Saturday, June 18, 2011

when they kick in your front door,

For three days last January, the county tried to evict Brian Wayne Tomasso from the house he rented. Tomasso had barricaded himself inside the house--screwing the doors shut from the inside and pushing back from the other side of the door against the sheriff's deputies. Finally, and unfortunately, after breaking down the front door and two interior doors, the Sheriffs arrested him. At the time, in court and in the press, Tomasso was dismissed as a crazy motherfucker. Back in 2006, he had been convicted of reckless discharge of a firearm (in the same residence that he defended four years later). Now, he was trying to affirm an impossible fact: That that place that he lived was his, not his landlord's.

Santa Cruz is the third most expensive place to rent nationwide. In an interview with the Sentinel, Ken Cole of the Santa Cruz Housing Authority declared:
We’re the perfect storm for high rents. We’re small urban county, almost completely built out from a zoning standpoint, and locked up by mountains, oceans and agriculture. It’s an extremely difficult market.

Rent in Santa Cruz isn't going to decrease any time in the foreseeable future. More likely, thanks to things like the rental ordinance, rent in Santa Cruz will continue to skyrocket. The sort of action taken by Tomasso is becoming more and more relevant. Liberal activists will tell you that the lesson to be learned from Tomasso is to avoid looking like a crazy motherfucker. They will argue that we need to legitimize our resistance to the world of wages and landlords. But the struggle is already legitimate to those who feel it or are in similar situations; conversely, we are already crazy motherfuckers in the eyes of the landlords and pigs.
“It is better to loot than to shoplift, to ambush than to snipe, to walk out than to phone in a bomb threat, to strike than to call in sick, to riot than to vandalize . . . Increasingly collective and coordinated acts against this world of coercion and isolation aren’t solely a matter of efficacy, but equally a matter of sociality—of community and fun.” -War on Misery #3
From the situation in Aptos last January, we have to learn tactical lessons. Events like Tomasso's eviction defense last January can be made sociable; and, in becoming sociable, will become more powerful. Evictions, like any other form of repression, are most effectively resisted when they are resisted collectively. The current wave of austerity and the perpetual clamping down of social control are opportunities to find and act with unlikely friends.

To survive inevitable repression, resistance must spread beyond the sites where it originates. Always having an eye toward expanding the struggle in all directions prevents recuperation (when a tactic gets confused with a solution) and keeps the struggle on our terms. If resistance to evictions takes the form of occupations, for example, the resistance needs to spread beyond the occupation and beyond organizing against evictions generally. A struggle that starts from a defense against an eviction can expand to include a critique of gentrification and the of wage relation; the same struggle can clarify its position against the left by refusing to organize in its predetermined forms; by ending an occupation by choice rather than waiting to get evicted can redirect our energies in a way that our enemies can't anticipate.

In short--roll deep, expand the struggle, and study the art of war.

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