Minneapolis Reclaims Unoccupied Building

From Minneapolis Space Liberation

On January 28th over 50 people met at Stevens Square Park in Minneapolis and marched to an abandoned historic building for a dance party and foodshare. This event coincided with a similar event in Oakland, and other solidarity actions around the country.

People blocked 3 lanes of traffic en route to the downtown Minneapolis building where they dismantled the plywood from the front doors, before seizing the government repossessed church. Having stood vacant for a decade, the neglected building was cleaned and redecorated for the purpose of this day.

Although there was a police presence, no arrests were made. The group marched safely back to Stevens Square after the dance party.

This occupation was temporary as it was a capacity-building action to grow the possibility of a squatting movement in Minneapolis as well as to inform the public of neglected buildings that the government has left to rot. As their movement gains strength, occupiers plan to indefinitely hold a building in the future and turn it into a social center/community space.

Solidarity Noise Demonstrations in Minneapolis, MN

From Twin Cities Indymedia

On October 9th, 11th, 20th, and 22nd, 2011, noise demonstrations emerged from the Occupy Minnesota encampment to march on the Hennepin County prison in solidarity with the California Hunger Strike.The march was organized by local anarchists and carried a message of attack against all prisons and systems of social control.

The U.S. uses prisons and policing as a failed “solution” to social problems.As a result, our communities are being destroyed. In the past two decades, the number of people in prison in the U.S. increased 400%. Prisons are filled with 68% people of color.These statistics can’t even begin to convey the misery that a prison society entails.

In neighborhoods where people are most affected by mass imprisonment and policing, we see the direct impact of our annual $50 billion investment in prisons and policing: closed schools, homelessness, basic health care is out of reach, and poverty remains a reality in the richest country on earth.

Supporting prisoner-led resistance throughout the state of CA or in any prison across the country is about supporting those who are living and fighting through the most expansive and sophisticated prison system in world history. The fact that people can resist at all from inside US prisons is a testament to the struggle of life against the forces of death and disappearance. This deserves our solidarity, dedication and support.

As George Jackson said:

“The point is…in the face of what we confront, to fight and win. That’s the real objective: not just to make statements, no matter how noble but to destroy the system that oppresses us. By any means available to us. And to do this, we must be connected, in contact and communication with those in struggle on the outside. We must be mutually supporting because we’re all in this together. It’s all one struggle at base.”

Although the Hunger Strike is paused while the participants evaluate a new offer from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in regards to their demands, it is clear that this strike is only one of many ongoing acts of resistance against the Prison Industrial Complex. From Georgia <http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/01/naacp_retaliatory_abuse_of_georgia_prison_inmates.html> to Pelican Bay, the struggle continues.

Here in the Twin Cities, we march in support of:

-Prison rebels in California (currently on a hiatus from their hunger strike: http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com)

-Local friends and comrades arrested at an anti-foreclosure demonstration on October 20th . (http://www.occupymn.org)

-All targets of state repression and the prison-industrial complex, including two Somali women recently convicted in Minneapolis, of 15 counts of “material support for terrorism” for sending blankets and food money to their homeland. (http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/132239033.html)

During the demonstrations, we can often see the raised fists and waves from inside the jail and juvenile detention center. Our response is more resistance: Our passion for freedom is stronger than their prisons!

Minneapolis Oscar Grant Demonstration

From Indybay

The noisy, march of 50-100 people traveled from Chi-Lake to Lyn-Lake and back again, making a stop at the police station at Nicollet and 31st. Although the cops were caught off guard, eventually a few squad cars and two bike cops trailed – but the march picked up more passersby than pigs. The militant anti-police message was well received by bystanders on Lake Street, much more than, say, the average antiwar march in Minneapolis. Nobody was arrested and the event ended after a little over two hours. No one organization was behind the unpermitted action.

Whitestone Hill Battlefield Museum Destroyed

From Áŋpaó Dúta 4

In the early hours of November 9, 2009, the museum at the Whitestone Hill Battlefield Site in southeastern North Dakota was gutted by flames. The museum was built at the site of the Whitestone Massacre, where General Alfred Sully and the U.S. Cavalry murdered 750 Dakota people. Until recently, re-enactors were employed by the site, including soldiers who performed military drills.

The state fire marshal said that the fire that destroyed the museum was intentionally set. The building contained no electricity. The locks on the museum doors were cut, and artifacts had been removed. The building was completely in ruins except for a few stone walls.

After the imprisonment and exile of Dakotas in Mnisota following the 1862 war, Gen. Sully and the U.S. Cavalry was commissioned for the genocidal extermination of Dakota people both in the border of Mnisota and beyond. On September 3, 1863, the Sixth Iowa Cavalry found a camp of Dakota and Lakota people on Whitestone Hill. Sully and his troops encircled the camp before launching an attack.

Many women and children were murdered or captured in the initial attack. The Dakota warriors of the village, including Inkpaduta, rallied in defense against their attackers. The warriors held their line long enough to allow the surviving women and children to escape. They were then hotly pursued until after dark, exchanging gunfire only long enough to keep the Cavalry at bay. Sully set up camp on Whitestone Hill and sent troops out over the next two days to hunt down fleeing Dakotas. He ordered the destruction of all homes, food caches, and supplies of Dakota people, including over 400,000 pounds of buffalo meat.

While 72 U.S. soldiers had been killed by the Dakota defense, an estimated 100 to 300 Dakota and Lakota warriors were killed. The remainder was 750 murdered women and children. The hundreds of captured Dakotas were exiled with the other survivors of 1862 to Fort Thompson at Crow Creek, South Dakota. While Sully’s massacre dealt a massive blow to our people, it did not temper our resistance on the plains.

The North Dakota State Historical Society says it plans to rebuild the stone-walled museum as soon as possible. But funds need to be allocated, and construction might take a couple of years.

Re-enacted military drills are no longer performed at the site, and the museum is no longer able to stand in celebration of the U.S. massacre of 750 Dakota people. All that remains are the scorched black walls of another icon of imperialism.

Out of the Military into the Streets

From Bash Back News

On the night of February 10th crews of anarcha-queers glamdalized a army reserve  complex, an army recruiting center and two navy recruiting centers in the Twin Cities with posters that read “Queers Out of the Military! (We Need You in the Streets.) BASH BACK!“ with a picture of Silvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson and a comic of a soldier saying, “What? But I feel so Gay Liberated when I kill people in the third world!”

We carried this out for many reasons.

For one, it was fun.

Secondly, the posters are purty and we wanted to share them with the world.

But most importantly, we are utterly disgusted by assimilationist queers who want to join in the imperialist pillaging and occupation of other peoples’ lands and commit atrocities on behalf of the state and gross corporations.

Obama potentially abolishing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the near future and the clamoring of mainstream GLBT groups for that sort of “equality” makes us want to vomit.

Queers (and everyone else!) should be working to smash the state not join in military conquest and occupation.

flyerWe also carried out this action in solidarity with the Direct Action to Stop War and Occupation unpermitted march in Minneapolis on Thursday February 11th.

Love and Rage,

an autonomous cell of Bash Back! Twin Cities


Twin Cities Bash Back! Continues Destroying Straight Society

From Twin Cities Indymedia

Dear Diary,

Sorry we’ve been too busy to write.  We’ve got three more actions to catch up on…

On the afternoon of October 31st, 2009 — a night that would go down in Bash Back! TC history as “Halloqueen”– a crew of radical queers dressed in our most fabulous costumes and convened at the Lake Street light rail station. Scary costumes abounded,  with folks dressed as clipboard-wielding HRC representatives, Hillary Clinton/Barrack Obama worshipping liberal lesbians, and camo-clad DADT military gays!

Once our posse assembled, we boarded a train bound for the most terrifying place in the Midwest -the Mall of America- the setting for a racistly named event called “Nick or Treat” put on annually by Rosie O’Donnells childrens media conglomerate Nickelodeon.

When we arrived, we found that we weren’t on the invite list and that this safe-haven of American capitalism was filled to capacity with mega corporations, consumers, assimilationists, tourists, & security. But that didn’t stop us. We pushed through the crowds avoiding security and found ourselves peering over the fifth floor balcony.

From there, we threw down thousands of fliers which condemned consumerism and outlined the link between capitalism and the oppression of trans people, people of color, womyn, and queer people to the massive assembly of people on the first floor. Thinking this was a “planned event” folks began pushing and shoving like greedy Wall Street bankers to get their hands on a flier.  Here’s the text from one of the leaflets:

Queers continually have our desires, bodies, and genders policed in public spaces and privatized sites of capitalism. Queer and trans folks -especially queer and trans people of color- not only face queer-bashing but are also targeted and brutalized by police on a regular basis. Aside from targeting queers who are out in public, the state continues to raid gay bars and other queer spaces.

There are no safe spaces except those temporary sites of community that we struggle to create and defend for ourselves.  This is one of those spaces.

Liberation Not Assimilation – Queers Bash Back!

It wasn’t long before a security guard got ahold of a flier and called over the radio for “heightened security, and that there be a “manhunt” (or transhunt, if you’d rather) for the individuals who threw this disgusting literature.”

But we had been braving heteronormative society for a lifetime and the bitter cold weather all night, so we weren’t going to let a bunch of mall cops get the best of us. Using our charm, our costumes, and our cunning to our advantage, we escaped security checks and boarded the train towards downtown.

Upon departure, we brought out a boombox and massive amounts of glitter, and convened a dance party. While it started off as just our queer crew dancing –and giving MetroTransit riders their money’s worth for once— things eventually spun out of control and turned into a full-fledged train party, as astonished passengers joined in, showing us their best dance moves. It wasn’t long before the train floor was covered in glitter confetti, the boom box was playing at full volume, folks were singing along, and passengers were hanging from the rails dancing.

When we arrived back at the Lake Street  station, we parted from the worked up light rail passengers — who were still dancing, shook some of the glitter out of our hair, and said our goodbyes…


On Sunday Nov. 15th Bash Back! Twin Cities participated in our own way in a march and demonstration put on by Join The Impact Twin Cites – a reformist front group founded and controlled by straight folks from one of the local Trotskyist groups (Socialist Alternative).  The rally and march was called “Legalize Love” and began with speakers in front of the government center and later marched to the Bedlam theatre for more speeches and slam poetry. Its fliers boasted “inspiring report backs from the National Equality March”, a questing asking readers if they are “Outraged by the vote to ban same sex marriage in Maine?”, and an appropriated quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. Being tired of the way gay marriage has co-opted our identities and utterly sick of this new trend to assimilate the Civil Rights Movement, we decided to attend to make it known that;  Legalizing straight family models and having them reflected in our own families is NOT at all conclusive to gay rights.

We burst onto the scene in the middle of their pre-march rally in a pink and black bloc, and were immediately approached by one of the speakers who said they wanted us to make our point on the megaphone because the “movement is severely lacking the voices of womyn, people of color, & trannys”; when this speaker approached one of the straight organizers about that possibility –  that organizer reportedly said we could not and called us fascists, and “a shame to ‘our’ movement”.

After the rally, people began assembling to march. As the march proceeded, and chants became increasingly assimilationist, we responded to their chants with our own such as “Smash the church, smash the state, don’t get married, fornicate!”, “Gay marriage/gay rights… Same Struggle? Not quite”, & “Queers who seek equality with straights lack ambition”.

While chanting “Queers don’t deny it, Stonewall was a fucking riot” one persyn turned around and screamed “shut the fuck up you backwards fucks, you’re hurting the cause!!!” at us.

The police were blaring their sirens at us and told the marshals that we could only take one lane.  Bash Back! was told by the marshals to get out of the other lanes but we held our ground even as the police tried to herd us into one lane using their squad cars.  As police presence grew we changed the chant to “Queers don’t deny it, stonewall was a police riot!.”  We wish it was done in irony, but once the cops were trying harder to suppress the march the group started chanting “Show me what democracy looks like, This is what democracy looks like” to which we agreed later we should’ve responded “shut the fuck up you backwards fucks” but instead countered with “show me what a police state looks like, THIS is what a police state looks like.”

As we approached the Bedlam, police began blaring their sirens, and cutting into our march. At this point the main marshal (one of the straight organizers from the Trotskyist group) ran to the front and diverted the march from the street over a curbed shortcut which left a queer persyn in a wheelchair attending alone with Bash Back! in the streets to go the long way around, not only leaving that persyn behind but leaving them vulnerable to cars and arrest in the street. Near the end, police came up to us in the streets and told us that back a ways someone’s knee had given out and they needed help getting up and getting to the train station.  The police officer, then looked at one white persyn and said “you should hurry, this is a rough neighborhood, she might get robbed” (referring to Minneapolis’ largest Somali neighborhood),  at this point some Bash Back!ers began calling the officer and his comments racist and classist. Unsurprisingly, liberal gays attempted to interrupt us by saying “he’s on our side.”

Once at the Bedlam we walked inside to find a white persyn on stage repeating “We shall overcome, We shall overcome.” At that point we decided we couldn’t take any more of this “Gay is the new Black” cultural misappropriation bullshit, and left.

During and after the march, a few liberals tried to start criticizing our views by starting with the premise that “we have the same goals”, and that “although marriage is a terrible institution, expanding it is a step in the right direction”.  We also argued with them that productive dialogue does not take place in the streets while being surrounded and “supported” by cops.  We passed out some literature explaining our views which some people (mostly organizers) tore up and threw on the ground but most people read eagerly and with interest…

We’ve thought it necessary to take our collective rage to the streets more than once in the past few months. On Wednesday, December 2nd, hundreds of individuals convened on Loring Park in Minneapolis in response to Barack Obama’s announcement of a troop surge in Afghanistan.  Autonomous queerz from Bash Back! Twin Cities along with other individuals representing various groups then marched middle of rush hour traffic, chanting and dancing and ignoring the honks from angry drivers.  Hundreds of people took over the streets of downtown Minneapolis to disrupt “business as usual” and to oppose escalation of war. Bash Back! Twin Cities put out an anti-authoritarian bloc callout to “Bring Sexy Back”:

We’re Bringing Sexy Back: A Call for an Anti-Authoritarian Bloc at the March Against the Troop Surge

The Anti-War movement in the U.S. today is a pathetic and polite plea to the rulers of the nation to listen to their conscience and pray for peace.  Enough pandering to liberal politicians who talk about change and hope but then uphold the status quo once they are elected.  Enough standing on the sidewalk in orderly rallies waving peace signs.

Enough permitted marches that do nothing but express opinions that those in power ignore.  We are five years into this war and the same old tactics are not getting us anywhere.  People have dropped out of the movement in droves because of the ineffectiveness of these tactics.  If we want to build an effective movement that could actually end the wars and infuse some life and energy into the corpse of the U.S. Anti-War movement, we have to get more creative, disruptive, and empowering. Enough is Enough!

In order to end the war, we have to act from the premise that corporations and politicians do not give a shit whether we want the war or not.  The only way the war will end is if we – not the politicians and corporations– decide to end it.  Politicians and corporations care about two things: power and money.  History is quite clear; those in power will end the war only when it becomes unviable due to public unrest and direct action.  We have the power to end the wars as soon as we come together to exercise that power.

We at Bash Back! are still optimistic about the opportunities for queers to bring down the military (and the state and capitalism along with it…) from the inside out (see Bash Back! Communiqué #666), but we are not content to sit back and wait for the cumming insurrection.

We are asking our fellow anti-authoritarians in the Twin Cities to come together to build community in the streets and bash back against all systems of oppression.  Let’s up the sexy, fun, mischievous militancy in this town and the anti-war movement in general.

No war but the social war.

We also brought a mobile sound system called the Funk Mobile, which kicked out some amazing beats like Testament’s remix of “Run This Town”. Bash Back! Twin Cities had a militant presence in the march, interrupting liberal chants with revolutionary classics like “Bring the War Home!” and other radical chants and cheers.  We helped keep folks together, calm and collected, taking up as much of the streets as we could despite police trying to break up the crowd and herd us over with police horses.  We were somewhat on edge because of police provocateurs in the black block (among other things, the provocateurs detoured the march and asked us if we had hammers and encouraged us to go break bank windows) but we kept their interference to a minimum and made sure that others were aware of them and didn’t say or do anything that would be obviously incriminating.

As the march came to 3rd Avenue and 10th Street, several dozen individuals formed a “soft blockade” by sitting in the intersection and unfurling a banner. Eleven people were arrested and the march continued in different directions. No one affiliated with Bash Back! was arrested. Bash Back! played a crucial role in making jail solidarity happen that night for those arrested.  We put out a call for jail support and went to get food, drinks, and warm clothes and then we waited outside for our friends to be released as it began to snow. 9 of the 11 folks arrested were released that night were charged with misdemeanor unlawful assembly and released on bail. The other 2 were released the following day.  Aside from having their cuffs on too tight and one persyn having their chin slammed in the pavement during their arrest and the police interrogating folks individually for being anarchists, all those arrested were ok and are doing fine now…

Sinqueerly yours,

BB! Twin Cities

Bashing Back in the North Star State: A Bash Back! Twin Cities Recap

From Twin Cities Indymedia

2rc53jaDear Diary,

My, how this month has flown by! I have been so busy bringing the queer insurrection; I’ve hardly had time to write everything down. Where to begin…

When the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) held its annual Gala Dinner and Silent Auction Saturday, Sept, 12th, autonomous queerz Bash Back: Twin Cities, The Revolting Queers, and the Twin Cities Avengers were there to welcome them even though we had not been invited and had no intention of paying the $200 entrance fee.

This year’s Gala was themed “Speak the Truth”, a truth which congratulated rich gay celebrities and gave them expensive “visibility” awards, while Duanna Johnson, Leeneshia Edwards, Tiffany Berry, & the thousands of other murdered transwomen didn’t even receive an honorable mention…

It was clear from the bourgeois atmosphere, and the serious lack of dancing that this Gala was meant to be some sort of overpriced support group for whiney elite gays and lesbians, to express their dreams of a bigger prison industrial complex (hate crime legislation), heteronormativity (gay marriage), and more state militarism (don’t ask, don’t tell).

But Bash Back! Twin Cities, was fed up with the ridiculous state-lovin’ of the HRC lobby and its distance from our own lived realities, so we decided to do what all rich queerz do in a time of crisis; we got gay married! The Gala had been billed as a “festive, all styles welcome event” so we dressed in our hottest wedding attire and stormed into the dinner.

Despite heckling from HRC security, we stood our ground and held a brief marriage ceremony and handed out leaflets inside. Before the HRC corporate hacks could push us out the door we were able to read the following vows:

“Do you, Bash Back! Twin Cities, take one another to be insurrectionary radical queerz, to resist and to liberate ourselves from all systems of domination, for glitter and for cupcakes, for unicorns and for rainbows, in genderless bathrooms and in the streets, in love and in rage, from this dance party forward?”

“We do!” We held our wedding reception dance party outside and consumed our marital cupcakes to the beats of Janet Jackson, Cher and Lady Gaga. We look forward to the HRC inviting us to its annual Gala next year for our one year anniversary.

On October 11th we glamdalized a bridge the night before it was used for a local “equality” rally in conjunction with the National March for Equality in DC. The bridge was beautified with phrases such as “Liberation Not State Sanction – No To Heteronormative Assimilation”. During the rally, we attached a banner to the bridge that read simply “Liberation not Assimilation!” This action was not only meant to disrupt the complacent rally for (rich, white, homonormative) gay and lesbian “rights” but to also coincide with National Coming Out Day.

Bash Back! Twin Cities resists National Coming Out Day because it is reformist and forces the production of gender-deviant subjects into rigid identity categories that do not disrupt the regime of white heteronormativity. BB! Twin Cities asks the questions “Who gets to ‘come out’ and “why are there so few identity choices when you do”? BB! Twin Cities rejects the idea that your sexual practices equals your sexual identity and asserts that any group that thinks this is true needs to check its cultural privilege. We disagree with mainstream LGBT movements in general because they reinstate systems of domination through their state-sponsored tactics and politics and frankly their inefficiency to yield material change is simultaneously enraging and a snooze cruise.

On Saturday October 17th, Bash Back! Twin Cities organized a radical queer bloc to confront a racist neo-Nazi rally in Austin, a small town in Southeastern Minnesota. Aside from making the counter-demonstration more fierce and fabulous, the National Socialist Movement Twin Cities Unit Leader Corporal Erik Flann was successfully glamified with a green glitter bomb on their disgusting Nazi uniform.

betraxWhile one of the Nazis hit a demonstrator’s hand and broke their camera and another showed up to the rally with a stun gun, baton, and body armor – not surprisingly – the police were only interested in going after counter-demonstrators while protecting the Nazi scum.

The police indiscriminately pepper-sprayed the crowd a few times and made three arrests. The first person arrested was an Austin local who tripped over the Nazi’s loud-speaker while the crowd was trying to move forward. The second, was a Bash Back! member who police allege threw a glitter bomb at Eric. The third, was a Bash Back! member, and was arrested for simply telling police that he was not a “ma’am”, that he was a transboy, when an officer asked him to “Get back ma’am”.

he two Bash Back! members arrested were charged with disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly, and obstruction of legal process. We need your help to raise money to cover their legal expenses. Please check out the support website we set up at: http://bashbacklegal.weebly.com/

Love and Rage,
Bash Back! Twin Cities

“your felonies, your fault!”: no peace for the prosecutor of the RNC felony cases!

From Twin Cities Indymedia

minneapolis, minnesota

dusk on a december tuesday, barely warm enough to emerge from our (barely) heated abodes. the suited democrats descend on the swanky minneapolis club, expecting a calm entrance to susan gaertner’s birthday fundraiser for her gubernatorial campaign, but alas! the iron gates are surrounded by the rabble, an angry mob of the dispossessed and their defenders. the suits push through, ignoring our festival. these ruffians, armed with a sound system and raucous tunes, cast a spell of momentary liberation outside this fortress of the rich. the panopticon watches: the ubiquitous surveillance camera and two cops guard the door, allowing only the monied minneapolites through. someone tries to deliver a singing telegram to gaertner, but they are turned away. a banner is dropped from a parking garage, but quickly removed.

the crowd exudes life and rage, in stark contrast to the drab professionals waiting for busses, and the ominously shiny skyscrapers. we are dancing and hollering and watching each other’s backs. the filth drift in, tension rises but the unbirthday celebration continues. one pig emerges from the building, tells us to shut off the sound system, but he is alone and surrounded by people chanting “drop the charges!” the music stops for a moment but soon begins anew. an unmarked van full of pigs arrives, then a “booking van” parks nearby. the filth pull out zip ties, itching to fill their arrest quota, but still they make no move. they order us to disperse, and we move the dance party around the corner. they repeat the dispersal order: we repeat the move.

for once, a relief from the drudgery of recuperation! so many put in chains by the police state, and so many years faced in jail. for a community struck by infiltration and repression, we managed to prove ourselves unintimidated. if the state means to crush our resistance through their legal system, we mean to struggle ever harder. gaertner may try to ride into the governor’s office on the waves of felony convictions, but we plan on exploiting every point of tension we can, turning the cracks in society into ruptures.

DEVASTATE the avenues of the rich! DEPOSE all politicians! vote YES on CIVIL WAR.

Wrecking You Again for the Very First Time

From Becoming Riot

copcarattack3A haze still hangs over the events surrounding the first day of the RNC. What is certain: broken windows, smashed cop cars, blockades, and cops and right-wing vigilantes beaten to the ground by black-clad thugs. We took part in these events on September 1st, when at least two black blocs flooded into the streets, shutting down roadways and wrecking parts of downtown St. Paul. Such intense conflict hasn’t been observed at demonstrations in the US since at least the start of the anti-war mobilizations or possibly since the mythologized Seattle black bloc. We refuse to let the actions that defined that day be erased or mystified by the media.

A large group leaves the state capitol equipped with PA systems and led by the colorful coeds of “Funk the War.” The crowd walks straight into a line of bike cops; it is still weak. They are hosed in pepper spray and stripped of their dignity. We are separated from our comrades and left to wander the surreal territories of a city where the state has materialized. Every block a squad of riot cops —some tense and shaking, others confused and afraid. We find our friends; we are powerful again. Soon after, a black bloc emerges from the crowd, ready to unleash its hate. With physical barriers present we continue to move –within the confines we find mobility.

It’s been far too long since the black mask has corresponded to rioting in this country. Our tried and true tactic, our insidious uniform, has been co-opted by capital, regurgitated as a mere fashion symbol. Something for today’s disempowered youth to splay across the internet in their false communities as a false declaration of rage. That day when our festive button down shirts disappeared to reveal the classic team color of the anti-everything squad, the kid’s eyes blinked in confusion. The black mask is not something to play dress up in. To take back the mask means to actualize our desires, blood and glass and a street filled with us.

A hammer cracks two windows, and a good citizen dashes from the sidewalk in pursuit. He grabs the young man with his right hand, a “Let Our Soldiers Win!” sign in the other. He wants to be a cop, a hero, but he’s made a mistake. This isn’t a peace march; this is the thrashing body of a wrecking machine. The man is rushed from behind, knocking him off balance just long enough for someone to slide their arms around him. He receives a swift kick to the side, and his do-gooder momentum is redirected into the pavement, dropping him like a dead weight.

There are those who speak of property damage as a tactic, as an implement in the activist’s toolbox. We are not among them. They’d like to coerce us into this utilitarian relationship through the edifice of politics; we’d prefer not to. The rioting on Monday, despite its limitations, materialized our inclinations as exploited and alienated individuals to gouge at the eyes of both capital and politics. We make these attacks because we wish to improve our conditions immediately and to do so in way that violates the peace treaty signed by the managers of politics.

Our joy and malice intertwine as another crowd fuses with us and becomes-rioting. Desire moves our appendages, and objects are released through the imaginary field constructed between law and order. Someone runs on top of a moving police car and exposes that the state too is made of sinew and fiber. In moments a lonely police car is located, and with force a body stomps a perfect “pop” through its windshield. Each of us sheds our polite veneer, and we reveal the social conflict that is the shared experience of our conditions.

We stress that no one has felt a comparable pleasure in America in the last five years. No amount of bodily fluid, mixed with syzurp, swirled together to the sound of Lil’ Wayne’s “A Milli” could concentrate the joy felt when stones collapsed bank windows. Ecstasy was the vandalized cop car. Music was the hissing tire punctures. Glee was the foot inserted into the gendarme’s paunch. Like we freed our companions from the police’s grip, our collective force will rip words from restrictive reference. From here on, beauty, decadence, and orgy can only connote immediate destruction.

The management of Funk the War begins to recognize our intentions of commandeering their decomposing endeavor. Our momentum necessarily severs from any objectives outlined in any spokes council. Aspiring bureaucrats shed tears for their failure to regulate, and the politics of impotency reveals an impotency of politics. With unabashed sincerity and intensity, the dead weight is cast aside, holding only its precarious career and a falsified notion of failure within its palms. The corpse of activism begs for rejuvenation, but to no avail.

The blockades were never enough for us, and judging them solely on their own terms, they were a failure. The delegates weren’t blocked and the convention occurred with little disruption. But to even accept the goal of shutting down the convention requires accepting the discourse of power the RNC itself represents. It is a gathering of figureheads, nothing more. It is not a strike against the heart of the system; at best it is a site where we can manifest social war. The overt objective of the mobilization was always a bit banal, and luckily most saw through this thin veneer and prepared for street conflict instead.

Cameras surround us on all sides, independent, corporate, freelance, whatever. They’re all there, snapping away, reducing beautiful moments to trite representations for use by the police or for sale to newspapers and magazines. The joy of vicarious violence is what they seek, either for their own careers or for the public they sedate. After broken windows, smashed cars, and burning residue, like lapdogs they ask, “But what do you want?” The media finds us interesting, but we find them disgusting.

What those in a protest march want: a clear message, written on signs, to be transmitted to the media, which then represents it to the public vis-à-vis the news. What those in a blockade want: a collective message, performed through an action, captured by the media, which then represents it to the public. In both these cases, whether they are symbolic or concrete actions, whether the medium is the transparent screen or whether it is the message itself, the logic of the media is unquestioned. The media is but one weapon in the democratic arsenal of repression. It promises us the ability to “get the message out,” to communicate. But this is an illusion. Stuck somewhere between clips from Iraq, quirky news anchors, and human interest stories, our “message” lingers momentarily as merely another piece of information to form an opinion about. To act as a social force in the street is not to give the media a clear message, rather it is to purposefully disrupt the chain of messaging that is embodied in the protest-media-audience script. Our message is a code hidden within our form, pressed against the media itself, subverting its smooth capture of our desires. We have neither words nor deeds to be represented, only representations themselves to be corrupted. When the medium destroys the message, our message can only work by destroying its medium.

One lone cop, albeit a large one, has the gall to grab one of us. One of them and fifty of us. After countless experiences of being on the defensive at demonstrations or simply on the streets of our hometowns, we will take advantage of any opening we find. A hooligan sneaks up behind the cop catching him with a well-placed kick between the legs and runs back into the loving arms of the mob. As the cop releases a shower of pepper spray into the crowd, another person surges forth, body checking the cop with a flying leap. The pig hits the ground, and our comrade is freed.

Our milieu has always found ways to provide material and legal support for comrades imprisoned by the state. Support in this manner is always commendable, but by itself fails to capture the true nature of solidarity. This is because solidarity cannot be narrowly defined within the legal sphere. When any comrade in struggle is arrested, their capture must be seen as a strategy of state repression to inhibit the wide scope of social revolution. Thus, the closer we come to complete societal transformation, the more the state will use draconian laws, like anti-terrorism legislation, to imprison us all. The only way to break this violent cycle is to continue our jailed comrade’s struggle to its end. Hence, solidarity means attack, attacking every vestige of the system that collaborated to lock our friends behind bars. These attacks are to continue until everyone is liberated from their cages, whether cubicle or cell. From this perspective, providing the sledgehammers to turn banks into debris is equivalent to filling a commissary with chainsaws for penitentiary revolt. Just like the greatest possible gift to a friend is the destruction of all authority, the best support for a comrade in jail is the destruction of every prison.

On Monday, we catapulted off of expensive cars that propelled us through department store windows. When we finally landed, sneakers-first onto a police officer’s frown, the state’s precautionary plans were overturned like the dumpsters that crowded the streets of St. Paul. We aren’t passive victims, nor are their tactics surprising to us. The forces of order prepared quite well for this engagement, arming themselves with every technique at their disposal. The state of exception came to bear as the National Guard was deployed to work in tandem with the police, guarding the jail and attacking demonstrators. But naked force was also complemented by juridical repression. The “conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism” charges are no haphazard application or abuse of the law; they are its logical extension.

Many would like to use the events of September 1st to gain credibility for or to invigorate their historical reenactivist societies, be it recreating the ‘60s or the anti-globalization protests. It’s time to bury the myths of Chicago and Seattle once and for all. The demonstration form is a suffocating cocoon from which we need to break free. We were not in St. Paul for the illusory goals some had swallowed wholesale. We don’t give a fuck about a summit, but we can use it as a springboard, parasitically sucking life and leaving behind anemic remains. We were there this time because we do not yet have the force to manifest such conflict outside of the context of mass mobilizations. One of our goals is to take all of the force directed against false epicenters of power and redirect it into social conflicts that have the actual potential to disrupt the flows of this system. We are abandoning the vapid discourse of protest towards a concrete offensive in the social war. We refuse to run in circles anymore.

To my left there is a swarm of bodies destroying a police cruiser, and to my right, others completely ruining the exterior of a bank. Magically, bricks are removed from one side of the building and returned through another.

The Queens Are Cumming

From Queer Ultraviolence

At 4:00pm today a clandestine troupe of crusty radical Queers dropped a banner over I-94 in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis.

The Queers Are Cumming 9-1-08 (A)

Let this be a warning to all anti-sex, heter/homo-normative fucks.

On September 1st, every intersection of Downtown St. Paul will be filled with AssFucking, CuntLicking FREAKS!

Eight Days In May. Eight Days Of Rage.

From The Struggle Is Our Inheritance

Despite the few successes the anti-war movement has had in the past few years, any means to real change has been hijacked by a shrill minority that wishes to impose permits, routes, parade marshals (e.g. peace police), zones of “protest” and other such nonsense, turning our rage and creativity into a well-ordered media spectacle, or worse, mass arrest. The constant and insincere calls for “solidarity” and “protecting others” have turned our once raucous resistance into an exercise of well-organized crowd control.

But it hasn’t always been like this…

University of Minnesota, May 10, 1972

At about 1 p.m., University police were watching paper fall from broken windows. It was windy and the papers blew every which way, just as the rocks being thrown by protestors. Protestors were tearing down an iron fence surrounding the Armory. An overturned 1962 Chevrolet burned in the streets as protestors chanted: “One. Two. Three. Four. We don’t want your fucking war.” A few blocks away, three 30-man squads of police in full riot gear were preparing to march towards the armory. The University Vice-President had gotten wind that protestors planned to burn down the armory. So he called in the police.

The preceding weeks had been filled with attempted occupations at an Air Force base and Morrill Hall. Then on May 8, Nixon announced the bombing of Haiphong Harbor. What followed has come to be called the “Eight Days of May” occurring between May 9 – 16, 1972. These were the largest and most violent protests at the University. Beginning with a May 9 protest against the opening of the Cedar-Riverside Housing development, the protests quickly spread to the East Bank where confrontations between police and protestors occurred.

More than 3,000 protesters overtook the campus to protest the bombing. It began as a planned march to the Air Force recruiting office in Dinkytown, but a group of individuals occupied the building and trashed the recruiter’s office. The protest quickly increased into a full-blown riot.

Rows of patrolmen moved toward the crossover bridge near the student union. Protesters standing on the crossing hurled bricks into the rows of police officers. One brick slammed a patrolman in the head, breaking the shield on his helmet. They were nearly in the midst of the crowd when they were ordered by their commander to retreat.

Windows had been broken at the recruiting station and Armory. Barricades were built at intersections along Washington. Teargas was dropped from helicopters throughout the Campus and surrounding Dinkytown since police could not get near the bands of protestors. With the growing hatred for the police and with no end in sight, the Vice-President of the University turned to the Governor for help. They called in the National Guard.

Over 550 guardsmen were called in the next day to patrol the campus. Yet, protestors continued to build barricades, and a group had gathered on I-94 and stopped traffic. A rally at the Coffman Union drew 6,500 people. Several explosions and fires occurred on the campus throughout the evening and night. There was an explosion in a Kolthoff Hall chemistry laboratory; a fire in the basement of Ford Hall; and a gasoline bomb thrown through a chemistry building window.

At 5 a.m., May 12, protestors confronted police and National Guardsmen who attempted to remove a barricade at University and Church St. After a rally at the Coffman Union at noon, protestors reoccupied Washington and eventually established a blockade at the bridge near Ford Hall. Occupations and blockades were seen as a way of stopping “business as usual” at places that contributed to the war effort, either directly or indirectly. One protestor had remarked, “Vietnam permeated everything. By stopping traffic, you could help stop the war.”

Teach-ins were called for May 17th and 18th. This was hosted by Communities for an Open and Peaceful Education, a group of students, faculty, and staff to communicate campus action towards Vietnam. “The feeling was that things had been taken too far,” recalled a COPE member. “We’d channel the energies people had in protesting the war towards positive things.” Meanwhile, Marv Davidov helped to lead an occupation of Johnston Hall. By the time of the teach-ins, campus tensions had died down.

U.S. military involvement in Vietnam ended in 1973 as a result of sustained guerilla warfare on behalf of the National Liberation Front and the Viet Cong. Student moods changed quickly after the war. One of the participants later noted, “By the late ‘70s, apathy set in, and it’s continued to this day.”

Power: Electrical, Political, and Popular in Rural Minnesota

From The Struggle Is Our Inheritance

An interesting example of popular sabotage was born in Minnesota during the late 1970’s. It was here that a group of farmers in Western Minnesota perfected the art and science of toppling high-tension electrical towers. After federal agents began investigating these incidents, the farmers would only reply, “Hmpf…Must’ve been those bolt weevils.”

The trouble began when United Power Association and the Cooperative Power Association were looking to exploit coal reserves in North Dakota and needed a 453-mile transmission line through Minnesota farmland to the industrial center of the Twin Cities. As is typical, poor people were screwed so that rich corporations could benefit. Most of the electricity would be used by industry, not people. The utility corporations chose to plan power lines through land belonging to poor farmers rather than huge corporate farms.

What these corporations did not expect was opposition. And that is just what they received.

Virgil Fuchs, one of the farmers, became aware of what this would mean for the small farmers. The plans would require strips 160-feet wide cut through their fields, and 180-foot pylons erected to support the wires. The health problems associated with electromagnetic pollution (from the currents running through these power lines) were also a concern. It was already known that electrical lines lower conception rates and milk production in dairy cows. And the state’s own guidelines warned farmers against refueling their vehicles under the transmission lines and warned school bus drivers against picking up or discharging children under them.

Fuchs went knocking door-to-door at his neighbors’, informing them of the plans. Soon after, corporate representatives were on his tail trying to get farmers to sign agreements, but not one farmer signed.

Local townships soon passed resolutions disallowing the power lines, and county boards refused to give permits for the power line construction. The corporations planning the construction ignored the local concerns and turned to the state. The farmers also turned to the state looking for help from their “representatives.” The state’s Environmental Quality Council responded by holding public hearings. The public opinion at the meetings ran overwhelmingly against the power lines, but these unfavorable testimonies were left out of the transcripts.

Throughout the years 1974 to 1977, farmers tried lengthy and ineffectual legal channels such as these to block the construction. They were only permitted to request that the construction happen on someone else’s land, rather than their own.

Not surprisingly, the state granted the permit for the construction in 1977. One county attempted to sue, but the case was dismissed. At the very least, government representatives promised they would let the farmers know when construction was to begin. But again, they lied.

When surveyors showed up in Virgil Fuch’s fields, he fought back. He drove his tractor over the surveyors’ equipment and rammed their pickup truck. Farmers from across the counties began gathering and planned to fight the surveyors any way they could. Such tactics included getting permits to tear up roads, and running chainsaws or other loud equipment so that the surveyors couldn’t communicate. The network of farmers that had formed through legal battles helped to increase the resistance to the construction. When surveyors would show up to begin work, hundreds of farmers would block their way.

Even the local sheriff was sympathetic. “In my opinion this is a situation that began with the Environmental Quality Council, at the request of the power companies, and that’s where the problem should be remanded for resolution. I will not point a gun at either the farmer or the surveyor. To point a gun is to be prepared to shoot, and this situation certainly does not justify either. It does justify a review of the conditions that bring about such citizen resistance.”

It also seemed as if Philip Martin, the head of United Power Association, sympathized too. He had grown up on a farm and had even known Virgil’s mother. He had said of her: “She reminded me somewhat of my own mother.” But that did not stop his decision that would affect so many small family farmers.

It seems to make sense why Martin was so upset. In North Dakota, they had only faced one protester and dealt with him quickly. In Martin’s own words: “The law enforcement there initiated the action to put him in prison, or jail. And pretty soon he said, ‘I’ll be a good boy, I won’t do any more,’ and they let him out, and we built a transmission line.”

However, in Minnesota: “The law enforcement refused to enforce their own laws. We could go out and try to survey, and they would simply pull up all our stakes, they would destroy everything we had out there. And there was never anything done.”

The farmers continued to file lawsuits, which ended up going to the Minnesota Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court decided against them. This act radicalized many of the farmers.

More than 60 percent of Minnesotans supported the farmers against the power line. However, they were outmatched by the power companies’ lawyers and technical experts. In the end, state government and the courts took the companies’ side.

In the winter of 1978, the confrontations in the fields would span weeks, and governor Perpich sent in nearly half of the highway patrol. Many of the cops who had been sympathetic turned against the farmers and told them that they couldn’t assemble, couldn’t drive on county roads, couldn’t stop on township roads, etc. When confronted about this, cops stated, “We will do whatever we can to get that power line through.”

In August 1978, a 150-foot steel transmission tower came crashing to the ground. Upon inspection, authorities found that the bolts of the base had been loosened. Over the next few weeks, three more fell down. Guard poles had been cut in half, step bolts had been cut three-quarters through, bolts at the base were loosened or removed, and insulators were shot out.

Minnesota Public Radio reporter Greg Barron visited West Minnesota and described the situation as nothing short of “guerilla war.” Helicopter crews patrolled 170 miles of power lines, and squad cars combed the countryside. The governor eventually called out the FBI to help conduct heavy surveillance.

Seventy-two arrests were made in just one county. Six of these were for felony charges. Everyone refused to testify against the farmers arrested. The only information the cops got from farmers was the response, “Hmpf! Must be the bolt weevils.” And even though two farmers were eventually convicted of felonies, they were only sentenced to community service.

An interview with dairy farmer Tony Bartos revealed the sentiments of most the farmers:

“Yeah, I go along with it. I wish a few more would come down, and I think they will, as time goes on. They shouldn’t have did this to us in the first place. We’ve did everything we could lawfully. We went to Minneapolis, got lawyers, went through the courts. But either the judges are paid off, or they just don’t realize what’s going on out here. I think there’s a lot of different laws and ways you can look at it. There’s moral laws, too. I don’t know, I don’t figure it’s wrong what we’re doing out here. Sure people think you gotta stay with the law, but what is the law? Who makes it? We should have more of a say with what goes on in this state too, you know. They can’t just run over us like a bunch of dogs.”

The power line was constructed, and operations began in 1979. Despite this loss, an impressive wave of sabotage continued to hit the power line. Within only two years, fourteen towers were toppled, and over 10,000 insulators were shot out. The project could only continue after the energy corporations turned ownership over to the U.S. government. This was a direct result of the economic losses caused by sabotage and the costs of security. Even with this turnover to the State, a fifteenth tower was toppled on New Year’s Eve in 1981.

Many lessons can be drawn from the experiences of those who fought against this project. Legal channels only revealed that in the eyes of the State, industrial development would always take priority over the healthy and livelihood of its citizens. As a result, a social struggle manifested and directly attacked the source of the problem. Sabotage proved to be far more costly to the energy corporations, and direct action was a manifestation of public sentiments, especially the sentiments of those most ill-affected by the project.

The following guidelines on monkey wrenching power lines come from anonymous Bolt Weevil veterans:

Power lines are highly vulnerable to monkey wrenching from individuals or small groups. The best techniques are: 1) removing bolts from steel towers; 2) if tower bolts are welded to the nuts, steel towers can be cut with hacksaws, cutting wheels, or torches (be careful not to breathe the vapors of galvanized metal); 3) shooting out insulators (a shotgun works best) or shooting the electrical conductor itself (use a high-powered rifle) which frays it and reduces its ability to transmit electricity.

Chain saws (or crosscut saws work when noise is a problem) are appropriate for the large wooden towers. Otherwise, techniques that connect the conductors directly to each other are also effective (cable lifted by balloons or shot by harpoon guns). But be warned: these are more dangerous to ecoteurs. These techniques can completely baffle the opposition if used creatively. Most power line towers are attached to a concrete base by large bolts and nuts (with or without the addition of guy wires). Check the size of the nuts, get a socket set for that size nut, a cheater pipe for better torque, and remove the nuts. You may also want to tap out the bolts with a hammer. Wind will do the rest after you are safely away from the area.

The more vulnerable towers are those spanning a canyon, at corners, on long spans, going up or down mountains. Any place there is added stress or powerful wind. The “domino effect” can be achieved by monkey wrenching a series of towers leading up to a corner or otherwise stressed tower, and then monkey wrenching the stressed tower. Be prepared: a monkey wrenched, stressed tower will probably come down in your presence.

If the nuts are welded to the bolts to prevent removal, use a hacksaw to cut through the bolts or even through the supports. This is more difficult, but a night’s work can still prepare a good number of towers for toppling in the next storm.

A cutting torch can also be used for cutting through tower. Keep in mind that use of a cutting torch may result in additional arson charges. This has happened with a case in Arizona.

Another effective method, where noise is not much of a problem, is to shoot out the insulators holding the power cables themselves. A twelve-gauge shotgun loaded with double-ought shot is the best tool. Walk under the line until you are directly beneath the insulators on a tower. With your back to the wind, take two large steps backwards, aim at the insulators, and commence firing. Be prepared to dodge large chunks of falling glass.

Large power lines are suspended from strings of 20 or more insulators. Breaking 70 to 90 percent of them in one string is usually enough to ground out the conductor. This may take several rounds (the record is two), and will cause bright sparks. A team of three shotgunners, each taking a string of insulators for one conductor or conductor bundle, is best for a typical AC line. The lines are seldom shot through and fall, but stay alert for this possibility. Keep in mind that the use of firearms will result in additional charges if you are caught.

When insulators are shot out, the line quits carrying power and has to be shut down until the point of disruption is found and repaired. A helicopter may have to fly several hundred miles of power line to find where it has been monkey wrenched. Monkey wrenching at a number of locations on the same night compounds the utility company’s problems.

Because of the noise from the use of shotguns, extreme security measures are necessary and several escape routes should be planned. Furthermore, the use of firearms makes this a potentially dangerous activity. Do not leave any empty shotgun shells at the scene, since they can be positively traced to the gun that fired them.

Smaller power lines are vulnerable to having their insulators shot out by a .22 rifle from a car or a hiker. (“Power line? What power line? I’m just hunting rabbits.”) This is an effective way to discourage power companies from spraying rights-of-way with toxic herbicides if you let the power company know that the damage is being done because of herbicide spraying and that it will stop when they stop poisoning the area.

Field Notes

One item in Murphy’s Law states, “When loosening bolts, one of them is bound to be a roller (a bolt that will not simply spin off, but must be wrenched off millimeter by millimeter). It will either be the last bolt or the one most difficult to reach.

So, for the soloist, it is wise to carry a cheap 3” C-clamp (which can be bought at any hardware store) and a flat box-end wrench. Put the “fixed” head of the C-frame on the outside of the angle iron (the flat side) of the power tower and the floating head of the screw on the inside (sloped face). This gives you a brace to hold the box wrench so you can use both hands on the ratchet. This set- up will sometimes slip, so be careful to avoid skinned knuckles (wear gloves). An off-set wrench will only roll off the nut, adding to your frustrations.

Guy wires support some power line towers. It would be extremely dangerous to cut the guy wires. They are under great tension and the resulting snap could easily kill a nearby person. Also, the tower would be quite unstable after the last guy wire is cut – there is no telling where it would fall.

A safer method is to use a 4 foot long bar on the turnbuckle connecting the guy wire to ground and just unscrew the sucker most of the way. Let the wind do the rest-do not unscrew it all the way or you will be in the same danger as from cutting the wire.

Power lines are generally patrolled at least once a week at irregular times.

Any work near power lines or other sources of electricity must be done with extreme caution. The high voltage will kill you if you are careless. If you have the opportunity, watch a power company crew doing “Hot Stick” work. If you must work around live wires, use proper equipment.

According to a recent report from UPI, utility companies are warning the public that small, metallic balloons (such as those sold for birthday parties and Valentine’s Day) have been implicated in several recent power failures. “In the past couple of years these metallic balloons have come up from nowhere and have escalated into a major source of power outages,” said Harry Arnott, a spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric, a major California utility.

The Mylar balloons have a 1000th-of-an-inch coating of aluminum, which is an excellent conductor of electricity. When a stray balloon gets caught between two power lines, it can cause electricity to arc between the lines, melting the lines and sometimes blowing up transformers and causing live wires to fall to the ground.

In 1987, PG&E blamed balloons for 140 power outages, while Southern California Edison reported 229 balloon-caused outages. An outage on Valentine’s Day in 1986 caused by a silvery heart balloon affected 20,000 customers. A balloon-caused outage in Antioch, California, in August 1987, affected 2750 customers and fried wires in microwaves, VCRs, and TV sets. The problem caused by holiday balloons has only been recognized recently, because the balloons usually disintegrate when they hit power lines, leaving no trace.

Rent Strikes On The West Bank

From The Struggle Is Our Inheritance

The University of Minnesota opened its West Bank campus in the early 1960s. By the end of the decade, the neighborhood had changed from one of mainly Scandinavian immigrants to one comprised largely of students and members of the white youth counterculture. During the same time, Keith Heller, a professor at the University, was quietly buying up land in the area. His plan was to raze the neighborhood and build ten high-rise apartment buildings in its place. This project was going to be called “New Town in Town.”

Needless to say, residents of Cedar-Riverside weren’t exactly thrilled with the looming prospect of their houses and community being replaced with a maze of intensely developed high rises. At a public hearing on the plan, 400 people showed up to oppose the plan. But despite their anger, the plan passed. Heller’s inside connections probably helped nudge HUD (Housing and Urban Development) to waive certain policies, and the development was approved and funded. The project was to be built in ten phases. Housing organizers, including the Minnesota Tenants Union, fought the Cedar-Riverside complex with both demonstrations and environmentally related lawsuits.

At the same time, residents were creating a community worth saving. A Community Union was formed, as well as a free clinic (the Cedar-Riverside People’s Center) and the collectively run New Riverside Café. Folks began publishing a community newspaper called, “Snooze News”. In the neighborhood, vacant lots were turned into parks and marked with hand painted signs. Multiple organizations fighting New Town were formed, some of which existed as fronts to navigate through the bureaucracy of the housing authority.

As the first stages of the plan were completed, producing several high rises, the community continued to mobilize. George Romney, the secretary of HUD, was invited to come up from Chicago for the opening ceremony. Heller’s corporation, Cedar- Riverside Associates (CRA), went around sprucing up the neighborhood, painting the fronts of houses and planting geraniums on the corners they knew Romney’d have to turn. New Riverside Café collective members held an impromptu stenciling extravaganza the night before, proclaiming, “This neighborhood is being ‘REDEVELOPED’ with no concern for the residents or environment.” The dedication that day was also the site of an anti-war demonstration, and a battle between the police and eggs, rocks, and marshmallows. Romney ended up deciding it was too dangerous a situation and that he’d be unable to attend the opening ceremony.

Opposition to the plan fermented in the mid-70s, when hundreds of tenants in the neighborhood simultaneously received a notice of rent increases. Cedar-Riverside Associates owned most of the houses in the area, and as opposition grew and the success of the New Town plan grew dim, CRA struck out with rent hikes of as much as 50%. A community meeting was called, which a few hundred people showed up for. There they decided to form a tenants’ union and begin a rent strike. The group formed a Negotiating Team, which was responsible for most of the organizing work. Frequent big meetings, in which decisions were made by discussion and debate, ensured that the team remained accountable to the residents.

The group, calling themselves the E ast-West Bank Tenants union drafted a response letter to the increase notices that stated, in part:

“We find it necessary to refuse to pay exorbitant rent increases or vacate our homes…We can not honestly state that we value your landlordship as you say you value our tenancy. It is we, after all, who are paying your bills. Should you see fit to carry out your threat of mass eviction contained in the ‘offer’ you gave us by evicting even one tenant, we will find it necessary to terminate your tenancy in our neighborhood.”

The strike ended a few months after it began, with most of the rents returning to their original levels, and written leases where previously there had only been oral agreements. Occasional rent strikes continued through the early 80’s. Tenants of the first high rises also went on strike over rent increases. The strikes and lawsuits eventually helped to bankrupt the development company, and most of the housing was either sold off as co-ops or received project-based Section 8 subsidies. Only the first stage of the development project—the few multi-colored high-rises that are a trademark of the West Bank scenery—was completed. Today these house primarily Somali immigrants.

The Dakota Uprising Of 1862

From The Struggle Is Our Inheritance

Minnesota erupted in an armed conflict in 1862 between Dakota warriors and the United States. The conflict left in its wake between 300 and 800 settlers dead, an unknown number of Dakota dead, and the largest mass execution with 38 Dakota men hanged at Mankato. This was the first armed conflict between the Dakota and the United States, but it would not be the last.

This is a particularly important event for me as my ancestors and my relations were Dakota in Minnesota. Being both a descendant of the original people of this land and a person working against the imperialist culture occupying it, I find the history of this struggle to be extremely important for the work I am to do.

The Dakota Uprising of 1862, as it has come to be called, began with the Treaty of Traverse de Sioux and the Treaty of Mendota in 1851. These treaties, which were signed by a few Dakota men intoxicated by whiskey, ceded vast amounts of Dakota territory to the United States. The treaty guaranteed the Dakota money, food, goods, and a twenty-mile wide reservation along a 150-mile stretch of the Minnesota River. The treaty became null and void after promised compensation was either never given or stolen by officials in the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

When Minnesota was declared a state in 1858, representatives of several bands of Dakota, including Chief Taoyateduta, traveled to Washington, D.C. to make further negotiations. The negotiations resulted in the Dakota losing the northern half of the reservation along the Minnesota River along with rights and access to the sacred Pipestone quarry. The ceded land was quickly split up into several townships and farmland for settlers. This resulted in the wild prairies, forests, and wild lands, used for traditional lifeways, being destroyed. Traditional lifeways were so devastated by colonial settlement that Dakota people in south and western Minnesota had to sell fur pelts to make a living.

Payments guaranteed by treaties were never made. The populations that had supported Dakota communities were nearly wiped out. Land was being stolen by the United States government and occupied by settlers. Additionally, broken treaties, food shortages, and famine all added to growing tensions.

On August 8, 1862, representatives of the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota successfully negotiated for food in the Upper Sioux Agency. However, the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute Dakota turned to the Lower Sioux Agency with the same demands and were denied food. Indian Agent and Minnesota State Senator Thomas Galbraith would not distribute the food without payment, and lead trader Andrew Myrick responded to the Dakota by stating, “So far as I’m concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass.”

Three days later, Andrew Myrick was found dead, grass stuffed in his mouth. Chief Taoyateduta had led a band of warriors to attack settlers in the Lower Sioux Agency. Food stores were taken and several buildings were burnt to the ground. A militia that was sent to suppress the uprising ended up suffering 44 casualties and losing the Battle of Redwood Ferry. The Dakota band continued to attack the settlement and New Ulm and then mounted an attack against Fort Ridgley on August 22.

Raids on farms and settlements continued throughout south and central part of Minnesota. Counter-attacks by Minnesota troops resulted in heavy casualties of white soldiers at the Battle of Birch Coulee. Thirteen United States soldiers were killed and over 47 were injured. The Dakota only suffered two deaths.

In northwestern Minnesota, Dakota warriors attacked several trail stops and river crossings along the Red River Trail. This stopped trade along this route to forts further west. Mail carriers, stage drivers, and military transports were all attacked between Fort Snelling and St. Cloud. Abraham Lincoln was finally forced to assemble troops from the Third and Fourth Minnesota Regiments.

Governor Alexander Ramsey formulated a plan, carried out by Colonel Henry Sibley, to free settlers held captive and to “exterminate” or otherwise drive the Dakota “forever beyond the border of the state”. Sibley’s troops ranked in around 1,600 men, while the Dakota only had around 700 warriors.

The fighting lasted over six weeks. Most of the major fighting occurred at the Battle of Wood Lake in September, where Taoyateduta attempted to ambush soldiers of the Third Minnesota Regiment marching along the Minnesota River. The soldiers returned fire and were quickly aided by other soldiers from Sibley’s camp. The fight lasted two hours with the Dakota warriors suffering heavy losses. This would be the last major battle fought in the Dakota War of 1862.

Dakota warriors ended up surrendering at Camp Release on September 26. Six weeks later, 303 Dakota prisoners were convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to death. There is much reason to believe that these trials were heavily biased, most of them lasting only five minutes. Lincoln reviewed trial records and distinguished between those who fought and those who he believed had been part of the murders and rapes. Thirty-eight who had been part of the latter were hanged in Mankato on December 26, 1862. The remaining convicted Dakota stayed in prison that winter and were later transferred Rock Island, Illinois where they were imprisoned for four years. Over one third died of disease, and the remaining returned to their families that had been relocated to Nebraska, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas.

As a result of the conflict, the United States abolished the reservations, declared all treaties null and void, and expelled all Dakota from Minnesota. A bounty of $25 per scalp was placed on all Dakota men, women, and children within the state’s boundaries. The only exceptions were several groups of Dakota referred to as the “friendlies” who allied themselves with the white settlers and were allowed reservations, such as the Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota.

During the winter of 1862-63, around 1,700 Dakota were rounded up into concentration camps on Pike Island below Fort Snelling. Only 1,300 Dakota left the following spring, and were exiled to surrounding states. The others had died or been killed in the camp. It is believed there were mass graves located near this site and the site of the current Mall of America. It is also believed that four oaks were later planted in the contemporary Minnehaha Park to commemorate those who died. The four oaks were planted in each cardinal direction in the shape of a burial scaffold used to mourn the dead.

While many Dakota were exiled from Minnesota into the surrounding areas, many eventually returned and found their ancestral territories turned into settlements and townships. They reestablished several smaller reservations; however, many assimilated with the white settlers and attempted to obscure their identities while others braced themselves for the harsh realities of colonialism and attempted to maintain their traditions.

The Dakota War of 1862 was the beginning of a long period of resistance by the Dakota and Lakota nations against United States imperialism. It was followed by the Battle of Killdeer Mountain in 1864. Red Cloud’s War in 1866-68 resulted in a complete victory for the Oglala Lakota and the preservation of their control of the Powder River country. The Battle of Greasy Grass in 1876 was another victory for Lakota and Cheyenne, which saw the complete annihilation of a U.S. detachment led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer. The last major conflict was the Wounded Knee Massacre in which over 300 Lakota men, women, and children were gunned down by the brutal U.S. 7th Calvary.

For me, this story is filled with both honor and pain. While the conflict resulted in the removal of my ancestors from their territory, it makes me proud to know that my relations fought against this colonization. Many of the Dakota people assimilated, but there were some who held on to their traditions for a future generation who might reclaim their lifeways and territories. As for this story, it serves as a clear indication of where I am to stand in the struggle for this land.