This year’s United Students Against Sweatshops conference brought some badass kids out from all over Turtle Island, kicking off Friday with the March to Take Back Our University and holding workshops throughout the weekend. USAS is working to promote collective liberation as a framework in reformist campaigns like the Fight for $15, and Friday’s march was the largest demonstration of faculty-worker-student solidarity Pittsburgh has seen in a long time.
But yinz can read about that shit in the Post-Gazette. We want to tell you about the participation of autonomous students.
Building a Radical Youth Network
Some of us in the Filler crew called for an anti-capitalist contingent a little over a week before the march. While escalation plans were vague (and never really materialized), the callout provided an excuse for several crews to connect and collaborate. And shit, we made some damn good friends!
Two Filler kids worked through the Pittsburgh Student Solidarity Coalition to connect with some of the old guard in Pittsburgh Anarchyland to try coming up with an escalation plan. Even though shit fell through, the stories and lessons we picked up along the away were worth the effort. Favorite story by far: back in their student days, a few folks barricaded and locked the doors in a campus building, but then slipped out before classes started. They even posted statements on all of the doors declaring that they were prepared to be arrested and would refuse all negotiations. It took the pigs nearly six hours to realize that no one was inside!
We also got a chance to connect with the recently formed Food Not Bombs team (shout out to@amidtherustpgh!). FNB liberated some food and a shopping cart, and came to the march prepared to keep the energy in the streets. They brought a ton of dank sandwiches, fruits and veggies, and also passed out some zines explaining FNB and calling for students, workers and faculty to unite and #ReclaimPitt.
The Pitt Against Debt crew staged a sit-in in the Cathedral of Learning the day before the march, singing songs and chanting, “1234 student debt is class war! 5678 tuition freeze cannot wait!” They also released this communiqué:
On the day of the march, these crews and some other Autonomous Student Network kids (including some badass highscoolers!) formed a bloc to help take the streets and keep a banner-barrier between the crowd and the cops. As the march was gearing up, the bloc dragged police barricades in front of a couple of cop cars, opening space for people to take the streets and delaying the inevitable police tail. Some out-of-town comrades that came in with USAS also joined us in pushing radical chants, but other than that we pretty much marched in a circle as per usual.
The next day, the Student Anarchist Graduate Association hosted comrades from The Base for a presentation on anarchist strategies against the police. The ASN plugged this shit hard, and even some USAS folks skipped out on the “official” workshops in that time block to attend. Later that night, the real organizing happened at the unofficial YinzSAS party, Throwing Down to Win Ground. There’s two radical houses on the same block, and so the party was split into a rave and a punk and hip-hop show. The punk house totally lost their deposit.
Good fucking times.