Resist: 'We got this'
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One thing stands out when you meet the woman who brought the American intelligence community to its knees.
Despite the horrific physical and psychological abuse she received at the hands of those on the federal government's payroll - who, like those who served an earlier fascist regime, were "only following orders," but, who, unlike the Nazis, have escaped meaningful accountability for the crimes they committed - Chelsea Manning exhibits no bitterness or anger, but a firm sense of optimism.
"I think it's really important to remember, especially at a time like this, that institutions which matter, and which make decisions about us ... can, and regularly do, fail," she told a packed house of approximately 250 people at the Internet Archive Saturday, November 4. "Whenever systems fail, you do have power.
"There's more to politics than the ballot box and court orders," she added.
Manning, a transgender woman and former Army intelligence analyst who spent years in a military prison for leaking secret information to WikiLeaks before her sentence was commuted by former President Barack Obama, was the keynote speaker for the fifth annual Aaron Swartz Day. The event honors Swartz, a hacktivist, entrepreneur, and a leader in the fight against internet censorship. He helped create the RSS web feed format, Creative Commons, and Reddit, along with a prototype of SecureDrop, which a host of news organizations use to receive anonymous tips from the public. Swartz died by suicide in 2013 after the federal government - in a controversial decision - indicted him for a non-destructive hack at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"We live in a time when we don't need leaders to tell us what to do," Manning said. "We need each other."
It's a truth she draws from her personal experience. Manning told the crowd that during much of her time in custody, her lifeline to the outside world was Lisa Rein, the co-founder of Creative Commons and the organizer of Aaron Swartz Day. During her darkest moments, she said, Rein would often tell her, "We got this." The phrase has since become Manning's signature hashtag on her Twitter feed.
"I don't give anyone hope," Manning said. "Hope is something you already have inside you. We can help each other find it."
Remember, remember the fourth of November
Hope was on the minds of the approximately 300 people who braved ice skaters, tourists, and a handful of badly-outnumbered fascist hecklers to pack Union Square for the "November 4 It Begins: Trump and Pence Must Go" rally and march organized by Refuse Fascism Bay Area.
"We have a mission that humanity has given us: to stand up in this moment," Refuse Fascism organizer Xochitl Johnson said to a cheering crowd.
Similar protests occurred in 16 other cities around the country, from New York and (as a last-minute addition) Washington, D.C. to Akron, Ohio and Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Refuse Fascism organizer Rafael Kadaris told the San Francisco crowd that while the Trump regime had suffered some setbacks, the present was no time for complacency.
"Don't be fooled by the fact they've been pushed back," he said. "They are on the offensive."
According to Refuse Fascism, San Francisco was the only city that refused to grant a permit for the demonstration. In a Facebook post in response, city officials asserted that they were concerned about traffic and crowd impacts at Union Square and offered Civic Center as an alternative, which Refuse Fascism rejected.
The protest ultimately went forward at Union Square anyway without a permit, though it was limited to about an hour. It was also hard to miss the law enforcement snipers on the roof of Macy's across the square, though whether they were aiming at the hecklers or the demonstrators remains a mystery.
Following the rally, Refuse Fascism led a march down Market Street into the Castro and the Mission. The group has a series of other demonstrations planned every few days for the immediate future, including one at 2 p.m. Saturday, November 18, in Civic Center.
Curious about antifa? Meet the man who wrote the book
At 7 p.m. Saturday, November 18, at the South Berkeley Senior Center at 2939 Ellis Street in Berkeley, the National Lawyers Guild of San Francisco and the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee will host a discussion with Mark Bray, author of "The Anti-Fascist Handbook." Bray is one of the few commentators on antifa who is both well-informed and well thought of by many in the movement. Requested donations are $10-20 to benefit the guild, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Howard Zinn Book Fair
The fourth annual Howard Zinn Book Fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, November 19, at the City College of San Francisco's Mission Campus, 1125 Valencia Street. The event, which is sponsored by CCSF's Labor and Community Studies Department, Haymarket Books, AK Press, Green Arcade, and the California Institute for Integral Studies, offers books and talks by radical and progressive authors and activists. While no one will be turned away for lack of funds, the suggested admission donation is $5.
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