Here’s a couple of articles written by local comrades, one on the BS5 mutual aid group and the importance of these networks and another looking at the state’s lockdown laws and emergency powers. Self organisation vs state repression. Let’s see which lasts longer…
Faced with the the coronavirus pandemic and a government characterised by a callous and sociopathic disregard for anyone but their friends in high places, the rapid growth and spread of mutual aid networks around the world has been nothing short of inspirational and the source of much hope. Self organised and community led, these networks have shown how willing and ready people are to break the individualist, isolated mindset fostered by capitalism and the state, to help each other out as equals without profit or reward but with plenty of human spirit and solidarity.
It’s worth reminding ourselves that the term mutual aid is one originally put forward in the 19th century by one of the original anarchist “old beards”, Peter Kropotkin, and we have been putting these principles into practice ever since, both in our daily lives and in times like these. It’s been shown so clearly time and time again and comes as no surprise that in times of crisis and disaster, it is always the people who come to each other’s aid first while governments at best drag their feet and usually leave us all for dead.
They have been totally shown up by our capacity for organising for ourselves, left looking redundant and quite simply, rubbish. So now we see councillors, wannabe politicians and others used to being in charge scrambling to do their best to delay, divert, co-opt and control the incredible efforts of ordinary people, desperate to be in charge of it all again. We see them predictably and arrogantly seeking to manouevre themselves into leading roles and leading genuine grassroots activity down the tired old institutional paths that have so consistently failed us. Let’s make sure we keep our mutual aid networks horizontally organised on principles of free exchange and solidarity without the need for leaders. It’s understandable why they see this as such a threat to their existing order. Who knows where it could all lead to…
Get involved if you can and get support if you need:
Here’s links to reports and monitoring of how the police are predictably using their new powers with aggressive enthusiasm. No surprise that they have been targetting the most vulnerable and marginalised first. In times like these it’s crucial to follow and support these counter information blogs and news sites. There’s no need for conspiracy theories. It is very obvious, and there are so many historical precedents of how the state and capitalism exploit crises for their own benefit and to extend and strengthen their power and control. Find and make your own critical analysis and sources of information outside of the government and corporate media spin currently cheerleading for the clampdown.
Make no mistake, the lockdown is a massive power grab by an authoritarian government straight out of any number of dystopian future fictions. Except it’s happening now, it’s for real and they will not give up their new powers easily. The Corona virus Bill 2020 is a huge attack on our ability to gather, organise and resist the escalating totalitarian state we now face. The time to join the resistance is now.
Yes, we will self isolate for now to stop the spread of the virus, but we won’t be divided in our contempt for a government and corporations that from the outset made things so much worse and continue to make us pay for their characteristic greed and callous inaction. As usual, the root of the problem is capital and state and it’s not just the coronavirus that we need to defeat…
We share here some links to articles and statements put out by groups doing solid counter information, anti repression and anti police state work. Read, react, resist!
We want to share some critical articles with anarchist and anti authoritarian perspectives we think need wider reading. Here’s one for starters, from https://gal-dem.com:
” An open letter, on what we must do to mitigate this crisis.
We are a group of migrant solidarity, prison abolitionist and anti-racist organisers. We wanted to write this statement from an abolitionist, anti-racist perspective, highlighting the reality that the causes of the current crisis lie deeper than the outbreak of disease itself: it is rooted in the very way our economy is organised, how our society is gendered and racialised. See below our open letter, which details what we must do in the face of this crisis.
Coronavirus is a political issue. At root, this pandemic is a disease of global capitalism, both in its genesis and its transmission. Without the drive towards overproduction, the particular conditions for the increased occurrence of infectious disease would not exist; without global commodity chains and regular labour migration, the spread of disease would not be so rapid; without the ruling classes’ vested interests in maintaining capital flow, people would not be forced to continue to work, further exposing themselves to the virus.
As abolitionist organisers, our resistance to the effects of this virus are rooted in a vision of a world without borders, prisons, or the police – structures that exclude and exploit the most marginalised. The world we need now is one that we have always needed: a world where everyone can access healthcare, where everyone has a safe place to live, where no one is locked in a cage, where there is no imperative to work – a world that is accessible to disabled people. What this pandemic puts in sharp relief is the fact that the same conditions that already place certain communities at greater proximity to death are detrimental to the health of all.
In the UK, Boris Johnson’s flip-flopping from “take it on the chin” to “develop herd immunity”, all the way to last week’s pitiful mitigation strategy – that scientists calculated would’ve left 260,000 dead – has betrayed our government’s casual disregard for the lives of those most at risk of death from the virus. Belated and half-hearted calls for social distancing have completely failed to address the inability of many to safely and effectively practise social distancing and self-isolation. Meanwhile, we have witnessed familiar patterns of fear leading to scapegoating and racist violence in the upsurge of attacks against people racialised as East Asians and other migrants. What is clear is that for our government, the lives of the elderly, immuno-compromised people, undocumented migrants, asylum seekers, people of colour, disabled people, people experiencing homelessness, incarcerated people and poor people do not matter.
“Our resistance to the effects of this virus are rooted in a vision of a world without borders, prisons, or the police”
In light of government inaction, many are calling for exceptional measures, framing this moment as one of “crisis” requiring urgent action and attention. It is true that we need urgent action, but we also must recognise that the very idea of ‘exception’ obscures the reality that the people that our government is effectively willing to let die have always lived in precarious conditions, subject to the vicissitudes of an economic system designed to place profit and power above people’s lives. Not only does the logic of “crisis” exceptionalise, it creates an opportunity for the state to consolidate power – increase surveillance, restrict freedom of movement – in the name of addressing the “crisis”. Indeed, it was recently announced that police and immigration officials will be granted emergency powers to detain people suspected of having Covid-19. If we have learnt anything from the ongoing racist surveillance and criminalisation of Muslims and other racialised communities under the “War on Terror”, we know that we must be vigilant against the intensification of police and border violence in the name of a racialised “War on Disease”.
When we call for the state to act to prevent death as a matter of urgency, then, we do so with the knowledge that the underlying crisis is ongoing, and with the hope that any actions taken now will reverberate beyond this seemingly “exceptional” moment. And when we emphasise the urgency of “quarantines” and physical distancing, we do so as a method of collective care that reduces the very real risk to the most vulnerable, whilst resisting a parallel expansion of state coercion and surveillance.
With this in mind, we propose the following non-exhaustive urgent demands to ensure that all can safely practise recommended social distancing to contain the virus, and to ensure that all can safely self-isolate and access healthcare:
1. End the hostile environment
As an infectious disease, Covid-19 is exempt from the hostile
environment healthcare charges, and the government has claimed that the
NHS will not share data with the Home Office regarding cases of
coronavirus patients. However, we are concerned that migrants will still
have legitimate fear about accessing healthcare while detention and
deportation orders, and data-sharing between the NHS and the Home Office
2. No new police powers
For Covid-19, we believe increased police and immigration officer powers will only be used to target those already targeted by law and immigration enforcement, including black people, Muslims, and people of colour, undocumented migrants, homeless people and sex workers. The government should invest in providing fast and general testing for Covid-19, rather than investing in the expansion of the carceral regime.
3. Access to welfare for all
Migrants with no recourse to public funds, or who are otherwise unable to access welfare and housing assistance, are at risk of homelessness and destitution. Many migrants who are already in precarious working and living conditions will need to be able to access welfare and housing support to be able to practise social distancing and self-isolate if necessary.
4. End in-person immigration reporting
Migrants who arrive in the UK without permission to remain are usually required to regularly attend appointments at immigration reporting centres. There are 14 centres in the UK and many migrants are forced to travel long distances to make their appointments, which is particularly difficult especially if they do not have recourse to public funds. This process is designed to make life difficult and deter those seeking asylum from continuing with their claim.
5. Safe housing for all
We have always needed safe housing for all and it is all the more necessary now, at a time when social distancing and self-isolating are the only ways to prevent the outbreak from spreading further. Currently, self-isolating and social distancing are not possible for rough sleepers, people living in overcrowded housing and people incarcerated in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in prisons and detention centres. Self-isolation and social distancing in the home is dangerous for those experiencing domestic violence. Hotel rooms, student accommodation, and suitable empty properties with private rooms and bathrooms should be requisitioned to house those who cannot otherwise safely self-isolate, including people experiencing homelessness, travelling communities and survivors of domestic violence.
6. Release people from prisons and detention centres
Keeping people locked in cages is inhumane, especially in a time of such fear and panic. Prisons and detention centres are also notorious for overcrowding and lack of hygiene. There is, as migrant rights groups have pointed out, “a very real risk of an uncontrolled outbreak of Covid-19 in immigration detention”. The UK must follow the example of Iran, which has released 85,000 prisoners to stem the spread of disease. Incarcerated and detained people must be released, and placed in safe housing and accommodation, with the necessary support and access to healthcare.
7. Periods of Negotiated Stopping for travelling communities
Enforced movement of encampments is likely to create an additional risk of unmanaged spread of the virus. Negotiated Stopping involves Local Authority officers making an agreement with travelling communities on unauthorised encampments, allowing travelling communities to either stay on the land they are camped on or move to a bit of land more suitable for all parties.
8. Suspend rent, evictions, and utilities payments
As the coronavirus outbreak continues, more and more people will be put out of work, making it impossible to meet rent and utilities payments. The government has announced “mortgage holidays” for landlords and homeowners; however, it has not, as in other cities, committed to stopping evictions. Without a roof over their heads, people will not be able to stay safe and healthy, nor to self-isolate if they have symptoms or practice social distancing to prevent the spread of disease.
9. Provide free essentials such as cleaning products and soap to all
Panic buying of products such as hand sanitiser and toilet paper has led to shortages across the UK. Those who cannot afford the steep rise in costs, or who do not have the time or money to scour multiple supermarkets for daily essential products, are suffering the brunt of this hoarding. People must be provided with free cleaning products and soap to protect themselves and their communities. Food banks and frontline service providers must be supported as they continue to support those in our communities.
10. Full pay for sick leave and a universal basic income for all
Social distancing and self-isolation are a practical impossibility for many workers. As it stands, it would leave many workers with reduced or no income, with precarious workers suffering the brunt of this loss of income. The government’s current proposal for statutory sick pay of £94.25 for one week’s sick leave or self-isolation is insufficient for living and rent costs. We therefore echo demands from unions to ensure full pay at living wage plus costs for sick leave or self-isolation. We are concerned, however, about provisions for those self-employed people and those on zero hours contracts. Sex workers are already suffering a loss of clients, forcing many into situations of greater precarity; migrant domestic workers, particularly those who live-in, are vulnerable to exploitative working conditions. We therefore believe that guaranteeing a universal basic income that is sufficient for food and home security would best enable workers to practice social distancing and self-isolation.
11. Safe working conditions
Medical workers, care workers, cleaners and delivery workers at the frontline of dealing with the outbreak will be forced to continue labouring in increasingly dangerous conditions – often with insufficient protection from their employers and the government. Those precariously employed in these sectors are disproportionately migrants, particularly black people, people of colour, and Eastern Europeans.
12. Make private clinics public
The NHS will soon be at breaking point, particularly in regards to being able to provide critical care or ICU beds. Healthcare workers are already being stretched beyond capacity. The root of this is austerity, which has seen major cutbacks to investments in the public healthcare sector and increasing privatisation of services under successive Conservative governments. How much you can pay should have no bearing on whether you can access essential healthcare.
We have already been fighting violent systems, and not just now that they are having a knock on effect on the health of the ruling classes. The health of the ruling classes has always been premised on the exploitation of workers and the exclusion of marginalised people.
We are aware that the state is ultimately concerned with crisis management and reconsolidating its power. However, we believe organisers can and should pressure the state to prevent death today, whilst staying critical and building autonomy. We recognise that marginalised communities have always, and will continue, to engage in practices of mutual aid and community care to create safety outside of those structures that they have never been able to rely on. We need each other now and always.
Community Action Against Prison Expansion (CAPE)
Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM)
Migrants in Culture
North East London Migrant Action (NELMA)
Prisoner Solidarity Network (formerly IWOC)
SOAS Detainee Support
South Asia Solidarity Group
Unis Resist Border Controls (URBC)
Wet’suwet’en Solidarity UK
This is a callout for support for our social centre. The cafe is our primary source of income for the community co-operative and now it is closed we will struggle to pay the bills.
Do you value autonomous spaces providing genuinely affordable, not for profit healthy food, skillsharing, meeting and events space and so much more?
Do you support non hierarchical organising and grassroots projects, working hard for a better world?
Do you believe in the need for inclusive, safer spaces?
Please support BASE social centre through difficult times. Our social centre has been so useful for so many people, groups and campaigns over the years and has contributed so much to radical politics in Bristol. Let’s help BASE continue this work. Please donate what you can either via the crowdfunder linked below or direct to BASE’s bank. Our bills are around £1000 for 3 months. Your support and solidarity is much appreciated. Please share this crowdfunder around your friends, family, comrades and contacts. Take good care and stay solid together.
Bank details are:
kebele community co-op
sort code 089299
acc. number 65387412
BASE community co-operative has taken the decision to close Sunday cafes from now to help prevent the spread of the covid-19 virus. This will be reviewed every 2 weeks.
BASE kitchen is now closed. Anyone wanting to use the kitchen can request that and it will be discussed on a case by case basis.
Group meetings can go ahead in certain circumstances. Small groups of less than 10 can still meet as long as there is only 1 group in the building at a time and our stringent hygiene procedures are followed. (We can email the procedures on request, and they are on display in BASE). As with kitchen use, anyone wanting to use BASE for a larger event can request that on a case by case basis, and would need to explain why it would be worth the risks and how those risks would be managed.
The policy on groups using the space will be reviewed every 2 weeks or sooner if things change dramatically.
No one should attend BASE if they have any unexplained covid-19 symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty breathing).
While we have not taken the decision lightly and are sad to close temporarily an important and much valued space for accessing cheap food, socialising and organising, in view of the pandemic it is clearly the most responsible course of action.
In the face of such tough times, we are encouraged and heartened by the impressive and rapid upsurge of mutual aid networks in Bristol and beyond. Many people involved with our social centre are actively involved in these self organised networks putting principles of community cooperation and solidarity into practice.
Like so many, we recognise that the government is not going to save us and has yet again shown nothing but callous disregard for our communities, our safety and our lives.
There’s a lot we can do to organise together and help each other out. Get involved with and if needed get support from your local mutual aid group. Below is the Bristol wide facebook group and you can access local postcode and street groups from there and from the Alternative Bristol article link.
Stay safe and look after each other.
BRISTOL WSA present BANNER MAKING SESSION towards International Women’s Day Strike! Anyone welcome! Children friendly!
** Banner Making Material will be provided, however feel free to bring your own ideas, paints, markers and boards !! **
Bring your banners on Sunday the 8th, while we’re marching together through the centre of Bristol towards a more equal and inclusive world!
7pm Tuesday 10th March. A talk and workshop designed to help keep you safe and effective whilst protesting, and full of advice that also transfers well to non-protest interactions with the police.
What can the police order you to do?
What are your rights when stopped and searched?
When are your risking arrest – and what happens if you are arrested?
Built on legal advice from activist groups and legal firms, along with decades of shared real experience interacting with the police. This should be of use to everyone. From protest organisers, to people looking to attend their first demonstration.
Useful if you are planning on attending events such as our climate action https://www.facebook.com/events/232166077919459/ or this upcoming anti-arms trade action https://www.facebook.com/events/2980689138642911/
Hosted by Green Anticapitalist Front.
Feminists of all genders come and strike with us on International Women’s Day in Bristol!!!
On International Women’s Day millions of women across the world will go on strike. We will strike from the work we do – regardless of whether we get paid or not. We will strike from the violence we suffer as women.
Everyday, we cook, shop, clean, chaperone, comfort othes. Without our work there would be no society, and the profits will stop flowing.
To keep profits flowing we are forced into working more and more, so that we have less time and more things to buy- from cars to childcare to frozen meals- all to reinforce the power of the few that continue to destroy the planet.
Women have already suffered the burden of a decade of austerity and with Brexit it will be even harder. The cost of childcare in Britain is so high that many of us are trapped in low-paid, undervalued and unrewarding work.
When we strike we defy those who continue not to believe us when we are harassed, attacked and raped every day all over the world: at work, school, home or in the streets. Last year, more than 100 women were killed in England and Wales. But we are still not listened to.
The feminist movement is what keeps us moving forward. The 8th of March is our day. It is an intersectional and revolutionary day, with a clear political message. On 8th of March, all the women of the world are invited to join the FEMINIST STRIKE.
Our identities are different. We are trans, lesbians, migrants, sex workers. The list is endless. But we are all together fighting for the same reasons.
Come and join millions of women and non-binary people across the world in fighting for a feminist future. When we stop, the world stops with us! Expect music, free food, punk aerobics, English performance of the Chilean ‘A rapist in your path, speeches, kids’ football and other children activities, feminist education and demo where we will be marching together.
The demo will be accessible for those with any physical impairment and designated reduced mobility spaces will be available for the entire duration of the event. As we will meet in central Bristol, a list of nearby accessible toilets will be made available before the event. We will make sure people in wheelchairs, with reduced mobility and any other kind of disability will be able to be in the front, leading and enjoying the demo.
Some of the organisers will undergo a Visual Impairment Awareness Training. If you have received training and would like to assist during the event, please get in touch.
We are looking for a qualified BSL interpreter to assist us during the entire duration of the event. Please get in touch if you, or anyone you know, can help with this!