Listen to the Episode — 48 min
Rebel Girl: August 15, 2018: Our review of this year’s long, hot summer, the demonstrations in Charlottesville and DC on the anniversary of the defeat of Unite the Right, and plans for the upcoming August 21 prison strike on this episode of…
A weekly anarchist news show brought to you by The Ex-Worker
With me, the Rebel Girl.
Riot Dogg: Aaand me, The Riot Dogg!
Rebel Girl: Seriously, the Riot Dogg? You had all summer to pick a name and that’s the best you could come up with? Cheee-zeeee
Riot Dogg: Whoa whoa whoa what? What’s wrong with it?
Rebel Girl: I mean, okay we’re anarchists, sure, but not everything has to be “riot this” and “riot that,” you don’t hear me going by “The Riot Girl.”
Riot Dogg: You are literally named after the number one Riot Girl anthem.
Rebel Girl: Um no, I took my name after that Joe Hill poem, “her hands may be hardened from labor And her dress may not be very fine But a heart in her bosom is beating That is true to her class and her kind.”
Riot Dogg: Ok, listen Shakespeare,
Rebel Girl: More like Wollstonecraft thank you very much!
Riot Dogg: That’s fine but I’m not gonna be the Rebel Dogg—who’s ever heard of a Rebel Dogg? Meanwhile there’s Riot Doggs the world over—you had Loukanikos and Kanellos in Greece, and the canine cop killer Matapacos in Chile! You know, it’s just natural that man’s best friend would be capitalism’s worst enemy.
Rebel Girl: Sure, yeah, but there aren’t any Riot Dogs here in North America.
Riot Dogg: Well there is now! And I’ll be here all season, along with the Rebel Girl bringing you news of rebellion, autonomy, and repression from movements for liberation the world over. OW wow wowwww
Rebel Girl: exhale Woof. Can we get back to the show?
Riot Dogg: Oh right—welcome back to the third season of The Hotwire!
Rebel Girl: Podcasts not dead!
Riot Dogg: A full transcript of this episode with shownotes and useful links can be found at our website, CrimethInc.com/podcast, where you can also find a radio-ready twenty-nine and a half minute version of this episode for standard radio broadcasts, and no cussing!
WHILE WE WERE OFF THE AIR
Rebel Girl: Before we get into our feature on the weekend’s anti-fascist actions in Charlottesville in DC, we just want to run through a quick recap of what’s been going on while we’ve been off the air.
Riot Dogg: With all time heat records being set all over the globe, it has certainly been a long, hot summer. Dog days, you might say. So hot, in fact, that many are hoping that the heat will melt the ICE.
People in cities across the US took aim at Trump’s immigration policies and at Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Prompted largely by the outrage of the Trump administration’s policy of separating children and parents at the border, Turtle Island saw a huge wave of activity in response.
Rebel Girl: Let’s pause here for a second and recognize that this isn’t new-children of color have been ripped from their parent’s arms for centuries in America-first during chattel slavery, and later on, removing First Nations children from their families and sending them to reform schools-the state has a long and brutal history of breaking up families for the sake of “the nation.”
Riot Dogg: True, and that’s one reason people could clearly see the policy for what it is—an extension of Trump’s white supremacist, xenophobic agenda and a further attempt to dehumanize and punish immigrants for seeking a better life.
Rebel Girl: There were demos and road blockades in too many places to name, and widespread occupations. The first #OccupyICE encampment sprung up in mid-June in Portland, with Louisville, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, Tacoma, Tampa, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Charlotte, NC, among others, following suit. And, while these occupations haven’t always lasted long or generalized into a tactic employed by everyday Americans, it’s important to recognize that people have been experimenting with ways to resist and creating temporary spaces where people can find one another.
Riot Dogg: We here at the Hotwire firmly believe that people experimenting with tactics helps integrate them into the popular imagination, allowing people to take them for inspiration at another time and place in the future. As we air, there are still ongoing occupations in LA, Portland, and Philadelphia.
Rebel Girl: One of the struggles we reported on a lot towards the end of last season was the student-led movement against school gun violence, because it seemed like that energy could go in any number of interesting directions. However, student energy has been solidly recuperated by Democrats to push gun reform and was largely channeled into a discourse of representation and voting. Which, in many ways, is what makes the demos and occupations against ICE that happened over the summer so exciting-those struggles have departed from a dialogue dominated by Democrats and political institutions, although they were powerful enough that more than a few so-called “progressive” politicians attempted to warp the idea of abolishing ICE into simply reverting back to previous border protection agencies.
Riot Dogg: Early August saw a wave of antifascist action when the same fascists jerks who were badly beaten in the streets last year organized events across the country, with Portland, Oregon seeing the most intense confrontations. On August 4, thousands of people came together in Portland to protest a rally organized by the fascist groups “Patriot Prayer” and the “Proud Boys.” At a previous march in Portland on June 30, police opened their ranks in order to allow fascists to attack protesters, then protected the assailants and attacked the same protesters once more. August 4 followed a similar script. Once again, police worked closely with the fascists, but this time the police were the ones who escalated the conflict, deploying near lethal force against those who had come to demonstrate against fascism. The following day, police in Berkeley California followed a similar script as they fired projectiles, without provocation, on an anti-fascist crowd that had turned out to confront the alt-right. The BPD continued to aid fascists even after the arrests and repression by publicly releasing the names, ages, charges, and photographs of the 17 people arrested.
Later in the episode we’ll elaborate on how the commemorative events in Charlottesville and the opposition to Unite the Right 2 in DC clearly illuminate the cozy relationships between the explicit advocates of white supremacy and the police.
Rebel Girl: Resistance to pipeline infrastructure keeps keeping on across the country. In July, water protectors staged multiple lockdowns to equipment being used to build the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana, erected treesits in the path of the pipeline, and the L’ea Est La Vie Camp is still going strong. At the beginning of August, a fourth treesit was erected in the path of Bayou Bridge Pipeline construction in Louisiana. And soon after, a combination of aerial blockades and water protectors in boats shutdown an entire day of construction.
There were also lockdowns to equipment used to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline and equipment was sabotaged on this pipeline as well as the Mariner East 2 Pipeline. The Mountain Valley Pipeline also saw multiple blockades as people attempted last-ditch efforts to stop its construction. One of the most notable and disturbing events to happen this summer during pipeline resistance was the arrest of three activists kayaking in public waters. All three were charged with felonies, including “unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure” under Louisiana House Bill 727, an ALEC-model bill criminalizing opposition to fossil fuel infrastructure. We can, unfortunately, expect to see more of this in the future as an increasing number of states pass laws criminalizing protest.
Riot Dogg: The IWW has been actively organizing across the US at Grassroots Campaigns, a canvassing company whose clients include liberal non-profits like the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign, yet whose treatment of their own workers puts profit above all else, including their employees’ wellbeing. August 10 was a national day of action called for by the Seattle IWW to support wobblies there in their fight against a lockout by Grassroots Campaigns.
Wobblies in Boston, Philly, New York City, and San Francisco picketed and handed out flyers about the Seattle lockout outside their own local Grassroots Campaigns offices. In New Orleans, Grassroots Campaigns workers there recently won the right to unionize their workplace, so they celebrated and showed solidarity on the 10 by passing out flyers throughout the office, much to management’s chagrin.
CHARLOTTESVILLE AND DC SHOW UP AGAINST FASCISM
Rebel Girl: And that more-or-less brings us up to the past weekend, which marked the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right white supremacist gathering, and its anti-fascist opposition, in Charlottesville. Despite it being the largest fascist gathering in recent decades, despite attendees beating anti-racist students with torches on the evening prior, and despite the incredible violence that Unite the Right attendees wielded against anti-fascists, ultimately resulting in the murder of Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer, the alt-right lost the battle that day and some of their organizations suffered major setbacks as a result.
This year, anti-fascists showed up to Charlottesville to commemorate last year’s fight and to oppose the repressive state of emergency and over 1000 extra officers brought in for the weekend. In DC, thousands of anti-racists demonstrated against the poorly attended Unite the Right 2, a sequel to last year’s white supremacist rally.
Riot Dogg: In Charlottesville, the first act of Saturday was a slow, solemn, silent march led by a few dozen anti-fascists in black bloc to the site of the fascist car attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured over a dozen more. With their arms around each other’s shoulders, the image stood in contrast to the ultraviolent supersoldier boogeyman that both the far-right and liberals like to paint antifascists out to be—it showed that the struggle against fascism is not only about putting up a strong fight against bigotry, but also about taking care of and supporting each other.
Rebel Girl: That evening marked one year since the Nazi torch-lit march on the University of Virginia’s campus, when Nazis surrounded and beat a much smaller crowd of anti-racist students and townspeople. A quote “Rally for Justice” was planned for 7 PM at the site of the attack, and the University and police had amassed a security perimeter and metal-detector checkpoint to control the situation. A crowd of hundreds gathered at the foot of the staircase that led onto campus, just outside the metal-detectors, unsure of what would happen as the start time drew near. Then, just before 7, a group of primarily black students, who had entered through the checkpoints earlier, took the steps and unfurled a huge banner that read, “Last year they came with torches, this year they come with badges.”
UVA STUDENTS UNITED: THE ONES IN BADGES ARE NOT HERE TO PROTECT US! THEY ARE HERE TO CONTROL US! WHEN SAFETY IS EQUATED WITH CONTROL… THE POLICE WILL ALWAYS REIGN! AND WHEN THE POLICE REIGN… SO DOES A PERMANENT STATE OF TERROR! IN SUCH A WORLD… A WORLD THAT LOOKS LIKE THIS, EVERY MOMENT IS A THREAT! THE THREAT IS MADE OF CUFFS! CAGES! CHEMICALS! BULLETS! AND BATONS! THE THREAT WE POSE TO THEM… IS THAT WE ACT OUTSIDE OF THE LAWS… THAT WE PRESERVE THE WORLD AS IT ALREADY IS! THAT WE WILL DEMAND MORE THAN JUST SAFETY! THEY ARE AFRAID… THAT WE WILL EMBODY SELF-DETERMINATION! AND THAT WE… WILL BEGIN TO ORGANIZE, UNDERMINING THEIR POWERS AND PROCESS! THEY ARE HERE TO CONTROL US! THEY ARE HERE TO CONTROL US!
Riot Dogg: After turning their back on the police confines of the official rally, the students, clergy, bloc’d up anti-fascists, and plenty of townspeople embarked on a high-spirited, hours-long march through Charlottesville, at one point unarresting one masked marcher from police and eventually ending the march at the confederate statue of Robert E. Lee, which was surrounded by hundreds of police and many layers of fence.
Rebel Girl: The following day in Charlottesville began with a rally and speakers in a park.
Meres Solidaires: One year ago, we felt with you the pride of seeing a powerful anti-fascist movement rise up against a far-right and white-supremacist gathering in Virginia.
We also felt the terrible sadness of seeing a young woman who stood up against all forms of discrimination murdered by fascist hatred: Heather Heyer, this shining face, this strong and at the same time calm determination to refuse the unacceptable. Too much light, too much determination…
This is the same hate that in Paris in 2013 killed Clément Méric, an 18-year-old syndicalist and anti-fascist militant.
Elsewhere in Europe, fascism or state repression have claimed the lives of Carlos Palomino, Pavlos Fyssas, Carlo Giuliani, Renato Biagetti, Dax, and so many other young people whose names will forever be associated with the struggle for a world liberated from white supremacy, bigotry, and social injustice.
We write from France as the mothers of young militants who have suffered violence or repression as a result of their activism.
Like Susan Bro, Heather’s mother, we are proud of the struggles of our children.
We know that they pay, or risk paying, very dearly for their refusal of an unjust society that is imposed upon them by the powerful. Death, violence, criminal charges, imprisonment… They are familiar with all of this. We have lived it alongside them.
And we affirm as loudly and as strongly as we can, a thousand times over, that our children are right for fighting back!
Our own struggle, as their mothers, is to bring attention to their words—words too often neglected, deformed, or caricatured.
The fight against the vision of the world spread by the far right must be the business of every generation, each one in its own way.
Mothers from Italy and Spain, whose parents knew fascism and Francoism, have shown us the path forward.
Alongside them, we are in the process of forming an International Network of Anti-Fascist Mothers in order to mutually support one another and to be present wherever struggles are taking place.
We are organizing to support everyday struggles in the neighborhoods targeted by racists, in the schools, and in the prisons; as well as the mobilizations that the entire world will be watching, such as that of this weekend, August 11–12, 2018, in Charlottesville.
We are pleased to associate ourselves with this great movement of resistance, to which your courage has summoned us. We send you our gratitude.
Rebel Girl: In the afternoon, folks marched to the site of the car attack, which over the last year has been transformed into a living memorial—where people lay flowers and photos and anti-fascist buttons in memory of Heather Heyer. The whole block is decorated with chalked slogans, everything from “Love Trumps Hate” to “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” to the names of other victims of white supremacist and police violence. Still angry over the way demonstrators took the initiative and marched in defiance of the state of emergency on Saturday, police divided the crowd, penned in those who had entered the checkpoint to visit the memorial, and eventually started assaulting demonstrators. Even the National Guard showed up to intimidate the anti-fascist side, while ignoring one lone fascist who walked through the crowd taking pictures and shouting, “I’m going to dox all you antifa bitches.” At least one arrest was made.
Riot Dogg: Damn. That’s a sour way to end a powerful weekend, but I guess it’s also an important reminder that despite all that the police said about keeping people safe in Charlottesville this year, cops ain’t there to keep us safe.
Rebel Girl: Sure aren’t. Like the kids say, they’re there to control us. But hey, that wasn’t the end of the weekend, we haven’t even discussed DC yet.
Riot Dogg: Oh yeah, for that I talked to David from Shut It Down DC about what went down there.
Who are we speaking with and what happened on Sunday?
David: My name is David Thurston. I was the arts organizer for the Shut It Down DC mobilization, and I was also one of the two emcees for the rally in Freedom Plaza. And what happened was, neo-nazis came to DC in ridiculously pitiful numbers. At most, 30, it sounds like. We had a massive demonstration of opposition to their presence including two large permitted rallies as well as a number of conceptualized direct action deployments.
People have been meeting over the last at least month and a half to two months to try to plan this. A lot of folks who had worked together before through the J20 mobilization against Trump’s inauguration were at the core of it. Also folks from Black Lives Matter DC, Movement for Black Lives, Black Youth Project 100 were utterly central. There was a Rise Up, Fight Back Black-led contingent in direct action that was solid and fierce and very inspiring. There were all kinds of spokescouncils, ad hoc planning meetings, I was organizing the arts so we had a crew of artists from another collective designing and painting banners which was important because we wanted the rallies and especially direct actions to have messaging for why we were there, that was really inspiring and crystal clear for media and social media to pick up.
Riot Dogg: And, were there any missed opportunities? Anything that could have been done better?
David Thurston: I mean, given how much the city mobilized the police to ensure that the nazis, in whatever pitiful numbers they were, needed to speak, I’m not sure what tactically could have been done differently to stop them from getting there, but I do think this is a huge win for us. They spoke for at most I understand about 30 minutes, and they left demoralized on Sunday night. Jason Kessler launched a Twitter rant against the rest of the alt-right who hadn’t mobilized, calling them something like “wannabe nazis living in their mothers’ basements”, so this is pretty hysterical. Like the forces who proclaim themselves as the alt-right are at each other’s throats over their own organizational, political, interpersonal disarray and yeah, I mean I think we really won.
Riot Dogg: Thanks for all your work this Sunday and for this interview. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
David: Well, I’ll tell you one thing. Like maybe… I, uh, I was at the rally…this might have been the thing that most [unclear] me about the rally. I ran into a lot of people that I know, a lot of people that I didn’t know who [unclear] people organizing. I was at Lafayette and a Black guy I didn’t recognize, African American guy I didn’t recognize came up to me and said ‘Hi,’ and he said ‘You don’t remember me,’ and I said ‘I don’t know remember you. Who are you, nice to meet you,’ and he said ‘Maybe ten, twelve years ago, me and two friends of mine attacked you on a street on New Hampshire avenue in Northwest and I threw a rock at your head and we tried to rob you, and I wanted to apologize.’ And I was kinda blown away, I just told him that I totally accepted his apology and I thought what happened in the aftermath of my mugging was really weird for me ‘cos I didn’t want anyone to go to jail for trying to mug me for ten bucks, ya know. But he was actually at the rally, someone who had been at the low end of possibility twelve years ago, who saw muggings from a random other Black person as a way of… something to do, someway to maybe get a little money to get some kind of fix or whatever, was at the rally and reached out and wanted to extend an apology and that was my favorite anecdote of the day, personally.
I mean, for me the thing to think about is that white supremacy and capitalism do immense damage to the most directly impacted communities and that leads people to victimize one another, to turn on one another, to see one another as predator and prey. The fact that a really successful movement moment like Sunday could bring someone back into my life who had been a really hostile presence twelve years ago to say ‘Hey, I’m with you now,’ that’s what moves me about that anecdote.
Rebel Girl: Wow. Sounds like a victory to me.
Riot Dogg: I dunno, I mean if you think about it, Kessler kind of got everything he wanted: he had his rally, it was respectably “peaceful” like he wanted
Rebel Girl: I mean, as “peaceful” as you can call any situation where there’s hundreds of police with guns milling around.
Riot Dogg: Sure, but he got his platform, even NPR gave him a softball interview. Kessler was celebrating afterward, he felt good about it.
Rebel Girl: Oh come on. He was a laughing stock! Barely anyone showed up, even he had to admit that. If that shows anything it shows that militant anti-fascism and going where they go doesn’t encourage them, it scares them. He literally said more people would have come if they hadn’t been afraid.
Riot Dogg: But what if he hadn’t shown up at all? They took the metro right? What if people just occupied one of the stations on their route and blocked the rails all damn day?
Rebel Girl: Listen, if this month’s anti-fascist demonstrations in Portland and Berkeley showed us anything, it’s that the full force of the state is now being mobilized to protect Nazis. Before Charlottesville, as fascists were stabbing us in Sacramento, shooting us in Seattle and Minneapolis, and brawling with us in Berkeley and Portland, the police remained fairly hands off. This year, the cops are doing the dirty work for the fash, going so far as, in the case of Berkeley, publicly releasing, essentially lightly doxxing, the faces and names of arrested anti-fascists, while in Newnan and Portland police shot so-called “less lethal” projectiles at close range.
Riot Dogg: Ha, “less lethal.” In Portland, a cop fired a flash-bang grenade directly at someone’s head… the only reason this person didn’t die is because they were wearing a helmet, which the flash bang canister was firmly lodged in.
Rebel Girl: Totally. What I’m trying to say is that we shouldn’t feel that bad for failing to completely shut down Unite the Right 2 in DC. Just outnumbering the fascists can demoralize them, as the showdown in Providence, Rhode Island on August 4 demonstrated. And it’s significant that even after Facebook tainted the opposition to Unite the Right 2 with allegations of Russian “meddling,” there were still thousands of people who showed up, including plenty of liberals who are susceptible to that kind of Russian-collusion-panic.
There will always be tactical reflections and ways to improve, but we’re not just up against autonomous fascists in a private grudge match anymore, we’ll have to contend with the police. To do that, we’ll have to connect anti-fascism to the years of anti-police struggles that have been going on, and also use the police’s defense of fascism to delegitimize them and make their job harder.
Riot Dogg: You know, on Sunday It’s Going Down tweeted out a thread that did a really good job of that, explaining, in detail and nuance, the connections between the alt-right, police, and why police are coming out to forcefully defend fascists. I’ll read it here, but I’ve changed some of the language to make it less twitter talk-y and nicer to listen to:
“So much has happened over the last two weeks, it can be hard to process the collection of emotions: pain, sorrow, rage, joy. But as we look back one year after #Charlottesville, there is still a large hole in our discussions of these events, primarily: the role of the police. Over the coming days, many of us will be asked a similar question by a loved one or friend or co-worker: ‘Why do the police protect the Nazis?’ ‘Why did they attack one side in Portland, and not the other?’
“While it is easy to resort to bumper sticker answers, the truth is complex. The recent PBS Frontline documentary, Documenting Hate begins to scratch the surface. In it, they talk with an ex-FBI agent who rightfully concludes that coddling by law enforcement acts as a green light for the far-right to engage in violence in a variety of settings. But this still doesn’t explain WHY the police give cover to the far-right, and in the past, even people from the intelligence apparatus have sounded the alarm on far-Right violence, only to be quickly shown the door.
“If we look at the case of #Charlottesville in 2017, we can actually read documents that shed light on why police acted the way that they did, something not discussed in the documentary we mentioned, but nonetheless written about by journalists like Will Parrish.
“Parrish writes, ‘An August 9 assessment by law enforcement officers of the potential for ‘domestic terrorist violence’ at the August 12 rally mainly focused on the possibility that violence would emanate from anti-racists, who were described as ‘anarchist extremists.’’ But if law enforcement is creating policy that would affect how things play out on the streets, they have to be getting informed on a certain level from some source, right? There has to be a ‘logical’ reason police view antifa as a bigger threat than the far-right, right?
“Well, when one starts to look through Freedom of Information Act documents from Fusion Centers, reports from Department of Homeland Security agencies, and the famous quote-unqoute ‘leaked’ FBI memo that Politico reported on, we see massive amounts of lies, half-truths, and especially a reliance on information coming from far-right sources, even the alt-right. For instance, in one of the first reports written by DHS, the New Jersey DHS wrote that: ‘In June 2016, counter-protesters, including anarchist extremists, attacked 25 white supremacists in Sacramento, injuring 10.’ Unmentioned is the fact that neo-Nazis stabbed 9 people.
“In a widely referenced article by Politico, the lie about Sacramento is repeated, that antifa who were stabbed by neo-Nazis, in fact were the stabbers.
“But aside from influencing #Charlottesville in 2017, such false claims of violence, which are either made up, or are in fact, caused by the far-Right, are also being used for draconian clampdowns against protest, such as with the “UnMasking Antifa Bill.”
“Another example of this came from a Northern California Fusion Center, that includes FBI and local police, as well as Joint Terrorism Task Force officers who routinely police activists, LEOs bought into and prepared for the November 4th ‘ANTIFA Civil War’ promoted by lielord, Alex Jones.
“Other examples include justifying a policy of targeting antifascists due to info in poorly researched articles from far-right websites that allege to ‘connect the dots’ between anarchists, crime, radical US ‘Islamic organizations,’ and ‘left wing billionaires.’
“This phenomenon also includes even pulling Alt-Right memes from far-Right media pages, and passing them off as actual examples of antifascist images. The end result of course is a collection of police agencies who view broad social movements from Black Lives Matter, to Native Water Protectors, to anarchists and antifascists, as the most violent groups and movements threatening the public at large.
“Case in point, the Central California Intelligence Center, a fusion center based in Northern California, wrote in 2017 per-Charlottesville that ‘ANTIFA’ was the ‘greatest threat to public safety.’
“Social movements and struggles that challenge and threaten power, the State, capital, and the racial order, will be presented to the public by the established power structure as a threat, but that threat has to be manufactured.
“This is where Fox News, Tucker Carlson, InfoWars, and all the rest come in - as a vehicle financed and supported by the elites, corporations, and billionaires, which exists almost solely to attack movements from below.
“This is why the police in Portland attacked the antifascists and were willing to almost kill someone in order to not just protect an idiot like Patriot Prayer’s leader Joey Gibson, but in order to smash us with the utmost brutality, just as they did the next day in Berkeley. As our movements grow; both in power and in confidence, they will be attacked by the State. And it is this reality we must explain to the vast majority of the population - that such brutality is by design, not a ‘neutral’ response to threats to the public.”
Rebel Girl: In this week’s repression roundup…
Sean Swain, the world-famous anarchist prisoner and foul-mouthed troublemaker, has spent the last few weeks in solitary confinement after the Ohio prison system increased his security level from 3 to 5b. Call Director Gary Mohr at 614–387–0588 to request that Sean’s security level be dropped down to 2. We have a script in our shownotes.
Riot Dogg: Baltimore rebel Allen Bullock, who originally served half a year over some broken car windows in the 2015 uprising after police murdered Freddie Gray, was just sent back to prison for four more years for, quote, “not taking his probation seriously.” Basically, now he’s doing four years for breaking some windows and missing a couple meetings. You can donate to Allen’s commissary at gofundme.com/allen-bullock-commissary-fund.
Rebel Girl: In Pennsylvania, a grandmother and retired special education teacher, Ellen Gerhart, was arrested and placed in solitary for allegedly baiting mountain lions and bears onto her property, which is on the path of the Mariner East 2 pipeline, built by Energy Transfer Partners, the same folks behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Riot Dogg: Wait so like, she was trying to enlist mountain lions in the fight against against the totalitarian encroachment of industrial civilization??? Heck yes! Bork bork bork! One struggle, one fight, humans and quadrapeds unite!
Rebel Girl: Whoa there dog, it actually turns out that no mountain lion has been seen in Pennsylvania for over a century.
Riot Dogg: Oh.
Rebel Girl: And just like Ellen’s daughter said, “If you build a pipeline through the woods, you should expect to see bears and other wildlife.” So Gerhart’s case looks less like a genius interspecies conspiracy and more like legal retaliation for her family’s continued protests and legal appeals against the pipeline. She was sentenced to two-to-six months and a $2,000 fine. Donations to the legal fund can be made via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Riot Dogg: In some good news, another pipeline resister, Michael Foster, was granted early release from prison after being sentenced back in February for criminal mischief and conspiracy charges for shutting off a valve of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota in 2016. Foster’s action shut down 15% of US crude oil imports for almost 24 hours. With hurricane season just around the corner and wildfires burning across California, there’s no shortage of journalists scratching their heads or proposing complicated policy changes to stave off climate catastrophe, but Foster’s action shows that sometimes, the solution can be as simple as the flick of a switch.
Rebel Girl: The Earth First! Newswire reported last week that alleged Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front fugitive, Joseph Dibee, was arrested in Cuba after over a decade on the lam. The report explains that, “In 2006, a federal grand jury… indicted Dibee and 12 others as part of Operation Backfire, an FBI investigation into animal and earth liberation groups.”
Riot Dogg: Operation Backfire was part of a larger wave of repression that also targeted the anti-vivisection Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign, as well as individual eco-radicals like Rod Coronado, Marius Mason, and Eric McDavid. In Coronado and McDavid’s respective cases, they were essentially imprisoned for thoughtcrime—that is, for simply discussing illegal activities.
Rebel Girl: On Friday, Dibee appeared in an Oregon federal court where he pleaded not guilty to three counts of arson and conspiracy charges. One of the arson charges stems from an action described in the following clip from the 2011 Oscar-nominated documentary If A Tree Falls, A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.
IF A TREE FALLS: Members of the fledgling ELF set their sights on new targets. They came across as Associated Press article about the rounding up of wild horses form government land. The horses were being sent to slaughterhouses, including the Cavel West plant in nearby Redmond, Oregon. There were so many horses being processed at the plant that horse blood would sometimes overwhelm the town’s water treatment facility and shut it down. And for ten years, people from the area had tried and failed to stop the plant. But on July 21, 1997, Jake Ferguson and three others slipped into the facility in the middle of the night and burned it to the ground. The company was never able to rebuild, and the arson became a model for the group. In one night, they had accomplished what years of letter-writing and picketing had never been able to do.
Riot Dogg: That Jake Ferguson character that’s mentioned is the snitch that led the FBI to the other Operation Backfire defendants in the 2000s, which touches on one of the lessons of the case: it demonstrated the value of collective defense and non-cooperation with the government. Proportionally, the non-cooperating defendants served less time—four to seven years—than the defendants who became informants, some of whom were sentenced to more than twelve years of prison.
Rebel Girl: We have Joseph Dibee’s address where you can write him letters posted in this episode’s shownotes at CrimethInc.com. Joseph is pre-trial, so remember not to reference his case nor write him about anything illegal.
NEXT WEEK’S NEWS
Rebel Girl: We’ll close out this Hotwire with this week’s political prisoner birthdays and next week’s news.
Today, Wednesday, August 15, is the birthday of Little Feather, who is serving three years for water protector actions taken during the No Dakota Access Pipeline encampment at Standing Rock in 2016.
Riot Dogg: And tomorrow, August 16, is Hanif Shabazz Bey’s birthday. Bey is one of the Virgin Island three, anti-colonial political prisoners serving 8 consecutive life sentences as a result of confessions that were tortured out of them with electric shocks.
Rebel Girl: Please write a card to Little Feather and Hanif. It will only take you a few minutes, but getting your letter could be the highlight of their week. We have their addresses and a guide to writing prisoners in our shownotes.
Riot Dogg: And now, next week’s news, our list of events that you can plug into in real life.
First and foremost, in case you haven’t heard, there’s a nationwide #prisonstrike kicking off on August 21, the anniversary of George Jackson’s assassination, and continuing until September 9, the anniversary of the Attica Prison Uprising. September 9 is also when, two years ago, the largest prison strike in US history took place, which saw work stoppages, the destruction of facilities, and even marches inside prison yards.
This year’s strike was called for after 7 prisoners in South Carolina died in April during a riot that broke out as a result of inhumane, unlivable conditions. The strike has issued demands, some of which include: -an end to forced labor and prison slavery -an end to racist gang enhancement laws -and an end to life sentences without parole
There’s a number of support activities going on around the country that you can plug into.
Rebel Girl: August 16 in Minneapolis there’s a prisoner letter-writing nightat Walker Community United Methodist Church.
Riot Dogg: August 18 in Kansas City, Missouri there’s a free show and cookout at Records With Merritt.
Rebel Girl: On the 19 at the New Haven People’s Center in Connecticut there will be food, a presentation on Nat Turner’s slave rebellion, and a discussion of how to prepare for the prison strike
Riot Dogg: On the day of the prison strike there will be actions all over North America, and beyond.
At 6 PM in Boston there will be a vigil at the South Bay House of Corrections.
Rebel Girl: There will be a bunch of noise demos—7:30 PM in Corona, California outside the Institution for Women; 7:30 PM in Los Angeles outside the Twin Towers Jail; 8 PM in Elliot Park, Minneapolis; 7 o’clock outside the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York; in Philadelphia outside the Juvenile Justice Services Center at 7 PM; in Seattle’s Red Square at 1 PM, and in Leipzig, Germany outside the US Consulate at 5 PM.
Riot Dogg: If we didn’t mention anything going on near you, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Check out ItsGoingDown.org or the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee for more ways to get involved on the outside, and since you’re listening to this podcast, you should also check out the excellent abolitionist podcasts Rustbelt Abolition Radio and Kiteline, and check out Episode 50 of The Ex-Worker which we made for 2016’s prison strike.
Rebel Girl: And I want to say one more thing about the prison strike—August has already been a busy, busy month in terms of fighting fascists in the streets, but to me prison abolition is part of anti-fascism, and not just because of how totalitarian prison administrations are. Prisons and the white supremacist state exist in a relationship of symbiotic violence, each requiring and sustaining the other. And it’s not only that the system habitually criminalizes people of color, locks them up at disproportionate rates, and then profits from their slave labor. It’s also that explicit white supremacy that has fed the rise of the Alt-Right thrives within US prisons. For the anniversary of Charlottesville, PBS produced a Frontline documentary on organized white supremacists, and they focused in on one who attended Charlottesville, who had gotten his start with neo-Nazi organizing while locked up.
AC Thompson: Wow. So this is the thing that I’ve been trying to understand. Rob Rundo, he grows up in Queens, New York. He’s a member of kind of a multicultural gang. He goes upstate to New York State Prison, and by the time he gets out of New York State Prison, he is definitely on the path to being a neo-nazi or a white supremacist.
Lowell Smith: There is a lot of hate within the prison system. There’s a lot of assaults, fights, racial fights, so they go in there and they separate by race for protection. So for these guys to be protected, they gotta be allied for protection with hardcore violent skinheads. Then they go out to the streets, they’re ideologically motivated.
AC Thompson: So it’s not surprising to you.
Lowell Smith: It doesn’t surprise me at all, nah. Over time, especially within the last year or so, couple years, I’ve seen this whole white supremacist thing become more emboldened.
AC Thompson: Just in the last couple years?
Lowell Smith: Yeah. It’s probably the most active in my history, in my career.
AC Thompson: So in almost 30 years?
Rebel Girl: Of course, even within the harsh conditions of prison there are white people who refuse to associate with fascists, but whiteness itself has always been a way for the powerful to divide the oppressed—convincing exploited white folks that they have more in common with rich people of their same skin than people of color who are also exploited. So, it’s no surprise that white supremacy flourishes within prisons. And in that sense, supporting prison organizing that cuts across racial divides IS anti-fascist work.
There’s this sort of catch 22 that liberal anti-fascism falls into, where if you trust the state to handle fascists, well, most of the time they just don’t, as Charlottesville showed. And in the case that they do target fascists for their violence, they just get thrown in with possibly even more hardcore white supremacists in prison. For those of us who don’t put faith in the state to solve the problem of fascism, we have to confront them ourselves, wherever self-avowed white supremacy breeds, and that includes prisons and supporting work that undoes racial divisions inside prisons in favor of collective revolt.
Riot Dogg: And speaking of explicit white supremacy and fascists, this Saturday, August 18, fascist groups around the country will be staging so-called “resist Marxism” rallies. Follow the hashtag #AllOutATX to find out about opposing the fash in Austin, Texas, and listeners in Boston can turn out there to oppose the most disingenuously named demonstration ever, the “march against far-left violence” which takes place Saturday at noon.
Rebel Girl: On August 20, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a demonstration against the town’s confederate statue will take place at 7 PM. Chapel Hill is a lot like Charlottesville—a small liberal southern town with a prestigious state university and a hated confederate statue. It’s also just down the road from Durham, where last year people toppled a confederate statue without waiting for the city to do it for them. The demonstration is taking place right as the semester begins, and last year this combination led to a rowdy rally with break-off marches, blocking police vans, and a spontaneous overnight occupation of the statue that turned into a weeklong one. We’ll be back next episode to let you know what happens this year.
Riot Dogg: California’s Earth First! Humboldt is hosting a Week of Action from August 25 to 31 to protect the ancient Mattole forest. There will be camping for out-of-towners, rallies, and direct action! For more info, email EFHum@riseup.net, call 707–336–2231, or check out blockade.babes on Instagram.
Rebel Girl: Eco-rebels occupying Germany’s Hambacher forest are warning of possible evictions of the over 40 tree houses there. They’re specifically mobilizing defense for the weeks between August 22 and September 22, so now would be a good time to check out this amazing Ewok-esque free state and help prepare to defend it and the forest.
Riot Dogg: And finally, anarchists in Zurich, Switzerland will be hosting a Tattoo Circus there from august 31 to September 2, to raise money for political prisoners and the Anarchist Black Cross.
Find out more at TattooCircusZurich.noblogs.org.
Rebel Girl: And that’s it for this Hotwire. As always thanks to Underground Reverie for the music, thanks to David from Shut It Down DC for the interview, and thank YOU for tuning back in. Stay in touch with us by e-mail to podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com or follow us on Twitter @HotwireWeekly. Don’t forget to check out all the links, mailing addresses, and useful notes we customized for this episode at CrimethInc.com.
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