If the bags under U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s eyes have looked heavier than usual recently, it might have something to do with the wake-up brigade camped outside his $5 million dollar mansion. “Wakey wakey, war criminal! Good morning war criminal! How is your genocide coffee? How many kids did you kill while you were sleeping?” shouted Hazami Barmada at seven a.m. outside Blinken’s residence in McLean, Virginia, on Friday, February 2, along with several others who had spent the cold night in tents by the side of the road. As she has done nearly every morning since she and other activists began their campout on January 26, Barmada live-streamed what she called the “blinky blinky morning routine,” on her Instagram page.
On January 31, Chicago became the largest city to formally call for a ceasefire in Israel’s war on Gaza. Riding on a wave of massive grassroots support from unions and students, the city of Chicago voted in favor of a resolution calling for an unconditional ceasefire. With a tie in City Council (23 for and 23 against), Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson cast the tie-breaking vote and the resolution passed, to the cheers of constituents gathered in City Hall. For days, hundreds of students have been occupying the City Hall of Chicago, demanding that the council pass the resolution. Ahead of the vote, the Chicago mayor ordered the police to clear out the public from the city council chambers.
In 2011, workers at the Vio.Me factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, stopped receiving wages. Management and owners abandoned the facility shortly afterward. Instead of dispersing, the workers of Vio.Me held an assembly and voted to take over management of the factory themselves. Over the past decade, they’ve kept the factory running, jointly determining production decisions through democratic procedures, and sharing in the profits. Although their former bosses and the Greek state have attempted to auction off the land and evict them, the workers have held on with the power of solidarity from their community, and workers across Greece and the wider world.
Minneapolis, Minnesota - During the February 19th-26th week of solidarity everywhere to Defend the Welaunee Forest and Stop Cop City, Minneapolis is also fighting a local and connected struggle against toxic harm in the southside East Phillips Neighborhood. The struggle centers on what is to become of the 7.7 acre lot at 28th Street and Longfellow Ave known for its most recent occupant, Roof Depot. The lot is home to the so-called “arsenic triangle” previously occupied by a pesticide manufacturer, and adjacent to existing major polluters Bituminous Roadways and Smith Foundry.
Chicago, Illinois - Isabelle Wright, a resident of protest camp RiseUpTown, puts out a chair for me at the edge of a circle. It’s 10 o’clock on a Friday in September, and people are chatting as their food grills. Occasionally a car pulls up and leaves cases of water, Covid tests or food on a folding table at the front of camp — donations to the over 25 members of this community of houseless people. Many camped together on this stretch of grass next to the roaring DuSable Lake Shore Drive long before they began organizing collectively. When the adjacent Weiss Memorial Hospital parking lot was slated to become luxury apartments, the camp transformed into RiseUpTown. The unhoused residents partnered with local housing justice groups Northside Action for Justice (NA4J), Chicago Union of the Homeless (CUH) and others to protest the role of luxury housing in displacement and homelessness.
Palestine Action have set up camp outside UAV Engines Ltd, the Israeli drones factory that has rightly been a prime target for extensive direct action as part of the #ShutElbitDown campaign. Activists confirm they plan to hold their ground, and will not leave until Elbit have left Shenstone, a sleepy English village near Lichfield. The factory produces engines and other components used to make drones such as the Hermes 450 — these are lethal munitions that have maimed and killed countless Palestinian men, women and children for decades. With activists taking over the space, the site is ours, and you can now join the ground camp in resistance to Israel’s arms industry.
In 2022, I was an active anarchist in the two week occupation of McGill University. In the months prior to the occupation, I was part of the meetings that discussed the idea of pitching up tents in the Arts building. Back then, we were just 6 people at a picnic table. I witnessed the successes and failures of the occupation (and of its offshoots at Concordia and UdeM) but until now have not written anything on the subject. Earlier this month, an international call to action was launched: “End Fossil – Occupy.“ In a *Guardian* opinion piece, students are urged to “occupy our campuses to demand the end of the fossil economy.” This call seems to follow the example set by McGill, which has received somewhat broad attention.
The political crisis escalated in Iraq as supporters of Muqtada Al-Sadr stormed the parliament and began an indefinite sit-in on Sunday, July 31. The protesters who are opposing the government formation efforts of Mohammed Shia al-Sudani claimed that consensus-based government formation and the sectarian quota of power sharing are the core reasons for inefficiency and widespread corruption in the country.
Wisconsin - With the passage of Act 10 in 2011, also known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, Republican Gov. Scott Walker declared war on the labor movement in general and on public sector workers specifically. Act 10 was a hammer blow that essentially stripped collective bargaining rights from public sector workers, made it much more difficult for workers to organize, and forced unions to take massive concessions on healthcare, retirement benefits, and much more. Soon after, in 2015, Walker signed legislation that turned Wisconsin into a “right to work” state, issuing another blow to unions in a state once heralded as a bellwether of progressive politics and the labor movement.
At the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall Park lies in a cold-stone land where law and order rule. The area is defined by French Renaissance-style courthouses and municipal buildings. The NYPD’s headquarters is across the street and the Manhattan Detention Complex, colloquially referred to as “the Tombs” by many, is a short walk away. While the park provides one of the only green spaces in the concrete-scape of Lower Manhattan, it does not have a laid-back, community ambiance the way that many smaller New York parks do.
There are examples of where occupying a piece of land has resulted in success. It involves taking control of real property and that property is not critical to the needs of another community. It literally moves a protesting groups’ objective from being against a number of social and political existing conditions to wanting a real physical object in order to better mobilize a community to change those conditions. It moves from controlling an open public space, which may have little or no connection to directly addressing their grievances, to controlling a particular building to help them pursue those grievances. By making that change, leadership and an organization are required to focus on a finite, measurable, and achievable goal.
Seattle, WA - The Seattle Police Department (SPD) moved into the "Capitol Hill Organized Protest" (CHOP) zone and returned to the department's East Precinct early Wednesday morning after abandoning the building three weeks ago. Officers arrested at least 31 people by 9:25 a.m. for failure to disperse, obstruction, resisting arrest, and assault. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued a 48-hour executive order for protesters to vacate the area due to the ongoing violence and public safety issues in the area of the East Precinct and Cal Anderson Park. Mayor Durkan's order declared the gathering as an “unlawful assembly” that required immediate action.
The other day, the police announced that they were gathering their things and leaving their precinct. What do you make of this? This, to be very honest, is anyone’s guess. There are many theories around why they abandoned the precinct. Some feel that they ran out of resources, some feel that it was a politically expedient move on the Mayor’s part. From my perspective-this was a “good” move on the city’s part. They were getting hammered in the press for the nightly tear gas barrages and street clashes, and the crowds never really got smaller. When an active shooter was on the scene, people rushed to the neighborhood to give support.
Today Justin Trudeau’s office in the Montreal riding of Papineau was occupied by members of the local Haitian community, demanding a change in Canada’s policy towards the government of Haiti’s Jovenel Moïse. “Promises are being made and we want to hear from Trudeau that they will no longer support this corrupt, illegitimate government, and continue to allow, to let people die in Haiti,” Frantz André told Ricochet by phone, right after the nearly two-hour protest and occupation had concluded. “We occupied Trudeau’s campaign office in response to the killings and repression by the current Haitian government,” said André...