Report back on solidarity vigil and demonstration with Tortuguita in so-called New Orleans.
On Wednesday, January 25, around seventy people gathered at the entrance to Armstrong Park in New Orleans to commemorate the death of Manuél Esteban Paez Terán, aka Tortuguita, at the hands of Atlanta/Georgia State pigs. There was an open mic, some zines laid out, and an impromptu shrine was built with candles, sage, and other offerings to their memory. Then, a march was proposed and folks seemed down, so we set off into the French Quarter.
This was the first time in a long while that I’d been to an action in New Orleans that had absolutely zero peace police or other form of co-opt fuckery. It felt like each one of us shared an unspoken understanding not to step on each other’s autonomy, if that makes sense. Lot of that in New Orleans in recent years, and so it lifted my spirits to see folks spray painting and slashing cop car tires at will (a brick even got thrown through a courthouse window).
The march concluded at one of the live oaks on the neutral ground of Esplanade Ave., and the shrine was reassembled there at the base of the great tree. We gathered around the shrine, and some folks sang songs of anarchy, with an accordionist gently playing along. Someone lead us all in Bella Ciao, which was very moving to me. We dispersed safely, and no arrests were made.
I think it’s really good to continue having these kinds of gatherings. Unpermitted, loose gatherings like this one can be malleable, and can generate the kinds of autonomous actions that are stifled in the more rigid and non-profit-endorsed parades that I’ve become begrudgingly accustomed to. I never again want to go to an action that’s all barking demands and then we walk around with protest marshals telling me to get back on the sidewalk. Fuck that shit.
Long live Tortuguita! Martyr’s never die! Your body may be gone, but your spirit lives.