After almost two months of living in in Asheville, I’ve managed to participate in relatively few local actions, meetings or functions, at least when it comes to the social end of the movement. I’ve done lots of adventure travel, and some exploration of culture, but I hadn’t yet dug into the meat of it; where are the people who are grinding to make things better for average folk. When I saw the ad for the Radfair, I realized that there were many groups already busy promoting liberty, and that I could be doing more to get in communication and participate. I know it takes time to develop relationships, but it has to start somewhere, and wherever the local activists, anarchists, and agorists are, I should be paying attention.
So when I learned of a gathering of anarchist groups in town on the very day that I was espying, I postponed a meeting with Jonah and some potential Fortunity folks to get out there. It worked out well because Jonah and the couple he was showing around also ended up going to the meeting, and I ended up seeing them there.
I also saw Tay, who also lived at Fortunity. Tay has a really nice tiny house, which is parked on the other side of the creek from us. We didn’t talk for long, but it was good to see that we have aligned interests and drive, at least when it comes to making changes in an oppressive world.
I made the rounds of all the tables set up, getting a sense of what groups are active in the area. The Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross chapter has several programs to help inmates of the injustice system, including letter writing nights, book donations, and raising funds for people whose lives have been impacted by the prison system. In their own words, they are:
“committed to offering support to prison rebels, anarchist prisoners, and other political prisoners and prisoners of war in the US. We believe in supporting those who fight for collective liberation against all forms of institutional oppression.”
Another table was set up to spread awareness about and seek support for a specific group of activists who have been targeted by the federal government, known as the J20 Defendants.
“On January 20, 230 people were mass arrested during a demonstration against Donald Trump’s Inauguration. In initially charged with felony rioting, an additional indictment was issued in April charging the remaining defendants with 8 felonies each including, rioting, conspiracy, and destruction of property. The defendants face the possibility of 75 years in prison. These charges are a dramatic escalation to the repression of resistance in the United States. It’s important that we support those who take risks to challenge the oppressive systems that seek to run our lives.”
I spoke at length with a young woman at the table, who preferred to remain anonymous. She had actually been at the rally, and was now facing eight felony charges herself. Interestingly, she was more focused on supporting Dane Powell, who has already been incarcerated for the same so-called crimes. Having a family and not feeling he could risk longer incarceration, Dane took a plea bargain and is serving four months in prison, which began on July 7th. They were handing out fliers to seek support for Dane, both monetarily and in spirit, via letter writing.
Anyone can help with this work, regardless of where you live, so if you think it’s wrong for people to be incarcerated just for showing up at a protest (none of the defendants engaged in any destruction of property according to the woman who was there; the charges are completely trumped up, no pun intended…) then please, visit www.defendj20resistance.org. Or, if you’d like to send a letter of support to Dane, write to the address on the flier below.
I also visited the booth of a group called the Redneck Revolt, who exist to fight different forms of repression. In their own words:
“We stand against racism. We believe in true liberty for all people. We believe communities should be able to protect themselves. We are working class and poor people. We are an above-ground legal formation. We stand against the economic and political elites. We stand against economic expansion. We stand against the wars of the rich. We believe in the right of physical resistance against oppression. We believe no politician can represent us.”
An excellent creed, by my reckoning, and I was pleased to learn that such a group is active in the community, offering courses in emergency medical response, firearm safety, and raising funds to help those in need, such as a program where they donated hoodies to homeless people at the onset of winter.
I also spoke with some folks at the SMED table. The Smokey Mountain Eco Defense group aims to protect the environment from degradation at the hands of oligarchs who would poison water and destroy land for a profit. They gave me a flier encouraging resistance to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, which have been proposed to transport fracked gas through Pennsylvania and West Virginia. These pipelines would make possible further expansion of the fracking industry, the results of which are guaranteed to have a negative impact on the environment. SMED is taking part in the resistance, which included encouraging land owners to refuse access to the pipeline surveyors, “disrupting pipeline builders’ meetings, occupying offices, and helping communities get organized to stand up to the corporations, if and when the bulldozers come.”
All of these causes need more support, both in the Asheville area and all over the country. The Radfair was a small gathering, with six or so tables and maybe fifty people hanging around, though I showed up towards the end, and there were probably more who had been through earlier. Still, imagine if thousands of people were taking to the public spaces to participate in these kinds of groups, organizing actions and working together to fight the criminal cartels who run the fracking industry, the prison industrial complex, and the federal government. It may be hard to imagine the American people mass mobilizing against oppression, but every crowd consists of thousands of individuals who personally made the decision to show up.
I was glad to learn that the Radfair gathering takes place once a month, so next time I’ll get there earlier and have more time to get to know more folks. It is encouraging to see so much good work being done, and even if I can’t attend all of the events that are being promoted at this anarchist fair, I support them in spirit, and I’m doing all I can, through Permagora, to advocate participation in these kinds of causes.