On January 16th, 2010, in Phoenix Arizona, a coalition of indigenous nations & anti-authoritarians, under the moniker of The DOA Bloc (Dine’, O’odham, & Anarchist Bloc), marched in solidarity with participants of a Human Rights March which focused on issues of immigration struggles & the abuses perpetrated by AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Amongst the DOA Bloc, a banner suggesting “Assassinate Arpaio” was wielded. Due to the controversy erupting over this banner in the mainstream media, within both radical & progressive movement circles, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio himself, the Anonymous Arizona Anarchist Advocates for the Assassination of Arpaio (or 6A) is emphatic to have hungry eyes pointed in our direction enough to further disregard humility in favor of unabashedly asserting our intentions…
The first intention of this release is to distinguish what should be an exercise in simple, basic logic: the “Assassinate Arpaio” banner does not speak for, or sum up the anarchist contingent’s motivations or represent everyone involved. As with all instance of slogan, political mantra, or favorite food discrepancies for that matter, much is lost in assuming that a banner represents anyone other than those willing to say so. Some of those present at the march felt no affinity towards the banner, some felt plenty, and some felt they could not afford to publicly advocate for the banner- even if they did support it. Put quite simply, if you want to know which anarchists approved of the banner and which didn’t, you’d have to ask each individual. Most people- and 6A especially- do not feel that any one banner or slogan can accurately portray it’s multiple meanings in one simple representation. This is no exception. That said…
ASSASSINATE ARPAIO? Are you serious?
6A means it; but it’s not that simple. Foremost, we don’t see assassination as “the” answer, or as any sort of tenable solution to general social ailments. We ultimately seek a world with no sheriffs. With such a lofty goal, we put all options on the table. Assassinating anyone in this system, at best, renders temporary wounds to positions of power that are easily re-established. The heads of the political hydra regrow unless the whole beast is slain. Our enemy’s heartless indifference towards humanity as their first line of offensive action renders the hydra heads less important than the body. But, while the heads (of state) are expendable, they are not irrelevant- and we should consider this when we’re told to exercise empathy in our actions and words. Severing the heads of the system serves to buy time and provide distraction for discovering weaknesses of the body. Assassination imperatives draw special attention to the subject of the call, but 6A has no intention of spotlighting Arpaio as more of a weight than the system itself. We want a world with no sheriffs, and this simply includes Arpaio, without heralding.
We see signs waved by left that suggest “Deport Arpaio.” Deport him to where? Do we take those signs so seriously? Who in the movement (or outside of the right political wing) really feels affinity towards him as a fellow human being? Can we deport him to a place of origin that was not established by the same tyrannical, racist agendas that led to displacement and genocide of the indigenous of the land we now all occupy? The answer is no, and we are suggesting his deportation from the planet. 6A sees an assassination call as an appropriate and relevant suggestion in relation to, and in coupling with calls for his deportation or incarceration.
“If I had the chance, I’d shoot that fucker myself.” ~ Sal Reza
But… There has to be another way!
Assassination as a tactic is questionable at best, but it’s best to be in the business of asking questions. What’s working? Marches? Reform?
Arpaio is the first to point out that he is an elected official. He is also the first to laugh while pointing you, meandering, in the direction of mainstream political channels to fruitlessly attempt social change. Even if extreme measures like advocating assassination were unethical, they would not necessarily be untactical. How desperate does it need to get before people are behaving desperately enough to even CONSIDER socially unacceptable things like assassination? Will manifestations of social desperation soon resemble assassinations- or can we first recall the times in history when uniformed and armed foot soldiers of the State ran rampant with racist agendas?
It’s insulting to think anything but the degrading conditions of concentration camps should come to mind when organizing campaigns that call for assassination on behalf of anti-authoritarian social movements. Perhaps, to avoid repeating history, advocating assassinations should come first, just in case it has any bearing on State-employed foot soldiers rising to further power. The resonation of the historical rising this brand of state racism is enough to shake 6A to the point of considering the assassination of Arpaio.
Point your fingers of inter-movement critique where you will.
But if you are in the habit of fearing for your life, don’t for a moment take your eyes off of Arpaio or police to look in the direction of a few people wielding a hyperbolic banner.
The real danger obviously lies elsewhere.
To answer the original question; Yes, there have to be other ways. From where ever you’re looking, there’s always another way. This is one thing that led us to consider the public advocation of the Assassination of Arpaio. Feeling immobilized, ineffective, and generally frustrated with the left’s approach, we thought, “There has to be another way!”
“Yeah… what… Uhuh… Yeah… C’mon.” ~Zach de la Rocha
Hey! You made us look bad!
Whether or not you suspend skepticism to consider advocating the assassination of Arpaio, doesn’t it make the Movement look bad to publicly associate with The Advocates?
If so, it’s a good thing we make it a point to only speak for ourselves, and hold others equally responsible for speaking only on behalf of themselves. Despite what is being expressed, if people in movements were more inclined to act as agents for themselves and collaborate when in agreement (as opposed to fitting molds maintained by movement leaders and slogans) we may have never been driven purportedly mad enough to consider outlandish behavior like the public advocation of assassination. Maybe such advocation is reactionary, maybe it’s unhealthy… but if you worry about people’s well being: consider whether the banner speaks more strongly of the moral and emotional depravity of those who created and wielded it, or more of the severity of the divisive and polarizing political margins fostered by elected officials like that snake Arpaio.
6A did not necessarily seek support -even though it received plenty- 6A sought understanding. If the banner does speak of the depravity of 6A, it would be foolish to ignore the fact that this visible manifestation of depravity did not go uninfluenced by the monopoly & utilization of violence on behalf of our culture as levied by the State & its representatives.
Make no mistake here: we’re not abdicating responsibility. Quite the opposite: we’re taking it on as fully as possible. The best way to discover and explore the complexities and conundrums of holding any position is to approach it as new territory to be explored.
An Empty Threat?
“I really hope someone does assassinate him. Nothing would please me more than to see the red mist spray out of a bullet hole in his cranium, followed by some underdeveloped pieces of brain tissue, and his cold sack of shit body slump to the ground.” ~ Linda Ronstadt
Let’s be blunt: the Assassinate Arpaio banner was supposed to inspire more debates than actual assassinations. 6A can’t help but skeptically question the faculties of those who neglect to observe the obvious fact that we were wielding a banner marching amongst thousands that day, & not isolated in wait with sniper rifles (although, it just might be that we’re doing that, too). We also did not come equipped with handguns, pepper spray, tazers, body armor, or other tools of war like the other, larger group of violent people in black. So why more debate about utilization of free expression than about how to get the real armed thugs out of our communities?
We intended to – and succeeded at – stealing some of the spotlight from the march, without stealing it FROM THE ISSUES. Our striking imperative highlighted some of the contentious issues of the debate at hand. In a reactive letter to his supporters, Arpaio plead for donations, citing, amongst other more moderate (and decisively less exciting and effective methods of protest) our banner as indication of growing political opposition. Our threat made him sweat. It acted as a weapon of character assassination. Empty or not, our ideas were- at the very least- JUST as loaded as the guns of the police.
The cops we should kill first are the ones in our heads, but, Ideas Are Bulletproof- so this may prove more easily said than done. The hyperbole of the banner might just elevate the debate to the level of one that recognizes the severity of our situation as those joined in social struggle.
We suggested something extreme enough to inspire people to make discoveries about themselves, ourselves, and others. We set the stage for us all to gain some perspective.
So- don’t take our banner entirely literally. We hope it doesn’t come down to assassination- but that doesn’t mean we don’t honestly want Arpaio dead.
6A makes no allusions to having all the answers (like “assassination”). There is no “the answer.” To any of our problems.
Keeping that in mind, 6A implores you to light yourself on fire: Allow our banner to incense you. Get pissed off. Decide for yourself the manner in which you’ll interpret our call.
Act outrageously and courageously, friends.
This is the letter sent out to many individuals in Arizona from Sheriff Joe himself.