The RICO charges faced by the ALKQN are not dissimilar to conspiracy charges that left activists face throughout the country. This tactic is a way for Federal and State agents to track organized groups for long periods of time and accrue individual criminal records until they have a large enough case to indict a number of individuals within an organization through a grand jury. The Indictment is illogical because it recognizes the organizational structure of the ALKQN (which includes expulsion for criminal activity), yet alleges that association with the ALKQN constitutes crime. It is clear that this is a tactic of the State to forcefully break up organized resistance in North Carolina.
Ideological dogmatism or purism is corrosive to effective organizing and diminishes our ability to keep ourselves safe. Finding the people and projects that are actively fighting the material conditions of oppression in our environment has been a meaningful step. Meeting the ALKQN where they are, and engaging in healthy critiques and dialogues, but not letting petty theoretical differences divide us has been a challenging but rewarding process. Our relationship has profoundly re-affirmed the faith of coalition members that mutual aid and solidarity can be real (if we choose for them to be), and that people who do not share symmetrical political ideologies or personal backgrounds can be fierce comrades in organized resistance. Individuals and communities that are facing federal conspiracy charges whether they be RICO, AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act), the Patriot Act, or otherwise can fight these cases stronger, together.
The lack of material evidence found in the raid exposes the baseless and unjust status of the ALKQN as assumed criminal agents who are subject to the conditions of prison whether or not they are guilty of a crime or incarcerated. Profiling, harassment and false arrests involves being detained, riding in a police cruiser to the jail, sitting in a holding cell, waiting to be bailed out, making court dates, paying court and legal fees, and explaining the situation to friends, family, bosses, and landlords. This process keeps people from being able to move around freely, attend their jobs regularly, relax with friends, maintain their bodily integrity and their dignity—all aspects of incarceration.
The Prison-Industrial Complex is at the heart of this raid. Defendingjustice.org provides us with a solid basic definition:
The prison industrial complex helps secure the authority of people who get their power through racial, economic and other structural privileges (e.g. White people, American citizens, people with property, people with money) by defending current power distributions. It benefits government and industry, as well as those individuals who already hold power in our society. The processes by which this unequal power is garnered and maintained include: creating dominant media images that perpetuate stereotypes of people of color, poor people, queer people, immigrants, youth, etc., as criminal, delinquent or deviant; earning huge profits for companies that provide goods and services to the prison industrial complex; facilitating political gains; increasing the influence of prison guard and police unions; eliminating social and political dissent by people of color, poor people, immigrants, and others who make demands of self-determination and reorganization of power in the United States.
The ‘dominant media images that perpetuate stereotypes’ of this definition is especially relevant to the ALKQN; the basis for the mistreatment and harassment of brothers in the Nation is abided because of a massive character assassination project on the parts of racist media outlets, police, and politicians. By maintaining the idea of a violent gang problem (in a place like Greensboro where there is a standing gang peace treaty), and demonizing the gang member—and vicariously all poor black and brown young people—as a sociopath and cold-hearted sadist rather than a subject under capitalism responding to economic desparation, the mistreatment of “gangsters” at the hands of the police is not only accepted, it’s applauded. This is a gross violation of human rights and dignity, and must be combated, both on intangible fronts like media misrepresentation, and tangible ones like witnessing police brutality.