Lucy Diavolo: In the “Anarchist Jurisdiction” of New York City, I’ve Seen a Summer of Beautiful Anarchy

In this op-ed, politics editor Lucy Diavolo assesses the threats posed by the Trump administration’s targeted language against anarchists and the exprerssions of anarchist principles 2020 has provided.

Teen Vogue, September 22, 2020

Summer in New York City is so famously lovely that it can feel like a bit of a cliché to discuss it. When the weather is nice, every tree-lined street promises some tiny hidden moment of joy or wonder at the beauty of a city that never sleeps, but can often feel like a dream. But this summer has been real in a way that also verges on nightmarish.

The year 2020 has provided no shortage of horrors, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the latest reminders of the racist, anti-Black nature of police brutality. Rounding out the final turn on a year like this, a federal proclamation about our city government “permitting anarchy” can feel almost funny, an impossible farce. It might also be easy to deride it as simply a cheap campaign ploy from President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice to rile up parts of his base — especially when Seattle and Portland, two protest hot spots, are also in the mix.

The media has used “anarchist jurisdiction” to describe what’s laid out in the DOJ declaration, though the DOJ didn’t use that term itself. But the phrasing is as much a laughable oxymoron as it is a troubling descriptor that demonstrates how Trump and his administration are eager to demonize somebody and, in a worst case scenario, identify the political dissidents he wants to crack down on. Given that Trump’s politics are so often based in persecution and Attorney General William Barr is out to prosecute protesters, there is a very real threat embedded in this for anyone who believes in the power of protest, whether they call themselves an anarchist or not. This threat isn’t emanating just from the White House, but from Republican state leaders like Florida governor Ron DeSantis, too.

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