GIT UP, GIT OUT, CUT THE BULLSHIT ARRESTS OUT
Published at Dissident Voice
Hundreds of people from across the Southeast converged on Atlanta on Friday September 27th for the Southeast Climate Strike & Rebellion. Organized by a coalition including Earth Strike and Extinction Rebellion, it came at the end of a global strike week called for by the school strike movement in which millions railed against the systems that are failing humanity. At least 19 were nicked for offences ranging from carrying PVC pipe for a trampoline prop to standing briefly on a piece of land designed exclusively for fast-moving metal death machines.
The plan was to occupy an intersection in the swanky commercial centre and planet-eating business district of Buckhead, and hold a family friendly festival with speakers, music and colourful banner waving fun. But business as usual means big pots of dosh for some people, so police made sure to squash that vision of community on behalf of their employers at every turn. Not quite grasping the way a low carbon transport system is intended to work, cops used a line of bicycles like riot shields to aggressively push activists back onto the sidewalk and prevent the occupation. Photos of riot police in the media, avoided; unquestionable dominance of car culture, sustained.
As several hundred relocated to Midtown via Atlanta's MARTA train (“almost like being in an actual city,” cooed Florida visitors), snatch squads continued to pick people up with flimsy excuses and instill fear along the way. A man from Extinction Rebellion Winston-Salem (NC) was minding his business far away from the road when two cops meandered through a crowd and tackled him to the ground without warning for the crime of wearing a mask. Police also arrested a 17-year-old from the same chapter, then told local media that they didn’t arrest any minors (a claim that was later deleted from the article when the journalist realised it was false) (chapter legal fund).
Having outmaneuvered the eco-friendly bike fuzz, a second intersection was then held for around 20 minutes. Unfortunately a lack of material blockades and numbers allowed police cars to find a gap and harass protesters out. After regrouping and eating together in a park, the crowd used a semi-consensus model to decide their next move. A march down a trail ended with a raucous noise being made in a shopping market. Coppers on bikes gave way to Fire & Rescue on bikes for no clear reason. The only group preventing safety were the APD (despite their absurd claims to be providing it) and self immolation was never on the official agenda. But if the cops keep blocking nonviolent dissent there's no telling how desperate people will get as famines, extreme heat and societal collapse bear down on us.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, supposedly a progressive climate leader, has a standard plan to bring the city to 100% renewables by 2035. Naturally, half of that will be achieved by paying someone else to make the cuts (through Renewable Energy Credits, aka offsets), and the pledge has the useful benefit of making many people believe that it is a commitment to carbon-neutrality when it refers only to electricity generation. Anybody that truly understood the latest science would know that carbon offsets are pointless when the entire global economy now needs to be decarbonised, would know that 2035 is too late for anything, and frankly, would have ordered police to step aside and allow the mass action to go ahead, because this is a fucking emergency that threatens the safety of everyone on this planet. Instead, violent suppression, spurious arrests, helicopters and a tonne of cops were deployed to send the message that an actual adequate response to the armageddon that faces us is unacceptable. Token targets that fail to address the problem are all that will be tolerated in a city with a notorious sprawl problem and the world's busiest airport (21 years running!)
On that same Friday Boston rebels held a bridge for three hours with no arrests. Earlier in the week a coalition of 2000 blocked the streets of DC leading to 32 arrests, while in San Francisco the financial district was occupied and a massive mural was painted on the roads covering two blocks. Five were arrested in a roadblock in Denver. Despite the Southeast Climate Strike & Rebellion not going as originally planned, people still sacrificed for the cause, compelling the public to ask why they would do so unless we faced an emergency, and many lessons were learned. For one thing, when the Earth becomes unable to sustain human life, be sure to thank a cop.
Written in the style of SchNEWS (now freshly archived). A bail/support fund for the action can be found here. See Extinctionrebellion.us for more actions coming in October.