At Cleveland C-Space

C spaceI was lucky to get a lift from Kent down to Cleveland for my next engagement. Cleveland is another rust belt city that has seen its population drop in half since the 1950's.  It was so industrial that in 1969 the  Cuyahoga River famously went on fire such was the volume of pollutants in it.  On December 15, 1978 it became the first American city since the great depression to default on its loans and became know as  "the mistake on the lake." Today the economy is still clearly struggling, a fact given away by the hope placed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame located there.

 All we had was the address of the house I was staying in so after a bit of wandering around I was dropped off at a fairly typical bit of the run down suburbia that I was becoming familiar with.  After a while the person I was staying with arrived. They introduced me to the dog and showed me around the garden where they were cultivating vegetables. The house across the road had been abandoned and then set on fire so they were hoping to get permission to use the land around it to garden as well.  The population drop meant Cleveland was one of those places were vacant lots were returning to nature.

The meeting itself was in the C-space a venue that was at that time under threat from foreclosure.  The landlord was going to be foreclosed and that most often but not always (see comments) meant eviction for the tenants. From their website it appears they did close. The rumor was that they had managed to stay open so far because of an anonymous donation from Prince!  The space itself was a meeting space come library come internet cafe although the people running it said that due to problems with local kids they'd had to reduce the number of computers to a couple in a corner that could be easily monitored.

The Cleveland meeting was one of the smaller ones of the tour with ten people at it and I have no particularly strong memories of it.  Afterwards we went back to the house where I was staying and had a few beers before getting up early in the morning to catch the Greyhound to Detroit.

In terms of anarchism Cleveland's greatest claim to fame comes from hosting an Emma Goldman meeting in 1901 at which Goldmand met Leon Czolgosz for the first time.  Czolgosz would go on to assassinate President McKinley in Buffalo. After the assassination Czolgosz got a rapid show trial and execution before his body was disfigured with sulphuric acid. His last words were said to be "I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people – the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime."  His connections with the anarchist movement were tenuious, he was never a member of any group and the Free Society paper warned about him in advance of the assassination that;
"The attention of the comrades is called to another spy. He is well dressed, of medium height, rather narrow shoulders, blond and about 25 years of age. Up to the present he has made his appearance in Chicago and Cleveland. In the former place he remained but a short time, while in Cleveland he disappeared when the comrades had confirmed themselves of his identity and were on the point of exposing him. His demeanor is of the usual sort, pretending to be greatly interested in the cause, asking for names or soliciting aid for acts of contemplated violence. If this same individual makes his appearance elsewhere the comrades are warned in advance, and can act accordingly."

Goldman did defend him, comparing Czolgosz to Brutus killing Caesar and writing that McKinley was a "president of the money kings and trust magnates."  Most of the anarchist movement at the time however considered Czolgosz's act counter productive.

WORDS: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )

You'll find blog enteries for all 44 stops of my North American speaking tour on the site, I'm slowly returning to them and fleshing these out, you'll find the ones I have done this with at the Extending the accounts of my North American speaking tour page.


Tell those folks not to leave

Tell those folks not to leave before the foreclosure! They can fight the bank to either continue paying rent (bank acts as landlord, which the bank will not want to do) or negotiate to buy the property at appraised value (rather than mortgage value, which is likely to be double). These folks should get in touch with any organization that works on housing issues in Cleveland. Pass on my email if they're interested.


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