On April 16 Ryan Pringle, the 33 year old son of a former Balmain rugby league star was shot to death by police at a rural commune called the “School of Happiness” in Northern NSW. The details of this sad day are not completely clear, but it seems that Ryan had arrived at the camp earlier that day, as a group called the Rainbow Family Australia was preparing for a 6 week gathering.
After some time at the commune he began acting in a violent and erratic manner, threatening Rainbow Family members with a knife in what some of the group described as a ‘psychotic episode’. Three of the campers fled the scene and drove to the nearby town of Tenterfield where they alerted police to the disturbance. Pringle reportedly threatened the remaining 10 campers for nine hours, apparently punching three of them, and dislocating one man’s shoulder.
After police arrived Pringle reportedly dropped his knife and fled into the woods before returning with a crossbow and demanding police drop their weapons. It is at this point police apparently opened fire, first with a taser then a firearm.
Of the police actions, the Rainbow Family made the following statement ''We would like to thank the police officers who came to our aid... That the media paint the police in a less than glorious light is an offence to decency. They were, and are, our champions and we are forever in their debt.''
The Rainbow Family Australia are an ideal expression of the ideology of nonviolence and this tragedy perfectly represents the impossibility of pacifism in practice. When faced with the threat of violence, pacifism necessarily results in either default submission to the aggressor or the delegation of violence to those who practice it professionally.
For a pacifist to request and applaud violence carried out on their behalf, is not only blatant hypocrisy, but shows their ideology to be a cover for their own fear and rejection of the responsibility to protect oneself and ones comrades. Such sentiments and attitudes are sadly familiar amongst many privileged hippies and activists who passionately claim the righteousness of non-violence, while accepting the institutional violence of police and prisons as natural.
Like the Rainbow Family we believe passionately in the creation of communes as liberating alternatives to life under capital and indeed we believe that if a commune is to survive it must be defended. A commune must be safe space for its members or it must not exist. We do not look toward some imaginary world were all human beings will live in complete harmony, where no one will show aggression toward one another, nor do we believe we can travel to some far away location to escape from the violence of the rest of society.
We encourage those who set out to create communes and intentional communities to train themselves in individual and collective self defence and to have the necessary tools at hand to confront violence from outside but also from within the commune when the need arises.
Unlike the Rainbow Family we make no demands for peace under capitalism. The reigning status quo and the illusion of social peace is upheld by a constant war on the poor. The ever militarised police act as frontline troops against the nation’s internal enemies, that surplus population that exists without a stake in the market, those who fill the queues in Centrelink and outside charity vans, who live in parks, housing commissions and prison cells. For the marginalised, the indigenous, the young and rebellious, the police are not considered ‘champions’ to be celebrated, but oppressors to be evaded and resisted.
This year’s 150th anniversary of the NSW Police Force has already been dogged by numerous scandals, from an increase in complaints of police brutality to an increase in gun crime which police have shown themselves powerless to stop. In January Mark Murdoch, the force's second highest ranking cop was found attempting to cover up the public bashing of a cricket fan by his 24 year old cop son and in April senior police in one of Sydney’s largest commands were found to have been altering crime statistics.
The shooting death of Ryan Pringle was the third murder by NSW police in less then a month. On March 18, 21 year old Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti was chased, tasered and pepper sprayed by 6 police and died soon afterwards. On March 26, following a high speed chase policeman shot dead 34 year old Darren Neill in the food court of Parramatta Westfield.
Then on the 22nd of April, Police fired 6 shots into the windshield of a reportedly stolen car carrying 6 aboriginal youth in Kings Cross. The 14 year old driver was shot in the chest and the arm, while 17 year old Troy Taylor was shot in the neck, then dragged out of the car by police and repeatedly punched in the head, both have been charged in hospital, where they remain in serious condition.
There is a very real sense of outrage towards police simmering in parts of this society, a growing discontent with the potential to explode. An April 24 anti-police rally outside NSW Parliament was attended by many furious youth sick of constant police harassment and brutality; we stood with these youths on Tuesday in direct opposition to any calls for calm. Police violence is business as usual and if we wish to oppose it, we must be prepared to respond to in kind.
Many smaller expressions of rage against police injustice have gone unnoticed by mainstream media, such as the two anarchists arrested for painting messages at the site of Roberto Laudicio's murder last month. The two wrote “Disarm the pigs”, “No Tasers, No Guns. Mothers Keep their Sons”, "RIP Roberto" and “Solidaridao”, before being chased down and tackled by police. The pair were both charged with malicious damage.
To everyone sick of life under cops and capitalists, we extend a wave of solidarity but also a call to live, to dream, to attack and to liberate territory from police occupation and to form rural and urban communes based on our mutual desires.
Freedom to Michael Alan Jacobs and all prisoners of war.