Their Control is Maintained with Constant Forgetting
The ruling order is propped up by more than simple laws. Police checkpoints, border guards, carceral facilities, and surveillance devices notwithstanding, the dominant form of control in our world is the state of mandatory forgetting in which we are all forced to live. Every single day, a new scandal or campaign mobilizes the attention and concern of millions of people, who, without even knowing it, are plucked from historical existence as if by a bird of prey, snatched from the contemplative life into the eagle's beak of absolute and uninterrupted amnesia.
How could it be otherwise? In a country like the US, where millions of people are locked in cages, and millions more adjust themselves to probation, parole, pre-trial diversion, work release, and bond conditions, it is precisely the state of mass confusion that forms the building blocks of the courthouses. If it were any other way, revolts and rebellions such as the 2020 George Floyd protests would be commonplace. Because of the sheer number of cases, the constant accumulation of files, arraignments, fines, subpoenas, appeals, and warrants, the entire process plays itself out in slow motion. Who can honestly say they have had a speedy trial in the United States of America? It is typical for cases, trivial or serious alike, to drag on for years. Bond conditions form a kind of pre-emptive disciplinary strategy of the state, subjecting millions to a state of anxiety and unease as they await their court date which never seems to come. And in the meantime, we forget.
We forget that there are still people locked up from the 2020 rebellion. People without bail, without the chance of pre-trial release. We forget that there are still people on house arrest, almost half a dozen of them in Atlanta alone, who have not been convicted of a crime but who have not been able to leave their homes for two years. We forget that there are hundreds of people who anxiously look in their rear-view mirrors, who take the shortest route home, who try to lay low, who censor themselves, who live a little less. All of this because they violated the curfews, because they marched in the streets, because they cheered and clapped at bold acts of resistance, because they confronted the killers directly, staring down the men who hid behind the tear gas, helmets, shields, and clubs.
And because of this forgetting, because of this mandatory state of anxious confusion, there are a number of compromises. The prosecutors, who are utterly incapable of proving half of the things the police have invented, depend on this sense of doom and uncertainty. This is how they compel us to plea guilty, to negotiate deals, to compromise ourselves. We do not blame those who go this route, we are simply trying to understand the pattern. Furthermore, because the nature of their task is so despicable, and their sense of dignity and self-respect is so atrophied, the prosecutors, district attorneys, federal agents, and local police use this period of uncertainty to suggest certain pseudo-solutions. Because they are the kind of people who lack honor in many ways, they work to induce this irresponsible and self-serving perspective onto the targets of their repression in the form of "cooperating plea deals", commonly known as snitching. Snitching, or informing on ones co-defendants, in order to possibly receive a shorter sentence or lighter punishment, is a sure way to harm the movements one claims to support, and also has long term social and psychological impacts on those who do it.
WE DON'T FORGET
The Atlanta Anti-Repression Committee hasn't forgotten anything. Along with many others, formal or informal crews, groups, organizations, families, and individuals, we continue to track developments, to take notes, to share experiences, and to study the strategies of control levied against anti-racist and subversive movements in the metro-Atlanta area. It is our intention to provide political context and explanations for the courageous and justified acts of resistance following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police in 2020, as well as in related struggles and movements. Because those incredible days mark, for us and we know for many others, a substantial development in modern American history, we are certain that other struggles will continue to track their development directly back to that summer. We know that existing cases and trials will take time to develop and that, because of the significant and heroic nature of some of the actions that have taken place, investigations could go on for the better part of the next decade. Whatever happens, we are ready, and we hope you will continue to be ready with us. Ready to support the accused. Ready to justify resistance. Ready to attend court dates, to write letters to those locked up, to organize and attend fundraisers and information sessions, to coordinate and attend actions and protests if necessary. At minimum, we want you all to be ready with us to remember the world we are fighting for, to remember the dignity of the commitments we all made -- nearly 25,000,000 of us -- and to defend those commitments from slander, from repression, and from amnesia. The system of racial domination and exploitation will be toppled in our lifetime.
DOOR KNOCKS CONTINUE
Investigations into direct-action movements can take winding and strange paths. Sometimes they seem to move ahead quickly, and other times they stop for long periods. When movements make recourse to effective and direct methods, sometimes it can take a long time before prosecutors and judges are able to move forward with investigations, because such intelligent movements often practice extensive operational security -- such as utilizing anonymizing attire and technology -- and because bragging, gossiping, and over-sharing are taboo in such movements. Regardless, we know that operations are underway against the anti-racist struggles in Atlanta, including those that have taken place before and after the 2020 revolt.
One way those operations develop is through intimidation and harassment.
For example, in January of 2021 two federal agents in a black SUV visited the workplace of someone believed to be an anti-racist activist in northwest Atlanta. The two agents asked the co-workers of their target what car they drove, what their phone number was, and other identifying questions of this nature. These agents followed their target to a gas station and approached, asking about possible demonstrations in Washington DC [following the January 6th "Stop the Steal" riot at the US Capitol]. The agents made subtle references to Twitter-related gossip, as well as to two heroic demonstrations in 2020. One of the protests they referenced was a July 4th demonstration at the Georgia State Patrol headquarters in Grant Park, in which hundreds of protesters broke windows of the facility following the killing of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta Police officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan. The other protest the federal agents referenced was a July 27, 2020 march at the joint-headquarters of Department of Homeland Security/Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), wherein protesters broke windows at the facility and set a small fire in the lobby. To date, almost no consequences have followed from the informally organized protests, but the nature of the actions taken suggest that investigations may continue for years. In that case, it is necessary to remain disciplined.
SECURITY CULTURE, REMEMBERING PROPER ETIQUETTE
The form of this discipline is relatively simple. Beyond the day of action, there are some safety practices commonly know as "security culture" that allow direct action movements to keep themselves safe:
Do not brag. Do not spread rumors. Do not ask questions about criminal acts except on a "need-to-know" basis i.e., if you are involved in planning and need to know something in order for it to occur to begin with. When approached by law enforcement, do not talk. Reply "I am going to remain silent. I want to speak with a lawyer. Am I free to go?" Otherwise, remain silent to police. Do discuss and deliberate about acts of resistance with those around you, even if they are illegal. But do not openly suggest that you have or would like to do such actions, except in discreet conversations with people you trust, preferably one at a time, with no cell phones or electronic devices present, and not inside of a home or other building.
If you are questioned by law enforcement, aside from saying nothing to them, quickly write down 1) specifically who approached you (what agency, how many officers, names, appearances/attire, etc), 2) where and when you were approached, 3) what exactly you were asked, and what, if anything, you said back to them. The police are already aware of all of this information, so by sharing it with groups like ours, or with your friends and community members, you are not exposing yourself to risks or harm. In fact, you are helping to minimize risks for those around you.
In the coming days, we will publish a small series of updates. In these updates, which we hope the reader will circulate and discuss, we will collect and comment on recent trials, investigations, and processes directed at anti-racist protesters in Atlanta. We will also disclose information about a known informant, a participant in the 2020 protests who betrayed himself, the movement, and his comrades.
We can continue to fight racism and police brutality by doing and saying nothing.
Enjoy the silence.
- Atlanta Anti Repression Committee (AARC)
If the FBI or any law enforcement agent contacts you at your home, work, or elsewhere, be prepared. Do not answer any questions. Say, "I am going to remain silent. I want to speak to a lawyer. I do not consent to a search." Follow the guidance outlined in “When the Police Knock on Your Door,” then alert your community so that others are aware.
If you live in the Atlanta metro area, have been contacted by a law enforcement agency and would like support, get in touch with the Atlanta Anti-Repression Committee via email: atlantaARC [at] protonmail.com.
We are not lawyers - if you need legal representation or financial assistance, contact Atlanta Solidarity Fund (atlsolidarity.org).
If you need help navigating the jail system, contact Atlanta Jail Support (atljailsupport.org).
For future updates about ongoing anti-repression efforts, subscribe to emails: