Poster: Hope Is in the Streets

As Donald Trump’s administration digs itself deeper and deeper into trouble, many people are looking to the corporate media, the FBI, the judicial system, or other recognized authorities to resolve this situation. Yet every effective measure against Trump and his cronies has begun with grassroots efforts. Even if he is deposed by other elements within the state, it will only further legitimize the structures through which politicians like him are able to do so much damage in the first place, setting the stage for other politicians to continue carrying out the same activities. Our freedom and safety will not be assured until we can defend them ourselves, through direct action, without need of leaders or representation. To drive home this point, we’ve prepared a poster, which we encourage you to print out, mass-produce, and put up in the streets where you live.

Hope Is in the Streets poster, full color version

Hope Is in the Streets poster, black and white version

Resistance Is the Front Lines of Hope

When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, anarchists and other opponents of the state swung into action. While liberals and party leftists were still reeling, anarchists immediately called for combative demonstrations at the outset of the Trump regime, and took to the streets alongside other angry people to show that business as usual would be impossible under Trump.

In the first days of Trump’s administration, countless people came together in courageous acts of resistance, confronting the authorities and shutting down airports and other infrastructure. This succeeded in breaking the ruling class consensus around Trump, destabilizing his administration and undermining its efforts to shift the US government from a neoliberal strategy for managing capitalism to an overtly nationalist strategy. Had resistance continued at that intensity, neoliberalism, too, might have been in danger.

Unfortunately, this momentum was a victim of its own success. As soon as it achieved a few victories, good liberals began to stay home watching the news and “liking” things on Facebook rather than putting their bodies on the line. Meanwhile, realizing that his initial strategy had failed, Trump demoted nationalist advisor Steve Bannon, ordered an airstrike in Syria, and tried to cozy up to the neoliberal elements of the deep state. If he succeeds in doing so, he will be able to push through his racist, nationalist agenda under the cover of ordinary governance, just as Obama did.

It’s naïve to hope that CNN, the FBI, or the Democratic Party will thwart Trump’s authoritarian ambitions. They are just as essential to the power structure as Trump himself, just as complicit in its functioning. Grassroots resistance has been the only thing that has succeeded in putting the brakes on Trump’s advance. Every victory against him has begun with people taking action on their own initiative. If we hadn’t blockaded the airports, would any judge have had the guts to block the Muslim ban? If we hadn’t flooded the streets, would White House employees have taken the risk of leaking information?

Going forward, we must remember the lessons of the opening of the Trump era: that even in the face of the most powerful empire in the history of the world, we have tremendous power, as long as we don’t look to others to act in our place. Together, we can take back our lives and disable the institutions through which our rulers seek to dominate us. No party, politician, or organization can do this for us. Let’s become ungovernable and free.

This text was submitted to the 2018 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar in recognition of their important work to support political prisoners throughout North America for nearly two decades now.

The Vanishing Jewish Anarchists: A Review of Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History Of Jewish Radicalism

At the close of 2016, Verso books published Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History Of Jewish Radicalism, by Alain Brossat and Sylvia Klingberg. Eager to learn more about Jewish radicalism of all stripes, one CrimethInc. agent sent away for a copy of this book. The results were surprising, as detailed in this full report to Verso.

We at the CrimethInc. Arts Desk welcome book review submissions!

Dear Verso Books,

I am sad to say that I recently received a defective book and I would like a full refund. The book I ordered was Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History Of Jewish Radicalism, but instead I received an incomplete version. It seems that any mention of anarchy, anarchism, anarchists, and even anarcho-communism has been left out completely from my copy. When looking in the index I found that my copy was missing even the most notable Jewish radicals, who happen to be anarchists, such as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman.  Also, there is no mention of the anarchists who participated in the 1905 uprising, the Bialystok anarchists,1 or the notable anarchist group, The Black Banner. When the authors got to the assassination of Symon Petliura on page eight, there was not one mention of his assassin, Sholem Schwartzbard, a Jewish anarchist. I noticed, too, that the numerous Jewish anarchist newspapers were missing, as well as the Jewish anarchists who wrote, compiled, edited, and printed those papers, such as anarchists David Edelstadt and Saul Yanovsky

Ironically, the title of the book I received is “Yiddishland” and yet Baruch Rivkin is not mentioned once in my copy. Rivkin, an anarchist, diligently wrote on the subject of “Yiddishland,” and arguably coined the term. It grieves me that I was sold an incomplete version of a “History of Jewish Radicalism.” I am sure it was an honest mistake and not false advertising, since there is not one point in history when communists or socialists have attempted to erase anarchism, anarchists, Jewish anarchists, or Jews from its pages.

For a history of Jewish anarchism in the United States please refer to Di yiddishe anarkhistishe bevegung in emerika (The Jewish Anarchist Movement in the United States: A Historical Review and Personal Reminiscences) by Joseph Cohen. Within the 557 pages of that lovely book, you will find a beautiful description of Jewish anarchism. However, there is little to no mention of Jewish communism. Maybe that is because it is a history of Jewish anarchism and not Jewish communism. If it were to include both Jewish anarchism and Jewish communism, then it could be boldly titled Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History Of Jewish Radicalism.

I would like to return this book and be given a full refund.

Thank you.

Further Reading

More on Jewish anarchists, Jewish anarchism, and Jewish anarchist newspapers

More on The Black Banner, also called Chernoe Znamia

The Jewish Anarchist Movement in America

  1. All the members of the first anarchist group in the Russian Empire, which was formed in 1903 in Bialystok, were Jews. Yiddish-speaking Jews participated in the International Anarchist Congress of Amsterdam in 1907. 

If the FBI Approaches You to Become an Informant: An FAQ: What You Need to Know

Federal agents approach you. Perhaps they just ask a couple offhand questions; perhaps they have a deal to propose. They might tell you they are trying to help you; they might tell you that you are in a lot of trouble and it will just get worse unless you cooperate with them; they might tell you that they need your help to prevent something terrible from happening. But whatever they say, you can’t be sure what their real agenda is or what they’re trying to learn. Whether you’ve already been approached for interrogation or you simply want to be prepared for the possibility, this FAQ answers all the questions you might have. Don’t take our word for it—follow up with other legal scholars for more perspective.

The FBI went to great lengths to target Martin Luther King, Jr., the Black Panthers, and countless other activists and social movements through COINTELPRO and other programs like it. Just like the KGB or the East German Stasi, their operations depend on a population that is willing to inform on each other out of cowardice and self-interest. The “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” have both relied on informants to fill US prisons with millions of inmates. Under Donald Trump, we see police and FBI agents ramping up their activities to intimidate and entrap more people than ever, with the explicit purpose of suppressing dissent. We have to stand up to these bullies.

Am I obligated to cooperate with police?

No, you don’t have to answer any questions or supply names to the authorities. Neither you nor anyone else has a legal obligation to assist the police in solving a crime. You are not legally required to cooperate.

If I do inform, will they protect my identity?

Though the state often refers to informants as “confidential informants” or “confidential human sources,” prosecutors may be obligated to disclose your identity in court, especially if you were central in the issuance of a warrant or if you were present at the scene of whatever the defendant is accused of. The defense could also force you to testify in open court: they are guaranteed the right to do so under the confrontation clause in the Constitution. Generally speaking, the FBI and prosecutors only concern themselves with protecting the identity of informants as long as they have additional plans to utilize them.

If I don’t inform, can they make me testify in court?

If you lead a prosecutor or a law enforcement officer to believe that you have relevant information, you could be subpoenaed to testify. Your best chance at avoiding this is to refuse to talk to them from the beginning. That way, if they come after you later, other people will have good reason to trust you and support you in continuing to resist the pressures of the state. Your strongest and most secure right is the right to remain silent from the very beginning.

If they are threatening to arrest me in order to get me to inform, don’t they have to give me access to a lawyer?

While this might depend on the jurisdiction, the answer is generally no. You have a right to an attorney if you are being arrested, but law enforcement guidelines give officers wide discretion to make offers to get someone to inform. They may never formally arrest you, just detain you and question you.

Is the FBI obligated to give me what they offer when they are trying to get me to inform?

This is a grey area. Federal agents may offer formal informants a written agreement that is supposedly enforceable like a contract—but the FBI is obviously the more powerful party in this negotiation, with little to lose from failing to follow through. Law enforcement officers often maintain a network of unregistered informants whose testimony is not used in court but rather provide tips and useful information to aid in investigations. Many informants think they will get off for snitching, only to learn later that they still face time for lesser or reduced charges.

In short: the FBI cares about repressing communities and disrupting social movements, not about protecting informants.

Can’t I just feed them false information to keep them off my back?

18 U.S.C. §1000 makes it a federal crime to knowingly mislead or lie to federal officials, including law enforcement. Federal agents have used this law to prosecute those they suspect of “domestic terrorism” when they have no other evidence to go on.

Remember, if law enforcement is looking for informants, there is a good chance they don’t have a case against whoever they’re trying to target. Don’t give them a case against you.

Couldn’t I just give them worthless or meaningless information?

It’s always better to remain silent and not cooperate when approached by the FBI, then speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Information you might assume to be irrelevant could be of interest in an entirely different case; it could implicate people you did not intend, or give the Feds a reason to really harass you. If you give them information about anyone, however harmless you think that information is, you increase the likelihood that they will attempt to intimidate and interrogate that person and likely others—and that they will come back to keep trying to learn more from you.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can control the situation by talking. You can’t know what the actual goal of their inquiry is, or what their strategy is in approaching you. The only control you have is in refusing to speak to them.

Don’t FBI agents need to have something on me before they can approach me?

FBI agents can run with what is called an “assessment.” It doesn’t require a warrant or approval from superiors, and it can be just as invasive as a full-fledged investigation. According to their guidelines, this assessment can be used to “seek information to identify potential human sources [i.e., informants], assess the suitability, credibility, or value of individuals as human sources, validate human sources, or maintain the cover or credibility of human sources, who may be able to provide or obtain information relating to criminal activities in violation of federal law, threats to the national security, or matters of foreign intelligence interest.”

In other words, they are free to approach you and say whatever they like without any information whatsoever.

What are the chances they are going to approach me? How many informants are there, and how important are they to the activities of the FBI?

Law enforcement is dependent on informants. The FBI alone maintains a network of some 15,000 informants just for their counterterrorism program. Since September 11, 2001, nearly every major terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation with a government informant at the center; there have been at least 416 defendants in terrorism prosecutions involving an informant.

While it is impossible to determine what the chances are that any particular individual will be approached to become an informant, it’s reasonable to assume that federal agents will approach members of our communities whenever they see an opportunity to collect information or disrupt our organizing.

What if they have already talked to me and I agreed to help them because I was scared?

You are not obligated to cooperate. You can invoke your right to remain silent at any time. If you have already spoken with law enforcement, seek an attorney immediately.

You also need to be honest with everyone in your life about the conversation you had with them. If you fall into one of the traps that the FBI is so good at setting, you should be completely honest and transparent about it and recount the encounter in full. This is the only way to deserve the trust of your companions, be accountable for your actions, and make it possible to obtain support from others if you need it.

Even if you do not divulge any information whatsoever, you should report any interactions with federal agents to your community at large. You don’t need to keep it a secret that you are being targeted—the ones targeting you already know. Bringing FBI activity to the attention of the general public can discourage federal agents from harassing people. It also enables people to organize together and support each other.

What should I do if I am approached to become an informant?

Remember these four things:

-Non-cooperation is the best way to protect our communities and movements against state repression.

-If they are approaching you about informing, they probably have a weak case if they have a case at all.

-You do not have to cooperate. You have the right to remain silent.

-Contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Further Resources on Repression and Resistance

If an Agent Knocks

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Tilted Scales Legal Collective

Grand Jury Resistance Project

What Is Security Culture?

Is S/He an Informant? A Ten Point Checklist

Bounty Hunters and Child Predators: Inside the FBI Entrapment Strategy

Towards a Collective Security Culture

I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death;
I am not on his payroll.

I will not tell him the whereabouts of my friends
nor of my enemies either.
Though he promise me much,
I will not map him the route to any man’s door.
Am I a spy in the land of the living,
that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city
are safe with me; never through me
Shall you be overcome.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Conscientious Objector”

POPSEC: Inglourious Basterds: Learning Operational Security Lessons… and Scalping Nazis

With fascism on the rise both in the United States and Europe, it’s a good time to remind everyone of Inglourious Basterds. This movie is full of people kicking Nazi ass and offers a wealth of entertaining operational security lessons. The following text is packed with both spoilers and important takeaways from the film.

Lesson 1: Don’t put your trust in someone who has everything to lose from helping you and nothing to gain.


The opening scene of Inglourious Basterds features a confrontation between a Nazi officer and a French dairy farmer who is hiding a Jewish family under his house. The Jews have entrusted their safety to the dairy farmer because, prior to the German occupation of France, he was one of their neighbors. The farmer has nothing to gain from aiding his Jewish neighbors besides the fact that offering to hide your neighbors when they are being threatened with genocide is the only decent thing to do. Unfortunately, the dairy farmer has three daughters and a vested interest in keeping them safe from the occupying Germans. The farmer reveals the location of the Jewish family because protecting them and protecting his family have become mutually exclusive.

People who stand to gain little from helping us seldom choose decency over the preservation of their own interests. This doesn’t necessarily mean we should never place our trust in such people, but it does mean that we need to have explicit conversations with them about how much risk they’re willing to take on in the course of providing their assistance, especially when betrayal carries serious consequences.

Lesson 2: Share details exclusively on a need-to-know basis.


Shoshanna is a woman with a plan. To pull it off, she needs complete buy-in from her counterpart, Marcel, and the services of a film developer. Her plan is both dangerous and tenuous, and even one breach in security could land her and her co-conspirator in a concentration camp (or worse), leaving Hitler and the rest of the Nazi party top brass free to continue their reign of terror. Fortunately for Shoshanna, she has two really important things going for her: she is cool as a cucumber, and she knows better than to share essential details with nonessential players. Shoshanna never reveals even a single detail about her plan to the film developer, choosing instead to provide what you might call an alternate incentive for his cooperation. In fact, aside from Marcel, whose complete loyalty has already been verified, and whose collaboration is essential to ensure the success of Shoshanna’s plan, Shoshanna never breathes a word about her intentions to anyone, leaving her free and clear to carry out her act of vengeance.

This lesson applies in real life: if you never tell your colleagues anything more than what is needed for them to execute their part of the plan, you significantly reduce the risk that they will share damaging information and ruin your plans.

Lesson 3: Own your weaknesses so you can work around them.


Lieutenant Archie Hicox is an exemplary soldier and an above-average spy who understands German fluently. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Hicox speaks with an unusual accent, and while his knowledge of German film is unparalleled within the Allied forces, his understanding of German culture is severely lacking in several regards. Also severely lacking is Hicox’ awareness of his weaknesses. As a result of this lack of self-awareness, Hicox first draws attention to his covert meeting by being overheard speaking with an odd accent, then ultimately botches the mission, resulting in his own death and the deaths of nearly everyone else in the room. Fraulein von Hammersmark later tells Lieutenant Rains that Hicox screwed up by holding up the incorrect fingers to signal “three” while ordering from the bartender. While this is certainly an accurate description of events, the truth is that he flubbed the operation by not having the good sense to shut the hell up once he’d drawn the attention of an SS officer.

This offers two real-world takeaways: first, be self-aware about your weaknesses so you can work around them. The second, which is related, is to be aware enough to know when your operation has failed, so you can pull back in time to regroup and try again later—or at least so you can live to fight another day.

Lesson 4: Clean up after yourself.


Sure, Bridget von Hammersmark made a mission-critical error by choosing a pub full of Nazi soldiers as the place for her rendezvous with the Basterds, but her much deadlier mistake was neglecting to clean up after herself before leaving the scene. It can be damn near impossible to keep your wits when everything is falling to pieces around you, but if you’re engaged in something subversive or clandestine, you need to remain calm during catastrophes to ensure that the trouble doesn’t spread. In Bridget von Hammersmark’s case, a discarded autograph and an errant shoe effectively sealed her fate.

In the real world, cleaning up after yourself might be as simple as wiping chat and text message logs before going out to a risky action, or making sure your bags do not contain anything you don’t want to be arrested carrying before you leave the house, or making sure you don’t leave behind anything potentially incriminating.

Lesson 5: Sometimes you can’t salvage a plan.


The Basterds had an airtight plan for infiltrating the premier of Fredrick Zoller’s film: send in three operatives all fluent in German to accompany famed German actress Bridget von Hammersmark to the premier of Stolz der Nation, and use the event as an opportunity to take out Hitler. Unfortunately, all the German-speaking Basterds were present at Frau von Hammersmark’s disastrous basement rendezvous and none of them survived. Now, most people might face these facts with an air of resignation, but Lieutenant Aldo Raine is not most people. Raine makes the extremely ill-advised and regrettable decision to move forward as planned, posing as Italians rather than Germans. Granted, Aldo speaks Italian… sort of. And sure, Frau von Hammersmark does tell him that Germans don’t have a good ear for Italian accents… but reasonably, all parties involved should have called it quits.

Sometimes, it is impossible to salvage a plan. The best you can do is call it quits and live to fight another day—whether that means backing out of a plan to assassinate Hitler, or recognizing that it’s time to leave an action, go home, and start preparing for the next one.

Lesson 6: The most dangerous kind of adversary is the one who has nothing to lose.


Shoshanna Dreyfus, aka Emmanuelle Mimieux, is a young Frenchwoman who owns a movie theater. Unbeknownst to everyone but her lover and her reluctant but loyal collaborator, Marcel, Shoshanna is also a young Jewish woman whose family was massacred before her eyes, who only barely escaped sharing their fate. In other words, Shoshanna is clean out of fucks to give, and is willing to burn it all down in order to get revenge and prevent others from sharing her family’s fate. Shoshanna is the epitome of a dangerous adversary because she has decided she has nothing to lose.

The lesson here is a grim one: you can only defeat an adversary willing to sacrifice everything to take you down by acting preemptively. In the best-case scenario, you should not make such enemies in the first place. In the worst-case scenario, you must neutralize such threats before they are able to enact mutually-assured destruction.

Lesson 7: Be careful making deals with your adversary.

Post 39026 i dont think so more like chew pzfz

There may come a time in your life when, like Colonel Hans Landa, you need to make a deal with your enemies in order to ensure your survival. The lesson to take away from Landa’s deal with the American military is simple: make sure you iron out all of the details and don’t trust your adversary any more than is necessary. Landa, for example, probably shouldn’t have trusted Aldo Raine to adhere to all the details of the agreement he had made.

In a real-life context, this means you should never trust the police when they offer you a deal in exchange for information. Police frequently assure arrestees that if they cooperate (i.e., answer questions and give up information), they’ll tell the district attorney to go easy on them. The reality of the situation is that police have no control over how a district attorney files charges or tries cases, and a police officer is never going to get on the stand and testify that a defendant should be exonerated if the DA instructs him otherwise.

It is also important to be circumspect about making deals with your adversaries when you are considering accepting a plea deal offered by a prosecuting attorney. Be wary of plea deals stipulating probation, as probation frequently carries with it a suspension of the meager civil liberties offered by the state—sometimes not just for the person on probation, but also for all those in proximity to that person. If you are considering accepting a plea deal rather than going to trial, work with your attorney to try to negotiate a deal that actually protects you and your comrades.

Always do your best to find out what your enemies stand to lose if they go back on their word. If it’s negligible—or nothing at all—there’s no reason to put faith in the deal.

By Elle Armageddon

Parasites, Anarchists, and Other Rebellious Creatures: Two Months of Protest and Repression in Belarus

A series of fierce protests broke out all around Belarus in February 2017, continuing throughout March and shaking the foundations of Lukashenko’s decades-old rule. Anarchists were at the forefront, radicalizing both the street confrontations and the proposals advanced by the movement; anarchist tactics spread to many other participants, who joined anarchists in pushing back against aggressive police repression. We interviewed Belarusian anarchists who participated in the movement to prepare this full report.

The Belorussian president Alexander Lukashenko first came to power in 1994; he won his fifth mandate in Fall 2015. He has become notorious for violently suppressing social movements and any kind of opposition. The small yet vibrant anarchist and antifascist scene has endured grave repression for many years, with many comrades serving long prison sentences.

The Criminalization of Poverty / The Parasites Fight Back

Belarus has experienced a deep recession for many years now due to its strong economic ties to Russia; consequently, the government has made severe financial cuts in the welfare state. Yet this most recent attempt to criminalize and humiliate the most vulnerable parts of Belorussian society pushed people over the edge. In 2015, Lukashenko introduced a new law stipulating that everyone who has not held a job in the last six months has to pay a special tax to the state to cover the costs of public health care and education. The poorest parts of the population were described as “social parasites”; the only way to avoid the tax was to go through humiliating process of explaining their financial circumstances to a special government commission. According to some estimates, the law affected about half a million of people. Those who could not afford to pay the tax could be sentenced to 15 days of forced labor.

The first march against the new law took place on February 17 in the Belarusian capital city, Minsk. This demonstration was forbidden by the authorities, yet it attracted some 2000 angry people. Some opposition politicians participating in the protest tried to calm the others down, but loud anarchists remained ungovernable. The state responded immediately with repression, but the crowd showed considerable solidarity, rescuing everyone that the police sought to arrest.

Demonstrations spread from Minsk to the cities of Gomel and Brest; they also occurred in small towns that have not seen protest activity in decades, like Orsha, Bobruisk, Kobrin, and Luninec. Despite the fact that Lukashenko pulled back and promised to suspend the law, protests continued, calling for his resignation.


It appeared that what pushed people to the streets was, on one hand, the criminalization of poverty and, on the other hand, the gradual destruction of the welfare state. What do you think brought people over the edge?

Belarus is in an economic crisis right now and that is completely ignored by the state. The President of the country, Alexander Lukashenko, is trying to pretend that everything is better than ever. At the same time, salaries are in decline, factories are closing, and a wave of privatization is pushing people to the edge. To maintain itself, the state has to squeeze even more money from the people—apart from talks about social parasitism, there is an attempt to blame society for the crisis. So the recent moves away from a welfare state have alienated a lot of people who were supportive or at least not openly opposed to Lukashenko to conclude that something has to change.

The protests were decentralized; in many cases, quite self-organized. Who were the people on the streets and how were they organizing?

In many cases, the protests were still called by opposition activists. However, they managed to mobilize everybody who is dissatisfied with the regime right now. The organization is currently taking place through social networks and some oppositional media platforms that are using their potential to spread news about the events.

It is worth mentioning that normally, protests are concentrated in the capital city of Minsk, but this time, most of the protests took place outside of the capital. People face worse conditions outside of the bigger cities, and this might explain why the protests have been so distributed.

Did any groups try to take over the narrative of the uprising, to centralize it, to control and neutralize dissent and the multiplicity of voices within the protests?

Each opposition party and group is trying to claim the protest. You can see that different oppositional platforms are depicting the protests in different way; they already struggling with each other for the influence. Unlike the first social demands, they are trying to push ideas of fair elections and reforms.

I think a lot of people are skeptical of the opposition parties—they have compromised themselves many times. Already in the protest, they had a split and mobilized only for their own actions, ignoring the actions of their opponents. At the same time, there was a chance that different opposition groups would try to take over the protest in different parts of the country, since different parties have influence in different cities. In the end, however, this didn’t happen.

Were nationalists part of this movement?

Liberal-nationalism is a really important ideology among the Belorussian opposition, so you could see some nationalist flags and symbols in the protests. But so far, the socio-political part of the protest didn’t give so much space to nationalist agenda.

People forced the regime to rescind the law that provoked the protests. Then they turned against the regime itself. But did they go further than asking for different politicians?

The first demand was to stop the “parasite law,” and then, further, to get rid of Lukashenko. Did people have any idea who or what they wanted to replace him with? I doubt it. This is not what you are thinking about when you are standing together against a dictator. For the revolt to embrace the idea of autonomy and other anarchist values—this is really far away from our society right now. It is also important to mention that eventually, Lukashenko denied that he had canceled the law, so even this small victory has been taken away from people.

The uprising in Belarus is yet another in a long line of Eastern European protests over the last few years. How do you understand the Belarus uprising in the context of hostility between East and West?

The demonstrations around the country didn’t lead to any further activity. We hope that after repression, the wave won’t subside, and perhaps in that sense, things will get rolling. For now, it is a long shot even to say that Belarus is close to some kind of bourgeois revolution.

However, if the people win and Lukashenko steps down, then opposition will move for sure towards the West and away from Russian influence. At the same time, this could trigger the Ukrainian scenario in which Russia intervenes to keep this territory—annexing it or establishing a puppet regime. The fall of the regime definitely will not contribute to the stabilization of this region in the short term; however, it might bring at least some liberal freedoms in place of the long-lasting rule of dictators from USSR to Lukashenko.

Under a Red and Black Flag

Anarchists were the key element in the protests and, consequently, the main target of oppression. The government went out of its way to argue that anarchists are provocateurs trying to create a “new Maidan” and to destroy peace in Belarus. The authorities issued statements, published videos, and began to prosecute and arrest all the radicals in the country. First, they went after anarchists after the demonstrations, sentencing them to short jail sentences; then they began re-arresting people before they were released from jail, prolonging their sentences.


The demonstration of March 25 was supposed to be one of the biggest gatherings of protesters, a culmination of struggle. Instead, it was the biggest show of police brutality in years. In the days leading up to it, police carried out raids under false pretenses such as calling the fire brigade to break into apartments, arresting everyone who had any prior connections to anarchism or previous political charges. They even broke up a small gathering of people who tried to collect food and money for detainees, arresting them and sentencing them to up to 15 days in prison. Of approximately 100 arrestees, between 30 and 40 were anarchists.

On the day of the March 25 demonstration, police occupied the capitol and started to arrest people as soon as they showed up. Without a clear indication of the final number, it is believed that up to 600 people were arrested. Most were released the same day, but about 100 stayed in prison.

It seems that both Western media and the regime in Belarus have been united in arguing that anarchists played an important role in this protest. What sort of presence did they have?

Anarchists participated in three protests and one failed attempt to join a protest in which they were arrested before reaching the gathering point on March 25. The role of the anarchists was to make the protests lively and to move away from traditional oppositional protests, and this was quite successful: there was a lot of positive feedback from other parts of society. The socially-oriented slogans and alternative proposals that anarchists brought to the movement were far more persuasive to other protesters than the old overused opposition slogans. In that sense, anarchists formed a political movement that could attract a lot of people.

At the same time, the groups of anarchists were never particularly large. Between February and March, the biggest mobilization saw around 30 to 40 people in the anarchist bloc. Yet even that was enough to show that we offer something completely different than the traditional opposition.

Lukashenko identified anarchists as provocateurs, warning of a “new Maidan” and trying to create a state of emergency. On the other hand, the opposition tried to impose the language of peaceful transition on the protest. What was the anarchist reaction to both of these maneuvers?

I don’t think that there was a lot of reaction. In his delusions, Lukashenko is always blaming agents of West that are supposedly planning to destroy his oasis; so for us, those attacks were not that important. Likewise, we didn’t plan to react to the peaceful language of opposition; we have our own agenda, and there is no point in getting into discussions with those groups.

How did anarchists try to reach out to other participants in the protests? What lessons can be taken from these two months of participating in such an uprising?

Good slogans and new chants were used for each protest. The visual and audio aspects such as banners and drums brought people closer to the anarchists and increased their curiosity. The media was eager to transmit anarchist messages as part of the protest. We also brought leaflets to spread among people attending the demonstrations. It is hard to talk about the lessons that we got from this movement; the conclusions will be discussed when people are released from prison.


It seems that anarchists were the chief targets of repression. Why do you think that is? Did the state believe that the protests would die out if they cut out the most radical part of it?

The anarchists comprise the group that is most capable of going beyond state-tolerated protest. The bigger the influence of anarchists in protests, the bigger the potential of mobilizing others to go beyond those limitations. I think the police understand this clearly. Anarchists are a threat because they don’t hold to dogmatic ideas about non-violent resistance or legality, and they don’t have leaders that the authorities can “work with.”

Were anarchists a visible power in Belarus before the uprising? What has the situation been for anarchism in Belarus in the last couple of years?

I think anarchists were visible in Belarus before this. For the last few years, the opposition abandoned the streets in many senses, and anarchists were among the few who were still carrying out some illegal actions and bringing some social projects to society. Still, not so many anarchists were visible in the political arena of the country.

Despite repression, it seems that people have persistently struggled against the regime in Belarus for a long time—not just anarchists, but random people as well. How did other protesters react to repression in this movement? We heard stories about other protesters defending the black bloc and similar occurences.

Indeed, some people were eager to participate in the demonstrations, even if they would be arrested. This was something that fascinated us: they were not hardcore political activists, but normal people fighting for changes despite the threat of repression.

The solidarity that other demonstrators displayed towards anarchists was incredible. Riot cops were trying to arrest anarchists at the very first demonstration, and some people who were going home from the protest started helping anarchists and pushing away the cops. They didn’t expect that from “normal people”! After that, this sort of solidarity occurred again several times. We saw it again on March 15: when the police arrested 50 people, 15 or 20 of them were ordinary participants who had been helping anarchists to resist arrest.


The demonstration of March 25 was supposed to be the biggest protest so far, but Minsk came under police occupation, with the biggest wave of repression so far. What is the situation of those arrested? How many anarchists remain in jail?

Most people have been released from jail following short-term arrests. Unfortunately, one person was sent to jail for violating probation; he will serve two years now. Some arrestees expect to be expelled from the university or to lose their jobs. There is at least one case in which a landlord is evicting someone after the KGB pressed him to do so.

Anarchists from Belarus have called comrades around the world to show solidarity. What can people do to support the struggle?

There are many different ways to support anarchists in Belarus. You could carry out solidarity actions, collect money for legal support, or offer information about how to carry out protests, de-arresting, and any other knowledge that can be useful in such situations.

Go here to support participants in the Belarusian protests.

May Day 2017 in Paris: A Report from the Streets: The Story behind the Clashes

On May Day 2017, massive demonstrations against capitalism and state violence took place in Paris, France. Afterwards, sensationalistic footage circulated around the world of police being attacked with Molotov cocktails. Yet these video clips do not show the larger context. They do not show the intensifying police repression of French society as a whole, nor the police attacks that provoked such desperate acts of self-defense. In this report from France, our Parisian correspondents describe the events of the day and offer more background on the clashes.

Scenes from May Day in Paris.

Cortège de tête vs. police, May 1, 2017.

The anarchist march departed from the Place des Fêtes for the Place de la République to join the May Day demonstration. We arrived at Place de la République unhindered and assumed our place in the Cortège de tête, the combative group that has marched at the front of demonstrations since the movement against the labor law (the Loi Travail) in 2016.)

We were expecting the police to employ the same strategy they had used in response to many demonstrations over the past year: to cut the demonstration in two, separating the head from the body, in order to isolate the autonomous bloc from other demonstrators. The police employed this strategy on May Day 2016, but in the trap they created, they caught a considerable number of “ordinary demonstrators”—families, elderly people, and children. This provoked indignation from others in the demonstration and created hostility towards the police from demonstrators who had not previously expressed any objection to them.


This occurred because last year, the techniques of the police failed. The demonstrations during the movement against the labor law, especially those of June 14, 2016, prompted a revision of the police strategy, with the collaboration of the security service of the CGT, the majority trade union: the syndicate’s security service, armed with helmets and sticks, pushes the autonomous procession before it into the hands of the police, so that the police can easily kettle the black bloc. Obviously, this is to allow the CGT and the police to enforce a distinction between good and bad protesters: between those who willingly walk around inside a cage comprised of riot police and protest marshalls on one side, and the evil vandals on the other.

But this year, there was another objective, an unavowable one: this time, the goal was above all to hide the police violence that was in store so that it would not be visible to the main body of the demonstration, for no one could witness so much violence without horror. According to many participants, May Day 2017 saw the most violence from the police in a very long time. The police applied it methodically, gradually using more and more serious weapons.

Popular self-defense.

First, after having kettled the autonomous bloc, the police used tear gas attacks to push us onto Boulevard Beaumarchais to keep us out of sight. When that was accomplished, they started to use flash-balls and sting-balls, while shooting tear gas continuously. It was a veritable avalanche, a ceaseless barrage.


In response, some people throw stones. Fireworks too. Some Molotov cocktails. The police pushed us relentlessly towards the Place de la Bastille, shooting at us without pause. Once there, they formed a trap at the foot of the steps of the Opera Bastille with perhaps two hundred people inside it. For those people, it turned into a scene of tragedy worthy of The Battleship Potemkin. The police pushed people on the steps while soaking them in tear gas. We could see nothing, there was no place to escape, people crashed against the steps, jostling and falling on top of each other like in the Odessa Steps Sequence.

Fortunately, we were not in this group. The police pushed us onto Avenue Daumesnil, then Boulevard Diderot.

Picture yourself in this scene. Tear gas grenades are exploding incessantly. Sometimes you think you can escape by a street, so you run there—in any case, you have no choice, because you need to breathe—but the police are waiting for you on every street. As soon as you pass the street corner, they kettle you in, shooting concussion grenades into the middle of the crowd, knowing perfectly well that there is no space to avoid them.


Dozens of people were injured in situations like this. One of our friends got fragments of sting-balls stuck between her bag and her back, burning the bag completely and leaving deep marks on her skin.

We formed circles to let those dressed in black change clothes out of sight of the cameras of the police. The police began to let us go, one by one, inflicting random blows as we did.


Our friend who had been injured was very afraid at this moment, not because of her injuries, but on account of a bureaucratic issue: because she was not French, she had every reason to fear that an arrest would mean expulsion from France.

Those who fear the election of Marine Le Pen must understand that the French police are already carrying out an effectively fascist program. Not only do the majority of policemen admit to voting for the extreme right, but the state is already employing them to implement totalitarian conditions. Migrants and refugees can tell a lot about this.

In this two-week interval between the two rounds of the election, it is becoming clear that the real seizure of power is not taking place through the election, but at its borders, more or less concealed, in the increasing autonomy of the police force. In our last report, we explored the ways that extending the state of emergency has both paved the way for the police state and rendered it invisible. Since the arrival of Le Pen in the second round of the elections, we see the police behaving as if she had already won the election.

Resisting the rise of fascism means developing the capacity to defend against the police.

The evening of the first vote was the occasion of an anarchist-organized call to gather at the Place de la Bastille for a “Night of Barricades.” Dozens of people were wounded by police that evening, humiliated, undressed in the street. Journalists were beaten up with their own cameras.

Two days later, statutory refugees (who are officially supposed to benefit from “state protection”) were expelled from their homes and thrown into the streets by police, for no reason, out of pure racism. The next day, a friend’s squat was attacked by the police. Our comrades were tackled to the ground with a Flash-ball on the temple. One of our friends was subjected to sexual assault in the car that took her to the police station. Coincidence or not, a few days prior, that squat had hosted a projection of videos we have made in Paris over the past few months documenting police violence against migrants.

All this is further evidence, should more evidence be necessary, that fighting against the extreme right means fighting against the State. It is something we must make a daily practice.

-Radical Cinema

A full video of the day’s events, courtesy of Taranis.

The Spiders of Mutual Aid, Solidarity, and Direct Action: A Report and How-To Guide from May Day in Portland, Oregon

On May Day 2017, anarchists participated in lively demonstrations all around the United States, from the heartland to the coasts. In the Northwest, Seattle witnessed a successful block party at the site of a juvenile corrections center, while in Olympia anarchists barricaded train tracks to oppose fracking and clashed with police. Support arrestees here. Yet Portland, Oregon may take the cake for the most creative and combative May Day. Demonstrators not only defended themselves from unprovoked attacks from police who declared the march a riot—they also introduced exciting new innovations into the aesthetic of the black bloc street presence. Here, comrades from Portland explain their goals with the giant spiders they created for May Day, and offer a helpful guide for those who wish to make spiders of their own.

Circling the A in arachnid!

Eight-legged anarchy!

How to Build Your Own May Day Spiders—and Why

In an effort to bridge the gap between art and activism, giant spiders were assembled off-site and pushed up the street to the demonstration, stocked with water bottles, snacks, earplugs, and other party favors. The idea was to narrow the divide between “us” and “them” that often exists at demonstrations, and it was a complete success. We performed community outreach, engaged in cultural development, boosted morale, provided crucial supplies, and created an amazing photo opportunity in the process.

The concept is multi-dimensional: it works on many different levels. The idea began from frustrations around attendance at local demonstrations. In Portland, where the majority of citizens seem to be white, middle-class, and apolitical on account of these privileges, they don’t show up unless a demonstration concerns their interests specifically. However, Portlanders are fascinated by their own love of art and “wacky” stuff as well as the commodification of protest as “funtertainment.” We decided to embrace this love of the “weird” to test whether a hyper-localized approach to engaging people could succeed.

How to make spiders of your own!

Our tactical art enabled us to fill a supporting role for other participants in the march, helping challenge narratives that the black bloc is an “othered” or “othering” tactic. Whether this separation is intentional or not, the fact remains that the general public is often hesitant to engage with us. Bearing that in mind—as well the tendency of the Portland Police Department to brutally shut down demonstrations—we stocked our Spiders with fliers, water, LAW (liquid, antacid, water, the eyewash with which street medics treat pepper spray), ear plugs, and snacks. We also included a few other party favors, because anarchy needs revelry!

We intentionally engaged with the folks around us. A lot of people walked up to ask what the spiders meant! It was inspiring to see so much dialogue between folks in everyday garb and folks in black bloc. We explained the ideas behind our actions as anarchists and the creations themselves: the three spiders representing Mutual Aid, Solidarity, and Direct Action.

A word about symbolism. The idea of using the spider as an icon of resistance is that spiders are always there watching, waiting, and keeping the environment free of pesky insects and other parasites that consume resources without supporting their fellow beings. While we may look scary, we’re here with you and for you. We are the spiders, and the insects are the societal ills that we fight against.

The symbolism of the black widow spider is rich with history that guides our work. We want to contribute to that rich history, adding our own interpretations. Mutual Aid, Solidarity, Direct Action are our black widow’s cruses. (Crux? Curse? Cures?)

Building webs of mutual aid and solidarity!

The anarcho-arachnids in action.

In regards to developing our own culture, there are many barriers we face in this process. State repression is the biggest threat, of course. The specter of state repression can complicate organizing, planning, and building trust in our communities. Portland has a history of repression and slander, ruining the lives of activists and anarchists; these horror stories reverberate throughout the underground. We can’t allow ourselves to be publicly disparaged and forced into hiding by our adversaries and their culture war, so we create as a political act. Creating is intuitively human: we plan, we build, we think, we conspire, we imagine. It is also an activity in which everyone can engage to some degree while building new skills. It enables us to get to know each other, build trust, and share time and company.

More globally, seizing the Spectacle is a step towards our goals, because it allows us to dictate our own narratives. With the development of Public Relations and Social Engineering, the visage of capitalism has come to define its delusional reality. To paraphrase Guy Debord, lived experiences are now taken in as a collection of representational images. We can tell our own stories and show the general public what these three principles mean in action. We can create our own mythos, speaking out on our own terms, in our own language, with our own symbols. The state and media dictate too much of what we’re allowed to say and how it’s spun—it’s time to spin our own webs to connect and fortify our relationships.


What has eight legs, no gods, and no masters?

We are building the bridges we need to move forward. The existing connections between art, activism, and anarchism are fiery and well-storied. The new wave of repression under Trump’s regime is still building steam, but it is already proving dangerous. We need to be more careful than ever. Art allows us to demonstrate and show our fangs, and we can use art to empower those around us.

The May Days: Stories of Courage and Resistance: Snapshots from the History of May Day

May Day is one of the days on which anarchists celebrate self-determination and self-realization. People have lit bonfires to mark the end of winter for thousands of years; it wasn’t until industrialization forcibly disconnected people from the land base that nourished them that May Day came to be observed as a labor holiday. At base, May Day isn’t about labor: it’s about abundance. It’s about excess, pleasure, freedom—the burgeoning source of life itself. As a millennia-old holy day honoring the return of spring, May Day directs our thoughts to nature—a wild and beautiful chaos that flows through us and nourishes us, which we can enjoy but never control. Our joyous acts of rebellion do not point to a world in which workers are paid a little better for their labor, but to the possibility that we could sweep away all the forms of oppression that stand between us and the tremendous potential of our lives.

Here follow a few recent exciting moments in the centuries-old legacy of May Day. All the best in your own efforts today: as the folk singer croons, “To fight for something is to make it your own.”

May Day 2012 in Seattle.

Before May Day: 1871, 1877, 1884

Before May Day became the international day to celebrate labor struggles, workers and other rebels observed March 18, the anniversary of the beginning of the Paris Commune in 1871.

For example, on March 18, 1877, the young Peter Kropotkin joined Pindy, Stepniak, and anarchists from all around Switzerland for a march in Bern. Kropotkin is largely remembered as a peaceable advocate of science and mutual aid, but he and his friends brought flagpoles, brass knuckles, and other weapons to defend themselves. After a lengthy street confrontation, they managed to rescue their red flag from police who tried to seize it, and proceeded to a 2000-strong meeting at which they recited speeches, sang revolutionary songs, and read out telegrams of encouragement from France and Spain.

Meeting in Chicago on October 7, 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions resolved to demand that the workday be limited to eight hours by May Day 1886. The leadership of this organization, which later became the American Federation of Labor (AFL), secretly issued a statement advising members not to become involved in the movement around this demand, but the rank and file embraced it in large numbers.


The anarchist organizers Albert and Lucy Parsons led 80,000 people down Chicago’s Michigan Avenue in the first modern May Day Parade, chanting, “Eight-hour day with no cut in pay!” Over the next few days, 350,000 workers around the US went on strike at 1200 factories, including 70,000 in Chicago, 45,000 in New York, and 32,000 in Cincinnati.

Four days later, the police attacked a labor rally in Chicago, someone responded by throwing a bomb, and the rest is history.

Albert Parsons and four other anarchists lost their lives in the ensuing show trial, which was so widely regarded as rigged and unjust that in 1893 the governor overturned the convictions and criticized the court proceedings. Lucy Parsons, later a co-founder of the Industrial Workers of the World, dedicated herself to a life of revolutionary organizing.



Determined to avenge the Haymarket martyrs and build a revolutionary movement capable of abolishing capitalism and the state, the seasoned anarchist organizer Errico Malatesta secretly returned to Italy in order to prepare fierce demonstrations for May Day.

On the afternoon of May 1, 1891, thousands of workers gathered in the plaza of Santa Croce in Rome to hear a series of speakers. A march of thousands more soon arrived, including members of the anarchist federation with red-trimmed banners. As the police chief noted, “The appearance of the Federazione Anarchica stimulated immediate excitement in the crowd.”

The anarchist Amilcare Cipriani, who had been condemned to death and then exiled to New Caledonia as punishment for acting as Chief of Staff during the defense of the Paris Commune, rose to speak. Noting the forest of bayonets with which hundreds of soldiers and mounted cavalry had surrounded the plaza, Cipriani pleaded for calm, arguing that it was not the proper time to confront the authorities. Yet an unscheduled speaker, the anarchist Galileo Palla who had lived in exile in Argentina with Malatesta, leapt onto the rostrum and exhorted to the crowd to rise in revolt, concluding, “Long live the revolution!”

The ensuing riots spread throughout the city and lasted well into the night.


Massive rioting swept Cleveland, Ohio on May Day 1894 in protest against unemployment stemming from the economic crisis of the previous year. The Pullman Strike began a few days later, on May 11, culminating with countrywide disruptions and the murders of many workers by police and other mercenaries.

In response, President Grover Cleveland announced that Labor Day in September would become a national holiday, attempting to coopt workers’ struggles without affirming the anniversary of the Haymarket incident. Samuel Gompers, a founder of the AFL and a virulent opponent of immigration, anarchism, socialism, and, later, the Industrial Workers of the World, supported the federal government in crushing the Pullman Strike and backed Grover Cleveland’s effort to undermine the momentum of May Day. Make no mistake: the official leadership of legalized labor organizations has largely aimed to tame and hobble them from the very beginning.


Two labor rallies were announced for May Day 1909 in Buenos Aires. One was organized by the socialist General Union of Workers (UGT); the other, by the anarchist Argentine Regional Workers’ Federation (FORA).

As anarchist historian Osvaldo Bayer recounts, “After noon, the Plaza Lorea began to fill with folk not habitués of the city: lots of mustaches, berets, neckerchiefs, patched trousers, lots of fair hair, lots of freckled faces, lots of Italians, lots of ‘Russians’ (as the Jewish immigrant was called in those days) and quite a few Catalans. Along came the anarchists with their red flags: ‘Death to the bourgeois! War on the bourgeoisie!’ were the first cries heard.”

The rowdiest crew seemed to be the anarchists from the association “Luz al Soldado” (“enlighten the soldier”). According to the day’s police report, they wrecked trams, liberated horses from city cabs, and smashed bakeries that refused to shutter their storefronts in observance of the workers’ holiday.

Unexpectedly, police chief Colonel Ramón Falcón drew up in his vehicle and gave the order to attack. Police cracked heads, shot demonstrators, and trampled them on horseback, killing as many as 11 workers and seriously injuring dozens more.

Socialists joined the anarchists in calling for an open-ended general strike demanding Falcón’s resignation. The Colonel responded with arrests and raids and shut down the anarchist press. On May 4, 33 years to the day after the Haymarket incident, a crowd of up to 80,000 gathered to accompany their martyrs’ remains to the cemetery. Falcón’s police showed up again to beat and shoot at the bereaved.

One of the anarchists impacted by the May Day massacre was a Ukrainian-born teenager, Simon Radowitzky. Six months later, Radowitzky used a homemade bomb to blow up Falcón’s carriage, killing the Colonel and his secretary Juan Lartigau. When finally caught and beaten by police, he shouted, “Viva el anarquismo!” Radowitzky became one of the most prominent political prisoners in Argentinian history.

A collection of posters illustrating the diverse ideologies competing to define the meaning of May Day.


Riots broke out again in Cleveland, Ohio when reactionaries and police attacked a May Day parade of union members, anarchists, and socialists protesting the imprisonment of Eugene Debs, a labor organizer who had cut his teeth in the Pullman Strike decades earlier.


Between May 3 and 8, in what came to be known as the May Days, clashes erupted in Barcelona between anarchists and other grassroots participants in the Spanish revolution, on one side, and on the other, police, communist party members serving Stalin, and other members of the Republican government. This presaged the defeat of the Spanish revolution at the hands of Franco, betrayed by authoritarians within its ranks.

“The thing for which the Communists were working was not to postpone the Spanish revolution till a more suitable time, but to make sure that it never happened. This became more and more obvious as time went on, as power was twisted more and more out of working-class hands, and as more and more revolutionaries of every shade were flung into jail. Every move was made in the name of military necessity, because this pretext was, so to speak, ready-made, but the effect was to drive the workers back from an advantageous position and into a position in which, when the war was over, they would find it impossible to resist the reintroduction of capitalism… There is very little doubt that arms were deliberately withheld lest too many of them should get into the hands of the Anarchists, who would afterwards use them for a revolutionary purpose.” -George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia


As a teenager, the Spanish anarchist Antonio García Barón joined the Durruti Column to defeat fascism and advance the anarchist revolution during the Spanish Civil War. Thanks to the indifference of capitalist nations, Nazi support for Franco’s forces, and the communists’ betrayals of other anti-fascists, the revolution in Spain was defeated by 1939, but Barón himself never gave up. He made his way to the battle of Dunkirk, where he gave a hungry British soldier a much-needed lunch break by grabbing his gun and shooting down two Nazi warplanes, much to the soldier’s surprise.

Not long after, Barón was captured and sent to the Nazi death camp at Mauthausen. Even surrounded by mass executions and starvation, Barón carried his anarchist ideals with him. During a visit by Himmler himself, Barón managed to confront the SS leader. Spain had taken away Barón’s nationality when he entered the concentration camp; he never attempted to get it back. In Mauthausen, Barón was marked with a blue triangle and the letter “S”—the mark identifying prisoners who were deemed stateless.

The gas chamber executions at Mauthausen continued until just before Adolf Hitler committed suicide on May 1, 1945. On May 5, the Allied Forces liberated the Mauthausen concentration camp. They were welcomed with a banner that read, “The Spanish antifascists salute the liberating forces.” With the defeat of fascism and the liberation of the concentration camps, Antonio García Barón set out to live his life outside the reach of the state, capitalism, and most importantly the church. He settled down in the Bolivian jungle where, despite jaguar attacks and multiple assassination attempts, he lived on to be the last survivor of the Durruti Column.

Spanish antifascist prisoners celebrate their liberation from the Nazi death camp at Mauthausen with a banner on May 5, 1945.


Black workers in South Africa had participated in May Day demonstrations since 1928, when their march dwarfed the whites-only demonstration organized by the racist Labor Party. In 1950, the Communist Party of South Africa called for a May Day strike to protest against the Suppression of Communism Act. South African police retaliated with brutal violence, killing 18 people across Soweto. The young Nelson Mandela sought refuge in a nurses’ dormitory overnight to escape from the gunfire.

May Day in Havana, Cuba in 1961: the statist cooptation of a grassroots holiday.


Following months of conflict between students and authorities at the Paris University at Nanterre, the administration shut down the university on May 2, 1968. Students at the Sorbonne University in Paris met on May 3 to protest in solidarity with students at Nanterre. On May 6, more than 20,000 students, teachers and supporters marched towards the Sorbonne to confront the police who were attempting to seal it off. Massive clashes ensue, precipitating a month of strikes and occupations that nearly toppled the French government.

Paris, May 1968.


On May 1, over 50,000 people attended an anti-war concert in Washington, DC organized in coordination with the May Day Tribe, a radical left formation including Yippie, gay, and feminist contingents. The government rescinded the permit and evicted the park in which the concert was taking place. Nevertheless, at dawn on May 3, well over 15,000 anti-war protesters organized into affinity groups attempted to shut down the entire city of Washington DC by means of coordinated civil disobedience. An equal number of police, soldiers, and marines responded with tear gas and violent attacks, seizing and destroying property at random including two marked ambulances. Over 7000 people were arrested by 8 am, and the number approaches 13,000 by the end of the week—only 79 of whom were ultimately convicted. A federal court later awarded a total of $12 million to arrestees.


In London, the anarchist periodical Class War published their first issue on May Day. Recognizing intuitively that workplace struggles had largely been outflanked by the restructuring of neoliberal capitalism, Class War focused on community struggles and urban unrest, gleefully provoking Thatcherites with irreverent humor that continues to influence
some of today’s best anarchist propagandists

In participating in anti-fascist organizing, the Poll Tax Riots that toppled Thatcher’s government, and the Carnival against Capitalism of June 18, 1999 that set the stage for the demonstrations against the World Trade Organization summit in Seattle in 1999, Class War helped create the foundation for today’s resurgent anarchist movements.


In Ukraine, state celebrations on the one-hundred-year anniversary of May Day proceeded as planned, although many of the officials of the ruling Communist Party were absent without explanation. That was because the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl was melting down, pouring lethal radiation into the air. The party bureaucrats knew that this was occurring, but had yet to acknowledge it to the public, exposing countless workers to radiation poisoning.

This catastrophe illustrates the fatal effects of the cooptation of May Day and workers’ movements in general by authoritarian parties. Whether socialist or democratic, the very existence of the state itself presupposes hierarchies that inevitably expose workers and others to disproportionate risk.


In Berlin, a street party in the Kreuzberg area on May Day unexpectedly became a major conflict drawing in many sectors of the population, forcing police to abandon the district for hours. From that night of freedom sprang a tradition of mass confrontation, a yearly day of rioting in downtown Berlin that continues up to this day.

Atari Teenage Riot performing during 1999 May Day riots in Berlin.

Demonstrators in Berlin on May Day, 2000.

May Day demonstrations in London, 2002.


In 2006, tens of thousands of immigrants and supporters went on strike to demonstrate against repressive migration policies.


May Day 2010 saw small but combative demonstrations across the United States such as Asheville, North Carolina and Santa Cruz, California, both of which included considerable property destruction as demonstrators struck back against gentrification. In Asheville, police arrested eleven people at random and charged them with a variety of felonies including conspiracy. The case dragged on for years. In the end, a few defendants took misdemeanor plea deals, while the rest were let off without convictions.

May 1, 2011 in Montreal.


May Day 2012 saw powerful anarchist demonstrations around the world, notably in Montreal, Oakland, and Seattle.

In Montreal, at the high point of a powerful student strike, hundreds of participants in a fierce May Day demonstration clashed with police. The march started on the Champ de Mars, just in front of Montréal City Hall, and quickly moved towards the downtown core. It included one of the largest black blocs that had taken the streets of Montréal at that point—perhaps 300 strong.

A portion of the crowd assembled for May Day in Montreal as the demonstration leaves the Champ de Mars.

May Day 2012 in Montreal.

March and clashes in Montreal, May Day 2012.

In Oakland, after a night of vandalism throughout rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in San Francisco, hundreds marched across the city, beginning and ending the day by clashing with riot police at Oscar Grant plaza, previously the site of Occupy Oakland.

San Francisco, the night before May Day 2012.

Facing down the police in Oakland on May Day 2012.

March through Oakland, May Day 2012.

In Seattle, a black bloc marched through town, unexpectedly attacking the Niketown famously damaged by demonstrators against the 1999 World Trade Organization summit. What had taken activists from all around the United States and the world to accomplish in 1999 was now carried out by locals despite the presence of large numbers of police.

Seattle May Day 2012.


Several hundred demonstrators in Milan clashed with police in protests against capitalism, the state, and corruption around the corporate “Expo 2015.”

Milan, May Day 2015.

Milan, May Day 2015.

May Day in Turkey, 2015.


To be continued!