and the G-20 and NATO counter-summits, what will a Trump presidency bring? What new levels of repression should we expect? What is rebellion going to look like under Trump? These are the questions we asked ourselves after the march and going forward they are questions we should all be asking ourselves as we prepare for Trump’s presidency. However, we must also remember that regardless of who is in office, capitalism will still be capitalism, white supremacy will still be white supremacy, and cops will still be fucking cops.

Whoever they vote for, we are ungovernable

Mask Up: How & Why

From Nightfall

The events of the July 9th highway shutdown were inspiring, to say the least. Those who struck back against the police state inflicted significant financial damages on the city of St. Paul and the businesses that rely on I-94, as well as injuring 21 cops. Headlines the next day juxtaposed this number with the 102 arrests made that night to imply that the violence directed against the police did not go unpunished. However, the vast majority of those arrests were either negotiated surrenders by pacifists among the highway blockaders or misdemeanor citations issued hours after the shutdown was over. As it stands now only one person is facing felony charges stemming from the shutdown. The fact that there were many more who fought back that night and got away with it shows that it is possible to put the police on the defensive without resorting to suicidal lone wolf attacks such as the recent ones in Dallas and Baton Rouge. However, one person facing felony charges is still one too many, and that number could easily have been higher had the police been only marginally more prepared. Many people engaged in a variety of risky activities without taking basic precautions to conceal their identity. While the police were temporarily driven out of the streets surrounding the highway there were still cameras present, as well as pacifist enforcers eager to impose their own tactics upon those with differing ideas of how best to oppose the police. Nekima Levy-Pounds, the influential leader of NAACP-Minneapolis, stated in a speech at the Governor’s Mansion following the shutdown that “I ain’t no snitch, but if I see you smashing things I’m running to the 5-0.” With this in mind we offer the following reflections and fashion tips for today’s security-minded rebel.


The first order of business is to cover your face. A bandana will work, but a t-shirt is better. Simply put it around your head as if you were putting it on, tie the sleeves together behind your head and pull it up to just below your eyes, covering as much as possible. Combine with a hoodie and/or stocking cap to completely cover your face. Another important point is that the more similarly-dressed people there are, the harder it tends to be for police to get charges to stick to any one of them. For this reason black is the preferred color for masks and protest-wear in general, as it is one of the most common clothing colors and it makes us look fabulous. Beyond the mask it is best to stick with plain clothes that can’t be easily tied to your everyday style, such as a simple hoodie and jeans combo. If something could be used to identify you, cover it up or leave it at home. That means tattoos, hair, shoes, bags and other distinctive accessories. Glasses are not ideal but you definitely do not want to have contacts in if the cops bring out pepper spray or tear gas, so wear them if you need them and ditch them if you can manage.

In addition to having your all-black ensemble ready to go, you will generally want to wear something inconspicuous when entering and exiting areas of conflict. Avoid changing in sight of cops, cameras and people you don’t know or trust. A change of clothes is also crucial in case the cops start shooting marker rounds, little pellets that hurt like hell and leave a colored stain wherever they hit. If you are tagged by one of these, ditch the marked clothes as soon as possible, as police use marker rounds in situations where they have lost control, tagging individuals to send snatch squads after once control has been reimposed. In fact, much of the state’s case against the person facing felony charges from the night of the 9th appears to rest on the fact that when they were picked up they were allegedly sporting a tag from a round fired earlier in the night. It might suck to ditch your favorite pair of jeans, but a new pair will be cheaper than a court case.


There are many reasons you might choose to maintain anonymity at protests and other moments of rupture, the most obvious being that many effective methods of resisting the brutalities of this world, from white supremacy to patriarchy to the destruction of the earth, fall outside the boundaries of acceptable protest as defined by cops, politicians and respectable citizens. Actions such as defending oneself from the police, attacking the assets of white supremacist collaborators such as the private prison-funding Wells Fargo and expropriating the physical manifestations of the life stolen from us at work (aka looting) all carry with them the possibility of repression and are therefore best done as anonymously as possible. However, there are many other reasons you might choose to mask up. Even if, for whatever reason, you do not personally engage in confrontational actions masking up can respect and protect the autonomy of those who do. As we said before, the more masked people there are the safer are those who are most likely to be targeted by the police. Or maybe you don’t come to the protest expecting to engage in any risky behavior but are overtaken by the course of events, as happens in unpredictable situations. If you see a cop trying to drag one of your friends away and have the opportunity to snatch them back, you will be happy you masked up. And beyond your feelings on whether or not outright confrontation with the cops is tactically sound in our current moment, the long history of state repression in this country demonstrates pretty conclusively that the state will mobilize all of its power to crush any movement, peaceful or not, that poses a real threat to its hegemony. You can be sure that the police were filming the night of the 9th, in addition to monitoring the feeds of those livestreaming; those who did not have their faces covered are now that much more likely to have attention paid to them in the future.

A word or two should also be said about white supremacists. Much has been made of the fact that the white supremacists who shot five protestors outside the 4th Precinct in Minneapolis last year were wearing masks. Respectability-obsessed activists have manipulated people’s legitimate concerns about another white supremacist attack to pressure anyone wearing a mask, regardless of their political position or their perceived race, into removing it, thus consolidating their control over spaces of potential rupture. What has been completely overlooked in the discussion of this incident is the fact that in addition to wearing masks the white supremacists were filming everyone at the camp. These creeps have shown a pattern of harassment against known anti-racists both online and in real life, as evidenced by the death threats received by the individual who originally sounded the alarm that white supremacists were using 4chan to plan an assault on the occupation. They used their camera as a weapon much like the gun they would shoot soon after. Clearly this is a conversation that should be happening before we are on the streets confronting the police and the racists, but in our opinion the existence of white supremacists is another reason to wear a mask, not a reason to expose yourself. Perhaps in this sense these white supremacists were being more realistic than our side; they recognized that this is a conflict between two irreconcilable forms of life and took steps to protect themselves accordingly. It’s time we do the same.

Beyond Justice

From Nightfall

By now everyone is familiar with some version of this story. Jamar Clark was shot by the police on the morning of November 15th and died a few days later in the hospital. What occurred leading up the shooting is something else entirely and will not be explored here. Most are likely familiar with what followed: an occupation of the 4th Precinct’s lawn, a night of rioting, a white supremacist shooting, and more. Eventually the cold set in and the occupation was cleared, leaving many waiting to hear whether or not the officers would be indicted for their actions.

Participation in these actions was diverse; a variety of perspectives came together in one place. However, the most dominant voices were those calling for the officers to be prosecuted. Smaller demonstrations centered around this demand took place regularly after the removal of the encampment.

On March 30th it was announced that the officers who had killed Jamar Clark would not be charged. This sparked a day of protests across the city. Remarkably, the tone of these demonstrations had changed very little, as the crowds continued to chant “prosecute the police!” On June 1st, the FBI announced they would not indict the officers either. Protests have taken place since then and have remained faithful to this slogan, demanding what has already been unquestionably denied.

This brings certain tensions to the forefront: we cannot appeal to one part of the system for justice against another part; it is all the same system. Putting the police on trial and even behind bars will never dismantle the entire structure of cops, courts, and prisons—in fact, one might argue it actually supports that structure. Yet protesters continue to demand such a thing.

It is important to remember that from the beginning the call to “prosecute the police” did not speak for everyone. Especially within the first few days following the shooting, the chant was commonly interrupted with “fuck the police.” From this perspective, the demand for prosecution is less about actually prosecuting the officers and more about bringing into the political system those who previously existed outside of it. To say “fuck the police” is to say to the government: ‘there is nothing you can do for us.’ By channeling this sentiment into a political demand (for prosecution, something the government can do) it lowers the possibility of destabilizing unrest, the likes of which was seen on the night of November 18th. If people believe that there is something the government can do for them they can easily be bought off with a small carrot, and ultimately, swept under the rug while self-appointed leaders consolidate their power.

This would explain why there are still protests for prosecution despite its impossibility. People are still angry, as are we, that police officers get away with murder. But this is nothing new. The state has always had a monopoly on violence and the police are the armed guards of the social order. Let us not forgot that in this country the police evolved from slave patrols. In many of these past instances, people have recognized that there is no justice to be found from the same system that deals us injustice—and so they burnt everything down. The fires of Baltimore and Ferguson still burn fresh in our memories, but we can’t forget Los Angeles in 1992 or the countless revolts of the 60’s and 70’s.

In these cities, however, police continue to kill with impunity. So the answer is not simply to burn everything down, although perhaps that is a good start. We must simultaneously destroy the structures that dominate and oppress us (such as the police) as well as build our communities so that we don’t need things like police anymore. It is important in this process that we do not replicate what the police do, but instead reevaluate our understandings of law, crime, justice, and pretty much everything. A small glimpse of this world could be seen during the 4th precinct occupation in November, when everyone was given food and shelter for a short time. It was far from perfect, but it is crucial to know that these are not fantasies in our heads but realities that we create.

For a world without police!

“Even The Weather Is Like ‘Fuck Trump’”

Anonymous submission to Conflict Minnesota

1“If Trump comes out here we’re really gonna ride” – Anonymous, Concordia Ave & Grotto St, July 9th

There are nearly a hundred of us milling around behind the Minneapolis Convention Center. We’re told that this is the only entrance available for a motorcade but I am skeptical. The police advised the Trump campaign to hold their event here rather than their initial choice due to security risks; the Convention Center has many options for entering and exiting the building. It would follow that a motorcade would have multiple options as well.

Across the intersection, there is a man who I was told is a Trump supporter, yelling at the crowd. It’s unclear if he was actually attending the expensive fundraising event, or just wanted to confront the anti-Trump protest. In either case, he never made it inside. He had his phone and hat snatched away, and when he attacked he was beaten on the ground.

Not much later, the crowd is met by a small crew of people in black bloc gear. I am simultaneously excited and uneasy; the past year has not been a kind one to advocates of anti-surveillance practices like wearing masks. On March 30th, during a demonstration in response to the announcement that the officer who murdered Jamar Clark would not be indicted, masked protesters were confronted and physically ejected in a very coordinated act by many amongst the managerial class. The recent protests surrounding the death of Philando Castile, particularly the riot of July 9th, sparked remarkable backlash against supposed anarchists, usually identified by wearing a mask. The tension between those who wish to manage protest and those who wish to disguise their identity likely resonates far and wide, however in the Twin Cities it was the shooting of five protesters during the 4th Precinct occupation by white supremacists that allowed for much more extensive policing on behalf of the managers.

Surprisingly, many enthusiastically welcomed the masked crew, and many more eagerly donned the black bandannas handed out. With any luck, these practices will continue to become familiar and normalized. When engaging in direct action, or supporting those who are, masks are a simple step in countering repression.


As the fundraiser came to a close, Secret Service officers suddenly flooded outside of a side entrance and into the parked motorcade waiting. Several dozen rushed towards the cars but were met by the police scrambling to control the crowd. Some fights broke out in this moment and a few bottles flew towards the police line that was forming.

Once the motorcade got away, I returned to the front of the Convention Center where Trump supporters were desperately making their way through the protest. Shredded Trump signs were already covering the ground while their previous owners attempted to escape. A cameraman was surrounded and removed from the crowd and his equipment trashed. Other cameramen were also ejected as graffiti was tagged along the walls and more Trump supporters emerged from the building.

Before police had a chance to move in, the crowd dispersed and avoided any arrests. Rather than stick around for some sort of symbolic display with the cops, we retreated while we were ahead. In the end, Trump was shown that he cannot come to the Twin Cities without serious trouble, and this was supposed to be a private event. His donors were shown that they are not welcome here and will think twice before voicing support next time. And lastly, the Minneapolis Convention Center was shown there will be consequences for hosting far-right events.

In addition to achieving these goals, it appears that the initiative of rebels on the streets has taken a qualitative leap forward. This is promising, however while social peace reimposes itself we must continue to sharpen our antagonism towards oppression in all of its forms, not simply that of the far-right.

– one antagonist of many

On The Slowdown

From Nightfall

Author’s Note: The following, originally published in the first issue of NIGHTFALL, is put in a new light given certain recent events. The murders of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge by gunmen who were motivated by the high profile killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile has cops everywhere terrified that they might be next. Numerous police departments—including Minneapolis, St. Paul, St. Anthony and Maplewood locally—have announced that cops will patrol in pairs rather than alone for the foreseeable future. Rather than engaging in tired moral debates on the justifications or lack thereof to kill cops, we should turn our attention to the fact that the police have had their coverage of the city cut down significantly. Do the math: if every officer who previously patrolled alone now has to travel with a partner, there are now half as many. It is now less likely to encounter officers on patrol, and more likely to have longer response times when crimes are reported. This means less harassment, less brutality, and more breathing room. It’s not clear how long these orders will remain in effect, let’s make the best of it!

A news story made the rounds this spring about rumors of a slowdown in the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th precinct. The story alleged that during the month of April there had been a 51% drop in stops in the precinct, a 45% drop in arrests, and a 32% drop in stop and frisks. We are told that the slowdown is because officers are reluctant to do their jobs if they will be chastised for it, supposedly related to some bad publicity MPD received after officers pulled over a Target executive. However, it is obvious to anyone that the heightened hostility between MPD and the local population sparked by the shooting of Jamar Clark is at least partly responsible.

Some community groups have spoken out against the officers’ unwillingness to “protect and serve.” We will join no such chorus. In fact, we would like to encourage MPD to do their jobs less, or not at all. We consider this slowdown to be a regrettably missed opportunity—just imagine how much more we could have gotten away with while the police took the scenic route to answer 911 calls! Squatters could have cracked a new home while MPD ignored a report of potential trespassing. A suspicious person or two walking down the street would be saved the frisk while out writing anti-police slogans that demoralized the officers even more, extending the slowdown. Unfortunately, not everyone missed the opportunity to capitalize on the strike; shootings have proliferated in the area so far this year. It’s important to emphasize that this occurs not because of the police’s absence, but due to the conditions imposed on these communities (often via police).

In any case, the residents of north Minneapolis were subjected to a few less interactions with the pigs this year. This slowdown simply directs our attention to the importance of conceiving of police not as a mythical entity but instead as a group of individuals who are tasked with controlling populations. We don’t say that to inspire empathy—the opposite, in fact—but to point out that as humans their control is not infinite. They utilize cameras, cars, and snitches to expand their reach but it is still far from total. Minimizing their capacity to function is in our best interest, not as a goal in and of itself but rather as a means to facilitate the transformation of life and the creation of new worlds.

We Lost

Anonymous submission to Conflict Minnesota

We lost.

We refers to not the we of any group, organization, or cluster, but to partisans of revolt, rebels, all who desire to spread anarchy (which is quite divergent from those who call themselves anarchists).

Besides the police departments, the so-called protest leadership, community groups, and non-profit organizations have had months to hone their tactics and maneuvers. We knew this and yet we let our guard down.

On Wednesday the 30th it was announced that no charges would be brought against the officers who murdered Jamar Clark. After months of protest there was no longer any recourse left for justice to be found within the system. However, this did little to halt the demands for prosecution, for reform.

Two demonstrations take the streets, one from the south and the other from the north who meet in downtown, below the empty halls of power. The same boring speeches echo throughout the plaza—the revolutionary rhetoric, the Black Panther references—not enough to hide their ultimately liberal nature.

A single march makes its way back to Plymouth Ave in north Minneapolis. Many participants have donned masks and more have been distributed along with flyers encouraging secure behavior (covering one’s face, not talking to police, de-arresting comrades, etc.). The stale chant of “prosecute the police” has fallen in favor of “fuck the police,” something quite significant in a city so accustomed to the logic of reformism. Bank windows tremble as we pass. And yet we hesitate.

At Plymouth Ave, the march joins the crowd that had congregated around the site of Jamar’s death. Within minutes, various so-called community leaders and others surround everyone who had covered their face, deeming them agitators and pushing them away from the crowd—and away from each other in order to prevent solidarity. Anyone wearing a mask is threatened and in some cases assaulted. Any and every manipulation is employed in order to force people to either remove their masks or face consequences—including snitch-jacketing and accusations of being a white supremacist intent on another shooting.These made convenient excuses to impose control over the crowd, as evidenced by the people of color who were also confronted as ‘white agitators’ for covering their faces.

However not everyone taking part in this pacification campaign necessarily followed the so-called leadership—several people honestly did wish to drive out white supremacists or undercovers. We have respect for these people and we would stand side by side with them in their efforts, and have in the past. On the other hand, it was clear that those leading the charge were only interested in ejecting uncontrollable elements from the space. Successfully maneuvering this difficult and particular terrain will be crucial for antagonists in the future.

More important than the de-masking was the brazen imposition of order upon the space. It only took a matter of minutes to deliver a major blow to the energy of revolt in the streets that night. The police were hardly present throughout the entire evening, knowing their job was being done for them.

The long-term repercussions of this defeat remain to be seen, but it would be best not to underestimate them.

Dispatches From Minneapolis Vol. 2

Anonymous submission to Conflict Minnesota

After the inspiring actions of the 18th, described in the previous volume of dispatches, various organizations doubled down on their efforts to lay claim to the occupation and pacify those holding it down. Politicians, clergy and similar types made regular appearances at the camp. The graffiti was removed, and the police were biding their time, hoping the protest would fizzle out on its own.

November 23rd

After a relatively calm couple of days, things heated up very quickly when a small group of masked men entered the camp, filming it. A few days earlier, armed white supremacists had briefly walked through the camp and made threats online. In this earlier group, someone recognized one of them and exposed his identity all over the internet. Making this clear connection, dozens quickly confronted the group, determined that they were indeed hostile, and forced them out. A few marshals tried to prevent an all out brawl, although the white supremacists were hurrying up the block away from the crowd. When people ran after them, the white supremacists opened fire, wounding five. Thankfully, everyone survived.

20151125_shooting01_53The police arrived soon after and secured the area, at least for their own purposes. They took their time letting an ambulance in and maced those attempting to reach the injured, while taunting the crowd with statements of “this is what you asked for.” Despite the past weeks—not to mention the past centuries—many in the crowd still approached the police for help apprehending the shooter. If we haven’t learned this lesson yet: the police are not an entity for which the goal of protecting and serving is corrupted by a few bad applies or policies. They are the enemies of anyone fighting for liberation. As such, they will not help us nor do we want their help.

November 24th

Despite rumors that the camp was going to be disbanded by the supposed leadership, the previous night’s shooting led to a call for resilience. Over a thousand came to a march in response, moving from the occupation to downtown and causing rush hour gridlock before returning to the precinct for a concert put on by the NAACP. During this concert, an angry young man hopped the police barricade in front of the building’s entrance and was arrested. After no one said anything on the microphone about it, the concert was disrupted until someone on stage was forced to acknowledge that there had been an arrest—but not without placing the blame on the person arrested.

Later in the evening, white supremacists shot at the occupation again, but this time, someone was prepared to return fire. Since that night, white supremacists have not returned, at least not out of uniform.

Since their first appearance, the language of “agitators” has been used to describe them (as opposed to their position as white supremacists), which has lent itself very conveniently to the policing of protest. Instead of being collectively against those hostile to the occupation, a paranoia began to spread , casting aspersions on anyone who looked like they possessed the potential to act of their own accord. Since “agitators” in general were considered the problem, this was considered to be the same level of suspicious as those who shot at us.

November 25th

The next night, police shoot more marker rounds after a few militants throw bricks at the precinct’s windows.

November 26th

Thousands gather for Thanksgiving and share food at the precinct. Things were mostly chill during the day, except for a couple of people booing at a couple of cops attempting to step out for a photo op. The people booing were swiftly denounced by “good” protestors for being “violent.” Even a pathetic chant of “No justice, no peace, prosecute the police” is shouted down. Later that night, after most people have left, Black Lives Matter issues new rules of conduct for the occupation are hammered out in a closed meeting before announcing them on Facebook. People at the occupation are not allowed to engage the police nor in “gang activities,” and any form of violence or property destruction is prohibited. All attempts at policing from the organizations have been crystallized in these rules.

November 27th

In South Minneapolis, several dozen march in a solidarity demonstration with the Northside uprising. A sound truck blasting anti-police hip hop followed the group the length of a major commercial artery during rush hour on Black Friday. The reception on the street was of enthusiastic support. Everyone was excited to take one of the 600 handouts that was written to explain the march, and many joined a long the way. While small, this is the first autonomous demonstration throughout this entire saga. The domination of street actions by non-profits and their ilk lead many to be suspicious of a call-out that does not have the name of an organizing body attached. This demonstration could hopefully be step towards the proliferation of autonomous actions that render the supposed leadership irrelevant.

11990634_180933208924450_7118616624101301562_nUnfortunately, back on the Northside, the organizations fill the days with meetings and workshops. Their constant presence is at least partially to ensure the implementation of their new rules. The next several days are fairly calm.

November 30th

The Mayor, along with city officials and others—including politicians who were close to the leadership—called for the occupation to end. This laid the political groundwork for an impending eviction, rumors of which began cropping up that evening. This night, the police started to make motions of a staging for an eviction, which caused folks to make an emergency call to fill up the space with bodies. Likely a false alarm, or the cops crying wolf to make sure people are exhausted for the real eviction, nothing happened.

December 2nd

It was a somber night at the camp, with most people knowing that the raid would happen soon. Like the days before, there had been rumors swirling the camp for days that the cops were going to evict the camp the night of the 2nd, although as the night went on, they became more and more credible. Some fiery literature was distributed to hopefully raise some of that fighting spirit that had been such a force a couple of weeks earlier. The icy-grip of the “leadership” was total, as the message around the camp was “We stand together, we stand in peace.” Close to 4am, as is typical, the police moved in and quickly destroyed the occupation and made several arrests. Everyone was released shortly after.



Conflict in Minneapolis: Terrorism and Civil War

From It’s Going Down

igdcropThe night of the 23rd, white supremacists shot at people who chased them out of the 4th Precinct occupation in Minneapolis. Later that night, on the advice of a friend, I wrote the following:

When they walked up to the precinct, they acted off. Aloof. One was taking video. There’s no way to easily describe their demeanor but it was certainly hostile. I whispered to the people next to me that I thought those were the white supremacists but I didn’t know for sure. I approached behind perhaps a dozen others to confront them. I picked up a stick of firewood, to use as a bat if it came to that. People asked them what they were about. One said they were here for Jamar. I could have sworn he stuttered as he looked at one of the banners hung next to him to make sure he said the right name. The one filming said they were trying to spread the cause. People didn’t buy it. Some folks were being physically restrained by others. One in an SEIU hat held back the crowd. We were not allowed to be the aggressors against this group that had been peaceful. The four had their hands up in surrender and were pressed up against the fence when they decided to leave. People followed. Most people were willing to throw down, but some yelled for calm. One of the four got socked in the face. Most people stopped a quarter of the way up the block, where you could still see the precinct through the parking lot on the corner. I wanted to follow and maybe get their plates. I walked up the block, but others run ahead of me. Then. POP POP POP POP POP. I don’t know what it is at first. But then I see the muzzle flash. Then I hear it whiz by me. Then I duck, lunging behind the closest car for cover. This is the same move I made last week one block away when the cops shot less-lethal rounds at us. But these weren’t. While dodging behind cars, I hear someone scream for help. I call out for folks to help them, then I run back to the camp.

After the shooting, one primary reaction was for it to be labelled terrorism. And that’s understandable, from a certain point of view. Making it clear that what the state does and doesn’t call terror shows that it’s completely political in nature. Terrorism is defined by how it is used, which is as an instrument of the state. That which is terrorism is that which threatens the state’s power. This would explain why white supremacist attacks are not met with the same level of repression, especially compared to anti-police rebellion. Most of the time, however, people remain simply indignant on the double-standards of the word’s use. Some even appear desperate that the state recognize them, with the seemingly endless calls for the government, as well as the media, to use the word terrorism to describe the attack.

The “protest leadership” in Minneapolis—the NAACP, the Black Lives Matter leaders, non-profit NOC with Democratic party ties, with a significant amount of overlap between these groups—has reacted to the shooting the same way the state reacts to terrorism. The calls for unity, the security measures that are supposed to keep us safe but actually do just the opposite. For example, it’s been called for that people are not supposed to wear masks anymore at the 4th Precinct. But wearing masks is a way to hide one’s identity from the police and surveillance apparatus, which is crucial to any serious form of resistance. Of course, we know that the leadership is dedicated to making sure that no resistance ever becomes serious. People are quick to point out potential “agitators” or “troublemakers” for expulsion with little evidence. This is clearly a police operation designed to remove militants under the guise of protecting the camp from white supremacists.

If it’s not terrorism, then what is it? Civil war. There is not a ninety nine percent of us that needs to be enlightened by the proper literature or media coverage, there are people who want to uphold white supremacy and those who want to destroy it. And on the night of the 23rd, those two groups came together to experience conflict, only attenuated by the self-designated marshals restraining people. On the night of the 24th, there was another shooting by suspected white supremacists as well, but this time someone returned fire. As conflict across the world escalates, this will happen more and more. And it’s certainly not glamorous; if there’s one thing I learned from almost getting shot, it’s that I’d prefer not to do it again. But I’m not sure that’s going to be an option.

The Clash of “Communities;” the State of the Occupation at the 4th Precinct

Anonymous submission to Conflict Minnesota

“A man who has a language consequently possesses the world expressed and implied by that language.”  – Frantz Fanon

Ok, let’s take a look at this mess:

• “Together as a community we are going through something no community wants to face together… It is the dignity of neighborliness, the dignity of community, it is the dignity of the city of Minneapolis… It is that strength that will carry us through as a community…My vision is that we catalyze this moment for peace…that we strengthen the bonds of our communities with police and with each other.” (Mayor Hodges)

• “All different types of people from the community are protesting.” (Comment on Twitter)

• “Earlier on Friday, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton met with Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges, NAACP leaders, the commissioner of the department of public safety and other officials to discuss measures such as community policing.” (From an article in the Guardian)

• “Community has been up all night.” (From the Black Lives Matters Twitter)

• “Tensions between black community, Minneapolis police resurface after fatal shooting.” (Title of an article in the Star Tribune)

• “Augsburg college and its students are a part of the Minneapolis community and have been affected by the homicide of Jamar Clark, lack of police accountability, and structural racism and targeting and harming communities of color.” (Augsburg ADSG)

• “It seems to me, you all don’t want help from the white community.” (Comment on Twitter)

Wait, what? I’m sorry, but communities inside of communities inside of what community? The Minneapolis community, the black community, the north side community, the white community: is community a place, an attribute, or something else? Regardless of our own confusion at the occupation, the city and police certainly know already. On the insidempd website, there is a section titled “Community. ” Under that heading are the sub-headings “Crime Prevention,” “Investigative Crime Mapping,” “City and Precinct Crime Statistics,” “Policies and Procedures Manual,” and “Chaplains and Chiefs Council.” Community, for the city, is first of all an activity, not a static group of people. But what is that activity? Clearly, lawful self-management, or, in other words, self-policing. Community is an operation, laden with moral overtones, to attempt to cause policing as an activity to proliferate. And, as anyone at the 4th precinct on Friday could see, it must be working quite well since two groups nearly came to fists over the idea—a tame one—that someone might burn the American flag. We need to drop the idea that the police are merely here to repress us. They repress us like the shepherd represses sheep: sure, he blocks their potential movement with fences and guard dogs, but he encourages them to move and intermingle within the prescribed area. This injunction to “live! But live the right way!” is reflected in the petitions directed at the police to “see how peaceful we were being” when we were maced, or in the Augsburg ADSG’s recent demand to “provide community oversight of the police with full disciplinary power” and to “require that officers live in the communities in which they serve.” Community, here, is an extra-juridical term, a super-policing term used to transform the abstract Law into a moral category. This is the community of priests, the Priests of Order that creates its blessed ones and its pariahs every time someone tells a 16 year old that he’s “hurting the movement” when he throws a bottle.

A lot of the confusion on the ground is a result of wanting to think “community” as either a place or as the hypostatized version of an attribute. If it’s the first, that means that without anything happening, we could enter or exit “the community” like a building or a park, which would be meaningless. If it’s the second, that means that regardless of what that group is doing, it forms a community, so that, if, for example, all the poor and disenfranchised Irish immigrants in 19th century New York City were put in isolation chambers and kept from interacting, their merely “being Irish” would still make them a community. But there’s really no reason to resort to philosophical abstractions: let’s say they all worked full time in increasingly micro-managed and diversified factories and lived in single family apartment units. Would they still form a “working class Irish community?” Unfortunately, I think the police are ahead of us on this question. They know that “community” has no substance outside of the relations and connections between people. The word itself comes from the Latin “communitatem” meaning “fellowship of relations or feelings.” Relations or feelings, these are what is held in common in a time of action. There is no “Community” that just is and that is finally coming out to demonstrate as if out its cave. There is only community happening or “being built” as Unicorn Riot said on one of their Twitter posts.

In the end, there is no “Community” except as a meaningless abstraction. Let us drop this confusing term. Our tie to it is moral and not strategic. It transforms the dynamic relations between words and bodies into a mass of static bodies and “statements” removed from context. There are only communities (in the plural) flowing in and out of each other, forming conscious and subconscious bonds, exchanging words and telling stories, building fires and barricades, blocking police and policing others, throwing rocks and snitch-jacketing. There are the communities of friends and accomplices that blend in and out of each other seamlessly; and there are the communities of police doing the same. This strategic intelligence already exists outside the 4th precinct, but it exists, paradoxically, side-by-side with the moral language of a church of radicalism that breaks the essential bonds being built in our actions. This logic of sadness is the logic of pictures and theory, or, the logic of death and dead things.

So, yes, communit(ies) continue to be built at the occupied 4th Precinct. The absurdity of the claim that “police from our own communities should police us” becomes more obvious day after day as we see the confusion around “community” come to a head. Let’s be clear: there are no “police” outside of the “policing communities.” We not only don’t need the police- this is obvious—our own “leaders” are the ones responsible for personally reproducing it as a moral necessity at the occupation. Down with the horrible monster, Community! Long live the communities!

“In the World through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself.” – Frantz Fanon

-A pariah of The Community