Category Archives: Spring 2006 (4/6/06)

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY – Activists arrested but where’s the crime?

I asked a man why he was in prison, and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he has stolen the railroads, he would be a US Senator — Mary Mother Jones

What happens when the FBI pays an undercover agent $75,000 to spend two years infiltrating a bunch of young activists by sleeping with one of them and providing them with a fully bugged and videotaped free place to stay, but although she constantly tries to convince them to do something illegal — anything — they won’t go along? Well, if you’re the FBI, you arrest them anyway and accuse them of . . . um . . . talking with your agent.

In a new low for the government campaign against environmental radicals, the FBI arrested Eric McDavid, Zachary Jenson and Lauren Weiner in Auburn, Calif. on January 13 and charged them with “conspiring to damage or destroy by explosive or fire” cell phone towers, power plants and US Forest Service facilities. They are not charged with any actual actions, and in fact, nothing was damaged or destroyed. The alleged conspiracy appears to have been an unsuccessful set-up based on conversations engineered by the FBI’s undercover agent. They have plead not guilty and face 5 to 20 years in prison if convicted. McDavid and Jenson remain in jail and all three need support.

Don’t trust nobody but your dog and your homies — ain’t that the truth sometimes. And that’s exactly how the FBI wants us to feel when we hear about a case like this. The FBI are watching people all the time and they will do anything to get anybody. People talk about security culture a lot, but even if you are really cautious, it might not help if you’re sleeping with an undercover FBI agent who is being paid to entrap you by encouraging you to talk about illegal actions. Being conscious of what you say in person, on the telephone or over email when you’re planning actions is important. What this case reveals is that this applies even if you don’t actually do anything.

The FBI’s criminal complaint is a public document available at portland.indymedia.org, and it shows how the FBI set them up.

In 2004, a person going by the name of “Anna” became a Confidential Source for the FBI. She was paid $ 75,000 for her two years of work and has allegedly been involved in 12 other “anarchist” cases. Since July 2005, “Anna” provided information about the three. Over the summer she infiltrated numerous radical events. She acted as a street medic for the Biotech protest in Philadelphia and at the Feral Visions Gathering in Tennessee. And she assisted at the Crimethink Convergence in Indiana. She even investigated going to Scotland to participate in protests against the G8. She wrote long reports on Indymedia websites describing actions she attended and asking people to send her photographs and other information. Anything sent to her was presumably sent straight to the FBI.

At some point in January, “Anna” and the arrestees traveled to California, where they all allegedly stayed at “Anna’s” cabin outside of Sacramento. This cabin was provided to her by the FBI — everything was being recorded and taped as evidence. The FBI also provided them with a laptop computer. “Anna” also secretly taped her friends & used text messages on her cell phone to communicate with the FBI. The complaint alleges that the arrestees created and signed a book that outlined an arson plan.

This is not an article to scare people; this is just the word on the streets. People met Anna and they trusted her because she was sleeping with one of the men who got arrested. FBI infiltrators are rotten and will do anything for money, even entrap activists by suggesting they plan actions and then gaining their trust by sleeping with them.

Zachary Jenson and Eric McDavid are beautiful souls and still remain in Total Separation at the Sacramento County Main Jail. If you would like to write them letters, or send them books, money or love, please contact sacramentoprisonersupport@riseup.net. Eric McDavid, X-2972521 4W114A or Zachary Jenson X-4198632 7E213A Sacramento County Main Jail 651 “I” Street Sacramento, CA 95814 .

Succor the SHAC 7 – Government wins convictions for incitment to peacefully protest

The government’s campaign against animal rights activists sunk to a new level March 2 when it won convictions against six activists simply for advocating protest activities. In the first trial ever under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 (formerly known as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act), animal rights activists Kevin Kjonaas, Lauren Gazzola, Jacob Conroy, Joshua Harper, Andrew Stepanian, Darius Fullmer were found guilty March 2 of multiple felonies related to their campaign to close animal-testing lab Huntingdon Life Sciences.

While the charges, including violation of the Act as well as conspiracy to harass using a telecommunications device, may sound alarming, the defendants were never accused of having personally engaged in any terrorist or threatening acts. Instead, the government alleged that above-ground organizers of the protest campaign were responsible for any and all acts that anyone engaged in while furthering the goals of the organizers. That the government won convictions based on such flimsy charges is designed to send a shiver down the spine of activists everywhere.

The six activists with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), charged along with John McGee who was dropped from the case, are known as the SHAC 7. Some of them now face up to ten years in prison. All of the defendants were involved in some capacity in the campaign to close Huntingdon Life Sciences, a contract research lab with one facility in New Jersey and two in England. Acts of cruelty to animals at the lab were exposed in five different undercover investigations which obtained video footage showing countless violations of the animal welfare act. Since 1999, activists have campaigned globally against the lab, bringing it to the brink of closure.

The trial of the case was biased against the defendants. The judge ruled that the defendants could not introduce their own computer expert (but the government could introduce their computer expert) and that there could be no anti-vivisection expert (but the government witnesses could carry on about the benefits of animal research). The judge also limited the defendants’ preemptory challenges during jury selection to seven and failed to dismiss jurors who worked for companies that had been the subject of the campaign to close HLS.

The government called witnesses who were unable to identify any of the defendants as engaging in any criminal acts against them. For example, the judge allowed HLS Director Brian Cass to testify about the campaign in England, an attack on him in England, and the benefits of animal research, despite the fact that he had nothing to say about the defendants in the case.

The SHAC7 (or 6) desperately need our support – both financially to cover the costs of the appeal process and morally to help them through these difficult and trying times. For more information on how you can help support the SHAC7 and defend the ability of activists to organize protest activities, check out www.SHAC7.com.

Call for Weekend of Resistance Against the “Green Scare” June 9 – 11, 2006

This June marks my 6th year in prison. From behind these walls I have strived to remain an active part of this struggle; from contributing to the dialogue and discussion of tactics, to furthering the debate on climate change in the public. Perhaps most importantly I am proof that prison cannot crush the spirit of resistance.

This year has seen an increase in state repression against activists and radicals alike. It is truly a scary time. We all know about the “Red Scare” – the government’s attempt to justify repression by labeling dissidents “communists” back in the 1950′s. Today we see their “Green Scare” attempt to crush resistance by labeling them “eco-terrorists.”

For the last three years, June 11th has been celebrated as an international day of solidarity with me, Jeffrey Luers. I have been overjoyed with a sense of love & pride at the support I have received from around the world. My deepest and sincerest thanks go out to all of you.

Right now there are more than a dozen people sitting in American jails (or on strict bail release) accused of Earth/Animal Liberation Front actions. Six people were originally arrested. These arrests were based almost entirely on the testimony of one police informant, Jacob Ferguson. Bill Rodgers – accused of multiple arsons – took his own life in a jail cell. Unfortunately, several of those arrested are now cooperating with the state.

These defendants are facing ridiculous charges and a draconian amount of time.

This June, I ask you to show them the solidarity that you have shown me. I ask that foremost in your mind be the thought that the state is trying to break this struggle with repressive and intimidating arrests and sentences. I hope you understand that it’s not just those of us in prison being punished with these sentences; they are designed to be examples to you, to frighten you into compliance. This June I’m asking you to demonstrate that you can’t be intimidated. Celebrate your dissent, give it voice. Be loud. Be visible. If you have the ability, organize a reclaim the streets party or a critical mass.

If you are going to host a fund-raiser or venue event, I ask that you donate all proceeds to the legal defense of those recently arrested who maintain integrity in the face of repression, whether they are innocent or guilty.

This June, show the world that the voice of truth will not be silenced by fear.

Dormido en la Protesta

Son ya más de tres años desde la invasión de Irag y, a pesar del fracaso humillante de la guerra por el imperio americano, la matanza continua. Ni Bush ni los demócratas pueden deducir como sacar a las tropas americanas, incluso en este momento es dificil imaginar un resultado favorable. Bush justo dijo que sería por “los presidentes del futuro” el decidir cuando sacarían a las tropas- así, la espera que la ocupación continue aún en el 2009. Bush no puede declarar una victoria y dejarla en la cara de una guerra civil e insurgencia por la presencia de las tropas americanas. Ni puede aceptar la derrota- admitiendo la vacía naturaleza del poder de la milicia americana, porque sería un precio muy alto para el imperio americano. Los insurgentes no necesitan derrotar el ejercito conquistador- ellos solo necesitan prevenir a EEUU de ganar – lo cual ya han hecho. Los patéticos demócratas – no importa lo que piensan- están muy asustados de ser llamados melindrosos por decir demasiado. Últimamente, la mayoria de ellos, mantienen los proyectos imperiales de los EEUU y no quieren ver una derrota a favor del poder americano ni más ni menos que Bush. Entonces, incluso si el público americano concluye cada vez con que la guerra es un fracaso – comenzando con razones que pasaron a ser mentiras y fueron mantenidas a altos riesgos de propósitos incomprensibles- la corriente común del sistema político es incapable de poner un fin al compromiso con la guerra.

Esto enseñaria que esta “aspidadora-alternativa” presentaria una oportunidad ideal de una tercera fuerza- independientemente de los demócratas y los repúblicanos- para organizar una oposición de la guerra

No obstante, el pasado 18 de Marzo, dia nacional de protestas. fue patrocinado por ANSWER y fue una protesta pequeña y ritualista- facilmente ignorada quizás porque fue incapaz de intervenir con los negocios como normalmente, o quizás la manifestacion fué más pequeña que lo que uno esperaba dada la poca popularidad de la guerra porque la gente está cansada de las protestas y se sienten sin motivaciones. Marchando en las vacias calles en un sábado en la esperanza de que la media se de cuenta de lo que pasa, no parece una estrategia igual a la tarea de la debastadora guerra Algunos anarquistas incluso comentaron que ellos no fueron porque la protesta estaba patrocinada por el pavoroso grupo ANSWER (un grupo pacífico), pero no es peor la guerra que este grupo? Los intentos comunes de antiguerra no están espandiéndose, pero aún no se sabe porqué- simplemente se sabe que no se expande más.

Este momento historico tiene todos los ingredientes de un cambio político que podria descreditar a los republicanos, a los demócratas y, enefectivamente, a las maquínas burocráticas. Analizando como medir este momento es la clave majica para los radicales del 2006, porque una vez que el pantano de la oposición de la guerra se libere, su corriente cargará muchas ramas secas. El suelo fertil por una oposición a la guerra es demostrado por el rápido rebelamiento en la prominecia de Cindy Sheehan, quien aparceió de repente y ahora es un punto crucial en el movimiento adecuado.

Los radicales necesitan estar más en público intentando diferentes esquemas, solo intentando diferentes experimentos podriámos entonces tener la esperanza de chocarnos con la adecuada oportunidad en el momento adecuado. Con suerte, la presión social que se ha construido alrededor de la guerra puede ser arreada y usada generalmente encontra de los proyectos imperialistas de EEUU, la seguridad estatal el país y la vida americana que está destruyendo la tierra cada día. Sería una verguenza si las contradicciones creadas por la guerra, fuesen encontradas con un único problema del movimiento anti-guerra, en vez de que unas cuantas revelaciones encontra de la estructura social, la cual ha creado la guerra en Irag y constantemente justifica la violencia-encontra de seres humanos y de la naturaleza- colo los negocios.

Guerra e Imperio.

Manteniendo un estado costante de guerra es altamente útil para el todopoderoso, porque da la excusa perfecta para centralizar la riqueza y poder, atacando las libertades cívicas, y manteniendo a la gente normal separados de los derechos humanos en EEUU y sus callejones, las destrucciones sistemáticas del medio ambiente y la pobreza estructural y la miseria, son precios aceptables en el mundo de los negocios.

La guerra en Terrorismo, es el tipo de guerra ideal para el imperio americano porque uno nunca puede acabar desde que esta define al “enemigo”, como cada tipo de grupo social o individuales que se oponen al sistema- Como es que uno acaba con la oposición para siempre? Inclusivemente, los activistas medioambientalistas y pacíficos, son etiquetados como “terroristas” e incluidos en la guerra encontra del terror. Últimamente, quiera quien sea que se oponga a la guerra, es considerado un terrorista.

Esos en poder, recalcan que el terrismo no es una forma “legítima” de acción social porque la violencia es usada- una ideoligia tipo Orwell. Pero el grupo en poder tiene la respuesta al terrorismo y a su violencia, a la muerte y destrucción de una pesa masiva. Bush denuncia a aquellos que son hospitables en Irag mientras que el gobierno americano tiene miles de prisoneros en sus propias tierras. Esos en poder, etiquetean todas las resistencias de la oprimida violencia meintras que la violencia del sistema, es arrastada por goviernos o corporaciones, pero para ellos esto es “negocios casuales”. Los terroristas son definidos así porque tienen las ideas “incorrectas”, pero no por sus actividades o acciones.

Pero la guerra encontra del terrorismo así misma dada, no es una guerra suficientemente “caliente” para servir una oportunidad excelente, para enfatizar la debilidad paradójica de los EEUU como el todopoderoso. El desastre en Irak no se olvidará en la próxima generación. Así como lo que pasó en Vietnam, Irag tiene un potencial para prevenir los lideres del porvenir, la misma historia por los próximos 20 años. Depende ahora en los radicales, aquí en los EEUU, el repetir la derrota de las reglas de la guerra. Irak fué una guerra de decición, motivada por una ansia de poder y vendida al público con mentiras. Hay un modelo en la historia de America – los mismo podría ser dicho de Vietnam.

El triunfo de las oposiciones radicales de la guerra, podria ser extendidas a la legitimación del imperio americano, des sus guerras extranjeras a sus abusos domésticos, y de los ejemplos dramáticos de violencia en la rutina, cada día en que el imperio americano está destruyendo la tierra y subjugando su población. El desastre en Irag tiene más en común con numerosas economias domesticas, reglas sociales y medioambientales, que benefician solo a unos pocos y devastan a muchos. La clave maestra es el descubrir la conección entre todas estas irrelevantes estructuras- brillando una luz en el poder y el el sistema

La acción directa, creativamente y envisionada, es lo que nos sperara a los radicales de las masas de protestas institucionales que han sido por ahora capaces de explotar las oportunidades historicas del cambio social presentado por la querra en Irag. Las manifestaciones que vienen del corazón, crean solidaridad y poder, pero cuando se convierten en algo obligatorio- sin pasión – es un kaka política. El espíritu es la clave y no la táctica misma. Quizás porque las tácticas tienen más riesgos y sentimientos únicos. Las manifestaciones encontra de la OMC, por ejemplo en Seattle, fue loca pero del corazón.

Las tácticas y acontecimientos que son únicas, divertidas y con humor, exitantes, van a pasar mejor atravez de las armaduras de la gente. Y si tuviésemos Hallowen el 4 de Julio y la gente se disfrazace de soldados tipo zombies.

Los activistas americanos tienen oportunidad drásticas para deestabilizar el Imperio Americano, desde que, después de todo, estamos en la barriga de la bestia. Dónde puede, un grupo pequeño de personas, poner sus energias? Que necesitamos derrumbar del sistema?Que lugares físicos y sociales piensa el “sistema” que esta a salvo?- los guardias del sistema estarian cabizbajos en este punto.

Es crucial tener diferente personas de diferentes lugares intentado diferentes cosas. La diversidad y la experimentación, puede descubrir puntos débiles, asi como inesperadas acciones, en un sistemas que siempre busca control. Por ejemplo, hay gente que ha estado llendo los centros de reclutamiento con resultados mixtos-este intento empieza con un ritual, quizás ahora es el tiempo adecuado para empezar a etiquetear los construciones militares u otros aspectos de las máqinas de guerra

El involucramiento de los EEUU en Irak acabará- pero hemos de bloquear la guerra, podemos empezar, construyendo las fundaciones de un futuro nuevo.

Biodiesel por la Revolucion? Creo que no!!!

Mientras el biodiesel acelera rapidamente su popularidad, necesitamos un sobrio análisis de su verdadera “sostenibilidad”. Como una solución potencial a la crisis de las desaparecidas reservas petrolíficas y al cambio climático, hay algo más en la imagen general que solamente el aceite de papas fritas de la basura que hace funcionar una camioneta de hippies. Estamos ahora en un punto donde hay más demanda de biodiesel que de aceite. “Si la producción anual de aceite vegetal fuese cambiada al mercado de combustible fosil, nos durarias 36 horas”, según dice Alexis Zieger. El espectro de la agricultura industrial, produciendo acres de mono cultivos genericamente modificados, en respecto a continuar los ineficientes vehiculos grandes, es nada pero verde. Mientras biodiesel es debitablemente menos tóxico y tiene menos emociones que diesel basado en petrolio cuando es quemado, puede funcionar en maquinas diesel y es promocionado como candidato para replazar los combustibles fósiles como la primera fuente de energia mundial de trasportación, un numero de preguntas importantes se quedan pendientes.

Una critica frequentemente absenta en el debate del biodiesel, es el hecho de que la onda del biodiesel no hace nada para disminuir la cultura de los autos y sus problemas requisitos. Seria maravilloso si solo la trasportación publica fuese un candidato en las conversaciones de biodiesel- esto seria muy sostenible.

Sin embargo, fans de biodiesel, en su entusiamo para covertir todos los autos; no se considera el hecho de que las carreteras seguirán arrebacando sobre la naturaleza, la poquita que queda, y que no habrá nada mas que una sociedad de aislamiento sobre consumision Claro, las SUVís y otros grandes tragones de gasolina son terribles para el medio ambiente pero es la del biodiesel tan diferente? Aunque algunos estudios confirmen que agunas emisiones son menos para biodiesel que diesel de petroleo, biodesel todabia no quema limpiamente. Tambien, hay una poquita consideración de la frequente e ineficiente, vieja y contaminante máquinas que estan quemando el biodiesel. En adición, hay una falta de información sobre la cualidad de combustible que se quema en muchos orígenes. Algunos pueden declarar las reacciones corporales como la respiración de la peste de papas fritas siendo vomitada por los camiones de biodiesel.

Algunas infractucturas: El negocio de la Agricultuta y el Capitalismo.

Una pregunta mayor, deberiamos preguntarnos en el frenesi al amor por el biodiesel, es , si el nibel global de sostenibilidad significa que miramos donde la EPA considera biodiesel un camino próspero para mitigar el calentamiento global. O que los problemas que los coches “verdes” no pueden resolver,como accidentes de trafico; furia en las carreteras y la destrucción de la naturalza por la construción de aparcamientos y carreteras.

Otro problema grande, causado por el biodiesel, es que se ha creado una competición del uso del campo. La tierra cultibable que hubiese sido en otro caso utilizada para la producción de comida es ahora utilizada como combustible.

Mientras algunos creen que biodiesel es un atento de un prupo organizado con una audencia minima, la verdad es que en el mundo de los negocios agricolas , ya hay planes para conseguir grandes beneficios de las intenciones del mundo para ” curar sus adicciones del petroleo”, lo que include la degradaciòn medioambiental, la explotación de trabajadores y la larga escala de producciones de plantas, saltando en paises de todas partes del mundo. ADM ( Archer Daniels Midland), la factoria de soja y maiz màs grande del mundo y el recipiente mas prominente del bienestar corporado en la reciente historia de los USA, recientemente anunció sus planes sobre la construccion de la primera fabrica de producción de biodiesel en los USA. Segun ADM, esta fábrica de 50 millones de galones, estará en Dakota del Norte, y utilizará aceite de canola como su principal producto. ADM es ya mitad dueño de una compañia grande en Alemania y en Singapore.

El Aceite de palma y su camino de destrucción.

Más feo que el hecho de que el biodiesel no hace nada para cambiar la cultura de los autos, es el hecho de que la industria del biodiesel, falla al mencionar su mercado y promociones. Donde en la Union Europea, los británicos y el govierno americano, y los miles de medio ambientalistas, imaginan biodiesel como un aceite que sobra y por eso ponen pegatinas en sus vehiculos que dicen “Biodiesel por la revolución”, pero no se dan cuenta de que esta revolución está a expensas de la tierra destruida y de la barata labor manual del aceite de palmas del Sureste de Asia

Hay una evidencia y un interés de los impactos del uso del aceite de palma, como la deforestación de los bosques tropicales y la reducción de los orangutanes. Y lo que es más, el resultado de plantaciones es el resultado de los negociantes explotando a los inmigrantes con salarios bajos y destruyendo la cultura indíjena y local.

El gobieno de Malasia se está concentrando en el uso de este aceite para la produccion de biodiesel, porque la demanda de combustible alternativo ha subido. Estas plantas producen 100.000 toneladas de biodiesel anualmente y porque son los que más producen en todo el mundo que producen más aun a su favor.Esto es, capitalismo.

Según George Biodet, del periódico “Guadian” de Londres, otras plantaciones están siendo construidas en la península de Malasia, Sarawak, y en Rotterdam. Dos consorcios- uno aleman y otro americano-están tambien construyendo en Singapore. Todos estos, estarán usando biodiesel de aceite de palmera. ” La demanda de biodiesel …” dice el Malasia Star,vendrá de la Comunidad Europea”,esta demanda fresca, podria, aunque sea, tomar la mayoria de las palmeras de Malasia ¿Porquè? Porque es más barato que otros cultivos.

Efectos en la tierra usada.

Algunas naciones, se han dado cuenta del uso de la cultivaciòn. Analizando la cantidad de biodiesel que se produce por unidad, se ha concluido que los estados unidos de america, donde está la demanda mas alta de energia, no tiene suficiente tierra fertil para llenar todos los combustibles. Otras naciones estan en mejores situaciones, pero algunas regiones no pueden cambiar la tierra para producir arboles en vez de comida

La agricultura industrial requiere petroleo en forma de fertilizadoras, pesticidas y combustibles para camiones y transportes. ” La agricultura americana ahora combierte tres calorias de combustible fòsil por cada caloria en la gasolina” observa Pimentel. Pero, que pasó con la perdida del habitat, de la fauna, las enfermedades de los pesticidas y más?

Así que, cuando estés llenando tu carro en el Biofuel Oasis en Berkeley, considera estas ramificaciones.

En vez de repetir los mismos hechos del uso del combustible es ahora el tiempo exacto para movernos más allá de la reformista cultura del coche, lo cual significa algo más que una pegatina de biodiesel.

Necesitamos soluciones reales para afrontar nuestros problemas. Abre tus ojos y pregúntate a tí mismo como es posible que G.W. dice que paremos” nuestra addiction del petroleo”. Hay cambios que reducen la consumición que son imperativos;como la transportación pública, los tipos de vidas locales, el ir en bicicleta,el caminar, la transportación pùblica, la producción de comida local y màs. Todo esto ofrece un futuro con más esperanza que el futuro del biodiesel.

En Oaxaca, La Lucha Siegue

México ha tenido a lo largo de su historia un gran número de presos políticos y de conseciencia, solo en el siglo pasado durante los 70 años de gobierno priísta,

wmiles de mej*icanos y estranjeros residentes de sus derechos. Hoy en el pleno siglo XXI, las cosas no han cambiado- cientos de presos políticos y de conciencia, haciendos en recluidos por el estado mexicano en sus centros de exterminio de las peores condiciones, hacinindos en espacios mínimos e insalubres, hostigados, humillados, todo como castigar ejemplar para la sociedad mexicana y las activistas sociales que buscan defender sus derechos o cambiar el actual sistema de exploitación que padecemos. La situación tiene a empeorar bajo la actual etapa histórica que enfrentamos, donde el enriquecimiento de unos pocos y su voracidad por extender su dominio sobre todo los ambitos de la vida, los lleva a usar los aparatos de represión del estado contra cualquier tipo de disdencia.

Para dar una muestra de esto basta con mirar la represión desatada en el estado de Oaxaca en el presente mes- El sábado 4 de marzo de 2006, aproximadamente a las 10a.m., en la agencia municipal de Santiago Cuixtla, se realizá una asamblea comunitaria para tratar el asunto de los recursos naturales (arena y grava) de la populación que están siendo extrañados del río Cuixtla. Mientras sesionaba pacíficamente la asamblea, occuría una agresión con armas de alto calibre contra los participantes , dirigida por el presidente municipal aspirante a duputado suplente por el PRI. Los funcionarios estuvieron escoltados por la policía de Seguridad Pública y la policía municipal. Estos hechos dejaron como saldo dos heridos de gravedad: Jesús Carmona Mijangos y Marino Cruz Canseco, y un desaparecido: Tomás Ruiz Carmona. Además, la policía detuvo arbitrariamente a ocho de los agredidos todos ellos integrantes de Organizaciones Indias por los Derechos Humanos en Oaxaca (OIDHO) y del Frente Popular Revolucionario (FPR), agrupaciones adherentes a La otra campaña. La represión continúa el día 8 de marzo, cuando la Unidad Policial de Operaciones Especiales (UPOE) disolvía una manifestación de 600 personas que se dirigía hacia los separos de policiía preventiva de Puerto Escondido para exigir la libertad de los detenidos, el castigo a los culpables y una mesa de día logo. Es esta nueva agresión se detuvieron a cuatro personas más y otro resultá herido de gravedad, Joel Roldán Mendoza, quien tiene fractura de cráneo. Además, cientos de granaderos apostados en el primer cuadro de la cuidad de Oaxaca impidieron la realización de un mitin. (Más información en primer cuadro en www.espora.org.amz),

Ante situaciones como anterioremente discrita, es imprescindible que el problema de los presos politicos y de conciencia en México sea divulgado y asumido por el más amplio conjunto de organizaciones, colectivos e individuos, entendiendo que la lucha por su liberación no puede dejar de implicar una lucha por la libertad de los presos políticos y de conciencia de todo el mundo.

Comite Cerezo

El Comite Cerezo quién lucha por la libertad de los hermanos Héctor y Antonio Cerezo Contreras estudiantes de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México y Pablo Alvarado Flores indígena náhuatl, injustamente encarcelados desde agosto de 2001 en el penal de máxima seguridad de la Palma, está conformado por familiares y amigos de escuela y/o trabajo de los hermanos Cerezo. Son una organización enfocada a la denuncia de la injusta prisión, de la tortura y las condiciones violatorias de los derechos humanos en las prisiones de alta seguridad y estatales de los más de 500 presos políticos y de conciencia en México. Uno de sus objectivos es coadyuvar en la medida de sus capacidades y recursos a las libertad de todos los presos políticos y de conciencia del país así como documentar y publicar un reporte anual de presos políicos y de conciencia en México. El Comité ha trabajado en el registro de los más de 500 presos políticos y de conciencia: además ha particiapado en diversas iniciativas para coordinar su liberación a lo largo de los últimos cuatro años. (Más información en www.espora.org/comitecerezo).

Dealing with conflict

In an ideal community we would fight together as well as we play together. But, because we pay rent, work shitty jobs, and struggle against the world, we are under enormous pressure. Not only do we not have a clear boundary defining what exactly our community is, but we are under the constant strain of our own personal and changing definitions of what exactly ‘radical’ is. The people who are engaged in these same questions are the ones we want with us in our combat against the world-as-it-is. We want a place to feel safe and we believe that safety lies in this shared struggle, with the kind of people who hate the same things as us.

What would a community look like that didn’t rely so much on carving out a non-reactionary safe space? Sadly, even visioning this kind of community requires using a lot of negative statements because it is so hard to imagine something worthwhile without facing what stands in our way. A real community would not be a Hot Topic-ized Norman Rockwell world of gated communities and downtown redevelopment model cities. It would be a world where trash (literally and figuratively) would never be exported; where love of place wouldn’t be the rhetoric in front of convenient practice but would be the principle guiding our meaningful choices. It would not be a static place, but it also wouldn’t be merely a depot for people passing through.

This community would have the space for the entirety of human practice, with the stability to provide people with shape and the flexibility for people to shape it for themselves. A real radical community must, like the Shakers, attract new people to survive and, like a street gang, stand the pummeling of authority that designs to cripple it. A real community would be a place broad enough to be born into, die within, test convictions, and eat fantastic food. Being in a community would, like being a Mormon, mean that you rarely felt isolated or minimized and always had the option of a casserole delivered to your door by a smiling friend who would stick around for long enough for you to cry on their shoulder.

But we would settle for less than this: much less. And we do. We have chosen to be radical in the East Bay.

While the East Bay is seen by the rest of the world as some sort of utopia, we all know it is far from that. The crushing burden of the cost of living in this somewhat-tolerant borough forces most of us to become wage-slaves as well as activists, hoping to get out from under the yoke. We seem to do everything to avoid having time to even experience community, much less do community well. This faulty self-reflection is seen most clearly in the limited responses that many of us have to intense emotional conflict in our scene.

People peripheral to a conflict commonly take one of two roles, Supporter or Advisor – both outside of the conflict, and both merely different faces of the same dynamic. The Supporter is entirely partisan. Many of us know the weaknesses of strict partisanship. It leads to simplification of issues, to good-guy/bad-guy binaries that don’t serve us in our understandings of power and autonomy. The Advisor is reasonable and balanced (or proud of being that, anyway), and has usually gotten a lot of positive feedback in our scene for that behavior, including getting called on to mediate in conflicts between other people. But it tends to lead to a disconnect from the people who are actually in the conflict, and a lack of clarity about what we value and what we don’t. If the opposite of polarities is relativist vagueness and indecisiveness, if the opposite of hating one person and placing the other one on a pedestal is having no position at all, then we are not closer to a working situation. And that is what seems to be the case. People, those few who have managed to get beyond the good/evil split, are so uncomfortable with taking a stand that they prefer to pretend that the field of conflict is level, and that all transgressions have the same value and relative significance. This isolates the conflict just as much as any other simplistic analysis of a situation. Do we understand the difference between taking a position and taking sides? It is as if people are more afraid of doing something wrong than of doing ‘nothing.’ (As if it’s possible to do nothing. Does breathing count?)

There are varied, intersecting bases for this non-committedness. The over-representation of college-educated middle and upper class people in radical circles emphasizes the tendency to avoid anger or obvious disagreement. The ‘I like to keep my options open’ motivation allows you to stand outside of conflict as an innocent bystander even when those you care for are hurt and in need. The ‘I am reasonable’ motivation pretends that the ‘truth’ of a conflict is somewhere in the middle of the people having conflict (like between Ohio and outer space). If I can find no one to stand with me, not because people think that I haven’t been attacked, or wounded, but because they are unwilling to act on that belief, then that is the other side to the coin of people over-siding with me. Critical engagement doesn’t look like leaving your people standing alone against real conflict; it looks like recognizing that the intensity of conflict isn’t necessarily related to the content of the conflict, and addressing that intensity as a more relevant issue than the specifics of the conflict.

Let’s take a well known local example, that of the split in the San Francisco Indymedia. At the heart of this conflict was a set of personal relationships, romantic, acrimonious, and complicated. The tissue of the conflict was between technical people and media people (with some overlap). The skin of the conflict was the sensational ability of people to fight with each other on-line in an environment relatively free from consequences. Seen generally this may be a poor example of community conflict because of its internet centered independent media activist orientation but real people felt isolated, hurt, and abused as a result of the actions of people that they used to work with, care for, and depend on. The creation of two different media centers out of one was probably an appropriate response to the conflict, but the heartache, vitriol, and continuing antagonism probably could have been alleviated by a periphery that was more aware and engaged than the one we have.

How could people who felt invested in the situation but not directly affected have acted differently? In the case of the IMC conflict this may be an easier situation than others, in that what has resulted (two IMC’s) is the clearest solution to the problem faced by a politically oriented group. A group with clearly irreconcilable differences can split amiably only by being clear about the different agendas, hearing everyone out but not taking sides, and embracing how emotionally connected we become to the way that things are. The Bay Area IMC conflict dragged on, publicly, for a year. Arguably there were involved parties who wanted this conflict (and the perception of the defeat of their rivals) more than they wanted a solution, but their approach can be seen for what it is: divisive and unconstructive. The members of the IMC were significant members of the community, and there should have been people who engaged with them in ways that they needed and in service of the goal of, in this case, separate IMCs.

This specific case speaks to the question about how our community, the East Bay, could become more like the community we would like to live in. As someone who was aware of the conflict (because I am on the internet a lot) and who was not personally close friends with the major participants in the conflict I felt both the great frustration at both wanting to help turn an ugly situation into something more appropriate and the knowledge that my participation was suspect because of my lack of shared vocabulary, history, or aesthetics with the two camps. How could I, or they, have done this differently?

For my part I could have risked more. Entering a situation saying “I am interested in your project” is very different than saying “I am interested in helping you through a conflict that I am fully aware of and torn by.” We, myself included, try not to make mistakes even if those mistakes would actually make our projects and interactions more interesting and dangerous (to the world at large).

For their part they could have kept a clearer distinction between the human sized problems and the political problems. We all have the experience of working with, or being, jerks. It is easy to write off someone who you find displeasing by calling them a name (asshole, not-an-anarchist, etc.) and turning off your critical facilities by shutting them out. We also recognize that how we meet each other, whether by shared friends, political projects, or social scene reflects greatly on how we perceive each other. A person’s social awkwardness is often seen as political liability.

Finally it should be understood that our own participation in conflict should be preceded by clarity rather than a need to be ‘right’ (whatever that means). Many of us, me included, are more readily equipped to march into battle rather than to honestly evaluate what it is that we want from the people who we work, love, and associate with. If we took the time and space to make these evaluations before we turned disagreements into conflicts we could make the ways in which we choose not to work with each other as interesting as the ways that we do. Because they are.

Most conflicts between people are not matters of right and wrong but of timing, transparency, and priority.

The East Bay is not utopia, but it is the most intentional, urban radical community that most of us will ever live in…

Christ died for his own sins . . . 2nd annual Slingshot Wingnut Award for Lifetime Achievement

At Slingshot’s 18th birthday party, the Slingshot Collective awarded the second annual Wingnut prize for Lifetime Achievement to our comrade Michael Diel. A short biography of Michael appears below. Slingshot created the Wingnut prize to recognize direct action radicals who have dedicated their lives to the struggle for alternatives to the current depressing, rotten system.

Wingnut is the term some of us use to refer to folks who walk on the wild side of reality — rejecting social, political and economic norms while fighting for a different world. A wingnut is more than just another boring radical, and more than just a nutcase — he or she is a blend of the best parts of both.

For 2007, we hope to award two Wingnut Awards for Lifetime Achievement: one for the East Bay scene, and one global award. Please send us your nominations along with why a particular person should be awarded the wingnut title for 2007. Someone must have at least 25 years of “service” to get the award.

Biography of Michael

Michael showed an early proclivity for activism in fourth grade in Windham, N.H. when he refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance and when he organized a boycott of music class because the students were being forced to sing Christmas music. He notes that this atheist action is ironic since he finally ended up as a dedicated pagan. In high school in the 1970s, Michael published an underground high school paper called Threshold. He organized a petition drive against mid-term exams which he got 80 percent of his fellow students to sign. “In high school I came to realize that in my writings I was espousing an anarchist criticism of the school system,” he notes. He recalls hating school, although he also founded an alternative school called the Alternative Learning Project which still exists today.

Michael attended Antioch college but because there were so many activist oriented students, he got into other things, among them, mid-1970s punk rock. He notes that he was “really into dancing” (he still is) and that he had “a lot of anger — punk gave me an outlet.” Michael dropped out of Antioch for a while and ended up in Berkeley for the first time in 1976 as a homeless street squatting gutter punk. He eventually finished school with a degree in early childhood education which he’s never used all that much.

During the 1980s, Michael was mostly homeless and was less explicitly political. He made art and got deeply into meditation. It was meditation that eventually told him that he should “get back involved in the world.”

Michael joined the 924 Gilman Street Project, an all-ages, volunteer run punk club, in the late 1980s. He was first involved in the art committee — he wanted to paint the walls. He eventually became manager and helped the club become a collective and a non-profit corporation — it was originally a project of Maximum Rock’n'Roll/Tim Yohannon. When the city wanted to close Gilman down, Michael helped organize 150 punks to show up to the city zoning commission meeting, and the city backed down. Gilman will celebrate its 20th birthday this year. Michael’s involvement in Gilman street brought him back to politics when he was involved with the club’s stand against racist skinheads. Michael spent a lot of time at Gilman offering counseling and advice to the younger punks, leading him eventually to the Berkeley Free Clinic, where he has focused on mental health and peer counseling.

Michael originally worked for the Free Clinic as a fundraiser but eventually became a key part of the Peer Counseling Collective which provides alternative mental health services. Michael is currently chairman of the Berkeley Mental Health Commission, a mental health advocate, and a member of the Radical Mental Health Collective.

In the 1990s, Michael became involved with the struggle to defend Berkeley’s People’s Park from University of California efforts to gentrify the park by building a volleyball court there. At around the same time, he devoted significant efforts to homeless advocacy, struggling to defeat city efforts to ban panhandling and harass homeless street youth. He helped win a federal court case against the city’s anti-panhandling/sitting on the sidewalk law. He was involved with an 11 day, 60 person strong Berkeley Homeless Union camp out in front of City Hall.

Michael became a member of the police monitoring group Copwatch to try to limit police abuse. In 1999 he helped Copwatch stand down the police chief and 40 officers who were trying to break up Camp KPFA outside the threatened radio station. He also got a radio show on pioneering unlicensed micro-radio station Free Radio Berkeley. He is rumored to still be involved in micro-radio on Berkeley Liberation Radio, 104.1 FM.

When asked why he deserved the 2006 Wingnut Award for lifetime achievement, Michael murmured “because I’m crazy!” Michael is well appreciated in the east bay for his unique ability to mix politics, punk, crazy dancing, paganism and street action. Michael walks everywhere he goes. “I got my top hat handed to me by a homeless woman and since then have been known as ‘the mayor of the streets’.” he added. Michael’s wise, radical and joyful presence is the very definition of wingnut-ism.

Re-Membering Students for a Democratic Society

Folks across the country have recently revived the 1960s new left student organization Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and are planning a national convention during the summer of 2006 — the first since 1969. The time and location are still to be determined. There are already more than 60 local SDS chapters across the US with new ones forming weekly. The idea of re-forming SDS has taken off rapidly, perhaps signaling a widespread desire for a national, radical student organization that can be independent of existing sectarian groups and that can provide a space for investigation, critical thought and ultimately, action. The key for a new SDS to achieve relevance will be its ability to go beyond historical precedents and create its own, modern forms of theory, practice and community.

SDS in History

The original SDS played a key role in the radical movement during the 60s — opening up a radical political space known as the new left that stood between the older 1930s inspired-left and mainstream establishment liberalism. While SDS had a complex history that evolved and changed between its founding in 1960 and its demise in 1969, one of its key innovations was a push for participatory democracy — small-d democracy in which ordinary workers, students and people could have direct involvement in decisions effecting their lives. Much radical analysis that activists in 2006 take for granted was created by SDS.

Many people are familiar with the late 1960s incarnation of SDS — a period of mass organization focusing largely on the anti-Vietnam war struggle which eventually spawned the Weather Underground. During the early part of the 1960s, SDS was a much smaller, more academic and theoretically explorative organization. In 1962, SDS published the Port Huron Statement which served as a groundbreaking manifesto describing the new left project.

Part of SDS’s early political strength was that its politics were up for debate, learning and growth rather than being set in stone. It provided a big tent — a model of a radical community that permitted people to plug in at many different levels. Growing as it did from academic institutions, it was willing to gather evidence as an organization and re-evaluate its efforts based on experimentation. SDS played a key role in helping its members understand the connections between various single issue “causes” and develop a more coherent analysis of modern capitalism and the modern state.

SDS Now

Organizers behind the re-formation of SDS note that the original SDS formed out of a political vacuum — establishment liberalism, as well as the institutional left, were both discredited and ill-equipped to participate in social change. The situation looks somewhat similar in 2006, although with numerous differences. Issues of civil rights, gender, queer liberation, neoliberalism, economic injustice, war and the environment — barely present at the beginning of the 1960s — are now well developed social movements.

Unlike in 1960, there are numerous existing national radical networks — Indymedia, Food Not Bombs, Earth First, IWW and Infoshops to name just a few. While there is no explicitly student based radical network of which this writer is aware, many national radical networks include students as well as youth who aren’t in school. In other words, “student” is not the sharply defined social status that it might have been at one point. Many people young and old drift in and out of school. A new SDS will have to figure out a niche and a purpose.

One potential niche for a new SDS could be to invest intellectually rigorous energy in political theory. The original SDS, in addition to producing the Port Huron Statement, produced a constant stream of position papers and research documents. By contrast, the majority of modern radical groups seem to focus on tactics and activity — making websites, planning protests and conferences, keeping Infoshops, publications, and food programs going — but fail to spend significant time studying and understanding theory which might inform what projects to undertake and how to undertake them.

Could the new SDS create a Port Huron statement for now — an organized and comprehensive articulation of radical values?

Another potential for the new SDS is the opportunity for radical cross-generational cooperation. The new SDS organizers are in close contact with a number of key players from the original SDS days. Many of these once-student organizers now have 45 years of radical experience under their belts. Sharing information and wisdom across the generations is never easy — younger activists have a hard time connecting with older ones, and vice versa. It appears likely that this summer’s national convention of SDS will include a caucus of original SDS members.

Some chapters of SDS have been playing with the acronym– for instance, Seniors for a Democratic Society or Solidarity and Democratic Struggle. Whichever direction SDS may take, it is clear that the historical legacy of SDS is inspiring folks to organize. Hopefully, SDS will go beyond just another on-line discussion forum and will translate into real world discussion and struggle.

SDS is having a SDS Northeast Regional Meeting at Brown University in Providence, RI on April 23 from 11 – 6. For a good history of SDS, there are a ton of books including SDS by Kirkpatrick Sale, Democracy is in the Streets by James Miller’s or The New Left Revisited edited by Paul Buhle and John McMillian. Or see the film “Rebels with a Cause.” For more information on SDS chapters in your area, historical documents from the original SDS, and the date and location for the 2006 national convention (which has not been determined as of the writing of this article) check studentsforademocraticsociety.org

Many Next Meetings

One can imagine my gladness to see a re-energizing of the memory and ideals and activism of Students for a Democratic Society.

I wrote in Slingshot a year or so ago reporting on talk of re-membering SNCC and SDS, and calling as it were for “the next meeting of SDS.” I am glad to see “next meetings” happening all over.

I have seen many ways that things we’ve tried have been deflected and beaten. A renewal of spirit is needed, not chastened by past errors, inadequacies and hard knocks. Students have the opportunity to put their studies to practice in the world. That the new SDS took initiative in high school is a good sign. A middle schooler at last week’s SDS town meeting in Ann Arbor describing intimidation against wearing a no-war t-shirt, saying, “if there isn’t free speech, there is no democracy”.

So what is democracy? Democratic society, from the ground up? Every one able to participate in the decisions that affect our lives and the opportunity to get involved — a place for everyone at the table, all voices, all voices?

What about class struggle? How to change the system? What about the class war the ruling rich wage against the rest of us? How to do non violence in the midst of a war system is the challenge for democracy — to make revolution without executions — to reclaim the commons.

At its best, SDS of old was a good time with a sense of humor. In that radical spirit I pass on the “manna pesto of the Revolutionary Garden Party (organarchist vangardeners)”:

Squash the state — freeze the zukes — raise vegetables not rents — weed out the pesticide pushers — agribusiness equal farmageddon — overturn the soil — compost the corporations — gives peas a chance — farm ecology not pharmacology — remember: resistance is fertile — cultivate a sense of humor — hoe hoe hoe

I consider “SDS” an inclusive inter-networking of activists radicals and Scholars, Students, Seniors, Survivors, Seekers, Sisters, Singers, Speakers, Satirists, Sociologists, Socialists, Semites, Slackers, Soldiers and any other designation for Democratic Society. Some day soon. Solidarity in Democratic Struggle. Join.