Disarm the NYPD, a NYC-based anarchist group aiming to strip police of their guns and power, publicly weighed in on the nation’s Confederate flag controversy by announcing its plan to set it on fire — along with the Stars and Stripes. “Let’s make it crystal clear that the American system in its entirety must be condemned,” wrote the activists on a flyer promoting the action. “We will set fire to these symbols of oppression — the American flags — and march to honor our brothers and sisters who have fallen in the long struggle for freedom.”
The fiery festivities are scheduled to start Wednesday evening around 7:30 PM at Fort Greene Park. Although it’s not illegal to burn a flag in public, it’s not permitted on Parks Department property for the same reason the city agency doesn’t allow BBQs — open flames. “We would never expect to get a permit for flag burning,” explains the group’s media person, Carlos Cabeza, to ANIMAL about the planned demonstration. When asked if they’ll even be able to pull this off, since the NYPD is presumably already aware of their intentions, the self-described “anarchist” said, “we have backup plans.”
The 21-year-old New Yorker sees little difference between the Confederate and U.S. flags. “We want people to understand that these issues haven’t gone away and this flag — the ideals it purports to represent — doesn’t actually represent what it claims because of these structural issues of racism and white supremacy,” he explained. The activist said he’s looking to reach three types of people: Young people who are dissatisfied with the current state of American society; those who are tired of racism and structural oppression by the state; and anyone who’s dissatisfied by the system.
When asked what a proper alternative to the flag would be, Cabeza said something “new’ and that’s more emblematic of “America’s diversity,” but then later conceded he’d rather no symbol at all. “I’m not a supporter of nations,” he said. “I’m an anarchist: we regret state, governments, as ways of organizing society. We instead seek voluntary communities.”
Cabeza said he isn’t worried about any backlash because it’s inevitable and said that “right wing reactionaries” are already leaving “racist and homophobic comments on the Facebook page.” It’s the aftermath that interests him. “What comes out of the reaction is what I think is important.”
Noting all the media attention, I pressed him on whether or not he can pull this off. “No matter what, we intend on burning the flag,” said Cabeza, “whether it be outside of the park or not.”