Tobie Castle is one of the last to arrive at Chuco's on Sunday morning. The 17-year-old self-proclaimed socialist/anarchist street punk came from East L.A. to Inglewood with a comrade for the sixth meeting of the Free Association of Anarchists.
He's spring-loaded in a black leather jacket, black boots, jeans and a blue bandanna under a Suicidal Tendencies baseball cap. "If it wasn't for us working-class people, you wouldn't have your schools and prisons and institutions and churches," he says to a comrade. "We are the ones who bleed and sweat to give you a nice building. But do we get a thank you? No! All we get is dirt and pushed."
Chuco's is a temple of revolution, a community center, decorated in graffiti. A small spray-painted poster is almost invisible in the collage of Krylon murals dominating the pale-green cinder-block walls: Justice 4 Oscar G. The fallen comrade's eyes speak out from beyond. The big banner near the ceiling encapsulates the philosophy succinctly: College Prep, Not Prison Prep.
The community center houses Free L.A. High School, a state-accredited learning institution where uprise is at the top of the curriculum. The school teaches public advocacy along with the usual subjects to 16- to 24-year-olds coming out of prison, jails or juvenile halls or who have been pushed out of other schools or expelled from entire districts.
Founding Free Association of Anarchists members Miguel, Frank and Richard have already set up folding chairs and a table for the meeting. Taking visual cues from Che and Fidel, the early-20-somethings look like anarchists, or at least socialists, understated and working-class, with a little Melrose flavor in the mix.