What Anarchists Say About NYC’s ‘Anarchist Jurisdiction’ Designation


It was startling news for the approximately 8 million New Yorkers who woke up yesterday, the last day of summer, to find that, according to the federal government, we all lived in an “anarchist jurisdiction”. Throughout the city, the leaves of the trees along the street were beginning to turn, the flowers remained in their orderly beds and the diners of the many impromptu schemes, the slicks flapping in the invigorating autumn breeze, continued unbroken. Yet federal taxpayers’ money would now be withheld, we were told, due to “widespread or sustained violence or destruction” in the city. The Justice Department cited a $1 billion decrease in the NYPD’s budget for fiscal year 2021. Portland and Seattle got the same designation.

In the interest of fully understanding this much maligned political ideology, and where our city fits into its history – not to mention the long standing tactic of governments calling anything they dislike “anarchy” – Curbed turned to a real New York area. anarchists to ask them about the new designation. Anarchism is often confused with uncontrollable violence, but this is an inaccurate representation. As journalist and anarchist Kim Kelly has pointed out in Washington Job“Key anarchist principles include mutual aid (a reciprocal approach to community care in which people share resources), direct action (the use of political protest to achieve a goal), and horizontality (an organizational system non-hierarchical in which decisions are made by consensus).

In typical anarchist fashion, most of the responses we received were channeled through organizations and committees – a feature of anarchist organizing perhaps even more pervasive than the black flag. But if one thing is clear, we are far from the vision without hierarchy that the anarchists have of the city. Organizers of the Anarchist Book Fair Collective – which moved its annual New York event, usually a meet-and-greet for the “anarcho-curious” to Washington Square Park, online this year due to COVID – have were vehement in their response. They pointed out that “jurisdiction” – “the official power to make laws and adjudicate”, as they put it – was a word inherently at odds with anarchist ideology. Moreover, the collective points out, an ubiquitous font makes the designation even more absurd than the oxymoron itself. Just this week, the NYPD – seemingly unaware that New York City had “banned[den] the police to intervene to restore order”, as the Ministry of Justice put it – crushed a small anti-ICE demonstration this week with bloody batons.

“NYC is a heavily policed ​​and policed ​​city, with a huge — and likely unnecessary — police force that takes resources away from the healthy development of communities,” a representative wrote. The utopia of a real anarchist, the representative noted, is a far cry from what the far right would have you believe. “And, in fact, this discourse normally also distorts what anarchist existence is.”

True anarchist existence, according to a response from the New York City Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council, has much to offer. In a real-life anarchist New York, “all New Yorkers will be as involved in building and maintaining our city as they choose, from block associations to councils for local food production or the promotion of racial justice. “wrote the MACC Information & Outreach Project. . “We will embrace transformative justice and collectively determined community agreements on punishing, policing or locking people in cages. The lands of the five boroughs will be collectively cared for and called upon to restore our health and our communities instead of being sold, owned, rented or polluted.

In our NYC heartsa local anarchist network, has spent the last months of the pandemic crisis demonstrating what mutual aid – the practice of helping people without state intervention, a core tenet of their belief system – can be like the five boroughs, working to create a utopia one street corner at a time. A popular project, which has spread throughout the city, is to install free refrigerators for those who need direct help. In Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, Fort Greene and Upper Manhattan, refrigerators stocked by neighbors and for neighbors popped up outsideconstantly renewed by systematic shedding of surplus products or quite simply donations made on a whim.

The consensus of Brigada 71 – “a community of socially and politically conscious football/soccer fans supporting the New York Cosmos” whose slogan is “punk football and football for all” – departs slightly from some of its compatriots the more stuffy. (Although they describe themselves as “cosmopolitan anti-fascists” and not all anti-fascists are anarchists, a recent blog post celebrates the famous anarchist Emma Goldman.) “The designation is fucking rad,” they wrote to Curbed, adding a black flag emoji.


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