As a rule, we at the PAF (Phoenix Anarchist Federation) do our best to avoid the petty drama that has the Phoenix anarchist milieu in a chokehold, but in light of recent accusations against us, we feel it is necessary to respond, both to apologize for mistakes on our part and to put to rest some accusations.
When approached by Sparky, who expressed interest in joining the PAF, whether out of genuine interest or otherwise, we responded with a refusal, explaining the reasons why we are not comfortable working with him.
We did so privately, as we had no interest in attempting to “cancel” or publicly attack anyone who we view as a committed anarchist, albeit one with whom we have many disagreements and whose past behavior we find questionable.
Attached below is a screenshot of our response to Sparky, in full, in the interest of transparency. These issues have been publicly discussed by Sparky and his friends, so we do not feel this is a breach of privacy to openly discuss. We are ready to accept that there are multiple sides to every story, but these grievances were expressed in good faith, without any intentional misaligning of the truth.
After the discourse regarding our concerns, Sparky wrote a thread pinning a number of accusations on us. Several of our members individually responded to Sparky’s thread, and one of our members exchanged messages with Sparky via Signal and invited him to an event we hosted, with an offering to converse in person, unbeknownst to the other members of PAF. When Sparky and his wife arrived, despite the invitation they were given, they were asked to leave by that member and others who were unaware of the Signal exchange. We would like to apologize to Sparky and his wife for the miscommunication, for the way that situation was handled on our part, and for any resulting harm from this encounter. We’re discussing internally how best to ensure that these sort of miscommunications don’t happen again.
That being said, we do think it is necessary to respond to certain accusations that were levied against us, both by Sparky and by Sumayyah Dawud, who wrote a follow-up blog post.
Pacifism and Direct Action –
The PAF explicitly believes that insurrectionary action is necessary to fight authority, a simple look at our platform and our social media presence should attest to this position. However, the purpose of the PAF is to facilitate community-building, further anarchist involvement in mutual aid projects, and to build bonds of affinity both between members and within our communities – all in order to strengthen the anarchist milieu’s position in Phoenix, where it has been weak for many years. When attending protests or other actions where there is a chance of trouble, our members do not identify themselves as members of the PAF. As an org, we are very mindful of security culture, and we do not discuss most actions that we or any of our members take, especially ones that may draw unwanted attention. There is a firm separation between our public events and our private activity, which we see as necessary for the safety of our members.
Exclusion of Nonwhite Persons –
We have never and will never exclude anyone from the PAF or from one of our events on the basis of their race. Our issue with Sparky was due to past behavior, not due to perceptions of his racial identity. As a gentle reminder, race is a social construct and we find it profoundly innapropriate to make racial assumptions of any individual and further, to exclude anyone based on these notions. We acknowledge that the exchange at the event could have unintentionally embodied racial exclusion, and we apologize that this encounter may have resulted in racially-based trauma. It is never our intention to cause such harm and if it does occur, we aim to take accountability for such actions, to commit to iterative and insistent education, and to advance racial justice and solidarity within our community.
While carefully reviewing the statements of both Sparky and Sumayyah, we found it incredibly alarming how many times the word counterinsurgency comes up and is quickly attributed to anything outside of their understanding of the situation, whether it be something they clearly lack the understanding of, or in even worse cases throwing this accusation at people and groups because they are not doing what these two individuals perceive needs to be done. Either way, loosely throwing around these accusations is extremely dangerous, as it erodes affinity built by time and effort between friends, groups/collectives, and associations that are based on trust. We see this as a deliberate attack on all of our members’ credibility and a morose attempt to alienate us from our immediate community.
Tying this off, while our members are free to act as they will, we have no interest in a feud with Sparky or anyone else, as that is deeply unproductive behavior. Though we would like to extend an invitation to converse privately with Sparky’s partner, Sparky, and Sumayyah about these issues or any others they have with us, we wish to establish clear boundaries that we are not open to continuing such exchanges in a public setting, and therefore, they are not welcome at our events. This will be our final public post on this subject.
While disagreements in these spaces are inevitable and, of course, challenging, we are resolute in the hope that our persistent presence in the community affirms our commitments to solidarity and to our locality.