Love Note to a Blockade Line

This is not a piece about the blockade that happened in Chicago today. That piece is coming, but it won’t come tonight. This post is plainly and simply a love note to my friends and co-strugglers — the people who always seem to show up for each other, brave the next barrier and devise creative solutions to complex problems. My mind is a dark place sometimes, and you all bring the light. And that matters more than I can say.

Anyone who was out there with us today, or following closely on twitter knows that the police were a little extra agitated with our blockade equipment this afternoon. Police and resistors function along a two-sided learning curve. We have learned from previous efforts that police had found weaknesses in some of our tactics, and exploited those weaknesses to move or extract people more quickly. Thus, creativity had to be brought to bear. Those who build and train and plan will always be crafting and re-imagining the means of their resistance, in order to challenge adversaries who wield great social, political and financial capital. Fortunately, such adversaries have a long history of being undone and outsmarted by those who have sought to bring them down.

In this society, oppressed people drive and create culture like none other. We create to define ourselves in a world that would reduce us to its stereotypes. We create to outwit what would kill us. We create to make the world beautiful when it is dark and cold. And sometimes, we create to build toward a completely different world than this one. That can be an ideological pursuit, or a reactionary act of self-defense, or in the case of transformative direct action, it can be both.

Those of you who endeavor to dream what a world beyond our oppressions looks like, while crafting a resistance that embodies transformation, are my people. And I love you. You are the ones who figure out how to build artful props and run shutdowns with dumpstered supplies. You are the ones who wake up early when you haven’t gotten enough sleep, and go to bed late because you schemed until after midnight with your mischievous friends. You’re the ones who raise the cash when it’s not flowing, who make the food when there’s no budget to order any, and the ones who surprise everyone with what you’re willing to deliver in a time of need. Whether that’s hosting two art parties in a week, to make sure an action tells a story, or just straight up running into traffic, so that someone else can do something that sounds even more absurd to the outside observer, this community of friends and strugglers delivers.

And we do get tired. We struggle with the stuff of our oppressions, the stuff of human consciousness and the frustrations of challenging a world that would often prefer to be left alone. We complain. Some of us drink. We swap stories of spite and angst, and we sometimes take comfort in places we know we shouldn’t. But when the march forward comes back around and another idea, solution or planning session is needed, those of you who have the time and strength that day will make it work.

What we don’t have within ourselves, we find in each other. We create together. And it sustains us.

And while it may seem a little daunting to consider that every time we build a better lockbox, the opposition will quickly learn its way around it, we shouldn’t feel troubled by such thoughts. Having to continually innovate to remain effective has long been the posture of the marginalized. The need for creativity and innovation puts the comfortable, not the struggler, at a disadvantage. Our imaginations are fierce and we arm them more heavily each time we move in the belief that we are not bound to this system’s stated inevitabilities. We need to feel strong in the knowledge that we create not only culture and community, but the means of our own resistance.

The creative force of our communities is a frightening thing to our oppressors. And as the kind of resistance we saw in the streets today continues to thrive and evolve, we will continue to prove that gentrifiers like Power Construction aren’t the only ones who can build things where they are not wanted.

So to everyone who stood in today’s blockade, or beside it, or who will be flexing everything they’ve got to carry movements forward in the coming week, I love and appreciate you. You get me out of bed in the morning and you keep my imagination strong.

So dream well, friends. The world needs your next adventure.