Posts Tagged ‘monroe park occupation’

“A small portrait of the Richmond, Va based Wingnut Anarchist Collective between February and August of 2011” by Ethan Silverstein of Boston, MA.

Roses On My Table from Ethan Silverstein on Vimeo.

Check out this movie our friend put a lot of work into! Keep in mind that not everyone in this film is still a Wingnut resident, or necessarily supportive of all Wingnut projects. Clearly a 20 minute film can’t capture the complexities of our lives. Things aren’t always sunshine and roses. But we hope that everyone in this movie is doing awesome anarchist things and having a great time doing them!

An update from the Monroe Park Occupation back in March, where several individuals were charged with violating a City Code regarding being in parks after dark. Three members of the Wingnut Anarchist Collective are appealing their verdicts of guilty, and are challenging that piece of City Code based on it being unconstitutional. Arguments in this appeal were finally presented on Thursday, November 3rd, after multiple continuances over the months. Occupiers have court again on Monday, November 21st at 9am at the John Marshall Court Building in room 302 for the disposition. Supporters are welcome to attend.

For background information on the Monroe Park Occupation of March, 2011 you can go to: http://www.monroeparkoccupation.wordpress.com

Here is an account from one of the folks involved:

The morning started out rather frantic. I woke up and rolled out of bed, my mind churning with thoughts, my stomach twisting in anticipation. The day I had been anticipating ever since I last squared off with my archnemesis, the loathsome Christopher Toepp. Words can not express my utter contempt for this vile pond scum who has infected our gracious city with his insidious presence. No, wait, I shouldn’t say that, pond scum is too good to be associated with the likes of him. The Commonwealth’s Attorney who has made it his personal crusade to champion fascism, to goose step all over freedom, to piss on the fires of liberation wherever he finds them smoldering in the hearts of the down-trodden and oppressed. Whether he’s ripping the Constitution to pieces or trying to pin ludicrous charges on innocent activists with no evidence this man has no problem manipulating a corrupt and broken judicial system in an attempt to destroy everything that is right and good in this world.

I only had a few hours to prepare for this battle and I knew if I was to have any hope of survival my wits would have to be razor-sharp and I had to have my thoughts in order. The odds were stacked against us. None of our group has any legal experience, we knew that they had the advantage of fighting us in their home terrain. Court procedures and legal terms are the province of their lands, a land which seems foreign and strange to us. A land where an archaic language based on dead tongues and centuries of antiquated  jurisprudence reign supreme. There is no respect for the kind of organic interpersonal communication and connection that we thrive and grow on, here rhetoric and carefully structured arguments are the only thing that matter. I stocked up on energy drinks and brought my highlighter to bear as I reread the court cases I have read over and over again over the past few months. Trying to sift through the lengthy opinions of so-called Justices who dedicate their lives to passing final judgement on people who they don’t even know, it is not an easy task trying to translate and comprehend their tangled webs of legal jargon. I had managed to find a few cases that provided us a solid shield against the venomous fangs of that detestable man, Christopher Toepp. The case of Shuttlesworth v. the City of Birmingham, a shimmering gem of hope buried deep in a quagmire of court decisions that have chipped away at our liberties over the years. In the case the court for once defended the Constitution and stated quite clearly that city ordinances do not have the authority to rob us of our natural liberties. They stated quite clearly that city governments do not have the authority to write vague laws to restrict our ability to speak freely and that the power to limit speech can not be vested in a single authority with no guidelines or chance for appeal. It even goes a step further and states quite clearly that when people are faced with such unconstitutional and illegitimate laws that they may disregard them entirely and express themselves freely, for no governing authority has the right to strip us of our thoughts and beliefs.

To understand this monumental court case you must understand the time and place which it arose from. It was in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, a state which had become infested to its core with virulent racism. Terrorists rode through the dark of night wearing white hoods and carrying burning crosses, savage cops viciously beat down anyone who so much as questioned the racist regime that rigidly created rifts and divides throughout society. (more…)

Folks interested in starting an occupation in the city of Richmond will be gathering at 5:30 pm this Thursday in Monroe Park to meet and begin talking about ideas.
An initial call has been made for the actual occupation to begin on Saturday October 15th.

Folks interested in an occupation but with little experience in protests are encouraged to stop by the Richmond Zine Fest this Saturday October 8th from 11-6pm to talk to members of Richmond Copwatch, the Richmond Anarchist Black Cross, and the Wingnut Anarchist Collective. The Richmond Zine Fest will be at the Gay Community Center of Richmond (attached to Diversity Thrift at 1407 Sherwood Avenue).

Richmond Copwatch will be hosting a Know Your Rights Training at 4pm at the Zine Fest. This training is intended to teach people what their legal rights are when dealing with the police, and how to assert them. This is very useful information for folks entering a protest or occupation type situation. It can help keep yourself as well as others safe.

Richmond Anarchist Black Cross will be hosting a Green Scare workshop at 2pm. This workshop is about recent activism in the US and the government oppression people have faced.

More information about both of these workshops is available at the Zine Fest’s website- www.richmondzinefest.com

Additionally, folks interested in the occupation are encouraged to come out to Richmond Food Not Bombs this Sunday to get some experience cooking for large groups of people. Cooking starts at 12:30 at 2005 Barton Avenue and continues until 3:45. Then we head to Monroe Park at 4pm to share a free vegan community meal. Afterwards, we go back to 2005 Barton Avenue to do cleanup.

Richmond had an occupation earlier in 2011, of a local park. More information about that occupation is online at www.monroeparkoccupation.wordpress.com Please check it out!

The link below is to an article written about the Occupation meme in the context of decolonization and indigenous struggles. It also addresses issues of democracy, race, and more. We encourage folks planning on participating in an Occupation to think critically about terms like 99% and to keep privilege, race, sex, gender, class, sexuality and more in mind throughout these occupations.

http://earthspiritandanarchy.blogspot.com/2011/10/america-is-already-occupied-its-time-to.html

More about the Richmond Occupation: Occupy Richmond is part of the larger national movement originating from Occupy Wall St. to COLLECTIVELY VOICE OUR DISAPPROVAL OF THE INTERMESHING OF GOVERNMENT AND CORRUPTED CAPITALISM. WE UNITE AS 99% of THE AMERICAN POPULATION.
Description (more…)

What to Expect When You Are Expecting… To Be Arrested
Richmond Legal Process Guideline for Anarchists and Others

This is an outline for some important things to keep in mind when embarking on any enterprise which may lead to police detainment or arrest.

This guideline is specifically aimed at folks who might be at risk for arrest due to the political nature of their activities – from protests to civil disobedience to other forms of direct action.

Even when it is no one’s intention to be arrested, the police state will do what it do.

Preparing ahead of time, mentally and logistically can make both those incarcerated and their support network a lot less stressed out.

This guideline is a work in progress and we encourage any suggestions or additions – let us know at wingnut_collective@yahoo.com

This text is available online at: http://www.wingnutrva.org

The Wingnut Anarchist Collective house on the Northside of Richmond. The Wingnut is a sober space- no booze, no drugs, no macho bullshit. The Wingnut has resources such as free zines and literature, tools, and comfy couches to offer the community. We are down with hosting meetings or events for other groups. We will likely host workshops in the future on using certain tools. If there are workshops you want to do but you need a location feel free to contact us. You can bring donations for the Really Really Free Market or Food Not Bombs by anytime. We are also willing to host acoustic shows and events like benefit dinners if they are sober. Just talk to us! Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at 7 is Craft Night, bring projects you are working on, projects you want to be working on, random supplies, sewing projects, collaborative art ideas etc. Every Sunday is Food Not Bombs- come by around 1 to help decide on a meal, wash and cut produce, cook food, wash dishes, and then take it to Monroe Park to share with the community!

Before the event/action/whateverweliveinapolicestateforgoodnessake

Know Your Rights Training (Richmond Copwatch offers this training for free!)

Security Culture Training (Wingnut Anarchist Collective offers this training for free!)

Group discussion with participants if possible- to discuss goals of event, response to police, etc. ie. if its civil disobedience then maybe a goal is for people to be arrested. But if you are not trying to get arrested what is the plan? Where should people meet up? etc.

Action briefings combined with a kind of pep rally can be really important. Get everyone together to talk about their experiences getting arrested and going through the legal system. This is especially helpful for people who have never been arrested before who are really pumped and scared at the same time. (more…)

Solidarity means attack!

But sometimes it also means showing up to court to support your friends and allies. Less fun, less flashy, but vital for building movements. Court sucks, but it is a lot better if people show up to support you. 2 different issues have upcoming court dates, and would really appreciate support from others at the court dates. And because intersectionality is a reality, we are posting both of these dates here.

From Richmond Copwatch being threatened with a lawsuit by the Richmond Police Department, to the Monroe Park Occupation having court on April 12th over Obstruction of Justice and Trespassing charges, to the May Day parade having to defend their right to free speech regardless of their ability or desire to give money to off duty cops in order to finance their own repression, to the Defenders and Richmond African Burial Ground
Organizing Committee having to go to court to defend their civil disobedience in an ongoing campaign to get VCU to stop parking cars on the graves of people of color – Richmond has a LOT of legal stuff going on in 2011. Legal issues, arrests, lawsuits, tickets, and court dates are all very stressful and time consuming. Any support from those not directly involved can go a long way towards morale and be a really great way to strengthen relationships across particular issues. So many people are involved in the struggle for positive change, social justice, anarchism, etc. and it is really inspiring to see how much activity we do have in Richmond. Support each other, because a lot of folks seem to be throwing down really hard, and would appreciate any support.

First, the May Day Parade has a court date in regards to the bullshit cost the Richmond Police Department want them to pay to get a permit for the rally and parade. This court date is on April 26th.
Second, the folks who were arrested during a civil disobedience blockade at the African Burial Ground in Richmond, who prevented cars from being able to park on graves, have court on May 25th.

From the May Day Coalition:

A PEOPLES RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH AND ASSEMBLY SHOULD NOT BE DETERMINED BY WHETHER OR NOT THE PEOPLE HAVE THE MONETARY MEANS TO EXPRESS THEM.

The hearing for this case will take place Tuesday, April 26 at 11:00 am at the U.S. District Court, 701 East Broad Street, in Judge Hudson’s courtroom. (more…)

This article was published on our friend’s website- http://www.richmondspark.wordpress.com

One of the main issues of the Monroe Park Occupation (www.monroeparkoccupation.wordpress.com) was the policy of the Richmond Police Department of destroying homeless camps and all of the belongings of homeless people with no notice. This policy has been an ongoing reality for people who are homeless in Richmond. In recent months, many camps have been destroyed by the Richmond police and by people doing court forced “community service” for the 4th precinct. Anyone interested in working on this issue should get in touch with the Wingnut Anarchist Collective. Destroying homeless camps and homeless people’s belongings is nothing short of class war, inhumane treatment, robbery, property destruction, and in many cases, attempted murder.

Here is the article:

ACLU Files FOIA Request Regarding VDOT Policies on Homeless, Litigation a Possibility

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the VA Department of Transportation (VDOT). The ACLU wants information regarding the policies of handling and destroying the possessions of homeless people who live on the land owned by VDOT.

Last month a company contracted by the Virginia Department of Transportation demolished a homeless encampment near Interstate 81 at Exit 315 near Winchester. At least four homeless men were using the property for months when the contracted company destroyed their camp and belongings.

The men lost tents, sleeping bags, clothes, food, medication, and other camping gear. One of the homeless men lost his wallet which contained his Social Security Card and birth certificate. No advance notice about the removal of their possessions was given. (more…)

From http://www.monroeparkoccupation.wordpress.com

After nearly a month, the nine occupiers who were detained on the night of March 17th, during the upheaval of the Monroe Park Occupation, appeared in Richmond-Manchester Court before judge D.E. Cheek.
Arriving early, only one person chose to maintain their pro-bono lawyer, while six others eagerly fired their bewildered public defenders. Shortly into the morning’s docket, one of the two occupiers charged solely with trespassing was tried, and plead guilty, for a fine of $25.

After nearly two hours of anticipation, and five of the eight remaining persons being singled out and removed from the courtroom for the most innocuous behavior – nodding, gesturing, changing seats – all were called up to the stand for a trial which was not only entirely laughable, but most certainly emphatic of the people’s power to represent themselves.

Armed with legal precedent, and other vital evidence of the farcical nature of the charges levied against the defendents, the group (while representing only themselves as individuals) moved for dismissal of all charges. The charge of obstruction of justice was soon addressed, and Jones v. Commonwealth, as well as Atkins v. Commonwealth were cited in a most succinct and successful manner, under the argument that no individual actually physically impeded the process of arrest, but only made the arresting officers’ task more difficult by reserving their 5th Amendment right. Already, the youthful commowealth attorney was clearly fazed by the actions of a seemingly motley crew of contemptuous dregs. While the CA attempted to stammer out more inaccuracy and untruth to argue forth that charge, the judge bemusedly rejected his claims after the defendants briefly clarified that the obstruction of justice summons was issued prior to convening with the magistrate, therefore containing the circumstances to the same of the cited precedents.

Moving on to the trespassing charges, the defendants proposed the unconstitutional nature of the statute defining park hours and use of the park accordingly. The clause contained within said statute explained the possibility of use of the park outside of regular hours by obtaining a permit from the mayor’s office, but did not clearly define the requirements or discretion used for acquiring this permit. The judge did not choose to fully recognize this claim, but also did not have the power to rule the statute unconstitutional outright. The defense next proposed that since all conventional and advised forms of action (i.e., contacting city council) had been exhausted, direct action was necessary, as was the presence of the occupation at night to successfully express the dire nature of the concerns being raised. Therefore, it was most simply an exercise of free speech. Also, questions were raised as to the conclusions left to be drawn from the most curious police behavior experienced during the occupation.
The state having very little to say in their favor, and having had much of that belittled by the judge, it was not long before the court settled on the dismissal of obstruction charges, and a $25 dollar fine for all but one trespassing charge, which was dropped due to its own false nature. The remaining seven who were fined are appealing the charge.

Here are some Richmond Copwatch videos of the Monroe Park Occupation being busted by the RPD on 3/17/11 on the 10th night of the Occupation of Monroe Park. More videos to come as they get uploaded. More information on Monroe Park Occupation and the upcoming court date at http://www.monroeparkoccupation.wordpress.com

Here is part one, and part 2 of this group of footage. Significantly, all of the parts together provide evidence as to the entrapment of Mo Karn by the police.

There are 9 people from the Monroe Park Occupation with court on Tuesday April 12th at 10am. Please come out to the court building at 9:30am to support them. 7 of the occupiers were arrested  and consequently charged with Obstruction of Justice. 2 were detained and charged with trespassing.

Their court is on the Southside at the Manchester Court building at
920 Hull Street, Southside
Richmond, VA 23224

For more information about the Monroe Park Occupation, please visit http://www.monroeparkoccupation.wordpress.com

Just a quick update, the Occupation of Monroe Park is still going on. No problems on the 4th night of the occupation. Tonight (Friday) will be the 5th night of the Occupation. There will be a meeting of the Occupation at 11pm.

Corner of Main and Laurel in Monroe Park. There is a Really Really Free Market going on all weekend. Please bring entertainment and food/dog food to support the occupants.