Syracuse Solidarity Network

By Sera Brown

On March 19th the Syracuse Solidarity Network joined an anti-war march that culminated in the blocking of a main city street outside a bank and the Syracuse Post Standard for over an hour, with banners and chants loudly proclaiming “Fight the rich, not their wars!” Elsewhere in Rochester and Binghamton, New York, anti-authoritarians hit the streets with disruptive actions to mark the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In Syracuse, over 20 arrests, in Rochester seven, and in Binghamton nine were arrested as cops pepper-sprayed and assaulted student demonstrators who had blocked a major parkway.

Protests and arrests in all three cities included members of the North East Anarchist Network. Anarchist resistance is making its presence felt across the angry, beat down rustbelt of Upstate NY!

Back in November of 2006, a group of us came together to organize an emergency demo in solidarity with the popular uprising in Oaxaca, Mexico. We quickly organized a rowdy street march in ten days expecting a small turnout. On that frigid snowy night, 40 people, mostly high school students, attended the march, rally and vigil.

Inspired about the next steps we could take to raise the resistance, Syracusians drove to the Boston Northeast Anarchist Consulta in February of 2007 that led to the formation of the Northeast Anarchist Network. Building on the excitement and possibilities of regional organizing, we put on several events at the Syracuse Women’s Information Center like the “open mic night against work and war,” celebrated May Day with immigrant rights speakers at a radical bookstore, and had creative propaganda-making socials. With no common organization or group we somehow set up a North East Anarchist Network (NEAN) gathering and sparked interest in becoming something that could affiliate with the Network. From the Oaxaca Solidarity march to hosting the third NEAN gathering we had reached a lot of youth, mostly punks and ladies, who wanted to fight back and get free.

Fast forward to the end of last summer and picture an unpermitted march led and organized by youth against the war with an anti-authoritarian tone - it was full of F-bombs, and calls for art against war and an end to prisons. On September 29th, the youth and anarchists marched together as a contingent in the upstate New York-wide soldier/citizen demonstration against the war that brought 3,000 people to Syracuse. Just in time to fill the contingent with black flags, Syracuse Solidarity Network was created out of radicals, feminists, queers, and fellow travelers who were actively working within anti-authoritarian and community movements.

SSN meetings act as a forum to empower individuals to create their own projects and learn about both explicitly radical and grassroots struggles. We try to work in a way that brings in people from different groups while encouraging collectives to work together, at the same time being anti-representative as no one speaks for the whole network. SSN has maintained as a multi-tendency group that agrees with points of unity similar to NEAN’s while bringing together members of Food Not Bombs, Syracuse Animal Rights Organization, Youth in Action, the Vagina Monologues, Women’s Information Center, No Bombs No Bosses 315 distro and the Syracuse Peace Council.

While gearing up for the October Rebellion in Washington, DC, some of SSN created an affinity group and worked together to play a prominent role in the actions against the IMF and World Bank. The need has been echoed all across upstate New York to create tight affinity groups to achieve active participation in larger mass mobilizations. We have succeeded with networking regionally across upstate, especially through the upstate New York-wide Unconventional Action meetings and the budding Upstate NY Bash Back! Like most upstate towns, regional support is really important to a city as small as Syracuse, which is dominated by a private university. This support has been a huge factor in popularizing anti-authoritarianism here, whether it’s using and working with the nearby Rochester Indy Media Center, networking with folks downstate to do a skill share or out of town radicals coming to our events.

Syracuse has a deep history of resistance continued to this day with Partnership for Onondaga Creek fighting environmental racism to the Onondaga Nation land rights battle and the Women’s Information Center providing a safer space to the community. Syracuse Solidarity Network is a fairly young group that will keep fighting alongside local struggles while finding new ways to support one another. We hope to carry on the tradition of defiance while carving out a place for ourselves as radicals, anti-authoritarians, and anarchists.

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