Tag Archives: Activism

Avoid Genetically Modified Organizers

I would call them Academically Modified Organizers except that doesn’t relate their haunting similarity to agricultural GMOs. University-incubated community organizers are designed to share a tragic characteristic of killer crops: the terminator gene. And it self-selects for stupid.
 
OF COURSE establishment-perpetuating education is going to adulterate what it’s selling as liberatory ideology! For example: anti-oppression, to innoculate against leadership; safe spaces to subvert direct communication; inclusion to preempt focus; consensus to thwart decision. These are genetic modifications to the social impulse, confounding political activism with self crit therapy. The newest social studies grads have resurrected a hopeful rejoinder to repression that reeks of their generations’s ubiquitous consolation prize. It goes THEY TRIED TO BURY US. THEY DIDN”T KNOW WE WERE SEEDS. Sorry, no you are not viable seeds. Poor hobbled Millennials, your miseducators and anti-social conditioners have as good as irradiated your seeds. Your enfeebled strain of resistance may be crazy infectious to systemically modified uncritical thinkers, but it’s not fertile.

DIY legal strategies for defendants to give their lawyers a running start

If you’ve been arrested at a protest action you’ve got more legal options than paying the fine or taking a plea deal. Whether or not your act was constitutionally protected, or should be, or whether it was civil disobedience and was meant not to be, there are a couple good reasons to fight your charges in court. First, to draw further attention to your issue, and second, to give your prosecutors more incentive to offer a better plea deal. They might even drop your charges altogether.

Let’s assume you have the time to attend multiple court dates and that your low income means you qualify for a public defender.

Don’t have the time?
If you don’t have the time, make it. Every court appearance is a chance for a press release. Example: City Prosecutes Activists Instead of Indicting Killer Cops. Not only are you forfeiting the opportunity for more publicity, you are resigning yourself to a stiffer plea offer. Probation, or deferred judgement, or deferred prosecution for a probationary period, will take a larger chunk of your time from activism than a few court dates.

If you are eventually planing to hire a private lawyer, the same initial strategy applies. Your inconvenience is nothing compared to the wrench you’re throwing into the city’s injustice machine, by merely fighting your case.

Let’s assume also that you have bonded out of jail. Your first court appearance will be a BOND RETURN DATE. If you did not bond out and remain in custody, your first court appearance will usually be the morning after your booking and will be called an ARRAIGNMENT. Both are supervised by a magistrate before whom you will be expected to plead guilty or not guilty.

You are going to do neither.

That said, if you are still in custody, your first objective would be to hasten your release, hopefully on a PR bond. In such case, the following steps need not be uncompromising.

City Attorneys
If your event is a bond return date, you will first be called out of the courtroom by a city attorney to discuss a plea deal. Here’s where most people think they can candidly argue their case in hope that the prosecutors will decide to drop the charges. Those defendants are only giving the city more cards to deal against them. Your first move will be to DECLINE TO SPEAK TO CITY ATTORNEYS. You can ask what deal they are offering, but you say nothing about your case and admit to nothing. You are better off not even sitting down. Tell them from the hall that you have nothing to discuss, have them please bring your case before the magistrate.

The Magistrate
When the magistrate calls you up, tell him or her that you DO NOT CONSENT TO A MAGISTRATE adjudicating your case, you want the judge to which you are entitled. The magistrate will have to reschedule your court date before a judge, in the division to which your case was assigned. This might be one or two weeks later.

Bond Return Date, Round Two
Your second date, this time titled an “Arraignment” will be another chance for the city attorneys to pretend they have a right to interview you. Again you brush them off. When you’re finally called before the judge, he or she will ask you what you plead. Say that you CANNOT PLEAD BEFORE CONSULTING AN ATTORNEY. Asked if you have an attorney, say no, you require a public defender.

The judge will tell you a public defender will only be assigned after you’ve entered a not-guilty plea. Stand your ground, ask how are you supposed to make a legal decision without the advice of the public defender? The judge will decide to enter a not-guilty plea on your behalf, to which you will OBJECT.

A plea made over your objection will be a potential element of a future appeal. Likewise was the attempt by city attorneys to pretend they had authority to discuss your case without your having an attorney present. These will be two factors that will give you leverage in negotiating a better plea offer.

The judge will ask if you want a jury trial, to which you will answer YES. You’ll be assigned a pretrial conference date, or reset date, and a trial date. Your next task will be to apply for a public defender.

Representation
If you make too much money to qualify for a public defender, you might want to hire a lawyer, or find one who is sympathetic to your cause who can represent you Pro Bono. If you are smart enough on your feet, you can represent yourself PRO SE.

One possible advantage to proceeding Pro Se is that the city might eventually drop the charges, calculating that if you couldn’t find an attorney to defend your criminal case, you are unlikely to find one to bring a civil suit against the city for false arrest. They risk little to drop your case instead of spending an awkward day in court trouncing a DIY defendant in front of a sympathetic jury of his peers.

If your application for a public defender is accepted, they’ll also waive the $25 jury fee. If you can’t apply for the public defender within 30 days of your forced not-guilty plea, you should file the jury trial request yourself and pay for it.

No not under any circumstance elect a trial by judge. Denfense lawyers call that a “slow motion guilty plea.” You’ll soon learn that judges work for the same side as the prosecutors. So do the public defenders, but they can serve your purpose for the time being.

In a future article I’ll discuss what to do with public defenders.

Every god but Allah for Muhammad Ali?

When the fuck did Muhammad Ali become Unitarian? He was Muslim. Why all the other God/G*d freaks crashing his funeral? I understand friends wanting to speak. This being a culture of celebrity worship, I can even understand a policy of open mike for celebrities. Presumably there was a pecking order to separate the A-list from the Bs. You’d think Ali’s memorial would have warranted also discriminating icons from mere celebrities. Religious demagogues should have been disqualified without question, no matter their humanitarian temperament. Ali was a follower of Elijah Muhammad. Where was Farrakhan? Where were the militants? Extorted to take a backseat. As usual the corporate media whitewashed Muhammad Ali’s activist persona in favor of painting him into a black Albert Schweitzer. As if the shared experience of rooting for boxing opponents in itself uplifts humanity.

Clicktivist shaming is also clicktivism

As a street activist, I take heed of neither what police want me to do, nor politicians, nor ministers. Why should I treat online advice givers any different? I understand the frustration we all have about internet “clicktivism” substituting for in-person activism, but calling out the behavior as if online social media isn’t the revolution’s killer app is dumb and very probably mendacious. Fuck you PC culture for whom every political event is an opportunity to lecture others on how not to squeeze the most out of the privilege ie- fleeting power they have against the omnipotent state. Fuck you blacksplainers who think being African American is license to tell others how to be allies. “Allies” to what? Handwringing? Bench-sitting? Imagine if abolitionists had heeded the will of the majority of slaves to remain slaves! Shouted from the streets “what white people can do to help” would be relevant, but coming from people who are otherwise advocating for voting, or lobbying, or holding prayer vigils, or capitulating to power, your must-needs are irrelevant. Those in the streets are your comrades. Your online “stop doing this” lists are for chumps.

The History of Violent Protest in Colorado Springs, in a Nutshell.

JesusGET THIS. I heard a reverend-person yesterday lecturing newish activists about their need for nonviolence training, which she was volunteering to lead. She was also offering rubber wristbands for her graduates to wear at demonstrations, so that police could differentiate between protesters. She told us she’d ask officers to scrutinize those not wearing bands as being the potential troublemakers. This, she assured everyone, would make it more difficult for outside groups to waylay the action. I kid you not. And she’s a church leader praised locally as something of an activist! HA! That’s a RAT!
 
I recognized the Springs “outsider” buggaboo so I thought I’d relate where it came from in a little piece I’ll call The History of Violent Protest in Colorado Springs. Ready? It won’t take long.

So what violence have I seen in my fairly full-time participation over a dozen years, multiple wars and as many elections? ZERO. That’s right. I’ve seen a lot of brutal handling by police, but by the hands of protesters? Nothing.

Yep. The History of Violent Protest in Colorado Springs. The End.

For as much as local church leaders harp on nonviolence training, which includes, by the way, nonviolence bounderies that forbid even confrontational speech, you’d think they’d seen a need for it. They haven’t. For EVERY preacher and or disciple regurgitating nonviolence edicts, I’ve never seen ONE counterpart advocate for, nor commit, violence. It’s almost a laugh, if the practice wasn’t so damaging to public demonstrations. Colorado Springs street protests have been defanged to nothing, police needn’t bother to show up and they don’t. As a result, neither do protesters.

And it isn’t just that nonviolence dogma declaws the public beast. Religifying activism alienates intellectuals and atheists who woud prefer not to suffer the foolish god-justified claptrap. Monotheism is the engine which has always perpetuated privilege, enslavement, colonization and capitalism. Wtf.

Not satisfied to deputize citizens with the equivalent of TSA pre-boarding approval, clergy want to deprive their charges of the element of surprise. The Springs antiwar community keeps direct contact with law enforcement. I’m guessing protestations, if any, are now simply phoned in.

I JUST WANT TO PUNCH these nonviolence religion freaks for mutilating the impetus of budding activists. A newcomer’s anger is what drew them to protest in the first place. Of course as ministers that is their function. Social injustice is job security to church employees. They are about as likely to remedy inequity as the Pope. Sermons aim to temper their sheep’s natural anger at injustice. But enough about those assholes.

No matter the issue, antiwar, the environment, racism, homelessness, in Colorado Springs I’ve seen absolutely no public demonstration escalate to violence. Why then the ready queue of spiritual nuts so eager to innoculate every next wave of concerned citizen before they can even take to the street? It goes back to something that happened at an antiwar demonstration in 2003, although the lesson being drawn is not based on what really happened. That’s the bugaboo.

Palmer Park, 2003
In 2003 George W. Bush was about to initiate an illegal war against Iraq and public demonstrations were coordinated across the globe. In Colorado Springs nearly 2,000 people assembled in Palmer Park along Academy Boulevard. The Springs rally looked to eclipse the antiwar events planned in Denver, so some people came from Denver, or so it’s believed. In reality, the Springs antiwar community had an average age of 75 and hadn’t seen new faces for decades. The sight of younger participants led many to believe they were from elsewhere. Plus some of the younger protesters wore black, so word spread they were Anarchists. Scary.

For the usual reasons, the CSPD decided to close Academy Boulevard. When rally-goers realized their protest wasn’t being seen because motorists were no longer driving by, some decided to lead the crowds southward toward an intersection where traffic was still passing. Being that Academy Boulevard was cleared of cars, the most obvious route was on the street. There was no sidewalk and the park was congested with the parked cars of the attendees. No matter. The police formed a line and ordered the marchers back.

The police began to spray tear gas as the protesters retreated. Clouds of gas enveloped the crowds as they dispersed and struggled to get in their cars. The cars were gased with families and small children inside them, unable to drive away.

Across the globe that day, only two cities used tear gas against their antiwar protests: Athens and Colorado Springs. That’s how old timers like to tell the story. They’ll add that the police crackdown was prompted by unruly outsiders being violent with police. By which they mean, refusing to get off the street. Being assertive of one’s rights somehow became translated to mean impermissively violent.

Had these Emily Posts ever seen the footage of Selma?! These nonviolence sticklers are MLK idolators, yet just like Selma’s whites, they blame the victim.


Palmer Park, 2003

Protests in Colorado Springs immediately diminished in popularity and never again drew large numbers. Apparently when organizers called their members the apprehension was always “will it be safe?”

And so from that day, nuns and other clergy met regularly with Colorado Springs police to talk to them about protest plans, lest CSPD be surprised and overreact. That hasn’t stopped police from dragging us across streets or assaulting us in parking lots or on sidewalks. Oh to have merited it even once!

NOTE: I have omitted a couple of insider details about the 2003 rally because I wanted to relate the experience of the average participant. Yes, the event was advertized statewide and drew opponents of Bush’s war from along the Front Range. And yes, there was a strategy among frontline protesters to try to block an intersection. Most attendees didn’t know either of these facts. The local peace community was so insular that all new faces were looked upon as interlopers. But my point remains, there was no violence. Our freedom to assemble, wherever two thousand people need to go, is not abriged by congress nor by traffic laws. Rebuffing law enforcement’s attempt to disrespect civil liberties by standing, walking, sitting, or shouting, is not violence.

St Patricks Day, 2007

Nonviolently submitting to state violence is supposed to move onlookers to empathy. In 2007, was the Colorado Springs public moved by the police brutalization of nonviolent 70-yr-old Elizabeth Fineron, who later died of complications of her injuries? No, they cheered the police.

Sacrificing yourself may work in democracies with an empowered populace, but against fascism, as against the Mongols or Manifest Destiny, it’s abrogation of responsibility and suicide.

Nonviolence
Incorporating the dogma of “nonviolence” into what would otherwise be straightforward protest becomes problematic when nonviolence folks want to differentiate themselves. Those who are “othered” are then presumed to be planning violence. That’s a very serious charge. Inciting a riot is a crime. Plotting to overthrow a democracy is sedition.

Non-nonviolence does not equal intending-violence. For example, I do not advocate violence, I advocate solidarity.

I do not oppose people asking for NV training, or undertaking it, though I would prefer that nonviolence wasn’t marketed to newcomers who wouldn’t have thought to have needed it.

Why should “nonviolence” even have to come up, for example, at a discussion about a SIT-IN? Agreeing to sit is already a gesture which has capitulated the option to resist. A crowd can’t charge from the seated position. You can’t even defend yourself. The nonviolence is inherent.

Religious NV training is really about nonviolent communication, a whole other can of rotten worms. There is no evidence that Gandhi, MLK or the Flint factory sit-ins practiced that aberration.

If the challenge is to show public opposition to the sit-lie ordinance because it further oppresses the homeless, public energies need not be exhausted by habitually passive religious leaders and their idea of what direct action needs to be.

Yes, the anticipation of the supremacy of nonviolence over state violence is a religious expectation. Against fascism you’re asking for a miracle.

If preachers were activists they would lead their flocks into the street. Circulating among activists, those church leaders are opportunistic missionaries, looking for recruits among the disenchanted.

To be earnestly inclusive of faiths and non-faiths, leave you diety at home. Show respect for the “others” who don’t need the voodoo rationalizations you require to muster moral courage.

350.ORG disowns Paris sans-culottes, opts for boot-counting passivist shtick, figures to storm the Bastille shoeless.


HOLY CRAP, Bill McKibben sells out the activists again, agreeing not only to cancel planned protests at the Paris Climate Conference, but distancing 350.ORG and its collaborator NGOs from real demonstrators upset at the protest ban. After leading hundreds of thousands in New York City on the World’s Largest Climate March TO NOWHERE, Bill McKibben flushes the Paris demonstrations and the climate they hoped to save with them. Nothing says silence like a streetful of shoes. Antiwar activists resorted to staging shoe die-ins at every surge of the Iraq War. The result? Crickets. We used army boots to represent mounting American war casualties. As pacifism lost popular traction, the disparing passivists cobbled larger and larger “demonstrations”. Activists came to call them exercises in BOOT-COUNTING. It’s a well-trod path, and as you might expect of shoes without wearers, they march nowhere.

WORSE BUT AS USUAL, the permit-carrying protest groups at the Paris summit immediately disowned demonstrators who threw bottles or in any manner protested the government’s edict to ban public protest in the wake of the November terrorist attacks. Activists who habitually support 350.ORG leadership were thrown under the bus as “not part of our movement”. Specifically they had violated a supposed pact which self-respecting nonprofits had signed to reject anything but impotent rule-following. While the media will continue to hand Bill McKibben a microphone, it’s time for street activists to raise their pitchforks against false grassroots leadership. There wouldn’t have been an Earth First if environmental nonprofits had put resistance before staged activism. The climate message doesn’t require their nuanced strategists. The struggle certainly doesn’t benefit from participants who think they can conscript shoes to take the streets for them.

AS TO A NONVIOLENCE PACT. Organizers of the Paris protests apparently swore an oath not to let protests escalate to resistance to police repression. It’s the same malarky nonviolence advocates demand of their adherants. AS IF Gandhi and MLK won their laurels without resorting to active resistance. Demonstrations against US national conventions have been hamstrung by simlar nonviolence pacts.

HOW ABOUT activists get a jump on the upcoming election year and propose an alternate oath for wannabe protesters, an elaboration on the St Paul Principles so to speak. At the DNC and RNC we swear to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to shut it down. Whoever can’t commit to WHATEVER IT TAKES can’t call themselves comrades. They have no business filling streets only to capitulate. They are the words of Malcolm X: “whatever it takes”. Whatever does not exclude nonviolent methods but it excludes expulsions, or you’re disowned.

Get a job you dirty hippie! Unhelpful advice which activists take personally.

Occupy Wall Street composed a chant to rebut the ageless heckle hurled at protesters: GET A JOB YOU DIRTY HIPPIE! After Zuccotti Park was razed and Occupiers regrouped, they offerd this rejoinder. Remember it?
    “Got a JOB. Took a SHOWER.
    We’re still occupying, speaking truth to power!”

Of course it wasn’t true, or at least whether we did or not was as irrelevant as the original misconception. But street activists come up against misguided advice much more pernicious than the crudely insulting. Consider the constructive advice from journeymen activists who’ve been at this for a long time and know how it’s done. You know the ones, who preach nonviolence or you’ll never get anywhere, as if they have a record of success or fount of experience more illustrative than the old grindstone. False history has even robbed them of the authentic lessons to glean from Gandhi and MLK. Yet even the best-intentioned of our peers caution that movements will never take hold without blablabla. This sacred cow, for instance: community outreach.

A colleague of mine recently asked about my ideas to better reach out to the African American community vis-a-vis the protests which Occupy Denver has been spearheading to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter uprisings in Baltimore and Ferguson. At face value it’s a reasonable question as Occupy franchizes across the country have been predominantly white. At base however, the distinction is academic and the implication insulting.

In Denver, as probably in many multicultural urban centers since Ferguson, authorities have succeeded in working with community leaders to redirect street protest into the usual back channels. In Denver the spiritual leaders have kept their flocks locked in their churches. When Denver high schoolers began to stage walk-outs, school administrators put the schools on lockdown. Traditional social justice groups fell victim to academics and their identity politics diatribes. White priviledge must “make space”, in effect, step back, whether or not alternative leaders were knocking. In Denver the most significant protest entity impervious to scholatisc impotence or the wiles of religious submission was Occupy Denver. Since 2011 this ad hoc collection of protest-hardened activists could mobilize at the flick of a switch, usually through social media. By definition, Occupy refused to bind themselves to everybody else’s longstanding arrangements of detente.

Of course this persistence is not static and there are ceaseless internal pressures to conform and play for crumbs. Table scraps are sustenance after all, and all mature decisions are compromises. Adults choose lesser evils, safety nets, the bird in the hand, wisdom over altruism. Can dreamers even be sure the burning stove isn’t an adage meant to waylay us from our childish intuition about freedom? From the frying pan into the fire is more probably the forbidden roadmap to revolution.

You want to know the sage advice that burns me up the most? Comrades telling me the struggle will be a long haul. A marathon. Are you kidding me? Revolution is a sprint! We’ve got to light a fire under your ass!

In any case. Community outreach. What’s the problem? My first thought was of the criticism protesters still face everyday: “GET A JOB!” Everyone seems to have their own idea about what other activists are supposed to be doing.

On the subject of Occupy and “outreach” I offer six points:

1. Did Occupy Wall Street reach out to the community of brokers and bankers on Wall Street? It did not. Occupy was about disruption, gathering on the street and uniting activists. Community organizing was another sort of activism. Occupy was not voting, or going around trying to get out the vote, or lobbying legislators, or gathering petition signatures, or fundraising, or taking in cats, or walking in people’s shoes. All of these are perfectly constructive things, but they’re fundamental to what Occupy was not. I know it sounds mature to talk about building community and helping out and being less disruptive but those are tasks that keep conventional social justice groups too busy to occupy.

2. I am reminded of a lesson learned as occupiers coordinated their efforts. If you feel there is a task going undone, you probably should step up to do it. Others have their hands full with what they are doing. If you feel there is a deficiency and it’s important to you, fill it.

3. That said, there is an imperative not to dillute the fundamental mission. If tangential efforts drain the human resources needed for the goal that brought everyone together, then somebody is winning and it’s not Occupy.

4. Denver’s African American community already has their leaders, most of them undisposed to street activism. Occupy Denver’s community is with activists of all colors. We reach them through the message, our actions, and our unending persistance. None of these are based on color lines.

5. Occupy has many black activist allies. On the street we support them EVERY TIME regardless of whether they support us. Even if it’s “their” issue. If they are not able to rally as frequently as we can, it’s not their fault. (That is White middle class privilege.)

6. If you think the African American community is central to addressing the probem of racism, that’s a problem. It should be up to the WHITE AMERICAN COMMUNITY to shout “BLACK LIVES MATTER” the loudest of all.

The People’s Climate March will move the United Nations if marchers push it

I heard a dispiriting conceit at yesterday’s 350.ORG whistestop rally at Denver’s Union Station to cheer climate activists bording the Amtrak Zephyr destined for the New York City #S21 People’s Climate March. This young, otherwise energetic and charismatic environmentalist told the crowd that she did not expect anything to come of the hoped-to-be-massive demonstration but would attend anyway. Ironically this was addressed to supporters who’d already decided not to join the march based I’m guessing on the same logic. Yet we cheered, chanted about the imperative to act, and applauded a successive speaker who added that if world leaders ignored this people’s march, there would follow another and another, ever larger. Hmm. I doubt it. Activism is already showing diminishing returns and drawing numbers to unsuccessful actions doesn’t help. I appreciate not wanting to seem to hold foolish expectations, but I’d rather accept defeat having believed it was not inevitable. The antiwar movement laments the election of Barack Obama because he herded the populist anti-Bush groundswell toward supporting the other corporate war party. But I blame Obama for a larger malpractice: innoculating Americans against hope. Extended generations of altruists lost their cherry to the hope-change-artist and while they wise up incrementally, I have yet to see hopefulness normalize the defeatism. This doesn’t mean that hopefuls don’t keep falling for smooth promises, but the promises are smaller, to be believable. Bill McKibben’s 350 march for example doesn’t even want to make demands, yet insists that your personal attendence will be the biggest impact you can make against climate change. And if the march doesn’t move UN leaders, come back and do it again. Until what? Until world leaders are convinced that the public is serious. Why are we not serious? Should McKibben admit that traveling to New York could be distracting activists from where their bodies really need to be, in front of coal plants, blocking pipelines, and organizing communities against fossil fuel extraction? Pressuring the UN is similarly immediate but we have to apply veritable pressure. If a march is meant to impress, even as a gesture, it must be more than a parade.

I’ll believe drugs are victimless when a pot activist gets off the couch for an issue other than access to his addiction

I know as many functional drug users as victims of substance abuse addiction, so it’s a complicated issue for me. I’m against drug criminalization fueling our prison industrial complex, but marijuana rights activism seems too guided by self-interest for my comfort. Is your access to pot more urgent than suffering, injustice and inequity? Of course that may be my privilege speaking. It’s a condescending bugger.

Occupy Denver hits the Terrible Twos!

LOOK OUT DENVER! There was no birthday cake this year for Occupy Denver, though the second annual #S17 OWS anniversary celebration did not go unmarked. Subgroup offshoots of Denver’s notorietous Occupy deployed themselves with the usual rowdy spirit. Denver Homeless Out Loud, advocates for the homeless where traditional “advocate” kapos leave off, defied the city’s no-sleep no-shelter ordinance by setting up tents on the eve of S17. Police kept the activists awake all night and forbid them to enter the tents, but the encampment hung on until morning for a scheduled solidarity action. At noon Colorado Foreclosure Resistance picketed the offices of Castle Law Group, responsible for 90% of the state’s foreclosures. Occupiers moved on to protest the Westin’s Palm Restaurant (Boycott the Palm) for its stand on criminalizing Denver’s poor. Other Occupiers couldn’t join in because they were in Boulder organizing Occupy Flood Relief. Armed with megaphones, drums, the capability to mobilize at often a moment’s notice, and an attenuation level pegged at disruptive, Occupy Denver acts every bit its age, prepare for it Denver, a year of the terrible twos. Happy Birthday Occupy!

My impatience with not so anti frackers

I’d tell you I’ve had it up to here with moderate turncoats, but of late I’ve resolved to keep them well underfoot. Take the local fight against FRACKING.
 
We’ve built a pretty determined group of fractivists in Colorado Springs, with healthy allies statewide, and in the interest of growth began to make alliances with less hardy participants who have unseemly strong opinions considering their otherwise unproven skills, stamina, and motives. Their most common denominator however is that they do not hold firmly oppositional positions to the oil & gas industry; they consider themselves more diplomatic than radical which by their own assumption will prove more successful. Except, no.

The conviction of moderates is so strong that they compromise not one iota, and isn’t it the same with every political issue? The centrists rule the roost, blind to the fact that their promises deliver absolutely nothing, every time. Yet their goals always look more attainable because they’re “reasonable.” Fuck ’em. Maybe they don’t even know it but they serve to preserve things as they are.

Some of these types appear highly effective in their personal affairs and so reach positions of influence in activist circles, ironically because they have gained a lot of that experience running in place. Some of them are professional, they’re paid whether they get anywhere or not, and it’s not difficult to deduce that their jobs are gone if the mission is accomplished. It’s also not beyond the pale that some are obstructionist, by nature or contract, but to speculate is irrelevant because the solution is much easier and occurs to anyone who’s true to his or her principles: dismiss all the semi-principled outright.

What I do find tiring is having to explain to newcomers, stepping into the conflict between activists and inactivists, that such implacable moderation does not get movements anywhere, it’s a lazy option that detracts from our real efforts, and very likely it wasn’t what drew newcomers to the movement either.

In truth before I joined the fight, there was opposition to fracking, it was faint, it was token, and it was prepared to capitulate. Those voices are around still, at the ready to wave the white flag. Why we welcome them as allies I do not understand, they are worse than worthless. By which I mean they are every bit as harmful as the corrupt administrators, the greedy frackers, or the pro-industry buffoons. And let’s also not dismiss the evidence that industry operatives are manipulating the divisions between community organizers, making the effect of the vacillators worse. Now I’m ready to give you the skinny on our city’s anti and not so anti fracking forces, so you’ll know where to lend your energy when the next assault begins.

BIDDER 70 doc reduces super-activist Tim DeChristopher to a number, lonely

BUMMER. I was thrilled a documentary would tell the world about Tim DeChristopher. You might think his achievement would be more widely know. It’s a testament of the power he’s up against, added to the meager support he has received, that even here I have to explain who he is and what he did. Tired of the futility of outdoor protests to prevent BLM land sales to the extraction industry, Tim DeChristopher attended an auction of particularly dubious legitimacy and successfully thwarted it by posing as a bidder and buying many of the lots. This happened at the close of Bush’s presidency, but Obama’s administration pursued a successful prosecution. DeChristopher has just been released after serving two years in federal prison. The documentary “Bidder 70” recounts the ordeal in a manner that provides neither encouragement nor inspiration, and leaves me to question how DeChristopher might have been better represented in court, publicized in actions, and celebrated in film. To say Bidder 70 reduces Tim DeChristopher to a number distorts the idiom. No mere number, DeChristopher is the important but solitary number one, among a casualty count always rising. In the sea of ineffectual activism that prompted his improvisational escalation, DeChristopher emerges more singular than when he started, but that’s to judge based on a flawed documentary. Hardly an surprising result.

It’s certainly armchair quarterbacking to suggest Tim DeChristopher’s legal team failed him miserably, likewise his publicity crew, but I can unequivocally conclude that DeChristopher would have served the environmental movement much more successfully had he been free to apply his imagination and energies, literally. Jail time helped Mandela, MLK and Thoreau, but that’s because you heard about it. The makers of “Bidder 70” can’t be faulted for their subject’s obscurity, but they are applying themselves to sealing his fate with coffin nails.

“Bidder 70” has major shortcomings: you are left with an informed impression that one, there is nothing to be done, two, you don’t want to do it in prison, and three, our collective impotence is inescapable. What’s the point then of attending the movie?

Of all the questions left for a post-screening Q&A, probably one should not be whether the subject is other than he appears. Explain this, how does a protagonist gain inspiration from being told there’s nothing to be done, by a Nobel Prize winner, whom he believes and holds as his mentor? Everyone loves a good challenge, but DeChristopher comes off as a poor listener. Nothing? I’ll see your nothing and raise you nothing. Futile? Count me in! Everyone loves an underdog, but he gathers no recruits.

Never mind his in-denial heroics, the audience takeaway is that his cause is lost. This is swiftly reinforced with the story of Tim DeChristopher’s road less traveled to prison. Offered encouragement by other activists who’ve served time, who we’ve also not heard of, it’s painted to be a fate of unimaginable awfulness and given an ominous soundtrack.

Who could not to admire Tim DeChristopher and respect his dedication and courage? The filmmakers painted in super-heroic light, notwithstanding his irrational adjustments, and so their thematic choice look awfully suspect. Are we likely to learn that they’re new to activism and have no idea what does or doesn’t motivate?

Filmed between 2009 and 2011 and released last year, “Bidder 70” makes no mention of “fracking.” The environmental movement has been literally bursting with opposition to hydraulic fracturing and these filmmakers were at the forefront of the national rallies. This omission is juxtaposed with a clip of 350’s Bill McKibbon praising the consumption of natural gas over coal.

Colorado Extraction Resistance claims responsibility for gas balloon attack on gas frackers

balloons
DENVER, COLORADO- Organizers of an annual oil and gas industry conference held at the Grand Hyatt on Monday and Tuesday tried to prevent public interruption of their let’s frack Colorado discussion. They tried to ignore protesters outside. They revoked the admissions passes granted to activists who wanted to attend the open segment of the conference designed for public consumption. They didn’t count on the COLORADO EXTRACTION RESISTANCE to successfully negotiate the heightened security and deliver gas balloons to gas frackers convening in the ballroom.

Attached to the balloons, which swiftly lifted to the ceiling neatly beyond reach, were noisemakers which accentuated the shouts of the Extraction Resisters shouting “Ban Fracking Everywhere!” Most of the interlopers escaped but one was manhandled, his head slammed against the wall, and arrested for wielding balloons. In a dispiriting twist, attendees conspiring to frack the shit out of Colorado were not arrested, though the gases which leak from their wells pose a more eminent public threat than helium.

The successful interruption prompted a spirited protest outside, where conference attendees were heckled and passersby were warned to pay special care as they passed the Grand Hyatt, at that moment sheltering eco-terrorists from citizens arrest.
(UPDATE: Now read their account and full DIY instructions!)

Now Colorado College students have to ask permission if they want to protest


COLORADO COLLEGE- How do you protest having to seek permission to protest? Do it without. But Colorado College students learned on Wednesday that protesters risk arrest for trespassing: trespassing on the private property of a private college ostensibly protecting the non-dissenting students from having to see dissent. It would be interesting to see college administrators have to explain that on their campus, the freedom to speak didn’t include the freedom to hear.

Fracking protest message at Denver 350 rally cuts through nebulous “Forward on Climate” theme


DENVER, COLORADO- Score another success for Colorado Fractivists who crashed this weekend’s climate rally with their unequivocal anti-fracking message. The February 17 event was intended to urge President Obama “Forward on Climate”, to borrow his most recent campaign vagarity, but when official speeches began, and the prefab signs were distributed, it became unclear who might be trying to co-opt whom.

Gas
The 350.ORG sponsored march, coinciding with a rally and civil disobedience in DC, called specifically for a halt to the Keystone XL Pipeline and Tar Sands extraction which climate scientists have dubbed “game over” for hopes of averting climate disaster, but the dominant signage spoke vaguely of “Climate Action” and “It’s Time to Cut Carbon” and “Big Coal Makes Us Sick”, all of which are slogans used by proponents of natural gas. 350-ORG has been raising awareness of the imperative to reduce carbon emissions, while recognizing that the groundswell driving environmentalists across the country is opposition to oil & gas hydraulic fracturing.

It’s all the same fight to reduce burning of fossil fuels, but moderate allies like the Sierra Club haven’t been prepared to denounce their new-found bed partners urging consumers to get “Beyond Coal.” To her credit, local 350-ORG coordinator Micah Parkin incorporated fractivist groups into the Feb 17 rally, but Democratic Party panderers didn’t get the memo. A representative read a letter of support from Senator Michael Bennet and was able to sneak past: “I stand with Obama” and even “in favor of US energy independence” although that’s code for oil & gas exports, dependent on construction of the XL pipeline. But when Mark Udall’s representative referred to “clean burning natural gas” the crowd booed. Even as he pleaded “we’re on your side,” the crowd wouldn’t relent, making sure his takeaway would be that fracking compounded global warming, among its other horrors.

The highlight of the rally occurred immediately afterward when the master of ceremonies, a twelve-year-old rapper and member of the Boulder based Earth Guardians, thanked Udall’s rep affably but then assured the audience that “of course there’s no such thing as clean natural gas!”


Occupy
A word about Occupy Denver’s part in Sunday’s march. Occupiers took the black-tie invitation to heart and turned up in black bloc attire with bandanas and balaclavas. OD then pushed the envelope to the consternation of parade marshals, stepping into the street at one point, blocking cars at another, in the spirit of their banner which read “ONLY DIRECT ACTION WILL STOP THE PIPELINE.”

To what end, creating friction during an event otherwise running smoothly? Who knows. The demonstration was uneventful and garnered scant media attention. Mixing it up might have helped, or not. The turnout was large but not up for a confrontation. Occupy didn’t push it.

The irony of 350-ORG supporters being upset by the antics of the Occupiers, was that behind the masks were many activists who’d actually gone to Texas to stop the XL pipeline, who’d gotten arrested, some out on $25,000 bond. How unfortunate that those troublemakers weren’t recognized from the stage. It was a real missed opportunity, this having been a rally to, um, STOP THE PIPELINE. These rowdy boring-party crashers were actually its unsung, veritable heroes. What the crowd wanted to mistake for infantile grandstanding, was really the infantile audacity that stops pipelines. Yes you get in trouble if you step off the sidewalk. Do you think the police are going to let you stop the pipeline?

MIT drives Aaron Swartz to suicide, guards JSTOR for ivory tower and intel analysts only

RSS pioneer, Reddit cofounder and information activist Aaron Swartz, was found hanged this week. He was 26. Swartz was facing 35 years for hacking, aka liberating MIT research archives buried behind a pay-wall, often to the frustration of their own authors. You might think schools of higher learning are in favor of disseminating knowledge instead of confining studies in repositories. Aaron Swartz did. Swartz advocated for uninhibited access to information over the internet, in particular with scholarship often bought, paid for, and then buried by academic institutions. Swartz was charged with hacking into MIT’s JSTOR archives, in September 2011. They might have considered his motives, but instead pursued charges. MIT’s response to Swartz’s suicide was to direct anyone affected by his death to “Mental Health Services”.

Denver Canadian Consulate closes its doors to IDLE NO MORE round dance and a very polite letter

Idle No More Round Dance at Canadian Consulate in Denver
DENVER, COLORADO- Indigenous activists paused only one day before assembling a second IDLE NO MORE gathering to perform a round dance at the Canadian Consulate in Denver today, to deliver a letter urging the Canadian government and the British Crown (the Queen!) to meet with Chief Theresa Spence and end her hunger strike over recent legislation which gutted First Nation treaty protections. After a rally of dance, song and orations, a delegation sought to enter the consulate but was denied. After filling the downstairs lobby, being told picture-taking was not allowed, and the building’s security crew receiving a squad of reinforcements from DPD, the activist were finally sent a representative to accept the letter without comment.

How much does Occupy not believe in elections? Enough to boycott them?

US Election is election fraudPundits, even friendlies, are infecting the Occupy Movement with direction-waylaying cynicism, so I’ll tell you what I think Occupy should do next. Never mind the usual grievances, leave those to existing advocacy groups, although they do benefit from Occu-proding obviously. No matter what you think Occupy Wall Street’s core issue was, by definition OWS asserted our system of governance was broken, our regime is not responsive, not representative, and immovable by the conventional permitted mechanisms. So right now, which bankrupt democratic mechanism is being paraded before us, taunting a debunking from Occupy? We’ve been paying it lip service already: the fraud of our electoral process. Isn’t it time Occupy said DON’T VOTE? Don’t dignify Election 2012 with your buy-in, undignify it with a vote of no confidence. I don’t mean merely not vote, let’s Get Out The No Vote! Now wouldn’t that separate the men from the Dems!

MoveOn and the 99% Foundation et al, have been co-opting OWS numbers already, herding Occupy’s newly activated citizenry back into the Obama fold. Apparently there’s still hope to be squeezed, that Barack Obama isn’t the people’s nemesis he pretends to be in office.

If we threaten to occupy Obama’s vote, the Dems will roar! They’ll accuse us of ensuring the GOP villain’s win. They’ll be positively shrill, can you imagine? Occupy will go from a nostalgically eulogized Prague Spring, to People’s Enemy Number One, a national threat, inestimably unpatriotic, and suddenly more relevant than anyone’s ever dared admit. Our unoccupied friends will go from politely avoiding talking politics around us to actively begging us to reconsider.

Anyway, how are we going to explain our demonstrations at the RNC and DNC? We protest because the people are given no real choices. We protest because elections are a sham. Do we believe it ourselves? Think of fellow occupiers who’d earlier agreed that elections are mere show. Was all that talk polite patronizing? The inefficacy of voting is in fact a huge contention, and not one of those partisan niceties upon which we can agree to disagree. The illusion of Democracy is WHY WE OCCUPY. Our government is broken, the entire electoral system is election fraud. The presidential race is just a bold Kabuki show-stopper to please the crowd. Maybe Occupy can make it a real show stopper.

David Gilbert took an axe, gave US war effort forty wacks, SDS, WUO, BLA…

If you watched the 2003 documentary about the 1960s radical antiwar anti-imperialist anti- racist activists turned 1970s nonviolent bombers The Weather Underground, you’re going to be thrilled to know David Gilbert, lone Weatherman behind bars yet irrepressible idealist, finally WROTE A BOOK!
 
I’ll begin with insight prompted by Gilbert’s recollections. In the 1970s, bombings were inseparable from bomb scares, and I remember thinking, who’d plant a bomb but divulge it beforehand with an anonymous phone call? Was it a change of heart, a betrayal, an informer? Eventually phoning in bomb scares was itself made illegal. That seemed imprudent. It turns out the expression “bomb scare” was a misrepresentation. The call wasn’t made to scare anyone, but to evacuate the building. If a bomb failed to detonate, as sometimes happened, the authorities could characterize the then-false warning as a “scare”. It didn’t make sense, until the behind the scenes accounts come to light from voices such as Bill Ayres and now Gilbert. The WUO bombings of government facilities and landmarks associated with America’s warmaking apparatus were not intended to kill people, and they didn’t, because the bombers always gave forewarning of when the timer was set to go off. (TO BE CONTINUED..)

Sin las mujeres, no hay revolución

Without women there is no revolution
Camila Vallejo, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright, Cynthia McKinney, Kathy Kelly, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Bernardine Dorhn …an exhaustive list of the dominance of women among activist leaders would go on and on, back to earlier waves of influential organizers, Mother Jones, Lucy Parsons, Hellen Keller, Emma Goldman, Harriet Tubman, Louise Michel.