Report Back from the Week of Solidarity with J20 Defendants: Events and Actions July 20-27

July 20-27 was the international Week of Solidarity with the J20 defendants, more than 200 people mass-arrested during the inauguration of Donald Trump. July 20 marked the six-month anniversary of the day the DC police “kettled” a whole city block of demonstrators, bystanders, journalists, legal observers, and street medics at L and 12th Street, and gave them all the same blanket felony charges.

The week saw a cloudburst of autonomous actions across the country aimed at increasing the visibility of the case despite an intentional blackout by the mainstream media. The J20 case is an attempt to establish a precedent for pressing blanket felony charges against everyone in the vicinity of a confrontational demonstration, and terrorizing the defendants with further blanket felony charges if they do not immediately plead guilty. As such, it is crucial that people everywhere around the United States mobilize to draw attention to the case, channel resources into the legal defense, and maintain the morale of those targeted by the state.

Social centers and radical infoshops like Boxcar Books (Bloomington, Indiana) and Firestorm Books (Asheville, North Carolina) had banners hanging outside all week long, while distributing materials like handbills, fliers, and posters. International acts of solidarity took place in Bristol, England; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Mexico City, Mexico; and Jakarta, Indonesia.

Solidarity from Mexico City.

One of the most successful events was a press conference and Rally Against Criminalization of Resistance that was organized outside the DC Superior Courthouse on July 27, prior to a hearing scheduled to argue a motion to dismiss the superseding indictment and to compel the grand jury instructions. Livestreamed in its entirety by Unicorn Riot, the event featured speeches from DC organizations standing in solidarity with J20 Defendants, such as the Stop Police Terror Project.

Actions and Events

Friday, July 21

Saturday, July 22

Anarchists in Ann Arbor, MI held an anti-fascist block party, where they turned a gentrifying portion of the town known as “Graffiti Alley” into a temporary anti-fascist zone, zine share, informal people’s assembly, and outreach space.

People wheatpasted up to 100 “Support J20 Defendants” and “#DropJ20 End the Repression” fliers in Albany, NY.

Chicalo, Illinois.

Monday, July 24

  • The Bloomington Anarchist Black Cross organized a screening of subMedia’s show “Trouble” and discussed the details of the case thus far.

  • A letter-writing party in Durham, NC sent letters to US Attorney Channing Phillips to demand that the charges be dropped as part of #DropJ20.

  • “DefendJ20” umbrella graffiti tags appeared across Minneapolis, MN.

  • “DefendJ20” umbrella posters appeared in Nashville, TN.

    Bloomington, Indiana: “More than 200 arrests on January 20—but rebellion is still spreading!


Tuesday, July 25

  • An information demonstration at People’s Park in downtown Bloomington distributed hundreds of handbills with information regarding the case.

  • A banner reading “Fight Back! #DefendJ20” appeared over the 101 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, CA during morning rush hour.

Wednesday, July 26

  • Multiple banner drops took place in Albany, NY, proclaiming “Dismiss J20!”, “Drop the Charges! #J20,” and “”

  • DC was covered block to block in flyers that read “I Want You in Solidarity with J20 Defendants” as part of a call-in campaign to Rochelle Howard at the Office of Police Complaints to demand that the investigation into the MPD begin now.

Thursday, July 27

  • Downtown Oakland was adorned with multiple tags and stencils that read “Solidarity with #J20 Defendants,” “#DefendJ20,” and “Drop the Charges #DefendJ20.”

  • Several banners were dropped throughout Chicago, IL that read “Chi in Solidarity w/ J20 Resistance,” “America is Dead #J20,” and “#DefendJ20.”

  • A series of wheatpasted posters appeared across New Orleans, LA that read “Refugees Are Welcome Here,” “Our Answer Must Be Community Self-Defense,” and “Show Up For Dane Powell.”

  • Portland supporters and anarchists tabled at the Last Thursday Art Walk on Alberta Street, where they distributed zines and J20 materials.

  • A banner drop in Colorado Springs that read “Drop the Charges #DefendJ20” was accompanied by a tag that read “#DefendJ20,” along with an anti-fascist symbol in honor of the International Day of Solidarity with Antifascist Protestors.

  • An interview with Carlo Piantini, a J20 defendant, was published as the latest episode of Solecast, “Repression is a Battle.”

…and apparently someone decorated a box truck in Ithaca with J20 solidarity graffiti.

Stencils throughout Oakland.

From Inclusion to Resistance Neither Trump’s Trans Ban nor Assimilation, but Total Liberation

Well-meaning allies and earnest trans activists responded with dismay to Trump’s announcement that transgender people are to be banned from military service once more, recognizing it as a rollback of LGBT inclusion. Behind the scenes, however, some of us reacted with relief: at least we don’t have to worry about being drafted for some rich man’s war. Do we really want to legitimize the US military in return for the forms of legitimacy that are now being taken from us? How does this question sit in the decades-long history of LGBT struggles? And what does it mean that this question is returning to the fore right now?

To allies: the best way you can support trans people is by ensuring that none of us ever has to join the army in the first place. Help us fight for access to health care, community, camaraderie, self-respect, and options for survival that don’t come at the expense of others’ survival. We shouldn’t have to hire on as mercenaries for the biggest armed gang in the world to get those things.

To others in the trans community: the best way we can fight for our own liberation and the liberation of all people is to create a world in which the US military does not and cannot exist. The purpose of institutions like the US military is to impose control by means of coercive force; they have always been used against those on the margins of society. Participating in these institutions is no way to achieve self-determination: the stronger they are, the less assured our own freedom will be.

Liberation, not Assimilation

As in the same-sex marriage debate, every “right” that we would supposedly gain from the right to serve in the military is either not worth having or something that everyone should have without having to join the army. If you need health care, you shouldn’t have to marry someone to get it; if you need a scholarship to college, you shouldn’t have to pledge to kill people to get it. On both of these issues, mainstream LGBT activists missed the opportunity to talk about the deeper issues that connect all of us—issues that put us in conflict with our rulers, offering the possibility of real social transformation.

Here’s an example. The Trump Administration began their assault on the late-blooming liberalism of Obama’s trans-inclusive policies by rolling back some of the recommendations regarding bathroom access for transgender students in public schools. The way that students are forced into one of two standardized bathrooms—learning gender difference through this process of sorting and segregation—reproduces in miniature the ways that the school system categorizes, restricts, and shoves everyone down different paths along lines of identity. The wealthy and obedient are shot upwards into a life of advanced degrees and student loan debt, while the rest slip into the pipeline to prison or service work drudgery. Whatever its apologists say, school serves to sort us into a hierarchical society and to train us to accept authority.

What’s radical about trans students contesting bathroom and gender assignment is the possibilities this opens for all students to contest authority. If we don’t accept their rules regarding which toilets to use, why should we accept the legitimacy of the system that functions as a school-to-prison pipeline? While we support anything that can reduce the misery of trans kids, we also recognize that trans-inclusive bathroom policies are a safety valve intended to divert student resistance and to bolster the legitimacy of a failing public school system. As with marriage and the military, trans liberation in schools isn’t just a question of easing our inclusion into them. It would demand something more like dismantling them altogether.

It’s strategic for defenders of the status quo to re-center the LGBT rights debate around trans people in the military at this moment. As transgender, genderqueer, and non-binary communities are appearing in mass media and popular consciousness in unprecedented numbers, an optimist might speculate that US gender relations could come up for renegotiation—along with all the institutions they undergird. What better way to protect those relations and institutions than by reducing the scope of the discussion to the most reactionary formulation possible: integration into the military?

It’s better for both liberals and conservatives that we stop talking about radically reconfiguring health care, sexuality, education, the economy, and numerous other social institutions shot through with patriarchal norms. Those conversations could put anything on the table. If we can keep trans people and their supporters fighting for the “right” to kill America’s enemies abroad, we won’t have to worry as much about them undermining American institutions at home.

From Liberation to Inclusion

Let’s look at how gay and lesbian people have related to military exclusion in the past. This history may offer useful insights for transgender people today.

The first formal gay rights demonstrations in US history took place in the spring of 1965 at the White House, Civil Service Commission, State Department, and the Pentagon. Activists from what was then called the homophile movement picketed and leafleted in protest against the exclusion of homosexuals from federal employment in the armed forces, State Department, and other government bureaucracies.

Inspired by the civil rights movement, these demonstrations reflected a new “militancy” on the part of a previously timid community. But these genteel pickets neither captured the attention of the homosexuals on whose behalf they were ostensibly organized nor influenced the government to changes its policies of exclusion. As the war in Vietnam escalated, protesting to be included in the US war machine attracted little sympathy from social movements increasingly fighting to prevent young people from being trapped within it.

By 1969, younger gays and lesbians inspired by the New Left and youth countercultures were articulating a dramatically different politics around homosexuality and the military. For instance, a gay theater collective in Berkeley staged a performance riffing off of Muhammad Ali’s defiant critique of war, titled, “No Vietnamese Ever Called Me a Queer.” Early Gay Liberation Front groups offered counseling to young men around how to navigate local draft boards in relation to their sexuality. One notorious collective in Oakland parked a van outside an induction center and offered incoming draftees blowjobs, then provided them with photographic evidence of their ineligibility for military service.

These gay liberationists didn’t aspire to win inclusion for a homosexual minority in established heterosexist institutions within a framework of equality. They saw themselves as the vanguard of a struggle to unlock the capacity for same-sex love possible in all people. They believed that this love could undermine militarism by replacing the fear, hatred, and violence promoted by a patriarchal society with affection, desire, and a recognition of common interests. From late 1969 onwards, gay liberation intertwined critically with the anti-war movement, challenging its sexist and homophobic tendencies while deepening its vision of peace and international solidarity.

By the mid-1970s, however, internal divisions had isolated most of the gay liberation front groups. Lesbians gravitated towards feminist organizing while gay male activists pursued an increasingly single-issue agenda. Yet the anti-militarist roots of gay liberation remained; when Leonard Matlovich made headlines after coming out as gay and fighting his discharge from the Army, some gays and lesbians offered support, while others condemned the campaign as a betrayal of the ideals of gay liberation. Lesbians flocked to the anti-nuclear movement in the 1980s, while lesbians and gay men took active roles in Latin American solidarity struggles, continuing to link sexual and gender liberation with resistance to militarism.

However, by the 1990s, the politics of assimilation seemed triumphant. Many fiery young LGBT activists targeted ROTCs on college campuses, but most framed their campaigns as anti-discrimination efforts rather than making common cause with whose who suffered at the hands of the US war machine. By the time gays, lesbians, and bisexuals were allowed to enlist openly, few voices within the mainstream LGBT movement challenged this “progressive” development. With “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed, gay and lesbian liaison units flourishing in urban police departments, and federal non-discrimination statutes in place in most government bureaucracies, the full integration of sexual minorities into the repressive power of the state seemed at hand.

From Inclusion to Resistance

Times have changed again. While older gay and lesbian community leaders continue to champion pro-police and pro-military lines, younger queer and trans generations increasingly not only reject but actively resist these politics. Queer and trans millennials have taken active roles in Black Lives Matter, protests against police violence, and anti-deportation resistance. Pride festivals this summer have been wracked with controversy between younger radicals who want to minimize or exclude police and older generations who want to collaborate with law enforcement.

We see evidence of the radicals’ success in eroding pro-police LGBT politics in the escalating social media campaigns by police intended to position them as protectors and allies of LGBT people. Trump attempted to capitalize on this sentiment after the Pulse massacre, when he attempted to shift the focus away from anti-queer violence towards “radical Islamic terrorism” and the need for an ever more repressive state to target migrants, Muslims, and “bad guys.” Yet substantial queer and trans participation in anti-Trump demonstrations and organizing reflect a widespread rejection of this effort to turn attention towards scapegoats and away from state power.

As a result, Trump has decided that the LGBT constituency is expendable. It was already essentially lost to him, with the exception of those gay men and a few lesbians who identify more with the interests of capital and the state than with others like themselves. He’ll lose virtually no support from anyone who might have previously favored him for his anti-trans move, and he’ll shore up his support from the far right—the proponents of escalating repression. With his popular legitimacy flagging under Russia scandals and legislative ineffectuality, he hopes to stabilize his power from the top down by consolidating his relationship with the forces that directly carry out coercive violence. We see something similar in Turkey, with Erdogan’s purge of the army paving the way for his seizure of increasingly centralized power—or in Russia, with Putin’s anti-gay laws serving as a bone thrown to the Orthodox Church.

So perhaps it isn’t useful to understand Trump’s move simply as an instance of transphobia. Trump is merely making calculations about how best to keep the sinking ship of his administration afloat. He is treating us like Muslims, like Mexicans, like any demographic he computes to be vulnerable to scapegoating. At least with Christian conservatives, we can depend on the consistent ideological zealotry; with Trump, all that matters is power. That’s why he visits the CIA headquarters on his first day of office; that’s why he throws trans people under the bus.

He has grasped something that is becoming more and more apparent around the world, from Egypt to Turkey to Venezuela: governments come and go, but whoever controls the deep state wields the power that determines our daily lives. This state of affairs cannot be remedied by elections, but only by revolution.

Divide, conquer, and betray.

And that’s why today, every important social movement begins from a basic opposition to the violence of the state. Whether people are responding to the monotony of pointless work enforced by debt and rising rents, or the constant policing and harassment and surveillance that structure more and more of our lives, or the imposition of destructive development upon the ecosystems we depend on, the result is the same. When our precarious lives become too miserable, we reach a boiling point. Invariably, the flashpoint takes the form of a reaction against police or military control.

We’ve seen this over and over the past ten years, from Athens to Ankara, from Ferguson to Standing Rock. City, state, and federal police, the National Guard, and US soldiers, not to mention infiltrators and informants, have been instrumental over the past few years in preventing people in the United States from seizing back cities, halting pipelines, and ending state violence. Yet despite the overwhelming force at their disposal, the authorities know as well as we do that force alone won’t hold this regime together forever.

Transgender people today are at a crossroads. Which side of the barricades will we be on? Will we be letting our commanding officer know which pronoun we prefer them to use as they order us to shoot tear gas canisters at our neighbors? Or will we be joining everyone who hungers for the freedom to determine our lives, our genders, our sexualities, and our futures together, as we see fit, outside the boxes offered to us by enlistment forms and cellblocks?

The decision is up to us.

J20: Some International Solidarity Actions: All around the World, People Support the Defendants Arrested at Trump’s Inauguration

This is day six of the Week of Solidarity to support defendants arrested protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20. Here, we will share reports from a couple solidarity actions on other continents; later, we will offer an overview of actions and events throughout the week.

Today is also the international day of solidarity with anti-fascist prisoners, an appropriate occasion to draw connections between the struggle against Trump’s administration and the struggle against fascism in general. In addition to the below actions, screenings of No Justice Just Us, Submedia’s excellent episode on the repression against J20 defendants and other opponents of tyranny, have taken place in Montreal, Hamilton, Brighton, and Amsterdam.

Solidarity from Slovenia: Freedom for J20 defendants!

A Communiqué from Ljubljana, Slovenia

The accusations against the J20 defendants are an example of the brutal witch-hunt to find a scapegoat to punish for all the resistance that has taken place against Trump’s presidency. It is an attempt to frame a couple hundred people who dared to break the illusion of a peaceful transition to even more oppressive government policies, in order to make an example of them. The authorities hope that if they demonize these 200 people, others will be too intimidated to resist.

But no matter how hard they try to repress J20 defendants, they will never erase the fact that the actions on Inauguration day inspired people to reclaim the streets, blockade airports, and fight fascists around the United States. It also inspired people all around the world.
For this struggle is not limited to the US alone. The rise of the extreme right through elections and throughout society in general is taking place on European soil as well. The coordinates of the wars that the authorities are carrying out against their own populations are shifting. The battle lines are drawn, and we have to take a stand whether or not we are prepared. The far right is trying to renegotiate the structures of privilege in society, promising that those privileges can be preserved inside gated communities at the expense of large swathes of the population. These privileges are being defended with brutal force against anyone who dares to question private property or the terms on which our communities are being looted—what some call “austerity,” but we prefer to call social devastation.
From Washington DC to Hamburg, people are showing that the more they try to militarize our lives, the more we will resist. In solidarity with J20 defendants, a banner was put up in front of the residency of US ambassador in Ljubljana, Slovenia, as well as over one of the main roads in the capital city.

Comrades, your struggle inspires us!

Love and solidarity from Ljubljana

Solidarity with J20 Defendants: Support from Indonesia

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, Antifa Jakarta carried out a banner drop and an action at the US embassy to support those arrested in Washington, DC, posting a video tutorial.


A banner drop and a protest at the US embassy in Jakarta. We don’t want your retweets—join us on the streets!

To learn more about the arrestees and how to support them, visit

The Week of Solidarity with J20 Defendants Starts Tomorrow: Your Guide to Solidarity Actions, Events, and Resources

The Week of Solidarity with J20 Defendants begins tomorrow! July 20 marks six months since the mass arrest on L and 12th Street in Washington, DC; more than 200 defendants are now facing up to 75 years in prison apiece on Trumped up charges. We’re calling on all supporters to organize events and actions in solidarity with the J20 defendants throughout the week. Send reportbacks, photographs, and inquiries to

Ongoing Solidarity Actions

Before the week has even begun, we’re already learning of solidarity actions around the country:

  • Graffiti reading “200 People, 80 Years, Just for Protesting?” along the Atlanta Beltway;

  • Graffiti on a Starbucks in Binghamton, NY that says “Dismiss J20, Drop the Charges!”

  • Banner drops in Pittsburgh, PA and Elgin, IL demanding that the charges be dropped;

  • And a shout-out from Camp White Pine, the action camp in Pennsylvania currently resisting the development of the Marine East 2 Pipeline.

Organizations across the country have signed on to the Statement of Solidarity issued by DefendJ20Resistance, while a campaign is underway to demand that the DC Office of Police Complaints release $150,000 allocated for an investigation into the DC Metropolitan Police Department.

A video expressing support for Dane Powell, a J20 defendant and the first political prisoner of the Trump era.


A host of events is planned across the country to keep the pressure on throughout the week:

New York City, NY

Durham | Chapel Hill | Asheville, NC

  • July 20 • Anarchists on the Silver Screen @ Firestorm Books & Coffee

  • July 22 • BBQ, Bakesale and Benefit Show @ the Back House, 6:00PM

  • July 24 • Letter-Writing/Call-In Party @ Northgate Park, 6:00PM

  • July 25 • The Nightlight Presents “Institute”, A Benefit for J20 Defendants @ The Nightlight, 9:00PM

  • July 26 • Resisting State Repression, A Press Conference @ Durham Central Park, 12:00PM

Pittsburgh, PA

  • Roundtable discussion with Jude Ortiz of the Tilted Scales Collective for Pittsburgh J20 Defendants

  • Film Screening of “Born in Flames” @ 40th Street Bridge in Lawrenceville

Ypsilanti | Lansing, MI

Richmond, VA

  • July 20 • Screening of “Trouble – Episode 4: No Justice, Just Us” @ Community Room, 6:00PM

  • July 22 • Solidarity Demo @ Carycourt, 12:00PM

More events are being organized each day, and there are plenty of ways to plug in and plan one in your local area!


We’ve put together a resource kit specifically for tabling, so you can use these materials to explain the case to people where you live. It includes:

  • How the Government is Turning Protestors into Felons – a zine produced from an article written by Natasha Leonard describing the state’s intention to use the J20 case to set a precedent for mass arrests in the era of the Trump regime.

  • Why I Am Facing 75 Years – a zine produced from an op-ed written by Carlo Piantini, a J20 defendant, about the political nature of the J20 case, its connection to the larger scope of political repression in the United States, and the need for continued resistance.

  • An Unpresidented Case – a brief graphic zine composed of recollections from defendants about the Inauguration Day protests, the kettle, and the repression that has followed since.

  • “Week of Solidarity” – A new flyer and web graphics for this second Week of Solidarity to use for wheat-pastings and social media blasts.

  • “Show Up For Dane Powell” – A flyer calling for solidarity with Dane Powell, the first political prisoner of the Trump regime.

  • “#DropJ20” – A flyer to announce #DropJ20, a campaign demanding that the US Attorney’s Office drop the J20 charges.

  • “I Want You!” – A set of six flyers calling for action to demand an investigation into the conduct of the DC Metropolitan Police Department on Inauguration Day.

The kit also includes an archive of previous J20 solidarity flyers and a host of resources on legal support and prisoner solidarity, analysis and theory on Trump and anti-Trump resistance, anti-policing zines, and material for newcomers on how to join the resistance!

Stay in the Loop

Visit to sign up for email updates about the case, or follow “Defend J20 Resistance” on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

A Field Guide to Wheatpasting: Everything You Need to Know to Blanket the World in Posters

Like graffiti, wheatpasting is a direct action technique for communicating with your neighbors and redecorating your environment. Because it’s easy to mass-produce posters, wheatpasting enables you to deploy a nuanced, complex message at a large number of locations with minimal effort and risk. Repetition makes your message familiar to everyone and increases the chances that others will think it over. If you’re looking for posters to paste up, we offer a wide selection of poster designs to print out or order in bulk.

Making Paste

To make wheatpaste, mix two parts white or whole-grain wheat flour with three parts water, stir out any lumps, and heat the mixture to a boil. When it thickens, add more water; continue cooking it on low heat for at least half an hour, stirring constantly so as not to burn it. Some people add a little sugar or cornstarch for extra stickiness; don’t be afraid to experiment. Wheatpaste, once made, will last for a while if kept in sealed containers, though eventually it will dry up or become rotten—and sealed containers of it have been known to burst, to unfortunate effect. Keep them in a refrigerator if you can.

You can also obtain wallpaper adhesive at any home improvement store; this comes in pre-mixed buckets or boxes of powder. Wallpaper adhesive is much quicker and easier to mix than wheatpaste, and not much more expensive even if you are paying for it. Don’t get the brands advertised as “easy to remove,” obviously—get the most heavy-duty adhesive available.


If you’re wheatpasting to express information or ideas, good design is key to getting your message across. Remember, most people will see these from a distance, so make the headline huge and legible and use images that are simple, high-contrast, and equally large. Be sure the headline communicates the basic idea on its own. You can also include a paragraph or so in smaller print for the casually interested, and it’s always a good idea to add a webpage address or similar link for those who want to pursue things further.

Don’t limit yourself to pasting up standard-size photocopies; many photocopying franchises offer much bigger options. You can make huge posters to put up; if such printing technology is unavailable, you can paste up big images comprised of smaller copies. Be creative: you could also paste up old anarchist newsprint publications, or those police target-practice sheets with photos of masked men on them, or bus schedules screenprinted with artistic designs, or income tax forms stenciled with the appropriate messages about taxation, representation, and exploitation.

This may seem counterintuitive, but the thinner the paper, the better—thin paper takes paste better, and will be more likely to rip off in tiny pieces rather than all at once if an art hater takes a dislike to it. Another way to foil such philistines is to run a razor quickly down and across each poster several times immediately after you’ve pasted it up; a pasted poster sliced in this manner will only come down one small piece at a time.

A new poster for you to put up!

Click above for a downloadable PDF.


If you’re pasting up a lot of small posters, carry them in a way that enables you to access them easily without it being obvious that you have them. A messenger bag will serve for this—just make sure you can reach into it and slide one out without much fumbling. If you’re posting great big posters, roll them up, top side out so you can swiftly unroll them down the wall, and rubber band them individually.

You’ll need a container from which to apply the paste. Wheatpaste tends to be thick, so a vessel with a wide mouth such as a large plastic bottled water container is well-suited for it; wallpaper adhesive tends to be thinner and more consistent, so it can be dispensed out of smaller holes, such as that of a dishwashing soap container with a pop-up nozzle. It can help to have something to smooth the posters up on the wall—a window-washing squeegee from a gas station will suffice, or you could get a plastic wallpaper smoother from the same retailers that provide wallpaper adhesive. Big paintbrushes can speed the application of wheatpaste, too. You could do all of this with your hands, but it will leave you messy.

For each poster, pick a good location, and make sure it’s clean; most smooth metal, glass, or stucco will take pasting nicely, while wood or concrete will be somewhat less accommodating, and brick even less so. Next, apply the paste. The more wheatpaste you use, the longer it will take to dry, so use the minimum amount to make all of the poster stick. If you’re using smaller posters, spread paste over the wall, place the poster on the pasted area, smooth out all air bubbles and wrinkles, and spread some paste over the top to hold down the corners. If you’re using larger posters, unroll them flat on the ground and apply the paste to their backs there, then put them on the wall, smooth them out, and add another layer of paste. Starting out on the ground renders you less conspicuous while you’re making sure the paste is evenly applied.

When you think about where to paste, balance the length of time the poster will probably stay up against the amount of traffic the location gets, factoring in the question of which demographics will most appreciate your design. Often, it is better to put up a poster in an alley that will remain for six months than it is to put up twenty along Main Street that will be gone by noon.

Because wheatpasting is somewhat less than legal in many places, it doesn’t hurt to go about it inconspicuously. Late in the evening can be a good time for it, when the streets are quiet but not yet empty and you can pass yourselves off as students going to a party or workers walking back from a bar. Behave as though what you’re doing is perfectly legal, while being careful not to do it before the gaze of the authorities; you’ll be surprised what you can get away with. Even in cities locked under the control of thousands of riot police, anarchists have still been able to decorate whole districts with posters.

A bicycle can be a useful accessory for postering. You can carry supplies in a basket on the handlebards, and it can function as a ladder to reach places where your art is more visible and harder to remove. It can also assist you in making a quick getaway, should the need arise. Also, bring something to clean up with—even if you wear latex gloves to keep your hands from getting sticky with wheatpaste, it can get all over your clothes, which is a dead giveaway that you’re the culprit.


A well-coordinated group can cover a city in posters in the course of a single evening: divide up the area, set the target locations in advance, and carry out the action quickly so you’ve all disappeared by the time people notice the new posters everywhere. Wheatpasting can also be applied to rework the images and messages of billboards. A group attending a mass mobilization could make wheatpasting kits including ready-to-use wheatpaste, posters, and maps showing vulnerable zones of the city to distribute to other groups with time and energy to apply.

Finally, you could put up posters with this wheatpaste recipe on them and a call for submissions, encouraging others to participate in decorating your town.

Appendix: Adventures in Wheatpasting—A Narrative

Most wheatpasting goes so smoothly that there’s not much to tell, but it’s always possible to push the limits, and this is the story of a time we did just that.

It was the night before the one-year anniversary of September 11, 2001, and we had scammed over two dozen posters five feet tall and three feet wide from the local photocopying franchise with which to address the pressing issues of terrorism and war. We had cased our city and identified the prime locations for these, in the downtown shopping district and along a few major thoroughfares. We mapped out the area and established the best order for visiting these locations, so we could get the most done in each section of the city before police could take note of our activity, and then move to another zone.

We divided five roles between us. One of us would ride a bicycle, doing reconnaissance in a radius of a few blocks around every site. The other four of us would travel in a vehicle. This vehicle would drop off a scout to stand lookout at one end of a street, as most of our targets were on one-way streets, then drop off the two people who were to do the pasting around a corner out of sight from the target, before driving down the cross street to keep watch from another direction. After the two had decorated the sites chosen in that area, they would meet the driver around another quiet corner, and the three would pick up the pedestrian lookout and move on to the next area, followed by the bicyclist. The driver, the bicyclist, the scout, and the pasting team were all connected by two-way radios with earpieces so news of the movements of police or others could be immediately relayed among us. The corporate news media had made a big deal about the extensive security precautions that had been made for this anniversary; accordingly, we were taking precautions of our own.

We spent a couple of hours brewing wheatpaste, then went out around midnight. We hit all our targets downtown without any trouble to speak of; at one point, the bicyclist informed us that a police officer had stopped a motorist a couple blocks away, but we did our work quickly and were out of there before the police car moved.

Having done some smaller-scale wheatpasting in which we were trying to pass as law-abiding citizens, it was actually a bit of a relief to be running around in all black with huge plastic jugs of wheatpaste and rolled posters. Everything was on the table and it was just a matter of moving fast and staying aware. We dashed past a civilian at one point, and I said hello—he just stared at us like we were Martian invaders.

The last target was a freeway underpass, where eight columns held up the other highway. We were to put up eight posters, four facing each traffic direction. After so much success, we were starting to encounter some problems: our clothes had inevitably been covered in wheatpaste, and it was starting to clog the microphone and earpiece of our two-way radio. All the same, the scouts took their positions and we were dropped off next to the underpass to finish the job. Ducking down whenever cars came and jumping up to apply the posters between them, we did four columns, then leaped over the concrete guardwall to run across the freeway. In a scene out of slapstick comedy, I was holding the wheatpaste in one hand and the posters in the other, and so had to hurl myself over the wall, crashing absurdly on the asphalt without my hands to break my fall. My friend helped me over the other wall, and we began the fifth column.

At this point our radio made some kind of noise, but it was impossible to make out the words through the wheatpaste. An instant later, headlights appeared, and we got down behind the column, moving slowly around it as the car approached and passed us. It was a police car. It kept going, so we set back to work wheatpasting, but no sooner had we done so than headlights appeared from the opposite direction, and we had to work our way around the pillar again, hiding as another police car drove by. This was starting to look bad. It was impossible now to get our radio to work, so, abandoning the posters, we set out walking quickly away from the underpass. As more headlights appeared ahead, I tossed the last jug of wheatpaste into the bushes.

We turned down the first side street we reached. Wheatpaste stains more visibly on dark colors; in our black camouflage with paste stains all over it, we looked more than a little suspicious, especially so late at night in a district with no pedestrian traffic. Worse yet, it turned out the street we had turned down was a long corridor with no exits on the sides, running through a closed warehouse district—no alibi could adequately explain our presence here. At that moment, a police car turned onto the street, slowing to a crawl as it approached us. We kept walking, maintaining our conversation as calmly as we could, acting as though we were oblivious to the policeman as he inched past, blatantly staring at us.

Strangely, he kept going! Seeing that we had no posters or paste, he must not have felt that he had enough evidence to justify arresting us—though the stains on our clothes would have given us away on closer inspection. We made our way down other side streets and walked all the way back to our secret hideout, where the others were waiting, relieved that we had escaped and excited to tell us about the police cars that had started following them and forced them to abandon us.

We slept a scant few hours, then went out shortly after morning rush hour to inspect our work.

“Solidarity with the Police” Debunking Excuses for State Violence in Hamburg

When the government concentrates 20,000 police in a city to violently suppress protest and people respond by defending themselves, it takes a real fascist to argue that the problem is “left extremism.” Yet this is precisely the kind of opportunism we are seeing from politicians and pundits in response to the G20 protests in Hamburg. The strategy here is simple: spread fear, terrorize the general population, and if anyone dares to resist, use that as a pretext to demand even more violent repression. Everyone who was in Hamburg knows the police struck first, carrying out unprovoked attacks nearly a week before the summit began.

(Deutsche Version unten.)

Policing at the G20: rhetoric vs. reality.

Sure, some anarchists and other opponents of totalitarianism traveled from outside Hamburg to support local organizing against the G20 summit. Many people considered it unjust that the summit was being forced on a city that didn’t want it—a typical example of how the policies of the G20 are forced on unwilling populations. And after seeing the kind of policing that took place during the G20, who could fault anyone for wanting to show solidarity to the residents of Hamburg?

But—could a thousand “left extremists” armed only with the paving stones beneath their feet have defeated 20,000 police dressed head to toe in body armor and equipped with water cannons? Of course not. It took tens of thousands of people to beat back the police—and a large number of them were Hamburg locals, not “left extremists” at all. Even if some people did come to the protests with the intention of breaking things and acting unruly, the situation only went so far because so many “ordinary people” got involved.

Police were intent on picking fights in Hamburg from the very beginning.

Many of the people who participated in the clashes in Hamburg did not start the G20 as avowed enemies of the police. It was only after they saw the violence and poor sportsmanship of the police on Thursday, July 6 that they realized they had to take a side. That’s why the resistance was so much stronger on Friday, July 7, the second night of confrontations. By Saturday night, at the end of July 8, almost all of the activists had left the streets, leaving only locals who had been drawn into the conflict over the preceding 48 hours.

Despite this, politicians, corporate media, and far-right nationalists are trying to use the reaction provoked by this heavy-handed police repression to justify it retroactively. Olaf Scholz, the mayor of Hamburg, has gone so far as to deny that there was any police violence in Hamburg at all. They are lying to you outright: cynically, they are assuming that you will believe anything they tell you. For example, everyone who was in the Schanze neighborhood on the night of July 7 when the police were forced out for a few hours knows that it was much safer inside the barricades than it was in the parts of the city where the police were still attacking people. Paramedics report that when the police finally reentered the district, they stormed spaces where injured people were being given medical care, threatening to shoot both caregivers and injured.

When politicians and corporate media say “violence,” they don’t mean police threatening to shoot people. They don’t mean tear gas grenades, water cannons, batons, phalanx charges, or punching arrestees. They don’t even mean police pepper-spraying reporters. They only mean the things people did in response, like building improvised barricades and using projectiles to keep police away from demonstrators.

An advertisement thanking the police and comparing demonstrators against the G20 to the Islamic State and the NSU, a German Nazi terrorist group.

In the same spirit, the conservative newspaper Bild called the police “heroes” for the dubious public service of violently attacking people in return for a paycheck—and urged readers to show “solidarity with the police.”

Solidarity with the police! Grab a stick and hit yourself over the head! Open a fire hydrant, stick your face in it, and water-cannon yourself! Take a hot pepper and stick it in your eye! Shut down the streets of your neighborhood and trap your neighbors in their homes—and charge them money for it! Then give yourself a medal for being such a good citizen!

Bild directed people to a fund supporting the officers who were in Hamburg. It’s not enough that your taxes already go to pay for these thugs to run around beating and gassing people—apparently they deserve even more of your money. Maybe someone should organize “Solidarity with the G20 Leaders” too, so we can all give Donald Trump additional donations out of our own pockets? Surely the billionaires and the cops who serve them won’t have enough money until every single officer can drive around in a water cannon of his own, dousing the world in pepper spray!

Elsewhere in Bild, we learn that nearly 500 policemen were injured during the G20. This is pure mendacity: it came out immediately after that the number was only 231 officers, only 21 of whom couldn’t continue performing their duties. This statistic includes 130 officers from Hessen who exposed themselves to their own gas. We are supposed to feel sympathy for officers who hurt themselves with the same weapon they were inflicting on everyone else, even though they were the only ones with taxpayer-funded protective gear.

As for the 101 officers not included in the Hessen group—have you ever heard of offensive injuries? It would be interesting to learn how many of the 101 injured officers hurt themselves while punching, beating, or chasing demonstrators—and how many of them were injured by “friendly fire” from other police officers. And again, they were all protected by many thousands of euros worth of body armor, unlike the victims of their attacks.

In any case, if it’s so dangerous to run around gassing and brutalizing a mostly unarmed population, perhaps the answer is—don’t. If the authorities really cared about these officers, they wouldn’t make them beat up civilians in the first place.

The same dishonest Bild article interviews an officer who says he slept less than an hour for two nights during the G20 protests. The wonder is that any of these officers ever can sleep! If the rest of us sold ourselves as mercenaries to beat and humiliate civilians, our consciences would keep us up all night, every night.

Here we see the torturer expecting sympathy for a hangnail while he tightens the thumbscrews—the Grand Inquisitor complaining that he has burned his finger while setting fire to a witch. Sure, it’s hard work being an asshole to people all the time—but you don’t have to do it.

In Vienna, fascists defaced an anti-racist poster: “Stop Left fascism! Hamburg is a warning!”

The fact is, though, that the world of the G20 would not be possible without violence like this. You can’t force an extremely unpopular order on people without tear gas and water cannons. The police violence in Hamburg shows that Merkel and Macron do not really represent an alternative to Trump, Putin, and Erdogan. All of them rely on the same police tactics, the same exertion of brute force. The experience on the receiving end of each of their governments is increasingly identical: escalating surveillance, control, and brutality.

So the question is: when you see storm troopers assaulting people, do you identify with the storm troopers or the people? This is the most fundamental political question of the 21st century. On one side, this question gathers together politicians and pundits of all stripes alongside policemen and outright fascists. On the other, it gathers anarchists, rebels, and ordinary people who don’t wish to see tyranny in the streets.

The lines are drawn.

“Fenster klirren und ihr schreit. Menschen sterben und ihr schweigt!”

Windows break and you cry. People die and you remain silent!

Just like Trump, Erdogan, Putin, and Macron, Merkel’s power rests on a foundation of police violence. Here, we see her thanking the police for their conduct during the G20.

Thanks to our comrades in Unicorn Riot for some of the above footage.

„Solidarität mit der Polizei“

Über die Ausreden, die die Polizeigewalt in Hamburg legitimieren sollen.

[Video und Fotos findet ihr weiter oben im Text.]

Wenn die Regierung 20.000 Polizist_innen in einer Stadt versammelt, um Demonstrationen mit Gewalt zu unterdrücken und die Menschen sich in Reaktion darauf verteidigen, braucht es schon eine ordentlich faschistoide Grundhaltung, um zu argumentieren, dass das Problem der „Linksextremismus“ ist. Dies ist schierer Opportunismus. Die verwendete Strategie ist einfach: verbreite Angst, terrorisiere die Bevölkerung und wenn es jemand wagt Widerstand zu leisten, dann verwende dies als einen Vorwand, um noch mehr gewalttätige Repression zu fordern. Jede_r, die/der in Hamburg war, weiß, dass es die Polizei war, die zuerst zugeschlagen hat, als sie fast eine Woche vor Beginn des G20-Gipfels grundlos Übergriffe durchführte.

Sicher, einige Anarchist_innen und andere Gegner_innen des Totalitarismus waren von außerhalb angereist, um die lokalen Vorbereitungen gegen den G20-Gipfel zu unterstützen. Viele Menschen betrachteten es als ungerecht, dass der Gipfel einer Stadt aufgezwungen wurde, die ihn nicht wollte – ein typisches Beispiel dafür, wie das Regelwerk der G20 unwilligen Bevölkerungen aufgezwungen wird. Und nachdem mensch die Polizeiarbeit während des G20 sehen konnte, wer könnte es jemandem übel nehmen, Solidarität mit den Bewohner_innen Hamburgs zeigen zu wollen?

Aber – hätten tausend „Linksextremisten“, bewaffnet mit nichts als den Steinen unter ihren Füßen, 20.000 von Kopf bis Fuß gepanzerte und mit Wasserwerfern ausgerüstete Polizist_innen besiegen können? Selbstverständlich nicht. Es brauchte zehntausende von Menschen, um die Polizei zurückzudrängen – und eine große Anzahl von ihnen waren Hamburger Bürger_innen, und keine „Linksextremisten“. Auch wenn einige Menschen mit der Absicht zu den Demonstrationen gekommen waren Dinge zu zerstören, konnte sich die Lage nur so weit zuspitzen, weil so viele „normale Menschen“ mitgemacht haben.

Viele der Menschen, die an den Kämpfen in Hamburg teilgenommen haben, sind nicht als erklärte Gegner_innen der Polizei zum G20 gekommen. Erst als sie die Gewalt und das unfaire Verhalten der Polizei am Donnerstag, den 6 Juli sahen, verstanden sie, dass sie sich für eine Seite entscheiden mussten. Deshalb war der Widerstand am Freitag, den 7. Juli, in der zweiten Nacht der Zusammenstöße so viel stärker. Samstag Nacht, am Ende des 8. Juli, hatten die meisten Aktivist_innen bereits die Straßen verlassen und nur die Hamburger_innen, die in den vorangegangenen 48 Stunden in den Konflikt gezogen worden waren, blieben noch übrig.

Trotz all dessen versuchen Politiker_innen, Mainstreammedien und Rechtspopulisten die Reaktionen, die durch die unbarmherzige polizeiliche Repression hervorgerufen wurden, zu verwenden, um eben diese Repression im Nachhinein zu rechtfertigen. Der Bürgermeister Hamburgs Olaf Scholz ging sogar so weit zu behaupten, dass es keine Polizeigewalt gegeben habe. Sie lügen dich unverblümt an: zynischer weise gehen sie davon aus, dass du nicht in Hamburg warst und dass du alles glauben wirst, was sie dir erzählen. Zum Beispiel wissen alle, die in der Nacht des 7. Juli im Schanzenviertel waren, als die Polizei für ein paar Stunden aus dem Viertel gedrängt wurde, dass es innerhalb der Barrikaden viel sicherer war als in den Stadtteilen, in denen die Polizei weiterhin Menschen angegriffen hat. Als die Polizei zurück in das Viertel kam, berichten Sanitäter_innen davon, dass sie und die Verletzen, die sie gerade in einem Haus versorgten, mit scharfen Waffen bedroht wurden. Nichtsdestotrotz: wenn Politiker_innen und Mainstreammedien von „Gewalt“ sprechen, meinen sie damit nicht Polizisten die drohen Leute zu erschießen. Sie meinen auch nicht Tränengasgranaten, Wasserwerfer, Pfefferspray, Polizeikessel oder Polizist_innen, die Gefangene schlagen. Sie meinen die Reaktionen der Menschen auf diese Dinge.

In diesem Sinne nannte die konservative Bild die Polizei „Helden“, um ihren fragwürdigen öffentlichen Dienst zu würdigen, bei dem sie jeden Befehl, Menschen brutal anzugreifen, ausführten, um ihr Gehalt zu erhalten – und forderte ihre Leser_innen dazu auf „Solidarität mit der Polizei“ zu zeigen.

Solidarität mit der Polizei! Nimm einen Knüppel und verprügle dich selbst! Öffne einen Hydrant, halte dein Gesicht rein und spiele Wasserwerfer! Nimm scharfes Chili und reibe es dir ins Auge! Lege die Straßen in deiner Nachbarschaft still, halte deine Nachbar_innen in ihren Häusern gefangen – und verlange dafür Geld! Und dann überreiche dir selbst eine Medaille dafür, dass du so ein guter Bürger bist!

Die Bild animierte ihre Leser_innen dazu Geld für die Polizei zu sammeln. Es scheint also nicht ausreichend zu sein, dass diese Schläger, die herum rennen und Leute schlagen und einpfeffern, bereits von deinen Steuern bezahlt werden – nein, sie verdienen anscheinend sogar noch mehr Geld. Vielleicht sollte noch wer eine Solidaritätskampagne mit den G20 AnführerInnen organisieren, damit wir alle Donald Trump noch ein bisschen extra Geld aus unserer eigenen Tasche geben können? Sicher werden die Milliardäre und die ihnen dienenden Polizisten nicht genug Geld haben, bis jeder einzelne Cop in seinem eigenen Wasserwerfer durch die Gegend fahren und die Welt in Pfefferspray einnebeln kann.

An anderer Stelle in der Bild erfahren wir, dass fast 500 Polizist_innen während des G20 verletzt wurden. Das ist eine reine Lüge: relativ schnell kam heraus, dass es sich nur um 231 verletzte Polizist_innen handelte, von denen nur 21 nicht direkt wieder ihre Pflicht ausüben konnten. In dieser Statistik sind zudem 130 Polizisten aus Hessen enthalten, die in ihr eigenes Gas rannten. Es wird nun Mitgefühl von uns erwartet für Polizisten, die sich mit den selben Waffen verletzen, die sie gegen alle anderen anwenden, wobei sie die einzigen sind, die staatlich bezahlte Schutzkleidung dagegen trugen!

Was ist mit den anderen 101 verletzten Polizist_innen? Es wäre spannend zu erfahren wie viele davon sich selbst beim Schlagen, Treten oder auf der Jagd nach Demonstrant_innen verletzt haben – und wie viele von denen durch „friendly fire“ ihrer Kollegen verletzt wurden. Und nochmal: dabei waren sie alle durch eine mehrere tausend Euro teure Ausrüstung geschützt, im Gegensatz zu den Opfern ihrer Angriffe.

In jedem Fall – wenn es so gefährlich ist, herum zu rennen und eine größtenteils unbewaffnete Bevölkerung brutal einzupfeffern und einzuschüchtern, dann wäre es vielleicht besser es einfach bleiben zu lassen. Wenn die Autoritäten wirklich um das Wohlergehen ihrer Beamten besorgt wären, dann hätten sie sie vielleicht nicht dazu bringen sollen die Zivilbevölkerung zusammen zuschlagen.

Die selbe verlogene Bild interviewt einen Polizisten, der angibt während der G20 Proteste nur eine Stunde in zwei Nächten geschlafen zu haben. Das wirklich verwunderliche daran ist, dass überhaupt einer dieser Polizisten je schlafen kann! Wenn sich irgendeine_r von uns als Söldner_in verkaufen würde und dann die Zivilbevölkerung schlagen und demütigen müsste, würde unser Gewissen dafür sorgen, dass wir kein Auge mehr zu kriegen, in keiner Nacht.

Wir können hier die Folterknechte dabei beobachten wie sie Sympathien für einen Nietnagel beim zuschrauben der Daumenschraube erwarten – den großen Inquisitor, der sich darüber beschwert sich beim Anzünden einer Hexe den Finger verbrannt zu haben. Sicherlich ist es ein harter Job, wenn mensch die ganze Zeit ein Arschloch zu allen sein muss – aber niemand muss Bulle sein.

Es steht fest, dass die Welt der G20 ohne Gewalt wie diese gar nicht erst möglich wäre. Es lässt sich keine äußerst unpopuläre Ordnung ohne Tränengas und Wasserwerfer aufzwingen. Die Polizeigewalt in Hamburg hat gezeigt, dass Merkel und Macron keine wirkliche Alternative zu Trump, Putin und Erdogan darstellen. Sie alle verlassen sich auf die selben Polizeitaktiken, auf die Ausübung brutaler Gewalt. Die Erfahrungen auf der Empfängerseite ihrer Regierungen werden immer identischer: steigende Überwachung, Kontrolle und Brutalität.

Also – wenn du siehst wie Sturmtruppen Menschen verletzen, identifizierst du dich dann mit den Sturmtruppen oder den Menschen? Dies ist eine der wesentlichen politischen Fragen des 21. Jahrhunderts. Auf der einen Seite versammelt diese Frage Politiker_innen und Expert_innen aller Richtungen, zusammen mit Polizisten und erklärten FaschistInnen. Auf der anderen Seite versammelt sie Anarchist_innen, Rebellen und gewöhnliche Menschen, die die Tyrannei auf der Straße ablehnen.

Die Fronten sind klar.

“Fenster klirren und ihr schreit, Menschen sterben und ihr schweigt!”

“Dear Citizens, This Is Your Police”: In Praise of the Police-Free Zone in Hamburg

“Dear citizens, this is your police,” proclaimed a loudspeaker from behind a line of armored water cannons on Friday afternoon, July 7. A handful of unarmed young people dressed in bright colors were playing with an inflatable protest prop in the middle of an intersection on Willy-Brandt-Strasse over a kilometer away from the site of the G20 summit. A moment later, the water cannons attacked, knocking people down under the force of the blast. This scene played out again and again throughout the week, as over-equipped police bullied and terrorized the population of Hamburg. These are your police.

The next day, during Saturday’s peaceful, permitted demonstration, the police once more could not restrain themselves. After the march, as tens of thousands of people danced, shared free food, and listened to speakers at Millerntorplatz, a line of water cannons and riot police on Helgoländer Allee yet again attacked the crowd with jets of water. Detachments of fully-armored riot police pushed into the crowd, helmets on, weapons at the ready, prepared to violently assault anyone in their path.

At moments like this, when an occupying army attacks a peaceful population without provocation, it’s clear who the enemy is. For many people throughout the world, this is not an exception that takes place during a summit like the G20, but their ordinary day-to-day experience of police. At Millerntorplatz, the crowd was able to immobilize the riot police, surrounding them to block their path and sitting down in front of the water cannons to protect the rest of the demonstration from them. Yet police are not always so easily deterred, especially when they are dealing with demographics that lack social power or acting under cover of darkness. Later on the night of July 8, when the police attempted to reassert their supremacy in the Schanze neighborhood, witnesses saw a policeman snatch a full bottle of beer from an ordinary bar patron and break it over his head. Peacefully sitting down in front of them is not always enough to keep them at bay.

Countless events like this took place last week. This is why people mobilized to defend themselves and Hamburg in general from the invasion of riot police: not just because of specific excesses associated with the G20 summit, but in response to the structural role police play in imposing an oppressive social order characterized by tremendous imbalances in power.

The role of the police is to impose this order at any price. They don’t just “maintain order,” as if order were some neutral state of affairs; they enforce a particular order, a particular set of power relations. This is the link between the G20 and police brutality: they are different aspects of the same social structure, viewed at different levels of scale. To counter the disproportionate control that the G20 leaders have over all of our lives, it is necessary to be able to face down the police.

Both the G20 leaders and their flunkies in uniform tell us that the order they enforce is for our own good, and some of us are naïve enough to believe this. Every monarch in history told his subjects the same thing—so did Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, and the perpetrators of the Inquisition. The most basic principle of a free society is that no one else is entitled to decide for us what is good for us; we have to be free to decide this for ourselves. By protecting the privileges of the super-rich and imposing the agendas of politicians, police deny us the resources and space to live our lives on our own terms, chipping away at our liberties until all that remains to us is to choose which products to numb ourselves with.

As the technologies available to the police have become more and more complex, this process has accelerated. In the movie Terminator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, released in the Orwellian year 1984, the future is imagined as a war in which artificial intelligence conducts military operations to wipe out humanity. Yet just as it is still cheaper (in the era of “surplus humanity”) to employ cheap human labor in sweatshops than to fully automate the factories, rather than killer robots, we are seeing human beings integrated into a vast inhuman repressive apparatus. Each police officer is a bit of fragile flesh within a machine of metal, roboticized inside as well as outside; if you peer through the visor of his helmet, you see the human inside, his personality almost entirely swallowed up by the machine, his sense of personal responsibility abdicated. The rank and file officers are still recognizable as human beings, albeit dissociated ones; the officers serving in the special forces vanish entirely within their Robocop uniforms.

In this context, the only hope for humanity lies in creating spaces beyond the control of the police, in which we can renegotiate our relations without their interference. This is why the police-free zone that Hamburg locals and other demonstrators created in the Schanze neighborhood on Friday night was such a victory.

Some have criticized the rioters who barricaded the Schanze district and drove out the police for hours as being “apolitical,” engaging in “mindless chaos.” On the contrary, nothing is more political than to create such a space like this, in which we may once again become the protagonists of our social and political lives, rather than the authorities imposing their order on us. For those who value freedom, nothing is more pressing than to experiment with how to create such spaces, developing tactics that can face down the violence of the state.

Anyone who was inside the Schanze district during those hours of freedom knows it was considerably less violent than the areas of Hamburg in which the police were charging, beating, gassing, spraying, and water-cannoning people. The violence of people struggling against their oppressors cannot compare to the militarized state violence of an occupying force like the police who were concentrated in Hamburg from all around Germany.

The far right will take advantage of the events of July 7 to pass more repressive laws and invest still more resources and legitimacy in the police. We have to respond by working hard to delegitimize the police in the public eye and explaining why people would throw off their control. They cannot succeed in repressing us if we continue to emulate the model that people courageously demonstrated in Hamburg; they will only succeed if we rely on laws and politicians to protect our rights, ceding them legitimacy and power over us.

There remains room for improvement, of course. So much effort went into pushing back the police and destabilizing their control of downtown Hamburg that there was little energy left to make something beautiful happen in the liberated area that opened up. Yes, a couple shops were looted, and people painted art on the walls, but we have to demonstrate the world we wish to create, so people will be able to understand what we are aiming for when we oppose those who currently control our world. This is not simply a reactive project, in which we respond to the initiatives of the authorities and throw off the existing forms of law and order—it must be a fundamentally creative endeavor, in which we illuminate new paths, new possibilities. Next time people open up a police-free zone, let’s fill it with the lives we all deserve.

Announcing Continuous Live Coverage of the G20 in Hamburg: With an Update from the Clashes of July 4

Tomorrow—July 6, the first day of an international mobilization against the 2017 G20 summit in Germany—we will be posting continuous live updates, providing firsthand reports and analysis of the events in Hamburg. Tune in to starting at 4 pm Central European Time (10 am Eastern Standard Time), the start time of the “G20: Welcome to Hell” demonstration, for continuous updates running late into the night and resuming on Friday if all goes well.

We welcome field reports, footage, and updates. Send them to us at—we’ll sift through them, fact-check them, and blast them out into the world.

The first urban clashes ahead of the G20 summit broke out in downtown Hamburg on Tuesday, July 4. Organizers had attempted to establish a campsite for out-of-town demonstrators in Enterwerder Park, but despite receiving permission from the highest court in the land, police blocked access to the park, then carried out a brutal raid, with the police president declaring “On the streets of Hamburg, we are the sole authority.” In response, demonstrators fanned out into Hamburg, occupying several more parks and other venues. After police raided one of these additional camps, a spontaneous march took the streets, ultimately precipitating confrontations between large crowds that blocked some of Hamburg’s main thoroughfares while armored water cannons and troops of riot police attacked them.

Walking through downtown Hamburg as the clashes died down, one could see “NO G20” graffiti everywhere. Stores that one would otherwise not suspect of anti-capitalist sentiments prominently displayed signs proclaiming “NO G20: Spare Our Shop!” In one small park in the midst of a gentrifying bar district, demonstrators gathered around a fire in the middle of the city, surrounded by tents and banners expressing opposition to the G20 and to capitalism in general. Despite the riot vans parked by the dozen at every intersection, despite the companies of riot police marching huffily back and forth, no amount of coercive violence could legitimize the G20 or the kind of policing required to force capitalism on an increasingly restless population. Something has to give.

Graffiti in Berlin, April 2017.

The CrimethInc. Guide to Celebrating the Fourth of July: For Entertainment Purposes Only

It’s that time of year again, when jingoism reigns supreme and bootlicking chauvinists congratulate themselves on a revolution they didn’t participate in and that didn’t go far enough in the first place. If you want to learn about the xenophobic roots of the United States, check out our guide to nativism—but if you want another perspective on how to observe this national holiday, enjoy The CrimethInc. Guide to Celebrating the Fourth of July. Strictly for entertainment purposes, you understand.

Don’t invest meaning in flags and other false symbols of liberty, turning them into fetish objects representing all the autonomy you have ceded to the authorities. Do take courageous action to break the spell of mass obedience, showing that not everyone is willing to participate in passive spectacles as our freedoms are stripped away one by one.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking a bunch of rich people seeking to increase their profit margins actually care about whether you can feed your family. Do organize in solidarity with those worse off than yourself—when it comes to standing up to the powers that be, they will likely make more reliable comrades than a billionaire and his toadies.

Don’t seek to divide people according to religion and ethnicity, increasing the likelihood of war and terror attacks under the pretense of opposing them. Do confront oppression and bigotry everywhere they occur, like these members of the IRPGF fighting the Islamic State in Syria. While Islamophobes disingenuously spread fear in hopes of provoking conflicts that will elevate them to power, the real resistance to ISIS is being spearheaded by anarchists and others from the defense forces of the autonomous region of Rojava.

Don’t celebrate the legacy of colonialism as a way to legitimize your ethnicity, like the individuals depicted here claiming the legacy of Christopher Columbus as a part of Italian heritage—remember, until it became convenient for the powers that be, Italians were not included in the gated community of white privilege, either. Do resist colonialism in all its forms, like these indigenous people dissuading Brazilian police from further encroachments.

Just making sure you’re still paying attention.

Don’t antagonize people who have different beliefs just because you have a line of police officers behind you who will let you get away with anything while trying to arrest the people you assault. Do provide medical care to those who have gotten themselves injured in confrontations, even if they don’t share their values: who knows, it might help them rethink their position.

Don’t wait for permission from those who always come up with excuses as to why it would be better to trust some politician or non-profit organization to take the lead in making the world a better place. Do take action according to the dictates of your conscience, taking responsibility for yourself and for the fate of the world we all share.