Anarchists Failed Philando Castile and They Have Failed Black Americans
When I put two rituals in my book to hex the police some people said I had gone too far. I had to talk with a team of editors about possible re-writes, had to discuss plans about what we’d do when the FBI eventually got a hold of it. I worried then. Now, with the dash cam footage released in the recent murder of Philando Castile I wish I would have wrote 40 more. An armed gang who exists only to protect the wealthy and kill people of color is running rampant and Anarchists are woefully unable to do anything about it. This needs to change immediately.
I’m not talking about more protests. I’m not talking about writing your congressman or maybe heading down to the next city council meeting to have a strong word with your mayor. I’m not talking about getting ready for another Black Bloc downtown.
None of that has stopped the killings of Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, and Amadou Diallo. Evangelical Christians can literally create healthcare systems outside of State control and the best Anarchists can come up with is cardboard signs and hash tags.
If your politics can only function in “radical spaces” they are worthless. If they can’t keep people alive they are garbage.
The other night I came home to find my wife quivering in fear and shaking with rage after watching the dashcam footage of an innocent man killed in front of his family. It was Philando’s video. It is a video so shocking, so unbelievably clear in guilt, that even conservative magazines had to admit it was all but damning.
“Yanez asked for Castile’s license. Castile told him that he had a gun, and the officer – rather than asking for his carry permit, or asking where the gun was, or asking to see Castile’s hands – just says, ‘Don’t reach for it then.’ At that point, Castile is operating under two commands. Get his license, and don’t reach for his gun. As Castile reaches for his license (following the officer’s orders), and he assures him that he’s not reaching for the gun (also following the officer’s orders).
He died anyway.”
In America you can execute a black man in front of his child for a broken taillight and reasonably expect a jury to let you off the hook. What are “radicals” concerned about?
My wife is mixed. In between people talking about how much they love her hair there is a morose and unspeakable acknowledgement that she might be considered dark enough to die. I worry for her when I’m not around. If she runs into a cop will her curls mark her for death? Her nose? Will he do a mental checklist, perhaps match her skin tone to a chart that ranges from “mental illness” to “dangerous?” She spoke last night of friends she knew, family members, all as if they had just been diagnosed with cancer.
You hope they make it but you know somewhere that it’s only a matter of time until somebody bites the bullet.
The laptop she owned sat on the other side of the room, practically thrown after arguing with person after person who told her how “cops have a hard job” and as such are right to “fear for their lives.”
What do they have to fear? Certainly nothing from Anarchists. Hell, they’ve got everything right where they want it.
She has to hide her radical idea that black people shouldn’t be executed on a whim from co-workers and customers, lest she offend them; her sheer existence is an inflammatory opinion. We had to drive by discolored American flags yesterday with disgusting blue lines running right through the middle, a silent but all too clear acknowledgement that for some people the police could do no wrong. That some people deserved to die. She has to see that everyday. She has to stare into the faces of people who will not give a single fuck if seven hollow-point rounds rip through her chest and steal that wonderful soul away from this Earth.
Those same flags would fly, those same people would ask what drugs were in her system, those same people would cheer and buy cakes for cops if anyone dared so much as said a bad word about them. Entire fraternal orders have been designed for the protection of cops and for providing legal aid when they end up killing someone.
And what might my “comrades” do? What can Anarchists provide if such a dark fate befell her?
Nothing beyond a few internet arguments.
The police, the government, they know this. That’s why they don’t care.
You think these pigs are afraid of going to court, a court system run by people they know and whose birthday parties they’ve regularly attended? You think a prosecutor is going to risk her career and every potential ally she needs in a police station to fight for some no-name “thug” who was probably guilty anyway?
They know people are going to get mad, march up and down, maybe spit in a few coffees. A trashcan or two might get knocked over. Anarchists have been doing that shit for years. Life goes on, and the cops know they can walk anywhere they want, do whatever they want, and if push comes to shove every piece of shit in a uniform is going to line up to defend them. If they get fucked with people are going to get hurt. Period.
That’s how gangs work. That’s how Anarchism used to work, back when “an injury to one” really did get treated as an injury to all. 100 years ago illegalists in Spain were leaving a trail of assassinated bosses, landowners, priests, and other tyrants in their wake.
Today? “Class War” is merely a slogan, a cool patch for your print shop to show how radical you are while extolling the benefits of veganism; white supremacy is the suburban mom in our checkout line that pisses us off and conveniently never the men in uniform with fingers on a trigger. Anarchists can feed the homeless, Anarchists can make gigantic puppets for the next protest, and by-golly-gee-willerkers Anarchists can promise to bring you the safest, most non-threatening and inclusive panel of authors who only you and a few friends have heard of aaaaaaall day.
But stop the police from lynching black people? Like, armed patrols or sabotage?
Who the fuck you think you’re dealing with pal?
These new Anarchists love to talk about privilege, don’t they? You want to know what privilege is? Privilege is having the audacity to call yourself a radical and “freedom-fighter” while a four-year old girl struggles to understand how a night out for ice cream took her father away forever. Privilege is getting to revel in just how goddamned liberated you and your general assembly are while Philando’s daughter tries to pick up the pieces of her life.
Anarchists talk about intersectionality, the criss-crossing of multiple oppressions. Charleena Lyles, a pregnant black woman with mental illness, was just recently killed by Seattle cops in front of her kids. Where are all those nice people in the pussy hats for her? Anybody going to take up the banner of intersectionality and actually do something to ensure this doesn’t happen again? Make Seattle PD lose some sleep? Hell, even help take care of her kids?
I won’t even bother asking for “justice.” The laughs might get stuck in my throat and choke me to death.
No, most Anarchists are too busy “calling out” the admin of some facebook group to worry about mutual aid. To suggest anything else might call the whole damn thing into question. Wouldn’t want to have that long hard look in the mirror would we, Comrade? That nagging feeling that you’ve wasted decades of your life playing pretend? No, can’t do that. Can’t walk down that dark and dusty road again.
Here’s a meme. Share it. Feel better? Good. Buy a t-shirt. Wear it on Sundays. Casually ignore the sound of your neighbor beating his wife. Shop at Whole Foods.
I’ve been watching, couldn’t help myself. Watching, waiting… holding my breath. Didn’t want to cast judgement lest I be judged. I’ve scoured the journals and looked into faces, pulled cards on multiple leading figures and even interrogated a few deities as to the state of our eventual liberation.
It ain’t lookin’ good, bud. On a scale of one being the total liberation of all people and ten being a self-inflicted gunshot wound that ends up throwing the planet into an abyss of nuclear fire, the state of American radicalism is about…
We tried. Isn’t that enough? Thought for sure university students and non-violence were going to be the next big thing in human potential. Thought hey, maybe this time we get it right. It was a nice run; had to close out some day. Nobody wins ’em all.
Are you black? Here’s a fun game: ask any of these “radicals” what they plan to do when you eventually get shot. Put them in that conversation, the same conversation you have been forced to have with family members. Watch the empty expressions in their eyes. Did you see that? That little flick towards the left? That’s pure fear and unadulterated impotence. Ask them instead about the definition of racism. See how excited they get? They know this answer.
Their solidarity begins and ends right at the prison bars, make no mistake about that.
It’s okay to be scared, might be better if they admitted it. They’re waiting, waiting for some “movement” to come in and make everything better, some group or party they can join up with after the danger is gone and victory is on the horizon. They’re going to keep waiting, like stillborn Alligator eggs, until they rot in a retirement home.
Is that your future?
The death of Philando Castile and the relative ease at which his murderer walks free should be a resounding testament to the absolute bankruptcy of Anarchism as it exists today, its unequivocal failure to provide anything besides charity work and amateur therapy, yet here we are worrying about how upset people might get if we dare to question their tactics; too busy debating minutiae in theoretical journals to stop what will surely be the next corpse from hitting the pavement.
Right now there is no Anarchist “movement.” There are real people with flesh and blood doing things and other people wishing they were doing anything.
What do you fall under?
Let’s help foster cultures of abject hostility towards the police and any who traffic with them. Buy a gun or buy one for somebody else. Start a cop-watch, form networks where you and yours can rely on each other in times of trouble and provide emergency services. Don’t like to fight? Get aid and supplies to those that are. Time to find the others, or start something all your own. Take each death personally for the sake of the gods and as a casualty on our side; seek not just revenge but a reckoning. Get into black communities and ask them how you can help.
One more thing: whenever a cop kills someone make sure to get the officer’s name. Print a picture out of their face if you can get it, and write on it. Take that picture and put it in a little box filled with Black Pepper, Red Pepper, and anything you can find rotting away. Decaying flesh is ideal. Bring that box down to the graveyard(leaving a quarter at the entrance as payment) and bury it in some lonely plot. Speak words over it as if the officer was being laid to rest, making sure to mention all the horrible diseases and afflictions he suffered along his path to the grave. Walk away. Cleanse yourself with a Hyssop bath and know unseen hands are working.
Our idle hands should join them.
This isn’t a game, and it never was for millions of Black Americans. Start acting like it. The world isn’t going to be changed by any new theories or vigorous debate, it’s going to be changed by brazen criminals not content to merely suffer; strong souls willing to take a risk for a better life and seize all they require. The clock is ticking and the next death is on the horizon. Will we organize for a great “society” or for survival?
I know where I stand. How about you?
Dr. Bones is a conjurer, card-reader and egoist-communist who believes “true individuality can only flourish when the means of existence are shared by all.” A Florida native and Hoodoo practitioner, he summons pure vitriol, straight narrative, and sorcerous wisdom into a potent blend of poltergasmic politics and gonzo journalism. He lives with his loving wife, a herd of cats, and a house full of spirits.
If you liked this essay, you’ll love Dr. Bones’ new book: Curse Your Boss, Hex The State, Take Back The World. It’s on pre-sale now!