Under the safe cover of holiday night, self-professed anarchists spray painted their sigil on buildings and broke windows. It was Christmas. The businesses were closed. People were away from their homes. The police presence was minimal. It was an easy crime. Cowardly vandalism committed when almost everybody was sure to have their attention cast elsewhere.
Locally owned businesses had their property, to a manageable but unfortunate extent, damaged. They were, on the large, "yuppy" establishments. I admit to having, at the time, found it funny that certain businesses were attacked. I, however, did not believe the acts were truly perpetrated by anarchists. I believed they were perpetrated by young people who could have just as well emblazoned the walls of these placed with black, spray-painted pentagrams. The encircled letter "A" meant nothing to me.
As time wore on, over the past few months, vandalism continued. Businesses were, once again, attacked and a low income housing facility had the message, "Wrong Neighborhood" spray painted on it. It was, later, discovered that the vandals believed it was a regular condo complex and did not understand they were vandalizing the homes of low income families. They thought, in all actuality, that every act of vandalism was one bearing an anti-gentrification message and agenda. They thought they were being anarchists.
I still, however, had my doubts.
Acts perpetrated on February 22nd, however, changed my feelings. An unfinished, unattended condominium was burned, in an act of arson. Three days later, letters began to arrive in the mailboxes of other tenants of the condominiums. This is that letter:
To the Tenants and Homeowners of East Hills Upscale Condominiums,
In the southeast corner of your suburbanite cul-de-sac, at approximately 4 a.m. February, 22nd, we, a group of anti-gentrification militants attacked an unfinished condominium. We placed 3 incendiary-devices throughout the first story of the household. This attack was not isolated , nor will it be the last. If you are holding this letter, you are a target. We announce with great volume our terms:
-The eviction /resignation of all lease-agreements in this cul-de-sac, and their occupants forced back into the suburbs.
-The immediate transition to low-income housing, both in this cul-de-sac, and in the surrounding East Hills area.
We are not peaceful. We are not willing to negotiate. You, your families and material possessions are at stake. Our demands are not implausible, and are expected to be carried out within a two-month period. Failure to comply will result in a multitude of repercussions, including, but no limited to: destruction of vehicles and houses, muggings, burglary, and kidnapping.
The Old Neighbors
Upon reading this letter, I became very upset.
I, as an anarchist or, at least, anarchy-sympathetic, am tired of living behind the pallored veil of stigma that comes with the label of my beliefs. I found a local news link that allowed comments to be left and I left this comment:
I went forth to offer a possible solution to local anarchist, Ryan Cappalletti, who had been interviewed in the news story. I sent him a letter, suggesting that the local anarchist community become actively involved with the non-violent (but not pacifistic) interception of these parties and the active intervention against them.
This can be done in cooperation with the local and federal law enforcement officials. I am not against that, either. I think such an act could help repair and/or improve relations between the local anarchist community and those who hold it suspect. I, however, believe it would prove a larger point, if we were capable of doing this ourselves.
There is no conclusion to this blog post. There is no point. All I offer is that, if you are an anarchist in Grand Rapids, please contact me and, together, we can devise a way to affect change and stop these people from sullying our name and way of life.
If you are an anarchist and do not live in Grand Rapids, please think about what you do. Don't just plan or plot. FUCKING THINK. Think hard. Think about why you are the way you are and why you believe what you believe. Question yourself and the purity of your state of mind and allow the tenets of your beliefs to be reflected in your actions. Respect other anarchists as you wish the world would respect you. Hold their reputation with regard, whenever you act. After all, you do not represent yourself in the eyes of the world, just as nobody else represents you in your own eyes.
If you are an anarchist and somebody you know is going to perpetrate an act against the community, please stop them. And, although I believe in vigilantism, keep vigilantism out of it. You represent a belief to the world and you, with every action, run the risk of making the political realization of those beliefs even more impossible than they already are.
Quit being assholes, kids.
Drop out if you can't deal with it.