Chris Steele: Violence as a Way of Life: An Anarchist Analysis of Gun Control and State Power in the US

Two members of the Black Panther Party are met on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento, May 2, 1967, by Police Lt. Ernest Holloway, who informs them they will be allowed to keep their weapons as long as they cause no trouble and do not disturb the peace. Earlier several members had invaded the Assembly chambers and had their guns taken away.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 By Chris Steele, Truthout

According to an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force memo, author and activist scott crow is “… considered armed and dangerous. He is proactive in civil disobedience skills and goes to events to instigate trouble.” Having been involved in myriad organizations and direct actions ranging from anti-racist to environmental to disaster relief, crow was under surveillance and investigation by the FBI for at least three years for political activity relating to anarchism, animal rights and environmental activism. crow’s book Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy, and the Common Ground Collective, tells the harrowing story of going into New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, where he co-founded Common Ground Collective, now known as the largest anarchist organization in modern history. Building off his experiences in New Orleans with armed self-defense, horizontally-organized disaster relief aid and FBI informants, crow is the editor of the newly released anthology Setting Sights: Histories and Reflections on Community Armed Self-Defense. In this interview with Truthout, crow discusses his experience with armed self-defense, the current gun control debate, the student-led protests on gun control, the militarization of police, the media framing of police killings and the military-industrial complex.

Chris Steele: Can you elaborate on your experience in New Orleans when you engaged in temporary armed self-defense and what the result was?

scott crow: I was one of two white men invited into part of the Black Algiers community to take up community armed self-defense — from my relationship with former New Orleans Black Panther Party chapter leader Malik Rahim through our work to free political prisoners, the Angola 3. They asked for armed support to protect themselves against white vigilante groups and the New Orleans police that were out of control before [Hurricane Katrina], and were more lawless after. What I saw when we arrived was criminalization and indifference [toward poor, Black communities all over the city] from government at all levels. Racism and fear dominated the media and [the narrative] on the ground.

While people were literally dying or suffering, the state put emphasis on restoring “law and order” above saving or helping tens of thousands of people. The police were turning a blind eye as the white vigilantes calling themselves the “Algiers Point Militia” drove around in trucks, drunk, with loaded weapons, intimidating and killing Black men on the streets. My first duty on showing up to Malik’s was to cover a bullet-riddled, shirtless dead body of a man with sheet metal. Who killed him: the police or the white militia?

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