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Kris Hermes


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Kris Hermes is a Bay Area–based activist who has worked for nearly thirty years on social justice issues. Organizing with ACT UP Philadelphia in the late 1990s spurred his interest in legal support work and led to his years-long involvement with R2K Legal. Since 2000, Hermes has been an active, award-winning legal worker-member of the National Lawyers Guild and has been a part of numerous law collectives and legal support efforts over the years. In this capacity, he has organized dozens of press conference and spoken at numerous community meetings, political conferences, book fairs, and other similar events across the U.S. Hermes has written extensively in his professional career as a media worker and as a legal activist.

Check out the Crashing the Party website HERE.

Listen to Kris on Law & Disorder Radio, July 25th, 2016 HERE

Listen to Kris on Free City Radio, July 20th, 2016 HERE

Listen to Kris Hermes of on Indymedia On the Air March 14th 2016 (parts 1&2)

Watch Kris on The Real News

Listen to Kris at the Marxist School in Sacramento

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Crashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000
Author: Kris Hermes • Foreword by Marina Sitrin • Afterword by Heidi Boghosian
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-62963-102-8
Published: 08/01/2015
Format: Paperback
Size: 9x6
Page count: 352
Subjects: Politics-Activism/History-U.S
$22.95


Over the past fifteen years, people in the United States—and dissidents in particular—have witnessed a steady escalation of the National Security State, including invasive surveillance and infiltration, indiscriminate police violence, and unlawful arrests. These concerted efforts to spy on Americans and undermine meaningful social change are greatly enhanced by the coordination of numerous local, state, and federal agencies often operating at the behest of private corporations. Normally associated with the realities of a post-9/11 world, Crashing the Party shows how these developments were already being set in motion during the Republican National Convention (RNC) protests in 2000. It also documents how, in response, dissidents confronted new forms of political repression by pushing legal boundaries and establishing new models of collective resistance.

Crashing the Party explains how the events of 2000 acted as a testing ground in which Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney was able to develop repressive methods of policing that have been used extensively across the U.S. ever since. At the same time, these events also provided a laboratory for the radical, innovative, and confrontational forms of legal support carried out by R2K Legal, a defendant-led collective that raised unprecedented amounts of money for legal defense, used a unique form of court solidarity to overcome hundreds of serious charges, and implemented a PR campaign that turned the tide of public opinion in favor of dissidents. While much has been written about the global-justice era of struggle, little attention has been paid to the legal struggles of the period or the renewed use of solidarity tactics in jail and the courtroom that made them possible. By analyzing the successes and failures of these tactics, Crashing the Party offers rare insight into the mechanics and concrete effects of such resistance. In this way, it is an invaluable resource for those seeking to confront today’s renewed counterintelligence tactics.

Praise:

"Crashing the Party is a must read for every dissident, legal activist and those opposed to our growing police state. Don’t leave for your next demonstration believing that the cops and courts have all the power. They don’t. This important book, building on the lessons learned when activists took on the repression unleashed at the 2000 Republican National Convention, tells you otherwise. It is an untold story of “collective resistance:” the radical way in which activists and legal people, working together, beat back state repression."
—Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights

Crashing the Party is an exhaustive on-the-ground account of the tools that all levels of governments now use to suppress political dissent. Although focused on the 2000 Republic National Convention in Philadelphia, author Kris Hermes identifies and documents coercive techniques employed at many other protests, both large and small. Hermes, who gained first-hand experience before, during, and after the event, also shows how dedicated jail solidarity efforts can mitigate the harmful effects of arrests and overcharging, although sometimes at great personal cost. A must-read for anyone interested in knowing the how far governments can and will go in this post-9/11 era.”
–Jim Redden, author of Snitch Culture

Crashing the Party is a participant-observation case study of the protests surrounding the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, but it is much more than that. It reminds readers that the United States did not become a police state only after 9/11. Violent, armed repression has been a continual theme throughout the country’s history. Those who resist political domination should study this book as it reveals the continually changing dynamics between the repressive apparatus and the people. Engagingly written, it is both a critical and detailed history, and a handbook for resistance.”
—Geoffrey R Skoll, emeritus faculty of criminal justice, author Dialectics in Social Thought: The Present Crisis.

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  • NLG Book Review: A Tilted Guide to Being a Defendant
    A Tilted Guide to Being a Defendant was written for those political defendants and their supporters who want to stop the state from “[using] criminal charges to dismantle, destroy, and neutralize radical movements.” The Tilted Scale...

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crashing the partyCrashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000: A Review
by Irina Ceric
Radical Criminology
November 2016

"Crashing the Party also explores key questions that anyone who has participated in direct actions will immediately recognize. For instance, how do we challenge legal support fatigue or a lack of faith in jail solidarity (suspicion that often threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy)? (232) He reminds us that it is “crucial that we assess the state’s resources, strategies, and tactics, as well as its limitations and vulnerabilities” when thinking about legal responses, offensive and defensive. The 2000 RNC protest serves as a potent example of how movements can grow and develop new capacities not despite repression, but in resistance to it, learning “ways in which we might gain collective strength against the state.” (12) As someone who has been involved in providing radical legal support for the better part of two decades, such reminders, especially coupled with Hermes’ critical yet hopeful analysis of the promise—and perils—of radical legal activism, serve as a much-needed validation. Legal support is no one’s favorite organizing role, but the work is both necessary and generative: “Arguably, it is in the realm between the legal world and the world of political organizing where, when boundaries are pushed, unexpected results can occur.” (228)"

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crashing the partyCrashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000: A Review
by Sue Udry
National Lawyers Guild Review
Summer 2016

"There was a brief renaissance of legal collectives in the early 2000s, but too many were short-lived, organized around a single event, or, for whatever reason, just unable to survive. These groups were democratic. They sought to empower activists and ensure that political goals would not be undermined by police and legal processes. The demise of so many of them has created a vacuum—just as the powers of the state have ascended in the post-9/11 era.

How will legal workers collaborate with political comrades and attorneys to develop creative means of keeping dissent alive and thriving in the new era of increased state surveillance and disruption?

It’s a crucial question for the National Lawyers Guild—one Hermes, by sharing instructive stories from a past struggle, helps to answer."

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crashing the partyCrashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000: A Review
By J.E. McNeil
Friends Journal
June 1st, 2016

"The author, a legal worker (non-lawyer) member of the National Lawyers Guild, stated early on that he proposed “to write about the legal and political events as both a firsthand participant and an objective observer.” From what I knew from various accounts—the press, the National Lawyers Guild’s, and my nephew’s (he had been arrested during the events in the book)—few, if any, of the participants in the horrific events surrounding the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Pa., were “objective” about what happened.

But I was wrong. The book is a detailed, exacting retelling of the events before, during, and after—long after—the convention had left Philadelphia. It is a chilling story, well told. In it are many accounts of solidarity, betrayal, bravery, and brutality..."

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crashing the partyCrashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000: A Review
By Seth Sandronsky
Progressive Populist
December 15th, 2015

"I wrote this book largely to preserve our shared legacy of political and legal resistance so that we can learn from these experiences and challenge ourselves to be more effective in achieving broad-based social change.” Hermes aims to sustain that activist trend of collective action against corporate-state power in the post-Sept. 11 era, from increasing the minimum wage to ending police brutality and the eco-crisis.

To this end, Hermes documents state infiltration and oppression of GOP convention protesters. Attempts to enclose them in fenced protest areas suggested a continuity of enclosures to separate peasants from common land to force them into wage-labor...."

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crashing the partyLegal Hangover: A Review of Crashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000
By Kristian Williams
Toward Freedom
November 25th, 2015

"Crashing the Party provides an extended case study of one such campaign, that of the R2K Legal Collective, supporting protestors against the 2000 Republican Convention in Philadelphia. The city government sought to control protests with draconian restrictions, protest areas surrounded by chain link fences and police, and the denial of permits. Police addressed them with infiltration, pre-emptive raids, both mass and targeted arrests, and violence..."

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crashing the partyWill Philly police pass the protest test?
By Dana DiFilippo
Philly.com
April 8th, 2015

"I would like to think the police can respect people's free-speech rights, but history has shown that they have failed to do so time and time again," said Kris Hermes, a legal worker who aided Republican National Convention protesters here in 2000 and whose book Crashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000, is due out in July.

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