Unforgiving and Inconsolable: New Collection of Writings on Durham's Recent Struggle Against the Police

We’re happy to announce that a new zine, Unforgiving and Inconsolable: Durham Against the Police, is now available for download and printing. The zine compiles writings released in the heat of battle over the last few months, as three separate marches protesting the police detention and murder of Chuy Huerta brought the town’s distrust and anger with its police to the fore. New relationships were made while new ground was broken, which will hopefully continue as people continue to assemble and reflect upon the past few months. The following is from the zine’s introduction:

I was at work when I got the text from a friend. It was the fourth time this fall and I was in the same place I had been for the other three, trying to process the information while keeping up appearances on the job. I didn’t know Chuy; all I knew was that the cops had killed another kid and they were going to get away with it again, but that this time it wasn’t going to be as easy.

S. told me that she knew Chuy from the skate park. I had started hanging out there this fall when I decided to start skating again.“You’re not getting any younger,”she reminds me everytime I fall. I don’t really know why I decided to pick it up again knowing that I’ll never have the same delusions of invincibility I had as a teenager. Sometimes I think it’s because it’s the only bearable way to be outside in a sprawl, but when I’m at the park I realize it’s mostly because of the kids. Sometimes when the park is too crowded I just watch them fall and get back up until they can’t see straight. I hear the same fed up conversations my friends had ten years ago: school is worthless, mom is too strict, dad wants you to get a job, the pigs are always on your back, no one wants to date you cause you skate all day, everything sucks.

They don’t give a fuck about us unless they’re scared of us, and that’s when they shoot. (1)

Chuy’s friends may be fearless teenagers, but they know they’re not invincible. “Don’t shoot me”stories circulate around the park; being followed home by the cops alone at night, or running to get away from teargas. Often there is an eruption of laughter by the storytellers at the end, the kind of laughter that signifies the pride of getting away but comes out like giggles at a funeral when the pain is too heavy to bear without an opening. Laughter becomes an oxygen tank—it’s a life-line and an explosive device. Mothers and friends echo one another: when a black or brown family member or friend never shows up at night to crash, we’re not imagining them held up at gunpoint by a stranger, we imagine them lying in front of a cop car bleeding out before ambulances arrive.

The police articulate the way they value young lives: “We don’t have time for this” declares the officer in between tasing and shooting 18 year old Keith Vidal in his home in Eastern North Carolina this winter, while his parents watched helplessly. The families ask, “Why?” They want answers—something to hold onto to make sense of the impossible reality facing them. A mourning family reminds us that a life is invaluable, and irreplaceable, while the police calculate the value of a life through the logic of society ruled by capital: assimilate or die, function or starve, work or go to prison.

The police are wedged in the tension between precarity and legitimacy. They exist to police surplus populations but they also produce those populations through the legitimacy of their violence. They choose whose lives are literally disposable.

A window is made of sand and can be replicated exactly. A rectangle window, of the dimensions I am being charged with breaking, doesn’t need to be replicated because the manufacturer keeps spare windows around for replacement. The United States justice system considers this a serious crime warranting felony charges. Trayvon Martin was a human being. There will only ever be one of him and we have lost him and the joy he brought to this world forever. A human life is priceless because it can never be replaced. (2)

Why do you keep asking about rocks and windows? Windows can be fixed. Can they fix my brother? (3)

Those who want to dwell on the “violent turn” of the character of the marches have fulfilled the desires of the police. They turn our attention away from the reality that is glaring at us all: there can be no justice because our lives are not scales to balance. Chuy will not be brought back to life by holding the police accountable, nor will he by the destruction of police property. But if we accept reconciliation, we accept the lie that Chuy’s life was expendable. When we destroy their property, we remind them that we will never forget. Justice is not what is at stake.

The only writer of history with the gift of setting alight the sparks of hope in the past, is the one who is convinced of this: that not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious. (4)

The marches this winter reminded us that our rage expressed in these moments is not lost to futility. We refused justice and reconciliation and demands and in that refusal we witnessed diffuse acts of rage carry the spirits of those murdered and locked up into the present. We fought back when attacked, we cheered while the names of our friends were sprayed onto the walls of the city, we were strengthened by solidarity actions across the country, and we forged trust and friendships in the streets.

This zine is a quickly compiled collection of writings released in the midst of these events. These pieces were written with different voices by participants who had overlapping but different understandings of what was going on, with little time and space for deeper reflection. Perhaps this collection can help to counter the dizzying array of media, liberals, and leftists who have, by ignoring the voices of actual participants, either condemned or downplayed the combative aspects of this struggle. Above all, it is our hope that by putting all these writings in one place this text might facillitate a deeper debate and anaylsis about how we can seize the moments of tension and rupture in which we increasingly find ourselves. We look forward with anticipation to reading and hearing the thoughts of new and old comrades alike with regards to the last few months of struggle that we have shared together.

While the street marches have died down for now, the air of a combative Durham remains, and grows. The conversations, assemblies, groups, bonfires, dance parties, skate competitions, and personal networks that gave rise to this phenomenon continue. The next time the police kill, or some new crisis of authority, white supremacy, wealth, or political power comes to the fore, we will be more ready than ever.

notes…

(1) A Friend of Chuy

(2) From the statement of Hannibul Shakur while in jail held on felony vandalism, after the riots in Oakland post-Zimmerman verdict

(3) Evelin Huerta in a press release after the December 19th march

(4) Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History, writing before he took his own life when he was unable to escape fascists in Europe

Category: 

Comments

really excited to read this!

Now just hear me out before you abuse and spit on me,,,I was once a cop, yeah, you can judge me without knowing me, call me a pig and stuff, but I just want to say that in any institution or club there are cliques that are formed, in our precinct our group clique where nicknamed the Gboys, meaning gay boys because WE ACTUALLY cared about comforting victims of car wrecks or would run into a burning building against orders, it was the firies job to do, we were the I dunno half of the team, there was what we called their clique the Mteam, the macho guys who worked out and even had relational problems at home like beating up on their wives and even not arresting prostitutes in exchage for sex, they were the sort of cops who do Oscar Grant and Rodney King their pain and brutality, these guys are scary and are a minority in the force. I expect troll abuse and hatred from people on this site, maybe these manarchists should look at their own behavior patterns and psychological profile, but I left the force in disgust and also pressure from my partner, the stress is unbelievable, I realise the system is seriously fucked up, but please understand that some of us cops are altruistic and apolitical, its a job we most of us took to help the community, to stop drugs destroying young lives, guys beating up on women, children being molested. I know you all hate me , I was a filthy pig protecting capital and enforcing the upper class in their system of heirarchy, but I've moved on and getting into being a drummer in a metal band, the pay isn't that good, but I can at least pound away on pigskins [pun intended] instead of on the likes of working class black people and crack addicts. Don't spit on me and try to understand that most cops are just naive righteous workers taking orders and not the evil representatives of political domination.

um.....i dont know if this comment is just well disguised troll bait, or what. if its legit, id say thanks for quitting being a cop. i dont think the point is that every individual cop is some kind of "bad person" in the moral sense--that would be both a useless and irrelevant claim, whether or not it was possible to prove one way or the other. The point is that the system and structure of policing, as tied to the hip to state and capital, is structurally oppressive, brutal, and necessary to maintaining the status quo. Its a brilliant structure, one you could completely fill with wonderful human beings and still come out with basically the same result: the maintenance of horrific social structures of poverty, desperation, white supremacy, and abuse.

You seem to sort of get that, really, or at least thats how i read some of the later sentences in your comment. If you legitimately recognize some of this shit, and quit your job in part cus of that, then i wouldnt as an anarchist (and human being) "spit on you;" rather i might go get a beer with you have what i imagine could be an interesting conversation. Tha being said, i do take issue with this last sentence:

"try to understand that most cops are just naive righteous workers taking orders and not the evil representatives of political domination."

I dont know exactly what you mean by "righteous workers," but i hardly see how being a naive worker and a representative of political domination are necessarily mutually exclusive. Naivete is relative anyway--a cop would have to pretty stupid and pretty blind to not pick up on their role in their world, or how poor neighborhoods tend to feel about them. Some quit, some commit suicide, some take their feelings out on and abuse those theyre close to. But naivete is eventually a weak excuse, and in any case irrelevant to the actual social and political function of police in our society. This last thing is really the central point: when anarchists, or oppressed peoples more generally, hate on cops, its not usually because theyre morally or individually "bad people" but cus theyre both symbolic and very real figures on the frontlines of preserving this social system we live under. That may suck to deal with as an excop; all the more reason to abolish this sick set of social structures all the quicker, so just maybe one day humanity can move on. Until then, people gonna hate.

I am guessing it was a troll do to the word manarchist but I may be wrong.

Thanks for the reply I was expecting some trolls or bitter vicious anarchist to vent on me in the same way some of the Mteam would on defenceless peeps ,Im sort of taken aback by your explanation in a good way, yep the beer would be better than phlegm haha, I might just go over to the ol precinct tonight with a spray can and do some circleAs on the patrol cars, unless you people think that would be bad public relations, there seems to be 2 cliques also within the anarchist milieu concerning broken glass and graffiti.

I'm an EMR and a firefighter, I watch kids come in to our department and go on to become police all the time.

It's just like with all the other semi-non-political people (the vast majority), you either have a bunch of personal negative experience with police and state agents, or you don't. If you hardly ever interact with police and you don't read or care about politics at all, that leaves TV and hollywood, which serve important propaganda functions.

Anyway, as I get older, most of my interactions with radical milieus (for lack of a batter term) are dominated by absolutely useless "intellectuals" from academic backgrounds, lacking the most basic of practical skills. If SOMEHOW, you could develop the necessary levels of trust with disenfranchised former police/military people, the possibilities would be very interesting.

the ‘guardian temperament’ has been around forever and within the relational dynamics of community, it can help to buffer and deflect conflict that is brewing before it erupts and causes irreparable damage. we all intervene when kids threaten to do damage to one another and some of us intervene when angry adults threaten to do damage with one another, and we all experience being kids and adults that threaten to do damage to one another. who has not thanked a friend for stepping in and helping to quell what could have turned into a bloody mess.

our experiencing of community without this empathic ethic of helping to sustain balance and harmony in social dynamics would be very different from our experiencing of community that does.

a person with a ‘guardian temperament’ that committed themselves to buffering and defusing conflict-breeding tensions could be one way of defining a ‘policeman’, as in an indigenous anarchist community. indigenous anarchists employ ‘restorative justice’ which assumes that eruptions of violence derive from relational tensions, and thus that ‘everyone is responsible’ for outbreaks of violence. since the world view is that dynamics are relational, and NOT ‘what independently-existing individuals do’ based, there is no concept of morally judging an individual for his behaviour. if someone commits some horrific act of violence, there is agreement that that is a horrific act of violence, but there is no assumption that this violence derives fully and solely from the interior of the individual. if that individual has been bullied for years by the social dynamics, he may one day explode into violence, ... but the community dynamic is where to look for the source of such violence, not into his interior. it takes a whole community to raise people who go postal, hence restorative justice rather than justice based on moral laws of behaviour that apply to individuals whilst other individuals who exploit and taunt them are allowed to continue to do so with the protection of ‘moral laws’, since morality applies to manifest individual behaviour; i.e. to ‘what things do’.

since in our Western society, the law protects the monopolizing and controlling of access to the life-sustaining potentials of the common living space, those that have an abundance can use it to taunt and exploit the labours of others who have deficiency and need, to the point that such taunted and exploited others may at some point ‘go postal’ and ‘break the moral law’ and be held fully and solely responsible for their ‘unlawful’ and ‘immoral’ behaviour since the Western archetype for man, organism and organization is an ‘independent reason-driven system’ that operates in an absolute space and absolute time containing reference-frame-seen as operating theatre. in this idealized and unnatural definition of the individual, there is no acknowledging of the interdependence of inhabitant and habitat, and thus no acknowledging of the exploitation that goes on where ‘haves’ use control over the habitat to extract labours and services from ‘have-nots’.

thus another way of defining a ‘policeman’, rather than ‘one who buffers and defuses conflict-breeding tensions’, is ‘law enforcement officer’. these two definitions give respectively differing senses to the policeman of ‘who he is working for’; i.e. for the community as a member of the community or for God-the-almighty [the supreme central authority of the secularized theological concept known as the sovereign state].

in indigenous anarchist community, in the wake of community warriors and guardians [police] having pre-empted and/or subdued the violent manifesting of conflict, the circle process of restorative justice orients to relational transformation that includes all those involved in the ‘harm’ in the relational network that constitutes community. the community must be involved since conflict is inevitable and it is the energy that orchestrates the continuing relational transformation of community.

increasing ‘sophistication’ of the western social dynamic has been leading to increasingly mechanistic approaches to the administration of justice. in the wild west, the community had to supply its own ad hoc ‘police-force’ with civilian resources so that ‘keeping the peace’ was seen as every individual’s ethical responsibility. in John Locke’s terms, policing labours would have been seen as enfolded into the relational dynamics of community, until wage labour made yet another intervention and split out ‘policing’ as a paid specialization/profession. this is the ‘unravelling’ of community in his terms. the ordinary citizen slowly turns into a wimp who perfects his ‘quick-draw’ using his cellphone and firing off the digits 9-1-1.

specialization of law enforcement as the ‘unravelling of community’ has involved, at the same time, (a) impoverishing the inbuilt citizenry-based buffering [informal ‘policing’] in the relational dynamics of community that squelches rising tensions before they become violent eruptions, and (b) formalizes the profession of police as an arm, NOT of the community, but of the supreme central authority wherein ‘justice’ is enacted by moral judgement of individual behaviour; i.e. a process of ‘institutionalized vengeance’.

those individuals with ‘guardian temperaments’ are likely to dock in whatever available docking stations fit their orientation; i.e. the police force which in Western society is the ‘arm’ of the supreme central, moral-judging authority. the individual with the policeman-inside-of-him [guardian temperament] may feel like he is working for the community, like local police department mottos often say, ... but the enforcement of moral laws on individuals, as if the behaviour of the individual were independent of the relational dynamics of community, could only be ‘working for the community’ in the sense of purging the community of immoral/evil individuals [assuming that the community was a collection of ‘independent reason-driven systems’ operating in an absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-container-seen-as-operating-theatre.

to which ‘opposing pole’ do cops pledge allegiance to? to the community as a relational network or to the secularized theological concept of a supreme central moral-judging authority?

(a) a ‘policeman’ in the restorative justice of indigenous anarchist community sees the relational network of community that he too is included in, as the shaper of his activities.

(b) a ‘policeman’ in the retributive justice of a Western sovereigntist state sees the supreme central authority and its absolute moral judgements as the shaper of his activities.

a particular cop can, in his actual behaviour, can make his own choice as to whether to put (a) in precedence over (b), or (b) in precedence over (a).

Western society operates on a belief in the ‘independent existence’ of ‘human beings’ and as messages such as this one from the ‘emile 9000’ indicate, it is difficult to let go of this belief, whether it is religion-based or newtonian-science-based [newton’s physics is infused with newton’s religious beliefs]

the notion of man as ‘independent human being’ [who comes into being in an absolute, binary off/on beginning and departs in an absolute binary on/off ending] with his own internal process jumpstarting behaviour who resides in an operating theatre/world that is independent of himself, sets up the following;

1. man is fully and solely responsible for his own behaviour.

2. social dynamics can be managed on the basis of ‘moral judgement’ of the behaviours of individual ‘beings’ and laws can be formulated to edict which behaviours shall be judged bad, and punished. i .e. the social dynamic shall be managed on a ‘purificationist’ basis which ‘protects’ individual beings whose behaviours do not violate moral judgement based law and ‘punishes’ individual beings whose behaviours violate moral judgement based laws.

3. the supreme authority of the sovereign state [a secularized theological concept which employs the religious notion of authoritarian hierarchy; God, angels, man, animals, minerals] will hold ultimate responsibility for morally judging, on earth, individual being behaviours as to whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. this supreme authority is vested with the power to redefine such behaviours, as during war where it is necessary to use ‘bad’ behaviours to achieve a greater ‘good’; e.g. to kill ‘bad others’ in order to restore ‘goodness’ in the world.

4. newtonian science has re-affirmed the notion of man as an ‘independent being’, explaining his ‘independence’ by way of his body being constructed ‘bottom-up’ from ‘atoms’

“God in the Beginning form’d Matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, moveable Particles. – Isaac Newton”

the biological and social sciences have retained this view of man, organism and organization as atom-based bottom-up constructions residing in an empty space which contains the full world assemblage of independently existing objects/beings, including human beings, organisms and organizations which are seen as having their own internally jumpstarted drive and direction; i.e. as ‘independent reason-driven systems’.

5. this Western worldview Re-presents dynamics in terms of ‘independent things’ and ‘what they do’ as if in an absolute space and absolute time reference-frame seen as an all-including operating theatre. this view sets up a mutually excluding division between ‘inhabitant’ and ‘habitat’ and from this, the concept of ‘property ownership’ wherein man as an independent being can lawfully possess and master/domesticate ‘other’ entities such as ‘land’ and ‘animals’ and other human beings lower down in the value hierarchy [there has been a recent moratorium on possessing other humans and using them as 'domesticates'.].

[[this ‘dualist’ practice would be incoherence-generating if the world were one continually transforming relational spatial plenum, as in the non-dualist [relations-first, NOT things/beings-first] view of mach, nietzsche, bohm, schroedinger, indigenous-anarchists, taoists, who understand the world as ONE; a continually transforming relational spatial plenum whose transforming is by way of the continual gathering and regathering of relational forms which are agents of transformation.]]

6. ‘being’ sets up the division between ‘self’ and ‘other’ and thus portrays as ‘natural’, the practice of the ‘possession of other’ and the ‘exploitation’, ‘domestication’ and ‘enslavement’ of other, as originally portrayed in religious writings such as Genesis 1:28, and as preserved in newtonian science and in Darwinism [‘survival of the fittest’ in a ‘competition’ amongst ‘independent beings’]. this self/other split gives rise to a division between so-called ‘more performant exploiters of otherness’ and ‘less performant exploiters of otherness’, the upper end of this hierarchy being seen as an ‘upper class’ and the lower end as a ‘lower class’.

* * *

in the continuing unfolding of this Western-belief-in-being based social dynamic, technology and the ‘free-market system’ have enabled the growth of large disparities between the ‘upper class’ aka ‘haves’ and the ‘lower class’ aka ‘have-nots’.

powerful relational tensions have been building across the growing gap. meanwhile the continuing growth of the gap has been protected by law enforcement agencies [since the law protects the right of individual beings to acquire and possess property], ... a gap which in nature would be resolved spontaneously by ‘robin hood’ processes if not by potlatch ceremonies where voluntary restoration of balance and harmony.

the sovereign state; i.e. the secularized theological form of organization with its control centre wherein resides the [God-like] Supreme central authority [whose existence is purely common belief based] is sustained [e.g. instead of an anarchist ‘confederacy of peoples’ relational organizing such as the iroquois haudenosaunee] through a system of rituals [reciting of oaths, singing of anthems, waving of flags, saluting of flags, paying tribute to the president and commander-in-chief etc.] so that even many of those that are slipping down the have – have-not totem pole remain supportive of the system and impose their moral judgement on those who would seek to challenge it or ‘undermine its intellectual premises’ [hoping that they can arrest their slipping down and climb back up].

the ‘exploiter-exploitee’ hierarchy [master-slave hierarchy] of Western social organizing requires obedient self-abnegation to those above and commanding of those below; i.e. it is basically a ‘fascist’ system as described by Thomas Mann in ‘Mario and the Magician’ [a book describing, metaphorically, the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1920s];

“The capacity for self-surrender, he said, for becoming a tool, for the most unconditional and utter self-abnegation, was but the reverse side of that other power to will and to command. Commanding and obeying formed together one single principle, one indissoluble unity; he who knew how to obey knew also how to command, and conversely; the one idea was comprehended in the other, as people and leader were comprehended in one another.” – Thomas Mann

Conclusion: the animosities arising in association with growing disparity in the ‘opportunizing’ of the ‘haves’ and the corresponding [reciprocally complementary] ‘disopportunizing’ of the ‘have-nots’ is commonly inducing psychological polarization wherein the ‘have-nots’ are imposing their moral judgement on the ‘haves’ for being the ‘cause’ of their ‘disopportunization’ and impoverishing, ... whereas the ‘haves’ are imposing their moral judgement on those ‘attacking the system’ who they see as ‘not like themselves’, but lazy, inferior performers, second-handers and parasites who they [the haves who see themselves as creative superior performers] are subsidizing.

this entire system of binary polarization arises from the concept of ‘being’ and its derivatives such as man as an ‘independent reason-driven system’ which is the logical basis for the ‘moral judging of independent individual behaviours’ as in Western ‘retributive justice’, the operative principle of Western social dynamics management.

those angry at the system opt immediately for ‘retributive justice’, seeing the ‘haves’ that are exploiting them as ‘evil’, rather than as participants in a dysfunctional ‘being’-based worldview, and, in their moral outrage, are not only NOT interested in intellectual discussion but find it obfuscational to organizing the attack to bring down and punish ‘those responsible’ for the growing injustice in the social dynamic. neither are the 'winners' in the win/lose play of Western society interested in discussing problems in foundational assumptions; i.e. their first and urgent priority is to bring to justice those responsible for disturbing the efficient functioning of a system and threatening to bring it down, ... a system that the winners see as fair, which gives everyone an 'equal chance' to achieve superior performance, as characterizes all-yang-no-yin dynamics of independent 'beings' that operate in an uninvolved containing space [absolute space and absolute time reference-frame seen as operating theatre for the actions and interactions of 'independent beings']

in other words, the general population holds varying views on the whys of current social dysfunction; ... (a) those who are fed up with the system and see the problems as being due to exploitive others, and (b) those who are fed up with the system, like nietzsche et al, and see the problems as being due to the foundational assumption of ‘being’ and its religious and mainstream science supporting props, and (c) those who are ‘doing well’ in the system and who see protestors/system detractors as projecting their own deficiencies onto the system, and (d) social darwinists who believe that it is a natural process to starve out inferior specimens, a belief that preceded darwin, as in adam smith’s statement of a hundred years prior;

“ Every species of animals naturally multiplies in proportion to the means of their subsistence, and no species can ever multiply beyond it. But in civilized society it is only among the inferior ranks of people that the scantiness of subsistence can set limits to the further multiplication of the human species; and it can do so in no other way than by destroying a great part of the children which their fruitful marriages produce.” —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

emile is amongst those, such as indigenous anarchists, that hold the (b) view. expressing the (b) view openly draws attacks from those in the (a), (c) and (d) groups.

Politician.

Awesome, you all are doing a fantastic job over there.

No mention of the numerous solidarity smashups?

i believe theyre mentioned in some of the introductions to various individual pieces. and im sure theyre very appreciated :)

Thanks for doing this. It's always important to archive reflections on struggles after they happen considering how quickly everything is lost and written over.

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