After taking control of their community, the people of Cheran decided to ban political parties, abolish police, and establish a unique form of participatory democracy based on their indigenous Purepecha traditions. As anarchists, it was truly beautiful to be in a place where the people have seized control of their community from the state, and we were delighted to see that the community, by all appearances, is doing very well. Cheran has now been self-governing for over 10 years, and despite narco-violence being endemic in much of Michoacan, the autonomous town seems to be somewhat of an oasis in the midst of Mexico’s ongoing drug war. According to a 2017 article in the Los Angeles Times, there were ZERO murders or kidnappings reported in Cheran in the six years following the uprising.
The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp relief the many failures of contemporary capitalist states around the globe. These include the failure to ensure social and economic justice and to provide basic protections for the most vulnerable individuals and communities, from refugees to the houseless. Consequently, it has also made clear the need for social movements to not only resist the violence of the state and its facilitation of global capitalism, but to simultaneously and actively build a prefigurative politics toward an alternative society. Carving out autonomous spaces for mutual aid and radical politics is more important than ever. Among the multitude of ways movements engage in prefigurative politics, land occupation struggles have long been central...
Over the past few weeks we have witnessed one of the largest uprisings in recent US history. The police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, brought millions of people in the US and around the world out into the streets in aggressive demonstrations. In cities across the country, police precincts were set on fire, corporate stores looted, and as the police turned their sights on the protests, the numbers only grew. In Seattle, Washington, confrontations with protesters in a gentrified part of the city known as Capitol Hill led to law enforcement’s retreat from their office. Organizers and community members advanced on the area and transformed this eight-block segment of the neighborhood into a collective space, which they soon called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). nI spoke with two organizers of the CHAZ about what drew them there, how it has been working, and where they hope to go with the project. Both are using pseudonyms, one going by Officer CHAZ (OCHAZ) and the other going by Frank Ascaso (FA).
Welcome to the CHAZ, the newly named Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, where most everything was free Tuesday. Free snacks at the No-Cop Co-op. Free gas masks from some guy’s sedan. Free speech at the speaker’s circle, where anyone could say their piece. A free documentary movie — Ava DuVernay’s “13th” — showing after dark. A Free Capitol Hill, according to no shortage of spray paint on building facades. And perhaps most important to demonstrators, the neighborhood core was free of uniformed police. A new protest society — centered on a handful of blocks in Seattle’s quirky, lefty Capitol Hill — has been born from the demonstrations that pushed the Seattle Police Department out of its East Precinct building.
The first night in the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone that has formed in the wake of police giving up the week-long blockade of the East Precinct was rainy and peaceful and full of speeches from activists, agitators, poets, and socialist city council members. “I guess whatever the fuck we’re doing is effective,” one organizer identified as Magik said over a megaphone early in the night as police were still clearing the area. “They are going to move up. They are going to get everybody out of here and we are free to move through these streets and protest and march.” “Yesterday we were on 11th and Pine. Today we have victory on 12th and Pine. They tried to stop us!,” another exclaimed.