These pamphlets showed up on our porch this morning:
A Solidarity Letter From a Few Anarchists
To the students who walked out on April 28th:
First and foremost, wow. We could not be more impressed. Your actions and ability to articulate your reasons for acting have been inspiring and reinvigorating for all of us who might see something of ourselves in your struggle. Only a few of us knew about your plans to walkout, but once it happened the buzz did not stop. People are still talking about it. Our hats are off to you!
Why are we writing you?
You might ask, why? Why do these anonymous weirdos that call themselves “anarchists” want to write an open letter to public school students? Who are these people? What do we have in common?
Those of us that discussed your actions and decided to write this letter can’t speak for everyone, but we can touch on some common ideas that we think reflect at least the general sentiment that is felt, not just by “anarchists”, but by many folks who were inspired by what you did.
Richmond is fed up. Residents of this city are tired of the ever expanding push of developers and other capitalists to control and shape this city into a playground for the upper classes and tech elite. This can be seen in the poor funding and maintenance of schools, the increasing presence of police and criminalization of youth (see: Targeted Enforcement Zone), the funding for sports stadiums and economic initiatives that do not benefit the people who live in the immediate area, the crackdown on DIY and self-made cultural spaces through alliances like CAPS, the noise ordinances, the leasing of public spaces like Monroe Park, the harsher and harsher penalties for petty vandalism and of course, the building of a new jail…. *ahem*, ”Justice Center.”
Mayor Jones wants a Tier One City
This reflects a trend in hundreds of cities across the country. This is coded language. The image brought to mind, and in their countless powerpoint presentations, is one of an urban “Downtown Short Pump”. One that is sterile, overwhelmingly white, rich, and suburban. We are forced to imagine the city we love as a breeding ground for khaki shorts wearing young professionals that only consume culture, and never create it. Never participating but always observing, policing, and obeying. This is not what has made Richmond a place that so many different people love to live in.
As we are sure you know, this is not over. The pillars of power are being shaken in this former Capitol of the Confederacy. Your actions have not only driven the public eye to look deeper into the problems of the school system, but your connecting of the issues around the Stadium Plan have propelled that struggle forward as well. The Mayor and City Council are on the defensive. They can only look like fools in the face of pointed and articulate criticism from the school students they supposedly care so much about.
We want to meet you!
We have heard rumors that you were threatened with “consequences” for taking action, and we want to offer our solidarity and aid in any fight against repression you may end up facing. We want to meet you. We work and play in this city as well, and it isn’t hard to find us. We are your neighbours. You may already know some of us. This is an open invitation to you: come find us at shows, libraries, cooperatives, art studios, protests, coffee shops, corner stores, and parks.
After you graduate, whether you go off to college, move to a different city, or whatever path you walk, don’t forget what you have already won. Take the skills you have learned in this struggle elsewhere and keep fighting. These same forces that are keeping your schools in disrepair are doing similar things in every corner of the world. You have joined a tradition and a struggle that is international and stretches throughout history.
We welcome you! We are so happy to see you!
So often we look to struggles elsewhere to be inspired and feel connected, and your actions have reminded us to look in our own backyards. We applaud you. We thank you. We can’t wait to meet more of you.
In love and rage,
Some Friendly Neighbourhood Anarchists