[‘Code Rood, Port of Amsterdam, 24 June 2016.’ Photo: Sumugan Sivanesan]
Code Red (22-25 June 2017) was a climate camp and mass action bringing together a number of autonomous groups in the Port of Amsterdam, the second largest coal port in Europe. Organisers estimate around 300 people attended the camp, with over 200 people taking part in the action, occupying the OBA port.
The first night of the camp was marked by an opening panel, ‘Climate Justice Now: Examining Inequalities and New Futures.’ Put together by the ‘Intersectional Block,’ the panel featured representatives from the University of Colour (Phoenix, Talissa), the refugee collective We Are Here (Osman) and from the Trade Unions (Arwen) the panel sought to consider positions that might be overlooked by the climate justice movement. While there were certainly points of disagreement (eg Arwen: ‘And we’re all indigenous people in the end’) the discussion circulated around ideas of the kinds of people who would not feel comfortable or who were otherwise not represented in the movement. My notes collect quotes about structural white supremacy, the lack of consultation with indigenous people and Phoenix’s quip:‘Colonialism is perpetual war.’ Indeed there was a curious critique of how European anti-racism often plays out as a form of cultural supremacy, which I think alludes to particularly Dutch tensions to do with having a very liberal public culture, regardless of ongoing issues of racism and the legacies of colonialism (eg Schwarz Piet). Nevertheless, it would be worth thinking further abut how issues of race, climate change and colonialism interact and are enfolded into the movement, such as how POC feel targeted or are otherwise subject to different treatment by authorities. Indeed, would it be possible for a group of migrants to negotiate with authorities so easily?
Overall, I believe the action was considered a success. Police liaisons had emphasised de-escalation and there was indeed a minimal police presence at the port. Out of the group that entered the port, thirteen people from two different groups were arrested. One group of eight activists had crawled through the conveyor belt connecting the coal port with the power plant where they were allegedly attacked by security dogs. Another group of five people decided to stay in the coal terminal after the other activists had left, breaking a prior to agreed upon action consensus. I heard the term ‘repressive tolerance’ often used in conjunction with these police arrests, to describe a situation where the Dutch authorities remain at a distance up to a (prior agreed upon) point. Once this marker is crossed they snap into (fierce) action.
This does prompt me to think further about counts as a success? Is it more successful to produce a well organised and carefully planned action, or to actually cause an unpredictable disturbance, that does indeed disrup the flow of carbon capital?
More images here