Category Archives: Summer 2001 (6/21/01)

Defend the Mattole

Ancient trees felled by corporate greed

The struggle to save ancient trees located in the Mattole watershed in Humboldt County – the second largest intact stand of lowland old growth Douglas Fir forest in California – is heating up this summer, and action is needed now to save this treasure. Although forest defenders and residents of the Mattole River basin were successful over the winter in gaining a significant reprieve for the old growth forest through citizen lawsuits and courageous direct action, this spring saw the re-activation of logging plans, along with legal and physical assaults on the forest defenders and their blockades deep in the forest.

Pacific Lumber (PL), which already logged most of the old growth redwoods in Headwaters Forest, began cutting trees in early May, and ancient tress are falling as you read this article.

This exceptionally sensitive ecosystem is home to Coho salmon and steelhead trout, river otters, northern goshawks, peregrine falcons, Pacific fishers, and a small rural community committed to preserving it. Its pristine, remote, very steep and rugged mix of forest and prairie can receive as much as 100 inches of rain annually.

The forests of the Mattole’s Rainbow Ridge hold together the soil in what is likely the most seismically active area in California. Situated at the meeting of three tectonic plates, the area experiences frequent earthquakes and monsoon-like downpours, making it exceptionally vulnerable to the impacts of timber harvest. Clear-cut logging leaves the land exposed to the full force of torrential rains, adding to already high background rates of erosion. Raw landslide scars caused by logging in the 1980s continue to bleed sediment into downstream tributaries, which historically supported healthy fisheries. Some of the pioneer work in stream restoration has been carried out in the Mattole. Further logging would damage what little clean-water habitat remains.

Eight Timber Harvest Plans (THPs) totaling over 400 acres have been making their way through the approval bureaucracy. According to a map prepared by the Mattole Restoration Council, 91 percent of the old growth forests in the Mattole watershed were cut between 1947 and 1988. Of the 9 percent remaining, the largest block is in the Lower North Fork of the Mattole, in the area known as the Rainbow Ridge. Large contiguous blocks are especially important because they insulate the creatures that inhabit them from the edges of the forest.

Before cutting restarted, activists had occupied the forest continuously since late November, spurred by a brief logging spree that month. The raids on the activists’ deep woods camp, where they had erected bipods, “sleeping dragon” lockdowns, tree sits and other blockades, began in earnest in April, with loggers and Department of Fish and Game (DFG) poacher trackers assisting the Humboldt County Sheriffs Department.

The DFG trackers, brought in from Siskiyou county where they normally chase bear poachers, chased two activists off a cliff. One fell about 40 feet and had to be airlifted out to the hospital. The other, a first time forest defender from Toronto, Canada, is still hobbling around on crutches suffering from tendon damage.

Humboldt residents are urging the County Board of Supervisors to send human rights monitors into the forest during protests. On more than one occasion, men from Lewis Logging, a contractor with PL, cut sitters out of trees, after taking their water, food and shoes, without law enforcement even being present.

Sheriff’s deputies have burned materials seized in their ransacking, including plastic tarps, buckets and sleeping bags. As of June 1, there have been 33 arrests in the Mattole since logging began on May 9; 52 since November. Those arrested in April are getting through their court proceedings, and some face inordinately stiff sentences.

On May 23, two activists were sentenced after being found guilty of trespass and resisting arrest (“resisting” usually simply means one is engaged in a lockdown, using a bicycle lock or a “black bear” metal sleeve device) to 30 days and 120 days in jail.

David Werher, a Bay Area activist and Americorps volunteer, is facing trumped up felony child endangerment charges after eight teenagers enrolled in the Urban Pioneer Program at San Francisco Unified School District were arrested on trespass charges in the Mattole area. They had traveled to the Mattole on a school-sanctioned field trip with parental permission to experience this stunning old growth forest and learn about salmon restoration efforts on the river. Werher is facing a stiff prison sentence, although one parent was quoted in the newspaper as saying about her son, “Any danger he was in was from the loggers, the police department and the fish and game dept. I think they came home more courageous, angry at what’s going on in the world.”

In a further attack on its critics, PL filed a lawsuit on April 6 against “North Coast Earth First!” “Mattole Forest Defenders”, 18 individuals, and “Jane and John Does 1 – 200″ Many of those Does have since been added as real people, as PL serves those being released from jail on trespass charges. The parents of the Americorps teenagers have also been served.

This lawsuit is a “SLAPP suit” (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) – it seeks to punish citizens’ who protest the activities of corporations seen as threatening or damaging to them, their community, and the environment. By suing in civil Court, activists are forced to spend scarce time and resources on lawyers, not in the forests. The suit is clearly designed to quash dissent and protest against PL.

Pacific Lumber is also seeking to get an injunction against the protesters named in the lawsuit. The Mattole, the “Hole in the Headwaters”, and other endangered old growth forest are regarded as the sacrifice zones of the Headwaters Deal that Maxxam (the corporate parent of PL) negotiated with the government two years ago: Maxxam/PL is able to log sensitive areas under the so-called Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and Sustained Yield Plan that would otherwise be subject to legal challenge under the Endangered Species Act. The HCPs compromises the intent of the Endangered Species Act – cutting old growth forest is anything but sustainable.

Forest defenders in Humboldt need material and financial support, publicity and public pressure for their cause, and reinforcements. Consider spending part of your summer agitating for the ancient trees in the city of Sacramento, or coming up to Humboldt County. For more information on how you can get involved contact the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters located at the Ecology Center building in Berkeley: Headwaters Hotline 510-835-6303 and/or subscribe to the BACH listserve (specific to Northcoast old growth forest issues and related events in the Bay Area – no deluges of email). To subscribe, send an email msg to listproc@envirolink.org. In the text of the message put subscribe BACHlist followed by your email address followed by your name (no commas). Excellent coverage is available on the web at the San Francisco Indy Media site: www.indybay.org and Mattole Forest Defense site: www.mattoledefense.org.

Up north contact: Mattole Forest Defenders and North Coast Earth First! 707-825-6598, necf@humbolt1.com

Upcoming Battle of Washington

Victory Impossible for IMF/World Bank

Apparently, whoever schedules and plans meetings for the IMF and the World Bank just doesn’t get it.

In the wake of a rising tide of international protest against the globalization of capitalism-and capitalism itself-which has disrupted meetings of numerous world bodies, the IMF/World Bank is scheduled to meet in Washington DC from September 28 – October 4.

Not surprisingly, thousands of anti-capitalists, anarchists, environmental militants and radicals, as well as members of the labor movement, students and the rest of civil society, are expected to converge on Washington DC during that period to protest, challenge, disrupt, and potentially crush the global Joint Annual General Meeting. The confrontation could end up being the largest and most militant anti-capitalist showdown Washington has ever seen. Already, hundreds of affinity groups are forming, plans of attack are being drawn up, buildings cased, and gas masks stockpiled.

Just in the past couple of months, there have been numerous indications that the global anti-capitalist movement is on the move. and is clarifying its goals – moving beyond mere “anti-globalization” to “anti-capitalist.” Washington DC has already been declared the “Anti-Capitalist Convergence.”

In April, Quebec was rocked by days of militant protests against the Summit of the Americas. The courage of the protesters, and the violence of the police, was unlike anything seen in North America in decades. The coalition that organized the resistance was explicitly anti-capitalist, and embraced a diversity of tactics, declaring that “CLAC adopts a confrontational attitude and rejects reformist alternatives such as lobbying which cannot have a major impact on anti-democratic processes.”

In May, the IMF/World Bank decided to cancel a scheduled global meeting in Barcelona, Spain, rather than risk humiliation and defeat at the hands of hundreds of thousands of militant Europeans who vowed to shut down the meetings, if not the entire city.

And earlier in the Spring, the WTO was forced to select the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Qatar for their first global meeting since their disastrous defeat in Seattle in 1999. No other country would take the WTO, knowing the chaos that would accompany a meeting, so trade ministers will have to fly to the equivalent of the dark side of the moon, where they’ll have to stay on cruise ships because Qatar’s hotel facilities are too small to accommodate the meeting.

Clearly, global capitalist meeting planners are in a pickle and running scared. The last time the IMF/World Bank met in Washington, delegates had to wake up at 3 a.m. to take buses escorted by hordes of police to circumvent activist blockades.

Given this context – what an opportunity to have the IMF/World Bank meet right in Washington, DC. The leaders of the neoliberal project will have to make the impossible choice between almost certain disruption of their meeting, or turning the capital of the “free world” to an armed camp. Either way, they lose the most important battle, that for political hegemony.

Because the Battle of Washington is impossible for the IMF/World Bank to win, it is the most important confrontation of the year for opponents of capitalist domination. Everyone reading this article is strongly encouraged to get time off work September 28 – October 4, buy a plane ticket to Washington DC, organize your friends, family and neighbors, and help turn this opportunity to a legendary defeat for the neoliberal project.

The battle for political hegemony is the kind of battle where those in power have everything to lose, and one in which they are vulnerable even given their superior resources – domination of the media and control of the police and the legal system.

Hegemony means that those in power – essentially the whole capitalist/political structure – get to define the subjects of discussion, the limits of debate, and the rules of the game. The essential rules are that the market regulates everything, profit and money are the sole human motivation, economic “growth” is continuous and is the goal of everything. Acceptable topics of discussion and debate within the “democratic” political process are limited to “more regulation / less regulation” “welfare state / privatization” “schools or prisons.” Discussions about alternatives to the whole system are simply off the radar: not discussed, not featured in the media, invisible. In subtle and not so subtle ways, the legitimacy of the systems’ basic assumptions are reinforced through debate on “acceptable” topics in the “democratic” political process, the media, education, and every other facet of modern life. Dissent that posits alternatives outside of the “acceptable” field of debate appears not to exist.

But at rare moments, no matter how much officials and the media attempt to confine discussion within “acceptable” limits and confirm that “everything is fine” and “economic growth continues to make life better”, the system’s hegemony is rudely disturbed by events which overwhelm the system’s definitions of “reality.”

Scenes of Washington DC, the center of “freedom” and “free speech”, surrounded by razor wire, of police dressed as storm troopers firing tear gas at fleeing crowds, of thousands, hands raised above their heads, marched to detention centers at the points of bayonets as the city burns. All of these scenes impossible to ignore because all of the heads of the world’s government have gathered in one city for the world’s most important annual meeting. No matter how the spin doctors attempt to explain these images and fit them into the “acceptable” limits of debate, these are the scenes that form a question in people’s minds.

“Why?”

“If the whole point of globalization is to promote freedom, how come it’s run in private, by and for corporations, and must be protected behind an iron fenced police state?”

It’s up to us to force the question to be posed. There are damn few opportunities available these days to give capitalist hegemony a rude awakening. There are likely to be even fewer in the future if the world’s trade ministers like Qatar’s weather.

If we’re successful, the next stage is to begin answering the question and promoting discussion outside hegemony in millions of much less dramatic moments, in thousands of communities across the globe. The last two years have shown that over-emphasis on “mega-demos” is a big mistake, leading to a hollow movement that’s all tear gas with no base and no local organizing.

But even as anti-capitalists have sensed the weaknesses of only focusing on Seattle copy-cat actions, these mega-actions aren’t irrelevant. With fewer and fewer chances to confront power on the streets, Washington DC is a rare opportunity, in an inviting location at a critical time. Anti-capitalist forces are more organized in North America than they have been in decades, largely because of the boost from Seattle.

ABCs of the IMF

The IMF and the World Bank, deeply threatened by the millions around the world calling for their abolition, have their propaganda machine turned on high to spread the story that their mission is to “alleviate poverty” in the developing world. The IMF/World Bank claim that because they are promoting development, they are working against poverty. But the development promoted by these bodies is designed to benefit multi-national corporations and capitalist/industrial world domination, not regular folks. The inevitable result of IMF/World Bank development is less freedom, less self-sufficiency, more environmental degradation, more vulnerability to unpredictable markets and more power for the few over the many.

The IMF/World Bank are like international loan sharks that prey on the world’s weakest nations. Funded by the world’s richest countries, they exist to perpetuate colonialism into the new millennium. Typically, the IMF/World Bank identifies capital intensive development projects like roads, dams and electrical infrastructure in relatively un-industrialized countries. Without this infrastructure, global capitalism, and its representatives – multinational corporations – are unable to make use of a poor nation’s cheap labor, natural resources and markets.

The IMF/World bank then “helps” the poor nation by loaning money to build these projects. Corrupt, authoritarian local governments have a keen interest in getting the loans. Big projects often permit these governments to skim millions into private bank accounts through bribes and sweetheart construction contracts. Much of the rest of the benefits of these projects are directed to corporate interests outside the developing nation. Most of the material, machines and experience needed to build dams, roads and power grids are imported from the same rich nations making the loans in the first place. Once these projects are completed, the benefits go to sweatshop operators who can now locate in the “developing” nation and reap its cheap labor.

And to top it all off, the loans must be repaid, with interest. But paying off these loans can be difficult, because many projects turn out to be boondoggles – more expensive to build than anticipated and providing more modest “benefits” (i.e. profits.) Just like southern tenant farmers could never escape debt as poor harvests were consumed by high interest, leading to debt passed down through the generations, third world countries that borrowed IMF/World Bank money decades ago are still paying off those loans. When they can’t pay enough, the IMF/World Bank kindly offers new loans to cover payments on the old loans, but with conditions called Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP).

SAPs are intended to create “favorable” economic conditions to spur capitalist growth in the target nation’s economy so that it can pay its debts. In a typical case, a country agrees to devalue its currency, open its markets to foreign products and services, cut government subsidies for food, energy transit, etc. and sell government held utilities, factories, mines and oil companies to foreigners.

The SAPs may increase debt repayment because a nation attracts more foreign investment, but the costs for common people are huge. Corporate investment focuses on extracting raw materials, displacing subsistence farmers as their farms are eliminated by plantations and cattle ranches, and destroying ancient forests for paper pulp, hardwood, ore and oil. The displaced population is then “free” to move to cities to find jobs in sweatshops. Cheap labor, along with raw materials. are two of the three things third world countries can offer to global capitalism. The third is markets. SAPs open markets to cheap foreign imports of food and manufactured items, destroying local self-sufficient agriculture and production and undermining traditional social organization. Finally, resource extraction required for debt repayment causes disastrous environmental degradation.

The net result of IMF/World Bank activity is to preserve, although in a different form, traditional colonial relations between countries in the North and South.

Since most or all of a developing nation’s exports of raw materials and cheap labor is immediately required to pay back debts owed to first world nations, it’s like the raw materials and cheap labor flow to the north for free, without cost. The only difference between these economic relationships and that of colonialism is that now, third world countries have “independent” “local” governments that extract and export the raw materials and labor. These resources are no longer merely stolen – they are “sold” on the “free” market, and then debt payments made with the proceeds. There are documents justifying it all.

But it’s a rigged market. The very loans creating the debt benefit the capitalist system by building infrastructure to accelerate capitalist growth. The “local” ruling classes in these nations have interests generally aligned with the boards of directors of the multinationals: increasing “growth”, promoting resource extraction, reducing all human activity to service of the techno-corporate machine.

When the IMF/World Bank argues that they exist to promote “development” to end poverty, they are speaking about a kind of “tough love” that benefits the few in huge, profound ways and that permits “benefits” like increased urbanism and involvement in the market to “trickle down” to the many.

Anti-Capitalist Convergence

Activists on the East Coast have declared an Anti-Capitalist Convergence to protest and disrupt the IMF/World Bank meeting. Many more moderate forces (labor, mainstream environmental, religious, etc.) will also be on hand. More details will be available as the event approaches.

For more information contact the (anarchist based) Anti-Capitalist Convergence at:

wordsarenotenough@hotmail.com

The more liberal option is the 50 Years Is Enough Network: 202-463-2265 wb50years@igc.org, www.50years.org.

Anarchist Love Rolling Blackouts!

As California faces a summer of rolling blackouts, the anarchist strategy around the alleged “energy crisis” is clear: we like rolling blackouts! The more the better! The longer the better! How about permanent blackouts!

Just think for a moment about what a blackout really means for community, for democracy, for decentralization, against corporations and capitalism, and for the earth. Most of the things hurting the world need the electricity grid to function:

  • Television Stations
  • Police, armies and prisons
  • The auto traffic system
  • Security cameras and surveillance
  • Factory Farming and toxic industries
  • Chainstores and consumer society
  • ATM machines and credit cards
  • Global corporate computer networks

In contrast, imagine what still works great without a single, fossil fuel-powered watt:

  • You can still talk to a friend
  • You can do creative stuff: play guitar, paint a picture, dig in the garden
  • You can ride your bike or go for a walk
  • You and your friends can organize a collective to provide for the necessities of life
  • You can make love with no interruptions from the phone
  • You can enjoy the stillness after the sun goes down when orange/purple light lingers in the west, and not worry about missing your show on TV or all the work from the office you were going to go through under a bare light bulb, late into the night.

Without the electricity grid, there is immediately more freedom, more face-to-face community and direct democracy, and more harmony with nature. Bikes whiz around SUVs caught in a failed-traffic-light gridlock. Acoustic music rings out from candle-lit communal housing while yuppies can’t get through to their stock brokers on their cell phones or get food from High Tech Burritos™ and Whole Foods™.

Bureaucracy, hierarchy and authority all require the centralized, fossil-fueled power grid, but direct democracy, face to face voluntary organization, mutual aid and small, local collectives all function great without the electricity grid. If folks decide it’s necessary, bits of electricity can be generated locally for local use with solar or wind power.

The hype surrounding the “energy crisis” is overwhelming, but it tells you the rulers are worried.. And that’s pretty satisfying, because they don’t often get worried, or at least they don’t often admit it. When the lights go out, the rulers lose control. Worse yet, they become irrelevant. If there’s no electrical grid, they can’t watch and manage you, and you don’t “need” them. In fact, without television and their constant intervention and repression, you might not even know they exist. Rulers hate being irrelevant.

Because of the prevalence of ATM machines and credit cards, when the electricity goes out, money itself practically ceases to exist. You can’t buy and they can’t sell. The most crucial activity of the whole earth-eating machine falls strangely silent.

When complex, national systems like the power grid fail, people get the chance to see that they can function just fine, thank you very much, with the simple things in life, without the bureaucracy and control the rulers claim is necessary “for your own good.”

The industrial revolution, followed by the plastic age, followed by the high-tech revolution haven’t exactly caused mass elated happiness amongst the populace. Comparing a boring, controlled life of toil, consumption and isolation (run by electricity) against the real, lived experience of direct community and harmony with nature, the population may decide they want the electricity kept off.

Imagine if the blackouts lasted longer than an hour. Instead of office workers sitting around bored waiting for their computers to come back on, they would to start thinking about other better ways to occupy and organize their time. Talking together would lead to empowerment and questioning the techno-corporate order.

Blackouts are a tremendous opportunity for organization, mass education, agitation and action. As this is written, a significant discussion amongst the rulers is whether they should offer any warning before power is shut off in a rolling blackout. Proponents of warning argue it would permit companies to start back-up generators and avoid “data loss.” The main argument against advanced warning is that criminals would use this information to go on a rampage.

Hearing this, it’s hard to picture your typical burglar planning their schedule and their target community so rationally. Clearly, what the government is really worried about is the anarchists! For example, a rolling blackout in San Jose, given enough warning and planning by Food Not Bombs, etc., might lead to a full-on insurrection. Rolling blackouts aren’t a problem-they’re a treat and an opportunity! Like an accidental, government/corporate created temporary autonomous zone!

Our house is already experimenting with blackouts to get used to them and be ready for the tremendous opportunities blackouts bring. We started by turning the power off for a few hours, then trying it for a few days. It’s easy to do. Find the master circuit breaker in the basement and you can turn off the whole house at once!

We suggest putting together “rolling blackout kits” and distributing them around the neighborhood along with some good anarchist texts about mutual aid, how to organize an affinity group, etc. Kits could include everything you need to really enjoy a blackout: a candle and a good book, condoms, lube and a vibrator (solar), spooky stories for telling after dark, a frisbee, magic mushrooms, and pen and paper for plotting revolution and/or how to demolish the eco-wrecking corporations in the neighborhood.

There are also good games you can play and excellent alternative spectator sports you can watch during a blackout. Go out to the corner to play “watch the SUVs trying to get through the gridlocked intersection.” You sit on the sidewalk eating popcorn and score the contestants with number cards like at a diving meet. The grand prize is awarded when everyone abandons their SUVs, their computer office jobs, their isolated air conditioned lives and re-learns how to live free.

Free Sentenced to 23 Years

Jeff “Free” Luers was sentenced June 11 to nearly 23 years on 11 charges ranging from Arson I to Attempted Criminal Mischief. The charges stemmed from two incidents last year in Eugene, Oregon. Free admitted to criminal mischief regarding a truck fire at Romania Chevrolet last summer.

At the sentencing he read a statement taking responsibility for the Romania fire, and emphasizing the care he took to ensure no one would be injured. “It cannot be said that I am unfeeling or uncaring. My heart is filled with love and compassion. I fight to protect life … all life. Not to take it. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re experiencing a period of extinction equal to that of the dinosaurs. 40,000 species go extinct each year, yet we continue to pollute and exploit the natural world…. I will not ask this court to grant me leniency. All I ask is that you believe the sincerity of my words, and that you believe that my actions, whether or not you believe them to be misguided, stem from the love I have in my heart.”

The judge responded by saying that he “never doubted Free’s sincerity”. He stated that Free’s political beliefs would not influence the sentencing, and that he would be sentenced “solely on the severity of the crimes”. Yet Free received a sentence harsher than that of many murderers and rapists.

We are not so naive as to say we’re surprised by the sentence, but it nevertheless comes as a shock. An analogy I shared with Free on the phone yesterday is that we’ve had someone with a clenched fist standing in front of us for a year saying “I’m going to punch you.” Even though we were expecting it, it still took our breath away. The judge made many comments during the trial that indicated he’d already decided the outcome. He was often seen completely ignoring the testimony, typing on his laptop instead of listening. An appeal is already underway.

Throughout the past year, Free was forced to remain silent about his actions at Romania Chevrolet, due to the fact that the State insisted on linking the two incidents, Romania and Tyree Oil Company, together. The judge denied many motions to separate the two. Free has stated and maintains that he had no involvement in the attempted arson at Tyree Oil.

The Legal Defense Committee asks for your continuing support of Free and Critter and other Prisoners of War. Make no mistake, a war is being waged on the earth and all its creatures. Do not participate in the State’s campaign to marginalize and incapacitate those who take radical action in defense of the earth. Failure to support our political prisoners is tantamount to sanctioning repression by the State.

For now, letters can be mailed to both Free and Critter c/o the Legal Defense Committee at PO Box 50263, Eugene, OR 97404. Free’s new address will soon be available. Checks and money orders to assist with Free’s appeal can still be sent to FCLDF, c/o OUR Credit Union, PO Box 11192, Eugene, OR 97440. www.efn.org/~eugpeace/freecritter.

Thanks to all our steadfast supporters. Your help has been inspiring and irreplaceable.

Howl for Free and Critter. Howl for all political prisoners. They will hear you.

Beirut In Cincinnati

In April, Cincinnati, OH turned into a battlefield as the African-American community united against the deadly racism of city police. No one was left untouched; by the second week of the conflict, in the midst of a declared state of emergency, African-American members were leaving the Cincinnati police and fire-fighter’s unions, citing racism.

The transformation of Cincinnati into “Beirut”, as Cincinnati Mayor Charles Luken termed it, began April 7, 2001, when police officer Steven Roach shot and killed Timothy Thomas. It was the fifth police killing of a black male in Cincinnati in only seven months. Thomas’s family and protesters mobilized by African-American organizations packed the city council meeting held two days later, demanding official accountability for the murder. (At that time Roach was on a one week paid administrative leave.)

After the unsuccessful meeting, protesters reconvened at the District 1 police station and then proceeded on a two-hour march through the Over-the-Rhine and West End neighborhoods, where more people joined the march. The route ended back at the police station, where about 150 of the 800 demonstrators set up camp. Police sprayed teargas and other chemical weapons and fired approximately 50 rounds of rubber and bean-bag bullets, firing at point-blank range into crowds. The police station was only slightly smashed, alas.

In the next few days African-American youth, who suffer most from racial profiling and other forms of police surveillance and harassment, responded with growing militance. Solidarity was informal but very strong, with protesters acting quickly and effectively to unarrest many people. Their mobility, frequently breaking-up into a lot of different directions, helped prevent arrests as well. Some people took advantage of the cover of the crowds and the general atmosphere to loot shops; a pawn shop was completely emptied, smashed and burned. A few people assaulted drivers, but these incidents seem to have been stopped by onlookers.

Violence escalated very rapidly, as police brutality on the street was reinforced by Mayor Charles Luken’s declared state of emergency. From April 12 to 16, an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew imposed on Cincinnati and two neighboring cities enabled police to sweep the city making mass arrests, averaging 200 a night. In addition to police violence against protesters in custody, some people are reported to have been “disappeared,” police denying to family and friends of arrested individuals that they have them in custody.

Although police targeted a few isolated groups who “looked like anarchists,” the ferocity of police violence following the murder of Timothy Thomas was due to the close-to-the-bone nature of the conflict, over racism in the Cincinnati police force. Mayor Luken compared conditions in Cincinnati to Beirut; NAACP president Kweisi Mfume, in one of his more likable moments, compared them to Oakland.

Drive-by shootings by police officers occurred throughout the state of emergency, though only one made the Cincinnati papers. Luken had pledged to keep police away from the New Prospect Baptist Church, where on April 14 the funeral of Timothy Thomas was held, attended by hundreds, including African- American leaders, Cincinnati officials and Ohio Gov. Bob Taft. But half an hour after the funeral, as the last attendees were quietly dispersing, six SWAT team members drove by and fired a shotgun into a small group at close range, injuring two adults and two children. Christine Jones, hit twice in the back, was hospitalized for a cracked rib and injuries to the lung and spleen. The shotgun was loaded with the bean-bag bullets which the press widely accepts as virtually harmless.

The incident had a dozen witnesses and, occurring at an assembly of the country’s most notable black leaders, embarrassed the government. An FBI investigation into the “cause” of the incident was immediately ordered. Without benefit of the FBI’s formidable resources, here’s a guess: guns and authority in the hands of a group of paranoid, hostile and stupid racist bullies, allowed to roam freely in a city where chaos seems to provide an excuse for any excess they want. One could also speculate about the role capitalism plays in creating a community like Over-the-Rhine, which is the most economically depressed in Cincinnati. Or one could muse on the role of “law and order” which appears to be sheer self-perpetuation, no matter how inexcusable the conditions which the watchdogs of state strive to preserve and protect.

A definition of terms: “riot” (noun) the assaults, property destruction and theft carried out by civilians. Certainly not the assaults, property damage and theft carried out by police (see “law enforcement”).

In the aftermath of the riots, city officials scrambled to compensate business owners for broken windows, and declared it the “moral duty” (in exactly those words) of the government to help business owners who suffered financial losses due to general pillaging. One can’t help but notice that this is the very first occasion that the city council members have spoken of their moral duty. Certainly the concept of having a moral duty failed to arise when Angela Leisure, Timothy Thomas’s mother, confronted them demanding to know why her son had been killed. The concept of moral duty continued to slip their minds while police freely moved through the city, shooting men for holding their ground when ordered to step inside their houses at 8 p.m., and shooting 5-year-olds for the crime of being on the street in broad daylight.

By April 15, Luken felt that the city had been sufficiently “pacified” and he lifted the curfew although not the state of emergency. After having poured all that money, time and energy into putting down the people, the government, unsurprisingly, failed to do anything meaningful to end police violence. City safety director Kent Ryan was forced to resign, in the hopes that he would bear the brunt of political unpopularity. The position was passed to Greg Baker. Formerly employed as Ryan’s assistant, Baker is a conservative African-American man who seems chiefly concerned with suppressing bursts of anti-authoritarianism throughout the city.

None of the civilian actions frightened the state as much as the rebellions among black firefighters and police. April 16, half of the 200 members of the African-American Firefighters Association signed a petition to withdraw from Cincinnati’s Fire Fighters Labor Union. “I was at the funeral for Tim Thomas, and I heard Rev. (Damon) Lynch and several other activists there say that it’s time for black men and black women to stand up,” Jeff Harris, Jr., president of the AAFA, said. “We have to stand up despite the fact that our lives may be in jeopardy. We have to stand up because we cannot continue to go on in this way, being treated like second class citizens within our own union.”

Members of the Sentinels Police Association, an association of African-American police officers, soon followed suit, resigning from the Fraternal Order of Police. Sgt. Andre Smith, long disgusted by the racism within the union, reached his limit during Luken’s state of emergency. Referring to FOP president Keith Fangman’s denials of racism within the police force (despite the many ties of the FOP to white supremacist organizations, Fangman has a gripe with being called a neo-nazi), support for Thomas’s killer, and sleazy unpleasantness in public discussions with black leader Kweisi Mfume, Smith said, “After this week’s events, to see Mr. Fangman totally distort facts, disrespect the black community, disrespect our black leaders, I felt it necessary for me to remove what I felt the personal stench of FOP membership.” Scotty Johnson, president of the Sentinels, apologized to the family of Timothy Thomas, and made it clear that the disenfranchisement of the community was a long-standing problem which ought to have been corrected a long time ago.

The Sentinels and the African-American Firefighters have both taken a stand for civilian oversight of the police and fire departments. They are calling for the abolition of the city safety director’s office, which is why the new safety director, Greg Baker, is so preoccupied with them. The Sentinels and AAFA also support an initiative which would open the positions of chief of police, assistant chief of police and fire chief to candidates nationwide. Currently these positions are filled from within the Cincinnati departments.

It is exciting to see police officers identifying with their communities against the police hierarchy, and even more pleasing to note their assertiveness in trying to rewrite the script by which the community and police are stumbling along. One can only hope that this will be the seed for future rebellions and ultimately for the police fully identifying with the community and refusing to police.

Unfortunately, neither the rebelling cops nor black leaders appear to have been able to engage in dialog with the young people on the streets. Throughout the state of emergency, black leaders, predominantly churchmen, urged peace, pacifism and reform. They drew the attention of government officials and the media to the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and several African-American organizations with the aim of making racial profiling illegal nation-wide. But there was a gap of understanding as well as a difference of tactics between the youth battling police on the streets and the elders addressing church members: “You’re part of the problem,” one minister told youth on the street.

The issue isn’t “property-destruction: pro or con?” Rather, the issues raised in Cincinnati concern the ability of a community to use their resources to sustain and protect one another in the struggle against police domination. A good step was taken by the black fire-fighters and police, but a bigger and more transformative step would have been made had the leaders and authorities reconsidered the some of the values they were trying to protect. Does social harmony really require force?

Indepedant Media Center in Free Speech Battle

During the protests in Quebec City, while tens of thousands demonstrated against the FTAA, the Independent Media Center in Seattle was served with a sealed court order by two FBI agents and an agent of the US Secret Service ordering them to turn over “all user connections logs” for a 48-hour period. The logs would include individual IP addresses for every person who posted materials to or visited the IMC site during the FTAA protests. The language of the sealed order prevented IMC volunteers from publicizing its terms. The gag order was listed April 27.

While the visit by the agents was not a “raid” (no search warrant was served, no one arrested, no equipment or logs seized) the visit appears intended to chill independent media and discourage association with the IMC. The original order stated that this was part of an “ongoing criminal investigation” into acts that could constitute violations of Canadian law, specifically theft and mischief. IMC legal counsel David Sobel, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, comments: “As the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized, the First Amendment protects the right to communicate anonymously with the press and for political purposes. An order compelling the disclosure of information identifying an indiscriminately large number of users of a website devoted to political discourse raises very serious constitutional issues.”

The sealed court order also directed the IMC not to disclose “the existence of this Application or Order, or the existence of this investigation, unless or until ordered by this court.” Such a prior restraint on a media organization goes to the heart of the First Amendment. This order created an absurd circumstance in which IMC volunteers, in order to avoid contempt of Court, made a frantic attempt to suppress articles and information about the service of the order on their own web site, while mainstream media was able to freely discuss the situation. These efforts were finally abandoned because the unexplained disappearance of articles posted to the IMC site about the supposed “raid” just fanned the flames of rumor.

The order did not specify what acts were being investigated, and the Secret Service agent acknowledged that the IMC itself was not suspected of criminal activity. The agents claimed that their investigation concerned the source of either one or two postings which, they said, had been posted to an IMC newswire early Saturday morning. These posts, according to the agents, contained documents stolen from a Canadian government agency, including classified information related to the travel itinerary of George W. Bush. Bush who was at that time in Quebec City, participating in Summit of the Americas meetings. Agents claimed that the Secret Service was notified of the existence of such posts by a tip from an unnamed major commercial news network.

The agents were unable to provide URL addresses or titles for the postings they described. Additionally, the court order contained a non-working IP address, rather than an address assigned to any of the IMC sites. IMC volunteers nevertheless were able to identify two articles posted to the Montreal IMC which partially matched the agents’ incomplete description. These articles, posted first in French and then in English translations, contain sections of documents purportedly stolen from a Quebec City police car during Friday night anti-FTAA demonstrations. The documents detail police strategies for hindering protesters’ mass action. It does not appear that any materials were posted to any IMC site containing Bush travel plans.

The Seattle Independent Media Center was launched in Fall 1999 to provide immediate, authentic, grassroots coverage of protests against the WTO. Just a year and a half later, the IMC network has reached around the world, with dozens of sites scattered across six continents. IMCs are autonomously organized and administered, but share collective organizational principles and certain technological resources. Each IMC’s news coverage centers upon its open-publishing newswire, an innovative and democratizing system allowing anyone with access to an Internet connection to become a journalist, reporting on events from his or her own perspective rather than being forced to rely on the narrow range of views presented by corporate-owned mainstream media sources.

Info: Seattle Independent Media Center, 1415 3rd Ave., Seattle, WA, 98101, 206.262.0721, 206.262.9905 fax

seattle.indymedia.org

Letters

End My Subscription, I’m Outta Here

Dear Slingshot:

Just received issue #71, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was particularly glad to see a plea for community support of anarchist book sources, which have been major providers of free literature to prisoners for years. Without support, I fear that many of these programs will cease to exist, thereby cutting prisoners off from an important tool in changing their lives through enlightenment. Even Books to Prisoners-Seattle, the oldest such program, is now threatened.

Issue #71 is my last issue, but I am not seeking to extend my subscription. I’m happy to say that I’ll be released [from prison] June 13, and will pick up Slingshot at the Autonomous Zone in Chicago from now on. I do want to extend my thanks for your excellent paper over the years. You’ll hear from me in the future, I guarantee it-only not from here. Who knows, I may even show up at Long Haul someday to do some volunteering. Support those who support ya!

You may delete me now – I’m read for it. Just promise that it won’t be painful!?

Well, I guess that’s about it from here. Take care. And may the tear gas always blow back at the oppressor’s face instead of yours.

- Ron Campbell, Menard, Il

Fuck the Ideal, Just eat good

Dear Tracy,

I just finished reading your article in issue #71 of Slingshot. First off, I have to say that it was my first time reading Slingshot. Someone threw it on my desk at work, I think by accident but I took it home to read it and boy did I read it!! Anyway, back to your article . . . amazing.

I can’t even stress enough how fucking true it is, everything you wrote. I myself was never very content with my physical appearance, always thought I was a little chubby or chunky even. I look back at old pictures and laugh at my previous thoughts of me having been a fat girl. I was merely a teenager that had not completely formed and am still growing now.. and I’m 20. It is really disgusting though to think about the root of our lack of confidence and our insecurities, they are so deviously created by the media, by commercials, by woman’s and men’s magazines, providing us the with the “ideal” image of a women- a completely flat and toned stomach, 5’9 structure and voluptuous breasts. More than half the time, we don’t even realize the crap that we are being fed but its is there, to say the least.

Anyway, it was the beginning of my second year in college when for some odd reason, (I’m not sure what, but thank God for it!) I just stopped caring about my “physical” appearance and looking the way I was “supposed” to look. I constantly had family pressure from my mother and brother mostly due to the horrible fact that they see “skinny” as being a key defining character of beautiful. Well, this is the first year where my parents and family were no longer in my hair (I was living on my own) and I finally decided eating things I wanted, doing things I wanted. Now I don’t mean eating crap, in fact, it was the complete opposite.

One afternoon, I took a piece of frozen chicken out (that my Mom so kindly bought for me), while I was touching its skin and flesh that so obviously cried out death, I became sickened at my actions. I was eating a fucking chicken, another animal who just a little bit ago had been running around somewhere (actually, it was probably stuck in some 4×4 “room” waiting for it’s pleasant death. Anyway, my point is, I soon after turned vegetarian and began taking an interest in what my body was consuming. I would stop to think about my health instead of what it would do to me physically and on the outside. Not surprisingly, I actually lost weight. Not cause I was starving myself, (I enjoy food way too much) but because I was living a healthy lifestyle. I was eating plenty of vegetables, proteins, fruits and sure, had my sweets here and there but also did a lot of walking.

My point is, I didn’t strive to loose weight or look good, I just gave up on looking the way I was “supposed” to and started doing something for myself, something POSITIVE. So, I just wanted to let you know that your article really hit home for me. I’m very glad I had a chance to read it and I look forward to more of yours and other’s literature from Slingshot.

Thanks much, Ghazal Sheei

Irony Defined

Dear Editor,

The article entitled “Invisible Hands” by The Cell presented an interesting outlook on globalization and institutionalization, but a different type of institutionalization is occurring in the state of California. It’s the buildup of prison institutions, the typical gradual manner of an acceptable genocide, the imprisoning of a poor people whose only crime initially was to farm a land that belonged to California’s ruling class.

It is difficult while being housed in Corcoran State Prison not to acknowledge that eighty percent of the guards here at Corcoran in the infamous S.H.U. units are Hispanics and eighty percent of the inmates in the S.H.U. units are also Hispanic. What’s wrong with this picture? Could it be that the state’s administration is puppeteering one race to abuse and control their own? The sad thing is that these ignorant guards, most of whom have only a high school education, don’t know that what they’re doing is morally wrong. Instead they’re blinded with bribery of the illusion of social status and a pocket full of beer money, like Pancho from The Cisco Kid.. What government would not want to own an institution that can produce a million dollar industry with little to no financial overhead? The benefits are astronomical and too numerous to detail. That’s why incarcerated Hispanics are locked secretly away. We’re the only ones who fuel the destruction of incarceration of these self-sufficient economic units.

The ruling class— Gray Davis and his degenerates— don’t even have to worry about an uprising because if one Mexican in here talks revolution, he’s thrown in solitary seclusion, denied human contact and basic human senses, and then accused of gang membership. Human rights therefore are nonexistent in these institutions where prisoners are allowed out of their cells two days a year for forty-five minutes at a time.

The Barrio Defense Committee has graciously assisted in our struggle against inhumane conditions by writing letter on our behalf to the warden George Ortiz, the acting director Steven Cambra and Governor Gray Davis. We have not, however, received any relief to our abuses.

I’ll tell you what’s ironic—we’re Mexican inmates, we’re being abused by Mexican guards who are being directed by a Mexican warden, we’re being defended by Mexican lawyers in a state founded by a Mexican, but all the while the governor (a white man) sits in his mansion drinking margaritas, laughing all the way to the bank. They say we Hispanics have sixty percent of the vote in California. I say if we don’t politicize ourselves, it won’t be long before we’re extinct. Sincerely,

Cesar Francisco Villa, K-64212

3BOZ-211, PO Box 3466, Corcoran CA 93212

Requests for Support

A new section with short listings of requests for support. Send items to our address on page 2 for next issue.

Bay Area Action Medics

Interested in performing first-aid at actions and protests? Want protest-specific medical training? Forming Medic affinity, and training group. Contact us at: liz@black-rose.com, or tanyapixie@yahoo.com

Behind the Wire

I am currently in the process of writing a book entitled Behind the Wire which is an activist oriented work aimed at the prison crisis that grips society. I am seeking any statistics or related information concerning our criminal justice system. Please submit any personal type of experience that you have had with the “justice” system, relevant media articles, titles of books with good info, etc. Deadline is August 31, 2001. Write: James Meier #634089, 3060 F.M. 3514, Beaumont, TX 77705.

Warchest Subsistence Program

Please contribute money to the Anarchist Black Cross’ Warchest Subsistence Program which provides assistance to political prisoners and prisoners of war. The Kent, OH ABC is also raising money for the Russell Maroon Shoats postage fund. Russell is a New Afrikan POW. Send $ to Kent ABC, PO Box 942, Kent, OH 44240.

Core Infoshop Opens in Florida

The Center Of Radical Empowerment (CORE) infoshop opened in St. Petersburg, Florida May 1. Its mission is to empower individuals to challenge oppressive social structures and build a sustainable community based on self-determination, mutual aid, voluntary cooperation, and respect for all life. The infoshop provides:

  • Progressive lending library.
  • Workshops, study groups, and speakers.
  • Accessible artistic and cultural events.
  • Meeting space and resources for grassroots community organizing.
  • Independent Media Center.
  • Radical literature and music distribution.

      Please send a subscription to your magazine or zine for the lending library and donate: books, pamphlets, videos, T-shirts, stickers, posters, buttons, postcards, books, pamphlets, etc. Send ‘em to: 1615 16th St. S. St. Petersburg, Fl 33705, 727 821 CORE, www.geocities.com/thecorecenter.

Qatar Flu

Global protests to greet Novermber 5-9, 2001 global meeting of the World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) will open another round of global trade talks November 5-9 aimed an ensuring permanent and total capitalist domination over all human activities and the environment. The first global WTO meeting since Seattle would seem to present an historic opportunity to turn back the globalization of capitalism and preserve the possibility for freedom and the survival of life itself. So in response to the historic WTO meeting, activists are planning . . . a symbolic action called “the Qatar Flu.”

It seems the WTO organizers are “cheating”: they’re going to have the WTO meeting in the tiny, closed, Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. No protests (or protesters) allowed.

Recognizing that, unlike Seattle, there is no opportunity to actually disrupt the WTO meeting or meaningfully challenge the relentless march of capitalist global domination, the idea for a “Qatar Flu” is that lots of people will call in sick on November 5 (or somewhere between November 5-9, or during the whole period?) and have demonstrations around the world during those days against global capitalist domination.

The “Qatar Flu” could end up being an opportunity in disguise – doing local actions and teach-ins in every city, village and town on the plant is the kind of local organizing that is desperately needed to turn the energy of Seattle into a real movement with connections to the community. Disruption on a global scale is far more powerful than in just one city.

But its hard not to realize that by putting the WTO meeting in Qatar, the WTO is fucking with us – maybe dealing us a blow. They figure that silence equals consent to capitalist domination, and there’s a lot of truth to it. You have to face the fact that a decentralized, global protest won’t shatter the veil of capitalist consensus like Seattle did even if there are 50 people outside a McDonalds in Iowa City, 30 people at a teach-in in Smithers BC, 300 people taking over Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, and thousands of others in hundreds of other places around the world.

The WTO wants to deny us a platform to object to their grab for world domination. Jokes aside about sending Ruckus Society submarine crews to sink the cruise ships on which WTO delegates will stay, having the meeting in Qatar is a pretty smart move. A similar motive was behind cancellation of the June IMF/World Bank meeting in Barcelona, and Canadian efforts to wall off Quebec City to prevent protests. In Quebec, they figured by closing the borders to the US and putting up a fence, they could make Quebec “Qatar-like.” The fact that their plan backfired was good luck. But each meeting now has a taller fences, farther from the hotels, and more police.

Because it is so darned inconvenient to have all future global meetings in places like Qatar, there are likely to be more meetings that can be disrupted. So in the future when these meetings happen, it is even more important to smash them, because there may be fewer and fewer chances to do such smashing.

And as to the “Qatar Flu”, the important part is what you do with your sick day, not that you took one. We’re not at the point yet where radicals can declare a “general strike” and have any hope of shutting down business as usual by our absence. But shutting it down by our presence (like right in the middle of the fucking freeway, for instance) is another story.