The History of the Los Angeles ABC
The rich or middle class cannot lead the liberation of the poor any more than a white man can lead the liberation of colonized or the liberation of women. It is time for the privileged to step aside and allow oppressed communities to determine their fate. This liberation movement is not about an attempt to push a counter-culture. It is a liberation movement against oppression, hunger, fear, and uncertainty. We must embrace the anarchist traditions of solidarity and mutual aid. As Boris Yelensky once said, “The work is not done for the glory, but because we believe in Mutual Aid.”
Several local anarchists who were tired of the present conditions found within the Anarchist movement formed the Los Angeles Anarchist Black Cross in January 1998. These individuals felt the movement no longer reflected the traditions and aspiration of the past. Concepts like solidarity and mutual aid were replaced with individualism and lifestyle-based politics. Anarchists no longer share in the common struggles felt by the rest of society. Instead, it has become a self-imposed alien to the rest of the world.
This new organization wanted to embrace a much larger concept for the liberation of humanity than what they felt the Anarchist community envisioned. They wanted to reflect the true values and traditions of the anarchist movement while at the same time embrace the diversity of all liberation struggles. The group recognized the hypocrisy of those who discussed the idea of a global village, while only embracing the theories and cultures of Anglo-Saxon and European philosophies.
The new group refused to shy away from ideas like anarchist organizations and building better organizing skills. They weren’t afraid to use words like leadership because they understood that leadership was something everyone on the group could possess. Also, the organization knew that anarchism was not just for white, middle-class punk kids and it was not always going to be laid out in the manner that Anglo-Saxon anarchists have always envisioned. Culture would play a valuable role in how anti-authoritarianism would play out in a community. The new organization wanted to begin laying the foundation for a new culture based on liberation politics while at the same time respecting traditions and values of our own pasts and cultures.
The organization chose to come together as an Anarchist Black Cross for several reasons. First, they looked at the growing prison industrial complex and saw this as an issue that influenced many people¹s lives in the country, including members of this organization. They saw the brutality of the prison system as a common issue in their communities. ABC organizations openly supported imprisoned militants and revolutionaries who tried to relieve the oppression found within their communities. Members of this group believed the heart and strength of any movement for liberation must come from those who need liberation the most. People from privileged communities must take a step back and allow communities who are oppressed to define their own terms of liberation. By supporting political internees from our own communities and from other oppressed communities, we were taking the first step of defining the terms of our liberation while supporting others in the same process.
In October of 1998, LA-ABC had been building a relationship with the Anarchist Black Cross Federation for months and saw a lot of commonality between the two groups. Both organizations seemed to have similar backgrounds and both saw the importance of supporting the right to self-determination of communities. The LA-ABC decided to apply for support group status in the Federation and was accepted into the ABCF.
Presently, the organization is working on three main goals:
1) Continuing to strive to reach the potential of every member and the collective as a whole. This means helping to develop organizing skills of every member and evaluating ways of making the organization as efficient as possible;
2) Provide support, not only to the PP/POWs, but the movements and communities which they have come from. This means supporting the resistance movements still going on presently in those communities;
3) To make a conscious effort to separate ourselves from movements and politics we feel are based on privileged positions in society. This implies attempting to educate ourselves about the various liberation movements that exist, as well as, attempting to understand the power politics of race, class, gender, and cultural elitism.