Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Against all Law Enforcement and Former Slave-Catchers

Against all Law Enforcement and Former Slave-Catchers 

Cop Watch Los Angeles Statement on U.S. Marshal Attack on Our Comrade in South Gate

On Sunday, April 19th, 2015, CopWatcher Beatriz Paez was going for a run in her neighborhood of South Gate in Los Angeles.  She noticed that there were law enforcement agents armed with assault riffles and in Police and Sheriff uniforms; they were raiding a neighbor's house.  With the recent and countless police murders on her mind, she then takes out her phone and begins to film them.  They begin to intimidate and attempt to bully her to leave.  As Beatriz, stands her ground, one of the agents rushes her, assaults her, snatches her phone and smashes it on the ground, and he finishes it off by kicking it.  Beforehand, she had gotten community members to film and to support, and one of the people even gave her safe-housing after the police attacked her, in solidarity.

Beatriz, having the support of Cop Watch organizations, uploads the video to the internet and hopes to expose South Gate law enforcement, and all law enforcement, while giving people courage to stand up to all police when they see them carrying out these type of activities in their communities.  The video has since been seen all over the world, and has shown her righteous resistance to people as well as the cowardly act of law enforcement to everyone.  She has been speaking out and will continue to organize in her community with the support of Cop Watch LA and other Cop Watch organizations. 

Since the video has aired, the U.S. Marshals have taken credit for being in charge of the operation that day (even though there were also South Gate Police Department officers present that day).  To give a brief history on the U.S. Marshals, which is one of colonialism and slave-catching for a white supremacist – patriarchal – capitalist-imperialist society.  The U.S. Marshals were once given the duty of enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, where they would recover and arrest fugitive slaves who escaped to the “North” and bring them back to their slave masters in the “South.”  They were the main law enforcement agency as the u.s. Settler-colonialists expanded to the West.  They even helped suppress the “Pullman Strike” in 1894 of railway workers.  The U.S. Marshals are not our heroes, and this is their legacy. (source: Wikipedia)

We want our communities free of all colonial law enforcement agencies.  Their role as a whole is one of maintaining illegitimate power and system.  Their are occupiers on stolen land.  Los Angeles, is Tongva territory, and they are all an army of the rich white men who are in power.  Cop Watch is a direct action tactic, where folks can start building their fighting capacity in the community against this illegitimate system, and defending themselves with different tools; so, people can start realizing that they do have power, and that they can fight back in an organized way.  We hope folks can one day build a culture of resistance by taking these actions and organizing their blocks against these occupiers.

We know Beatriz was attacked because these pigs are servants for this patriarchal system, and thought no one was watching and no one would care.  This is how this pig society views women.  They wanted her to submit, but she did not back down.  We stand with our sister, and will continue to fight against all law enforcement, and slave-catchers for the empire.

We all have the right to film the police, and defend ourselves from this oppressive state, from Palestine, to Ferguson, to Cheran, to Los Angeles - we will fight to win.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Support Indigenous Life School

Indigenous Life School Planting Project & Cultural Exchange.

The Indigenous Life School is a family based Indigenous homeschooling program born out of the Native Youth Movement (NYM). It is a Land and Water based curriculum that differs in each Territory and season according to each Nation in which the schools exist.

One of the Secwepemc Life Schools is currently fundraising to do a cultural exchange and planting project with the Taino Life School, (Orocovis, Borike).
This cultural exchange will include the planting of over 20 types of Indigenous fruit trees to the Carribean jungle which has been getting choked out with the european couch grass, among many other invasive plant species. 

There is also the increasing threat of Monsantos GMO food on the island which is devastating the Indigenous plants and foods of Taino Territory.

The Indigenous Life Schools believe in cultural exchanges not just to share songs and dances, but to also share in the labor and help that other Life School projects need to help their Lands and Waters as well as the Indigenous people who depend on them.

There will also be workshops on Indigenous forms of traditional healing and networks established with local Indigenous health practitioners.

Our objective in theses cultural exchanges is to help each other build capacity and strength in re-building our Indigenous Nations.

Thank you for your help and support of Indigenous youth.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Call for Decolonial Teach-In and Gathering in Los Angeles

Call for Decolonial Teach-In and Gathering in Los Angeles

Date TBA

This is a call to communities in resistance in particular and those who dream of a better world in general.  We understand to get there we need vision, strategy, organization and to build alliances.  We are putting out this call to those communities building autonomy, and revolution. 

We are in a time in history where not only do we face many injustices in the communities where we live, but great potential for something much better.  We see rebellion in all forms in many communities across not only the united states, but all of Turtle Island.  We all want a better world!

We hope to not just organize another event or teach-in; we hope that we can build a network to begin with and strategic alliances as we fight this system of white-supremacy/capitalism/imperialism/colonialism/patriarchy, and towards common goals and vision.  

We also hope folks can learn from each other, common experience, so we can continue to advance towards a decolonized and free world. 

If what we are talking about is true decolonization and autonomy, something that is land based, the indigenous people from this continent and hemisphere have to be in the forefront of this struggle (from Alaska to Argentina), and the fight to free the land, water, air and ourselves of colonialism has to be supported across imperialist borders and all regions. 

In the coming weeks we will begin to fundraise for communities and collectives wishing to make it out from different regions, as well as to plan and organize for the gathering and teach-in. 
This event is not made for organizations to promote themselves but for communities fighting to build and strategize with each other. 

In struggle.

Members of CWLA, NYM…and others

Friday, November 21, 2014

My critique of the new Hunger Games film

I think you can divide the Hunger Games movie into two:

The bad-

It doesn't break away from the idea of bourgeois republican democracy,  and the need of vanguard party type/top-down leadership; also, the president of District 13 was a Hilary Clinton type. 

The good-

The idea that folks need to train and build skills, in secret until there is a need from the people and/or crisis (District 13's people's army and Katnis'/Jen Lawrence's hunting and survival skills) and how mass insurrection/direct action/sabotage can lead to civil war and aid in the revolutionary process. Also the need to build strategic alliances along the way.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reflections on Anti-Columbus Tour by Sakej Ward

Anti-Columbus Speaking Tour 2014

Speaking at UCLA

First, I want to acknowledge the land of the Tongva and Chumash people that I visited. I also wish to thank the organizers who put this tour together and a special thanks to Joaquin Cienfuegos for his hard work, time and dedication to making the tour happen. Another special thanks to a close brother and sister, Hawk and Centzi, who helped organize the tour, housed us, coordinated activities, drove us around, showed us the area and cooked awesome meals for us. They are also a great example of Indigenous parents who are setting the example by teaching cultural based dance, committing to ensure the safety and healthy upbringing of their children, maintaining active lifestyles and avoiding the pressures of joining a gang life, which starts at such a young age. Their dedication, generosity and hospitality would make their ancestors proud. 

The concept for the Anti-Columbus Speaking Tour followed the release of the video of the Mi'kmaq warrior tour. Suzanne Patles and Coady Stevens did a great job of speaking at Cheam Fist Nation, B.C. (as well as other places along their tour) where I had also presented on the purpose of the Indigenous warrior. Defining the warrior intrigued several people and groups who wanted to hear more about it so the tour was created.

The objective of the tour was to raise the awareness around the definition, purpose, role and responsibilities of a warrior in the southern California area. 

The method used to raise awareness around warriors and warrior societies was a two pronged approach. The first was to conduct talks (teachings) about warriors. Each teaching was modified to fit that particular audience. The teaching would lead to questions, answers and more discussion.
The second approach was for activists group seeking skill building activities. These engagements were designed around warrior skill development after the warrior teachings. It was decided that the two key skill sets would be survival techniques and knife fighting.

 Survival skills need to be interpreted as Indigenous cultural skills as they are skills that are needed to be out on the land and to live with the land. These are skills that have been appropriated by the colonizer and renamed "modern survival skills". It is important to take these skills back if we truly want to revive our land-based culture. 

Knife fighting was the second warrior skill set taught. In close combat the knife rules. It is more devastating than a pistol at hand to hand ranges. It is a form of fighting that is all but lost, so few practice this skill set anymore. That is unfortunate, as the knife is the most important tool in the bush. It provides us with the ability to construct shelter, make fire, water filters, fire walls, animal traps, hunting weapons, etc.  as well as provide us with a powerful means of self defense. Knife fighting skills are taught as "teachings of the knife". Warrior leaders understand an important aspect of knife training is it not only empowers us with skills of self defense but it reveals the character of the practitioner. We follow the saying "I can see your character in a single stroke." Knife fighting is a character building tool as it reveals to us that there is a path to self improvement to be followed. It reveals to us that there is an art form (the Warrior Arts) that allows us to see our character deficiencies and a way to put your mind in the right "place" to address this. It reveals that this particular warrior path to excellence of character is the pursuit of warrior hood.

Key events

The first event was to connect with a grass roots activists group called the Harmony Keepers. Warrior teachings were presented with the emphasis on defining the warrior through our histories and language, as opposed to the misrepresentation of new-age concepts of the Indigenous warrior.
The exercise of exploring the word for warrior in our languages from the east coast to the west coast and from the north to the south of all the Americas reminds us that we have forgotten who we are. We come from a warrior people with a proud warrior legacy. It points to a time when we have been disconnected from the role of warrior due to residential and boarding schools of the colonizer.

I also spoke of how problematic it is when another group or society defines what it means to be a warrior to us. An example of this is how the media portrays Indigenous warriors and the labelling technique that is used to de-legitimize warriors.

Then I spoke of where the role of warrior comes from and how it relates to our sacred responsibilities. 

Following the warrior teachings we began our warrior skill training. At this event I taught knife fighting and how it relates to character building for warriors. We enjoyed the training time so much we extended our engagement for over an hour, despite our tight timeline.

Introduction to knife fighting

The next event was gathering with local activists and pass on warrior skills and teachings. We spoke on the idea of warrior and what it means then we developed some warrior skills. We focused on survival skills. An interesting note to this is that Los Angeles, along with the rest of the south western US, is going through a severe water drought to the point it is almost a water crisis. Because of this, survival skills are on the forefront of the minds of many people there. We spent the time working on fire lighting skills as a method to purify contaminated water then went over methods of water collection and filtering. 

Our next event was to present Warrior Teachings to a men's circle at the Corazon del Pueblo. The host were very respectful and accommodating, a testament to their teachings. The turnout was high. The teaching was well received and the discussion was engaging and insightful. 

The fourth event was an extended class on knife fighting. We got to go deeper into the concept of Warrior virtues and the character building technique associated with knife training. We began by talking about the character brought out and needed in the use of the knife. Then we started working on individual strikes and angles of attack. I introduced some of the knife katas to the students. The katas play an important role in developing knife skills as well as integrating techniques of visualization, combat breathing, projecting the warrior spirit, focusing the mind, "placing" the mind in the blade, and finding character weaknesses.

Speaking at San Bernardino Valley College was the next event. I presented on "De-colonization and Warrior Societies". This talk was somewhat different than the Warrior Teachings that I was providing for activists. I spoke of de-colonization and Indigenous nation-building. Central to the project of Indigenous nation-building is the re-development of community and national institutions. Normally, when we think of nation-building we think of the ideas of re-building governance structures and practices and a lot less of re-building of social institutions that make up the foundations of that nation. By focusing on institution building that carry out the functions of that community/nation instead of just merely focusing on the governance aspect, we are talking about re-building nations from the center then out to the periphery instead of from the hierarchal approach of building nations from the top down.

Since our homelands are occupied by a colonizing force we have to talk about the importance of re-building legitimate institutions that will address resistance to colonization and provide political, social, economic, geographic and spiritual space so our people can re-build our culture and nations. That links us to the importance of re-building warrior societies as a cultural institution and a place of resistance to colonization.  

Speaking at San Bernardino Valley College

That night, at the next event, we taught an "Indigenous Women's Self Defense" class. It was great to pass on these skill sets. For some time, we in the warrior societies, have been trying to find a productive way to help our Indigenous sisters who are in constant threat of sexualized violence. We have spoken at public events on "Re-defining Masculinities" and "Re-thinking Indigenous Masculinity" as a way of raising awareness amongst men about the colonial worldview of patriarchy and misogyny but we wanted to do more practical work. Putting on an "Indigenous Women's Self Defense" class was the primer to see how well it would be accepted. 

In the class we covered understanding the nature of the threat to an Indigenous female, situational awareness and combat mindset. We then got into self defense from the point of view of a teenage girl who may not have the upper body strength or body weight to do many conventional martial arts techniques. We taught how to get out of common "grab" type situations. We then covered the fun portion of the class - how to get out of restraints and escape an abduction. It was great to see a 13 year old girl learn and demonstrate the skills to be able to get out of being restrained by zip ties (a common method of restraints for kidnappers) while tied behind her back. 

This is a course still under development but we are working to improve the skills that could help our Indigenous sisters protect themselves better.

I then presented at U.C.L.A. I presented the "De-colonization and Warrior Societies" talk but we had more time so I was able to get further into the idea of warrior development and how we approach the teachings from the holistic manner. 

There are over 300 skill sets we teach in warrior development but Warrior Teachings are not just about martial arts, battle skills, weapons training, that is just the physical side to the teachings. We teach about the four aspects of humans; the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Warrior teachings are used to develop each one of these aspects in a person. A complete warrior is one who has mastered his/her battle skills (the physical), has immersed him/herself in studies of Indigenous nations/culture/language/history and understand colonization as well as how to resist it (the mental), has attained a high level of self control/maturity/ and demonstrates good judgement (the emotional) and has exhibits a strong sense of character and morality associated with spiritual teachings (the spiritual).

The final event in our week long stay was teaching about leadership to activists. We spent the better portion of the evening going over the functions of a leader in an activists setting. How this contrasts with mainstream thinking of leadership which is grounded on hierarchal approaches to coercive leadership versus the persuasive approach to leadership that is important to volunteer-based organizations, especially in a role of resistance. I spoke of the need to set the example, inspire by action, persuade with word and character, and motivate through noble deeds.  I taught about the concepts of "Acts of honour" and the significance of leaders living their life to a higher moral standard than others around them.

Overall the tour was a great chance to speak about Indigenous warriors, warrior societies, Indigenous nation-building, culture building, cultural security, sacred responsibility, protecting our homelands, protecting Mother Earth and the next seven generations. The dialogue and skill development created an experience to facilitate relationships with key activists groups. It was such a good opportunity to visit old friends and cement old bonds. During the course of the tour so many new connections and new friends were made, of which I am grateful.

Many thanks to all who contributed and organized the tour.

All my relations,

Sakej and Family

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Black Mask Interview: Joaquin Cienfuegos

Thursday, September 18, 2014

WATCH YOURSELF! A Guide to Copwatching
We were interviewed a while back for this piece

Illustrations by Berkeley Poole
In the grim light of Eric Garner’s deathMichael Brown’s death, and the ensuing protests in Ferguson, New York City, and other cities across America, we at ADULT, the independent magazine I edit, have decided to publish online one of our first print issue’s more memorable pieces: Katie J.M. Baker’s guide to sousveillance, or copwatching. Although memorable seems like the wrong word, the kinds of events that impelled her to write the article never seem to stop happening long enough for her guide to be forgotten. 
Baker became interested in sousveillance when she interviewed a sex worker named Raven, who called herself the “coparazzi,” for Jezebel. Many of Raven's 100-plus videos on YouTube were interviews with teenage sex workers describing their abuse at the hands of the LAPD, while others featured cops either hassling Raven or refusing to help her deal with a hassling client.
“The minute you mention sex work in the context of a real crime, cops don't want to hear it,” Raven told Baker at the time. "They'll blame you for whatever happened to you.”
While working with Baker on this guide, we watched a jury in Florida acquit George Zimmerman of killing Trayvon Martin, 17, in the gated community where Martin was living. We watched as a judge in the Bronx dismissed the manslaughter charges against Richard Haste, the white NYPD officer who shot Ramarley Graham, 18, in Graham's home. Had we also been able to watch both of the boys’ deaths on video, would the courts have decided differently?
Nearly a year later, we’re witnessing a rise in awareness of police brutality, thanks in large part to smartphone-armed citizens. Without the video recording of Darren Wilson standing over Michael Brown’s body, #Ferguson may have stopped trending, and without the video recording of Eric Garner's killing, citizens may never have protested in Times Square, sparking a national media scrum.
“If the marginalized community members I interviewed for my guide in ADULT don't watch the cops,” says Baker, “who will?”
Marginalized or not, we should be prepared to police the police. That's why ADULT is making Baker’s article, which we previously, stupidly printed in a $20 niche erotic magazine, available on VICE. We want this material to be used. What follows is a web-friendly version of “Watch Yourself!” which was originally fashioned as a four-page primer in the black-and-white tone of a Cold War-era Civil Defense brochure.
The irony could not be more pointed: When the US government’s public alert “CAN AMERICANS TAKE IT?” hyperbolically warned “regular Americans” that, in a nuclear age, “the backyard may be the next front line,” it wasn't referring to the risk of abuse, illegal arrest, or state-sanctioned murder that many black Americans, transgender Americans, homeless Americans, sex-working Americans, and many other Americans face today. Nor did the government mean to predict a militarized homeland police force, storming the cul-de-sacs in camouflage and all-terrain vehicles. In a strange, accidental way, the government did warn us, and there is no hyperbole sufficient for the danger of the current situation.
In our proud nation, constant WATCHEDNESS IS THE NEW WAY OF LIFE. A cop may, without a warrant, not only stop but also frisk you. An armed and xenophobic vigilante may shoot you as you walk home.  Patriots—BE ALERT! BE READY! AND BE READY TO PRESS RECORD!
In times of crisis, the only antidote to watchedness is SOUSVEILLANCE: When the many (YOU!) watch the few (COPS!). This guide takes into account tips from the “many”—from Occupy protestors to sex workers to teenagers of color—on how to hold YOUR STATE accountable. Social networking has turned recent large-scale disappointment in the criminal justice system into a critical mass of angry, skeptical citizens. Too often, we wait for a Trayvon Martin or an Oscar Grant before we prepare. But copwatchers can take practical, direct action to deter police terrorism. Here’s what you need to know before you copwatch.
A citizen must be historically informed in order to copwatch. This practice has existed in our nation as far back as the 1850s, when fugitive black Americans made their own WANTED posters, urging fellow slaves to keep their “TOP EYE open” for slave-catchers. When slavery was abolished, the slaves did not become free. In 1991, members of the Los Angeles Police Department were caught, on tape, beating Rodney King. Were it not for the sousveillance, the cops might still be cops. But, thanks to video that pushed racist cop assaults into the national spotlight, they became prisoners. Rodney King was awarded $3.8 million in civil damages.
Sousveillance, however, is rarely but a Pyrrhic success. We would not know what had happened to Oscar Grant at Fruitvale Station, in 2009, had so many bystanding citizens not been armed with cameras. Yet our compatriot Oscar Grant still died. Last year, one LA sex worker named Raven Nicole Masterson uploaded over 100 videos, filmed using her smartphone camera, that document dozens of legal arguments with cops and interviews with teenage sex workers claiming cop abuse, and yet THE FIGHT IS NOT OVER. There is always a fear that cops may become smarter, or even sentient.
If you know the tools, you can subvert them. Many of these tools can, and should, be carried in your pockets—and not only in America, but everywhere an American goes. In the 2011 London riots, protestors used a smartphone app called Sukey to report and share police activities that were anti-protest so they could be everywhere the police weren’t, thus turning the state’s gaze and tactics on its head. On a global scale, the infamous, patriot act of WikiLeaks is an example of technology-enabled sousveillance. Yet, for citizens of America, sousveillance begins at home.
PASSWORD. Whether it’s a smartphone, a laptop, or a regular camera, a copwatcher must always have a password and, if possible, a screen-lock timer on the device. PLAN FOR THE WORST. A cop may demand to see what is on your device, so do not make it easy.
ENCRYPTION. From default, some smartphones encrypt the information stored on the devices, but others do not. If you do not ensure your information is encrypted, the police can and may connect a special device to your phone that will copy all its data. First, you want to make sure they cannot delete anything. Secondly, you want to stop them from seeing it in the first place. Citizens, enable encryption. (Even with encryption, a cop can still download your data if he possesses the actual, physical device. But, as the Supreme Court ruled in Riley vs. California this past June, police need to get a specific warrant to do so, even if they've already arrested you. This is one more right for you to know.)        
BACKUP. If the only copy of the video or the photograph is on the device, and then if something unforeseen happens to that device, you lose the photo. Use a service that automatically loads your new video to the web. This does not mean it needs to be available for everyone else to see, but merely that if it’s automatically backed up, you have an alternate way of accessing it if your phone is stolen, smashed, or compromised.
Whenever it is possible, citizens, prepare in groups and copwatch in your group’s own neighborhood. Copwatching is about community. You must want to change your own conditions and you must be held accountable. If you go into another community, the police might retaliate against people in that neighborhood. DO NOT overstep the boundaries of your experience (if, for example, your community comprises well-intentioned middle-class white kids with smartphones). REMEMBER: The more support you have from people in the community, the harder it is for the police to isolate you.
Copwatching is confrontational. The police in our nation are not yet accustomed to having citizens observe them, so they might quickly move to their own defense.
Pay attention to detail, because the cops will. For example: Park a couple of blocks away. You don’t want your car to get targeted so you can get stopped later. Don’t do anything illegal, even if it seems minor; do not, Americans, allow yourself to be arrested for spitting on a sidewalk.
And, remember: How “arrestable” are you? Don’t copwatch unless you can get arrested. If you’re a sex worker or someone traditionally targeted by law enforcement population, who is working and surviving in a street economy, it may be a risky decision.
The police may try to intimidate you, so it is crucial that, as an American, you know your rights.
Recording laws differ state by state—for example, in some states you can’t record someone without their knowledge (but you can without their consent)—so call the ACLU or visit their website before copwatching.
At least two federal courts of appeals have recognized the right to record on-duty cops on the basis of first amendment right violations. Still today, cops know they can intimidate people, and they might tell you to stop, ask for your camera, or otherwise illegally scare you.
Always say, “am I free to go or am I being detained?” You do not have to talk to the cop or even stick around unless the cop says so and has a reasonable suspicion to detain you; they cannot just say you look like “you’re not from around the area.” Question their purpose and scope. You do NOT have to consent to a search of your pockets or badge, and you do NOT have to provide anything other than your name, your identification, and your address.
IF you are planning on copwatching, it will be helpful to reference specific codes, such asCalifornia State Penal Code Section 830.10, which says that cops must give you their name or wear a badge. California State Penal Code Section 841 informs citizens “the person making the arrest must, on request of the person he [or she] is arresting, inform the latter of the offense for which he [or she] is being arrested.”
Copwatchers may be charged with resisting or obstructing an officer. California State Penal Code Section 148.a states that “Every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer... in the discharge or attempt to discharge” of his or her duty will be arrested. REMEMBER, you have the right to observe as long as you’re not interfering. Catching your non-interference on camera will make that clear.
Ask the cops for their names and their badge numbers, and write that information down. Local copwatch organizations can often give you a fuller list of rights. Memorize them, Americans, and DO NOT FORGET.
Dr. Simone Brown at the University of Texas, who specializes in surveillance; Joaquin Cienfuegos, a member of the Guerrilla Chapter of Cop Watch Los Angeles; Kade Crockford, director of the ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project; Kahn Miller, executive director of project SAFE; Chris Soghoian, ACLU principal technologist with the speech privacy and technology project; Steve Mann’s article “Sousveillance: Inventing and Using Wearable Computing Devices for Data Collection in Surveillance Environments.”
ADULT's second issue goes on sale next month. For more information, visit their website
Follow Katie and Sarah on Twitter.