On August 5, 2018, around 90 people ran, jogged or walked 5K to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the incarceration of the Move 9. The route chosen for this event started in Fairmount Park and went past the zoo that members of the Move organization protested in 1973 and 1974 in support of animal rights. The route continued down 33rd street to the intersection of 33rd and Pearl, where the former Move headquarters was before it was bulldozed by the city within 24 hours of the arrest of the Move 9.
Comrades, can’t you see, we’ve helped to build something truly uncontrollable? Something proletarian, communal, autonomous and buck-wild? From the first march called by the alphabet soup of socialist orgs to this moment, everyone has put their shoulders to the wheel and pushed. It’s been an amazing, inspiring effort. But comrades, victory is so close. We can’t stop now!
We are two weeks into #OccupyICEPHL. We have ceased occupying the ICE offices since July 5 and the current encampment at City Hall has lost a lot of its original momentum. The Left in Philly united on July 2nd for the original occupation, but it has been fractured by burnout and internal conflicts. A lot of us are wondering, how did we get here and how do we move forward?
The beginning of OccupyICE Philly started out as a beautiful event which had so much potential. Before the end of the first night that was actively squandered by the “central committee” of the “occupation”. What began as a direct interruption of ICE’s ability to operate their office devolved into a purely symbolic self-victimizing spectacle, one that was unable to defend itself or escape enemy capture.
On July 2nd, a coalition of groups in Philadelphia occupied the local ICE office. In what follows I offer a few quick sketches of the occupation. I was there at the opening of the march at City Hall at 5PM until I had to leave at 9, and then again the next day (July 3rd) at 9:30, leaving just after noon. Today, July 4th, the occupation enters its third day. The account and ideas below are therefore cobbled together from my own experiences, from Unicorn Riot’s live feed, and from reports from comrades who were there when I couldn’t be.
Radical struggle is on the rise in Philadelphia. Since at least 2016, anarchist actions—by the Summer of Rage Anarchist Crew, Antifa, and many others—have been intensifying and broadening in a city that has a long history of antiauthoritarian struggles. Other groups have been energized too, like prison and police abolitionists, socialists, and Marxists. With anarchists, they are challenging gentrification, police brutality, mass incarceration, predatory landlords, and attacks on workers. These far left forces are starting to converge and overlap—seen in reaction to the killing of a local activist, in the abortive 2016 anti-DNC protests in the city, or in actions against local white supremacy. But the radical scene remains disconnected. It is still struggling to develop on the mass scale that would be needed to challenge capital in a revolutionary way.
An 8-year-old told me about Pablo Avendano’s death: “My dad’s friend was just killed riding his bike.” The 8-year-old was a friend of my son, Dai. I had taken the boys out for water ice in our neighborhood in Philadelphia. “He went out to work and he’s never coming back,” my son’s friend said, bobbing on his feet. “And he didn’t even like his job!” Avendano made deliveries through Caviar, the food-ordering app.“His boss is probably in trouble,” Dai said.