Phoenix Anarchist Coalition
From Infoshop OpenWiki
The Phoenix Anarchist Coalition (PAC) is Phoenix’s longest running anarchist organization, birthed in 2000, PAC has been at the forefront of many struggles around police brutality, immigrants’ rights, gentrification, and prison abolition. PAC operates a website with anarchist and southwest related news and opinion, the group continues to participate in various social, political, and ecological movements in the Phoenix area.
PAC is, largely, an informal anarchist organization, meaning no membership roster, no dues, and beyond the basic anarchist principles, no specific tendency of anarchist thought. However, the group does hold a formal meeting every week, in which members discuss projects, actions, current events, and anarchist ideology. Meetings are run on the consensus model, with a facilitator and a note taker, both positions members volunteer for each role and the position rotates with the next meeting.
Inspired by the rise of anarchist activity internationally, and specifically after the 1999 anti-WTO demonstrations in Seattle, a group of anarchists from the Phoenix area organized a May Day demonstration for May 1, 2000. Over 100 anarchists and radicals came to demonstrate against economic inequality and capitalism, with the crowd marching in the streets of downtown Phoenix, stopping to protest corporate chain store Starbucks, taking over a McDonald’s, forcing police to close the western entrance to the Bank One corporate building, as well as the Wells Fargo Plaza. Four arrests were made during a second march to Phoenix City Hall after the Phoenix Police Department had warned demonstrators not to march into the streets again.
The First Year
Phoenix anarchists were energized after organizing the first May Day protests in Phoenix in over 70 years, they held a meeting in mid-May of 2000 to discuss the creation of an anarchist organization that could unite individuals and organizations from across the Phoenix Metro area. The result of this meeting was the formation of the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition (PAC), the group held their first meeting on May 18, 2000 in Tempe. A coalition was chosen as the organization model for the new anarchist group, as many of the founding and original members of PAC were also members of other radical activist groups and as individuals could represent the varied activist groups, and it would also allow for non-affiliated individuals to participate without belonging to other radical activist groups. The other groups included Phoenix Copwatch, Phoenix Earth First!, the Arizona State University (ASU) chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists (YDS), and the Arizona Direct Action Coalition (AZDAC). During the first meetings of PAC, members agreed on a common definition of anarchism: “One who believes in self-governance and no capitalism.”, and the group also made plans to caravan to Los Angeles in mid-August to attend the 2000 North American Anarchist Conference, and to protest the 2000 Democratic National Convention, also in Los Angeles.
PAC organized a handful of protests during the summer of 2000, most to bring attention to social issues, and to present an anarchist perspective on local and national issues unfamiliar to the public.
Aside from the Phoenix anarchists involved in PAC, there was also an Anarchist Library that was run out of a house in Tempe for a number of years, before moving to a collective art space in central Phoenix, a weekly night was held. The Anarchist Library housed a large collection of books, zines, magazines, and videos on a variety of subjects, and also hosts workshops and speakers on issues of interest to anarchists and radicals.
Political Prisoner Support
The longest single program in PAC’s history is the political prisoner (pp) support program by collecting funds at meetings, as well as writing letters to prisoners. Beginning in October of 2001, PAC supported United Freedom Front prisoner Richard Williams until his death in December 2005. PAC has also supported prisoners Sherman Austin, Laro Nicol, Rod Coronado, Matthew Lamont, and Marilyn Buck.