This week I had the chance to speak to Ricchi, who is a Puerto Rican anarchist, about an autonomous squatted community center in Borique called Valle Garita. In this episode, we talk about the squatted space and the intentions of the organizers, plus the cultural context of squatting, reactions of the police, landlord, and bank, and some concrete asks for solidarity and support from non locals. We end the show with a brief report back and analysis of what went down on May Day in San Juan and all over Puerto Rico, so stay tuned for that!
On the social media, you can follow the Valle Garita squat by following @vallegarita or following that same hashtag, you can also search for them on Facebook. You can also follow Urbe Apie on Instagram @urbeapie.
For sending cards and letters of support you can address envelopes to:
Paseo Gautier Bénitez #16
Caguas Puerto Rico 00725
Letters can be written in Spanish, English, or any other language!
A brief correction from our last show where I interviewed Nutty about the monopod blockade at the Hellbender Autonomous Zone, I stated that the MVP was overseen by Dominion Resources and Duke Energy, and that is not the case, I was thinking of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The MVP is in fact owned by EQT Midstream Partners and NextEra Energy, Inc. EQT has a history of fracking and is now trying to get into transport. Thanks to all the people who set me right on that! If you have any questions or corrections, don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com
Shoutout to Nutty, Red, and Minor, and all those who are protecting and defending the land and water from predatory corporate pipelines!
For regular listeners of The Final Straw, the sound quality might not be what you are used to from us. We are continuing to experiment with our audio set ups, please bear with us through these experiments!
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Josh Gerdts Memorial Fund
In some very sad news, Josh Gerdts, an anti-racist skinhead, was murdered two days ago in Chesterfield County just south of Richmond VA. He leaves behind a family, including a very young child. The family has set up a gofundme to help pay for the funeral and to help raise the child, which you can find at http://www.gofundme.com/joshgerdts
Rest in power, Josh. You will be missed.
Vendenga Rojava: a New Radio Show out of Rojava, Mesopotamia
VEDENGA ROJAVA – ECHOES OF THE RESISTANCE An internationalists radio project bringing an inside look into Afrin resistance. Revolutionaries from different parts of the world organized in different collectives and organizations in Rojava found and importance to come together and launch an audio project focused on the peoples resistance against an invasion of Afrin canton carried by the fascist state of Turkey and its jihadist proxies. Our aim is to spread an awareness of this historical event and inspire English speaking folks all over the globe by ongoing struggle and revolutionary organizing in Afrin, Rojava and beyond. Listen and share our reports, updates, analysis, interviews, stories about life of fallen comrades, music and more. This radio show is a limited project and will have only three issues. For more tune us up on May 16th on soundcloud.com/vedengarojava.”
No More Deaths
From nomoredeaths.org: “On January 17, Scott Warren – a humanitarian aid provider from the group No More Deaths – and two individuals receiving humanitarian aid were arrested by US Border Patrol. Scott was preliminarily charged with felony harboring and could face five years in prison.
We are well into our preparation for the next Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair, happening June 22nd-24th, and we want to invite you to participate in shaping the themes and helping gear up for this exciting weekend!
We are holding an interest meeting to ask for volunteers and discuss possible contributions folks can make:
Monday May 7 at 7pm Firestorm Books 610 Haywood Road
Our main items where we need help are:
Street Team Promotion, Online/Social Media Promotion, Arranging Housing for Out of Towners, Fundraising, Cook Food, DAY OF (biggest Need)
If you have other ideas, we welcome your input!
Due to concerns of the ability of the interviewees to speak on behalf of BOESG & Disgraça Collective, we’re pulling this audio to remove the portions speaking on behalf of those projects. We may repost an edited version in the near future and we hope to have a discussion with members of the collective soon to hear their side of things. Thanks -Bursts
In this episode of The Final Straw, we’re playing a conversation recorded at the Paris Anarchist Book Faire about a month ago. I spoke with Sylvia and Mário, two anarchists from Lisbon, Portugal. Sylvia and Mário give a history of anarchism since the fascist dictatorship in 1926 under Antonio Salazar through 1974, when the government fell, and since. Sylvia and Mário are involved in a workers library founded during the dictatorship that was taken over by anarchists in the 1990’s and has continued, called B.O.E.S.G., or the Library and Obstacle Course Of the Global Society. B.O.E.S.G. also shares space with a bookstore and social center called Tortuga and sits atop a D.I.Y. music venue.
For the hour, Sylvie and Mário talk about their experience of the social anarchist scene in Portugal, history, other spaces and movements around right now, publishing projects, gentrification of the city, the continuing economic crisis, institutional left political parties.
The portions we cut from this broadcast conversation touch on Mário and Sylvias perspectives on sexism in the anarchist scene in Portugal, gender pronouns and on feminist organizing. The discussion shows a difference of cultural perspective and experience between languages as well as the personalities of those involved, but also the mental wrangling people do when methods of resistance are transplanted to new soil. Hopefully at some point in the future we can have a more in depth conversation on this topic. The reason we cut them from broadcast was constraints mostly on length of the time we have on the airwaves, but we’ve included it in the podcast version. I believe it’s through conversations like this that we can come to better understandings of where other peeps are coming from.
A Few Upcoming Things in Asheville
May 17th in Asheville, peeps are organizing a People’s Council to propose
alternative usage for the $1million dollars per year that Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper is proposing from the city budget. 5-7pm @ Pack Memorial Library .
On May 19th, Firestorm will be presenting back to back showings of documentaries about anarchist urban guerrilla groups in the UK in the 60’s and 70’s. Starting at 6:30pm with “The Angry Brigade” and followed by “Persons Unknown” and narrated by Stuart Christie.
Sunday May 24th at Firestorm, the Queer Linux Users Group, or QLUG, will host a discussion on device security at 3:30pm. Bring your device along.
Annually on June 11th, people get together and offer solidarity to long term anarchist and ecological prisoners. I’d like to take a moment to mention a few. Marius Mason is scheduled to be in prison until 2030 for involvement in activities of the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front which hurt no animals or people but did $4 million dollars in damage through sabotage and arson. Marius is a trans man who came out inside of prison and uses his voice and renown to shed light on the plights of prisoners, including queer and trans prisoners. Other prisoners being organized around include Jeremy Hammond, the hacker who brought to light right wing spying on unions and back room deals around Dupont worming its way out of responsibility for the Bhopal Tragedy that still gives cancer to thousands in India. Also, Sean Swain, who’s segments you hear on this show. Then there’s the comrades suppressed in the Italian government’s Operation Scripta Manent, Alfredo, Nicola, Danilo, Valentina, Anna, Marco and Sandrone still being held in high security and with much mail censorship. Or Pola Roupa and Konstantina Athanasopoulou, members of Revolutionary Struggle in Greece, who have themselves and their families faced repression from the state and still staged solidarity with others in the fight.
Solidarity can take many forms, from continuing the struggles comrades are ostensibly behind bars for, or sharing the information about the prisoners cases and organizing inside. It can be organizing your own discussions or groups to push against the carceral state or to send books to prisoners.
On Sunday, June 11 at 6pm here in Asheville, the Odditorium at 1045 Haywood Rd, will be hosting an afternoon cookout sponsored by Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross, Smokey Mountain Eco Defense and Tranzmission Prison Project. Vegan and Gluten-Free options will be present, but bring food to share! There’ll be discussions on trans and queer prisoner realities, tons of free lit on political prisoners, chats about the upcoming national prisoner work strike on August 19th, info on ecological organizing against the prison industrial complex and more!
Starting at 9pm, there’ll be a benefit concert, bands to be announced. Check out http://brabc.blackblogs.org soon for details as they come.
If you’re not in Asheville, keep an eye on http://june11.noblogs.org/events for things in your area to plug into. Don’t see anything near you, set something up and let the good folks at june11 organizing committee about it!
IWW call-out to push back against Neo-Confederates
An announcement from the Triangle IWW here in North Carolina: Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County, a neo-confederate hate group, is holding a rally at noon at the Alamance County Courthouse in Graham, NC. IWW has been working with Alamance County locals since November 2016 to keep this group out of the streets and public squares of *all* our communities. Thanks to the efforts of some of these amazing Alamance community members, ACTBAC has now been declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.” The Triangle IWW is calling for people to join them on Saturday, May 20, as we rally to shut ACTBAC’s event down at 102 N. Maple St in Graham, NC at 11am.
Certain Days Calendar submissions
There is also a call for art and article submissions on Awakening Resistance for the 2018 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar.
Deadline extended to May 21, 2017
The Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar collective is releasing its 17th calendar this coming fall. The theme for 2018 is ‘Awakening Resistance,’ reflecting on organizing in the current political climate.
They are looking for 12 works of art and 12 short articles to feature in the calendar, which hangs in more than 2,500 homes, workplaces, prison cells, and community spaces around the world.
Contributors are encouraged to submit both new and existing artwork. They are also seeking submissions from prisoners – so please forward this suggestion on to any prison-based artists and writers. More info can be found at www.certaindays.org
Jaan Laman in the hole
Jaan Laman is currently serving a 53 year prison sentence for his role in the bombings of United States government buildings while a member of the United Freedom Front, an American leftist group which robbed banks, bombed buildings, and attacked law enforcement officers in the 1980s.
Jaan K. Laaman is currently solitary confinement (“the hole”). Jaan has been in solitary confinement since his birthday on March 21, 2017 simply for issuing two political statements, a clear violation of free speech and human rights. The first statement was in support of the March 8th 2017 International Women’s Day and was in support of the Day Without A Woman Strike and was published by NYC Anarchist Black Cross. The second statement was his “Farewell Thoughts to My Friend, Lynn Stewart”, thoughts on the radical activist American leftist lawyer who died this year. The farewell thoughts were recorded by Jaan and broadcast via the Prison Radio project with Noelle Hanrahan.
Jaan has no access to news and almost no access to phone calls. It’s important we send him some letters right now. Send him articles, so that he gets some world news.
Jaan Karl Laaman #10372-016
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734
Write and call the Warden and ask him to end the repression against Jaan.
Please write and call the Warden at USP Tucson and ask that Jaan be released from solitary confinement and that he not be punished for expressing his support for women’s rights and for writing a statement mourning the passing of his friend, Lynne Stewart. Remind the Warden that Jaan is an elder prisoner, and you’re concerned about his health in solitary confinement and you would be concerned about his safety if he is moved to another prison.
United States Penitentiary – Tucson
9300 South Wilmot Road
Tucson, AZ 85756
You can also contact:
Mary M. Mitchell, Regional Director
BOP Regional Office
7338 Shoreline Dr
Stockton, CA 95219
Regional email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas R. Kane, Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Central Office HQ
320 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534
In the first segment we talk to Noelle about the case of Janye Waller. Janye is a young Black revolutionary from Oakland, California, who was the only person convicted of property destruction after the 2014 demonstrations in the Bay following the non-acquittal of pigs the murders of Michael Brown & Freddie Gray. Noelle is a supporter of Janye Waller and believes that Janye’s conviction was a clear case of railroading and racial profiling against a community activist. Janye is now finishing up a 2 year sentence with one year off for good behavior. The interview was held in February of 2017, and Janye is set to be released in coming months, then he’s out on parole. You can find out more about his case and donate to his post-release fund at https://rally.org/supportjanye and updates can be found on his support fedbook page and to find out more about some projects Janye was involved with in Oakland, check out the site for El Qilombo
You can write to Janye in the near future by addressing letters to:
Janye Waller #ba2719
P.O. Box 2500,
Susanville, CA 96127-2500
Anarchist Observations of the Struggle at Standing Rock
In the second segment William speaks with Noah, who is a well established movement medic, anarchist, and participant in #NoDAPL at Standing Rock, about his experiences there and analyses of how this resistance was organized and how it developed. This interview was recorded days before media saw the images of the Sacred Stone Camp burning and having been disbanded, so many of the modes and tenses that we employ are not what we might given the current position of the camps. We talk about a wide ranging set of topics, from what worked in the camps to what the failings were, and how resistance to extraction industries could look moving forward.
A transcription of this second conversation is available down this post.
Shortly there’ll be a posted end to a call for submissions for presenters, workshops and bands at the first annual Asheville Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfaire up on the website, but we announce it here. Submission deadline is April 1st, 2017. Spots are filling up fast. Check out the website for updates and we hope to see you there!
TROUBLE showing at Firestorm, March 24th @ 7pm
That about says it. First episode of TROUBLE, which was chatted about in our last episode as the new video series by subMedia will be showing at Firestorm Books & Coffee at 7pm on Friday the 24th of March!
TFSR: So we’re here to talk about Standing Rock and I’m sure that folks have heard about it if they have been keeping at least half an eye on the news, but for those who haven’t, would you mind giving a brief overview of what the struggle is and what has been happening there?
NOAH: So the Dakota Access Pipeline is a large pipeline that would carry heavy crude oil to refineries in Illinois before getting sent out of the country for foreign consumption. The pipeline is routed to pass just upstream from the Standing Rock Reservation’s water intake, which is part of their concern, as well as the pipeline route
as gone through a number of sacred sites causing the desecration of burial sites and other old religious sites. Back in August (2016) when construction got close to the Missouri River crossing by the Standing Rock reservation, the Sacred Stone Camp, which had been in existence since April, had made a bigger call for support in which many folks responded and that’s when the first arrests took place, lead largely by women and youth from Standing Rock and other Indigenous women and youth. Here you saw some very strong images of women running out onto the Cannon Ball Ranch to block construction equipment which was some of the first real civil disobedience, as well as the Horse Nations coming to just be presented to the law enforcement that was there, but the law enforcement ended up being scared by the presentation of the Horse Nations and so they kinda backed off and fled. That was some very strong imaging right off the bat there.
I arrived not long after that and helped provide medical support for some of the non-violent civil disobedience and just in camp at large, based out of the Red Warrior Camp. Red Warrior Camp was one of the few organizations that really took a strong lead in actual civil disobedience that stopped pipeline construction and were it not for the Red Warrior Camp, Indigenous People’s Power Project, some of the crews, some of the other bands of the Lakota Nations
really stepping up and taking that direct action to the pipeline construction, that pipeline would be said and done by now. And we certainly wouldn’t have cost Dakota Access the millions upon 2millions of dollars we’ve cost them in lost time, delayed contracts and stock price as well as the divestments from the banks which with Seattle and some Native reservations have totaled well over $3billion
worth of money withdrawn from Wells Fargo and punitive response from people. So the divestment is going to leave a lasting mark on these banks’ psyches and their shareholders’ psyches when they think about funding more of these projects.
TFSR: Absolutely, and it seems like along with the actions that have been taken at the various camps, the relationships between the various camps has been also very important to have outreach via social media and awareness being spread in a grassroots way, because mainstream media was very slow seemingly to pick up on
struggles going on at Standing Rock. Do you have anything to say about media blackouts there or anything like that? What has the process been for getting word out?
N: Well certainly it’s been led by some grassroots media projects that have been around since the start of the Sacred Stone Camp. Folks with Unicorn Riot have been there throughout the course of much of this which certainly is where I first started getting my media from
as they did intermittent updates on the Sacred Stone Camp from it’s start and through several stages of it well before Standing Rock or NoDAPL became a more common phrase. I think it was also very important for the largest camp at the Oceti Sakowin camp, the Seven Fire Council Camp, which was kind of just an overflow camp.
TFSR: Was that the youth camp?
N: The International Youth Council had a tipi in that camp for a while, but they were also holding space at Sacred Stone Camp and the Rose Bud Camp. The camps can be confusing when you’re there, and have been confusing. I’m sure it’s particularly hard to keep track of when you’re watching from afar. Sacred Stone Camp is Ladonna Bravebull Allard and her family’s land, which was started
by Ladonna and some other matriarchs from the area and the youth runners back in the start of April. And it was the Dakota Youth Runners who started getting a lot of attention from the long-distance runs they did.
It also needs to be pressed that there have been folks in that region who have been organizing in anticipation of the Keystone XL pipeline coming through Lakota territory that allowed for some of the groups within this larger mass to come together quickly and in an organized manner and show greater levels of discipline and training because we had been training together. We were under the leadership
of Lakota matriarchs and other Lakota elders who understood from the get-go that as these pipelines were coming through, we needed to be able to have a common language around how we fight and how we resist with non-violent civil disobedience. And so folks are familiar, folks understand that there are different roles. If your role is
media for the day, or medic, or police liason, that’s your role for that day and you need to stick to it and if that’s not your role, then you need to not try and make that your role.
So that’s why when the camp was significantly smaller than when it was 12,000 people between the camps, when there were only a few hundred folks in camp there was more effective direct action to stop the pipeline than when there were all these folks who came to stand with Standing Rock but there were no plans to use that mass of people effectively or an unwillingness to utilize any of those plans
on the parts of some.
TFSR: Is that just because the camp got so unruly with the size, or do you feel that people were kind of not respecting any directives that were being told to them?
N: No, as I’ve seen it put on the internet, that there was a problem with “peace-chiefs” trying to lead during a war situation. And so there were folks who, in the language I would use, didn’t respect others’ diversity of tactics. And so there were folks who would interfere with Warriors and Water Protectors on the frontline and cause division and even go so far as to utilize spiritual abuse and manipulation to interrupt actions that were happening, or not allow actions to happen or prevent them from happening in very vague ways, like getting outside folks to try and scream at people that “Elders said no!” And what they meant was Dave Archambault and the tribal council might not be happy with what’s going on. But there are a number of different elders in the camp because there
are many different tribes and nations in the camp, but not everyone listens to the same elders. Folks are taught to listen to their elders. The Lakota are not a monolithic group, they disagree with each other. Sometimes the grandmas and aunties would be there telling folks to hold the line while others would be telling them to go back to
camp and pray. To some extent because the camp grew so fast and there wasn’t space made for an all-nations council of any sort, these rifts and problems became rather challenging at times because there was so much to do just in camp life and preparing for the change of the seasons and to try and train and utilize huge numbers of people
who were rolling over every few days as well as deal with mountains of supplies coming in.
It all became very challenging, and then you have a real separation of leadership of folks who are contracted by the tribe to help, or were from larger non-profits who largely operated out of the casino rather than the camp. So you have that disconnect of folks who weren’t involved in the camps but were considered leadership for one reason
or another, which made things very challenging all in all. When the information about what’s happening in camp gets through games of telephone, you end up with a lot of rumor and heresy added in, or misinformation, and that can be seen by how often facebook says the camp is being raided when we’re not.
TFSR: As an anarchist, I feel almost single-mindedly fixated on this idea of what you were talking about in regards to a non-respect of a diversity of tactics and trying to parse out where a rhetoric of non- violence is coming from. We talk a lot about how liberals have sort of co-opted the idea of non-violence to weaponize it against radical struggle basically, or to weaponize it as a way to take the wind out of sails of radical struggle. I would imagine that this rhetoric of non-violence is a bit different given the layers of colonization and disenfranchisement that people are experiencing. Do you have any words about that?
N: There’s certainly a real challenge for anyone who’s not Lakota or Native to understand the nuance and the history between the Indian Re-Organization Act, Tribal Councils versus the Traditional Treaty Councils. It’s important especially for outsiders to err on the side of listening to the folks who are directly hosting them in these situations and not be overtly disrespectful to local communities. Now that doesn’t mean that local communities are unified in their
response, and that’s not really our place as outsiders to really dive right into the middle of it and stir it up. I have been working with some folks who were out there for several years so those were the folks I took my lead from because they are traditional Lakota and Dakota Matriarchs. So with that, there was a division of folks who believed in the courts and believed in that being the primary route
and would at times spread disinformation about how the action of folks locking down to equipment or shutting down work sites was going to negatively impact these civil court proceedings. If anything they gave these civil court proceedings the time they needed to get denied, but there hasn’t been a win from the courts in this battle that I’m aware of. So if we were relying solely on those means, the
pipeline would have been built by now.
The spark of inspiration that that has come out of Standing Rock would not have been if it weren’t for folks who understand that prayers have to be met half-way. We can’t just pray and expect things to stop, and similarly we have to understand robust histories. You hear this ongoing colonized myth that First Nations Peoples were completely passive or pacifistic when that’s simply not true. It’s well known that many Nations and many people were almost
always armed and prepared to defend their homelands and their territory and their way of life from settler-colonial populations. Part of this myth comes from those boarding schools; it comes from this western narrative that says “It was the white folks that freed the slaves!” and “It was the white folks who were benevolent enough to give these Natives the reservations!” rather than things like, the
6Lakota slaughtered a whole division of the cavalry at the battle of Greasy Grass and killed Custer and took that flag, and that was part of writing the treaty. Red Cloud’s wars and the Big Powder Bluff were the reasons for those treaties, the Northern Cheyenne; the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota’s fierce resistance to the U.S. incursions
and these settler/colonial incursions are what created these treaties. It’s also what provoked the U.S. into using genocidal tactics such as slaughtering all the buffalo and stripping Natives from their culture to send them to boarding school, so they could re-write those narratives
and send those kids back to those cultures with this wrong narrative.
And so with that you have this Christian idea of forgiveness that is pressed, or of understanding, and I personally hope that those cops and law enforcement come to some dawning of understanding that their ways are bad. But until that happens I have no sympathy for them or no forgiveness for their behaviors until they seek it. And so
it’s something that personally baffles me, especially coming from a medic’s perspective and seeing the grievous injuries that we’ve seen out there. That folks want to negotiate with these people or work with them to get into that system. It’s one of those things, some folks who don’t want the (Water) Protectors to continue resisting are
legitimately scared that those cops are going to kill one of us. And that’s a very real possibility but it also disrespects a lot of those folks’ agency, who understand that they may die in this struggle. And that if the state is going to go through such measures and allow their law enforcement to utilize these munitions, these so-called less-than-lethal munitions in reckless ways, then yeah they may end up killing someone but you know if they kill a Water Protector whose got their hands up and are in prayer, isn’t that that non-violent Ghandian King-esque nonviolence that they’re talking about? Let them harm us to the point that the moral imperative becomes so overwhelmingly against them that they have to give up? That they don’t have the will to beat you any longer?
TFSR: Also in a time when we have this new president now who is actively seeking to criminalize so-called peaceful protesters? Seeking any kind of legitimacy from the state doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense, but what also makes a lot of sense is taking leadership from people who are most effected and also keeping in mind that that’s a non-homogenous group of people. It’s a very complicated
situation, it seems like it’s very difficult to know where to draw the line while also maintaining your own political integrity in all of this as well, to be a whole human being.
You mention that you are a movement medic, and you have spoken about your experiences at Standing Rock, but I was wondering if there was anything that you wanted to add about your involvement at the camp?
N: My involvement at the camp has largely been as a medic in support of the Water Protectors, so I’ve both worked to help increase the medic capacity and continue to work to try and help us stay coordinated and functioning in a way that allows us to provide the best level of care that we can. I have also gone out on a number of the direct actions to support Water Protectors and have dealt with some injuries and elements and the volumes, which were pretty staggering at times. November 20th when they just kept using water cannons on folks, both speaks to the heart and willingness of the water protectors but from the medic’s perspective we saw over 300 patients that night.
Several folks were severely injured; Sophia Wilansky nearly lost her arm that night, and other folks have lost permanent vision from that night, and the level of PTSD that has been inflicted on folks in these situations or the potential for it.
Similarly when the Sacred Ground Camp on the Easement was raided on October 27th, they literally just lined up and whooped on folks all day. We’re seeing the Miami Model play out in rural settings. Sheriff Laney from Cass County and Sheriff Meyer from Morton County I’m sure will retire real soon and go on the law enforcement and security speaking tour, to pop up at every pipeline and give advice
on how to deal with these “damn eco-terrorist protestor types.”
TFSR: And there has been a whole lot of law enforcement there from day one it seems, right?
N: Not from day one, I mean Morton County I think employs 33 or 39 sheriffs total. (*laughter*) And the North Dakota State Police and Highway Patrol could only muster so many folks, but now law enforcement from nine other states, federal agencies like the ATF and Border Patrol have been deployed out there. There is I believe just more than 500 North Dakota National Guardsmen who are activated presently. There is now quite the policing apparatus as was on display when the Last Child Camp was raided and shut down. They had over six armored vehicles out that day.
TFSR: It feels important to analyze police responses to struggles like this in order to get a psychological hold on to what the hell is going on, and we’ve been seeing a lot of media recently about the struggle, and many different approaches from total erasure to pretty heartfelt support. I’m wondering what your opinions are about how you see
this struggle informing future struggles and how you see this one particularly continuing, or if it’s too early to say?
N: I think at the very least what has happened out there in the treaty territories has brought a new level of what it looks like to be brave in the face of the state for folks. And it’s behaviors it can be pointed to as strong definitive attempts at non-violent action that we’ve already seen. At the Piñon Pipeline, there was one action out there and they
cancelled it. At the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, there have been a couple of actions already and they’ve shut down work. Mississippi Stand went after other sections of the Dakota Access Pipeline down in Iowa, we’re seeing folks starting to really resist the Sabal Pipeline, Spectra Pipeline, Lancaster PA is starting to openly build camps and openly express how we aren’t paid outside agitators, here’s the local teacher. These are local folks who are stepping up and saying “Oh heck no, can we do this here?” I think it’s important as we do this that we need to understand that there is a space for specifically prayerful things, and there is a space specifically for the prayer war, and there is a space for the more confrontational direct action tactics, but these are not the same space.
And I think it needs to be stressed that the Water Protectors and Warriors never went back to the camp and were like “Ya’ll are praying wrong! Ya’ll need to go pray over there! Ya’ll need to pray like this!” That is what some of the folks who use spirituality like Christians do, they use it as a manipulation tactic. They use spirituality much like
Christians say “You have to pray like we pray here.” Even to otherLakota, who were taught differently. That caused some real tensions, and there’s some real beef that I can’t claim to fully understand that I know. There’s family members who don’t like each other over that stuff, because folks called and asked for Warriors to come and those same folks, when they saw what Warriors did and what Water Protectors do to actually stop pipelines, they got scared. Either pressure got put on them through back-channels, or they realized that they would not be able to
control the narrative. So they pass a number of rules or any number of authorities on folks to say “You can’t do that this way!” Which certainly rubbed a number of folks the wrong way, when no one could really say where these decisions were coming from.
TFSR: Before I ask the next question I want to be really explicit about what you mean by prayer. This is non-Christian explicitly?
N: Yeah, this is explicitly Lakota spirituality, whose homelands we were on, Lakota treaty territory, Lakota and Dakota lands, and there were some basic modicums that were asked of folks to respect, things like don’t take pictures of the sacred fires, or put stuff in the sacred fires unless you’ve gotten permission. If you have a uterus and you’re on your moon, then to stay away from ceremony, stay out of the kitchen, just some cultural norms there. Up at big camp, there were folks from many nations operating in many different ways. There was some kind of manipulation of that that happened that was used as a point of leverage to dishearten and disrupt some of the youth and some of the frontline folks. Part of that is intergenerational difference, part of that is that older folks were raised in a time when native youth were being snatched and taken to boarding camps. A certain amount of hiding was the safest way to do things, which some of the folks with the International Youth Council and some of the other youth that have been leading this understand. They love and respect their elders but they also recognize that it is a different day and that these adults who are coming in to leadership roles who have listened to their elders and gone and gotten those educations and have been getting told for years that they need to step up and lead. When this happened in camp, there were folks that came up and criticized them. There were other elders that wouldn’t chastise folks in public, would openly support folks for not trying to take a lead role but were there as an elder to both support and be a resource.
There was a lot of issues around white folks telling Lakotas to stay in a prayerful way. There are Warriors that I know who are Pipe-Carriers, they don’t carry their pipes to the frontline, they are very spiritual and prayerful people, and for people to accuse them of not being in a prayerful way while they’re going to risk their freedom and personal wellbeing for the future generations, for the water, for the air, for the commons like that, for all of us, to challenge those folks’ spiritual intentions and spiritual actions, especially if you don’t even understand their spiritual practice, is both disrespectful and the added attitude of an agent-moderator. That’s some stuff that could be portrayed by folks intentionally trying to upset affective action.
TFSR: Do you feel like this is an analysis that is spreading? I have seen a little bit of analysis of what you’re talking about right now being disseminated over news channels and social media and whatnot, but do you see this spread of, for the lack of a better word on my part, this discussion of a diversity of tactics being disseminated to other anti-extraction struggles?
N: You know it’s hard to say, I’ve largely stayed put in North Dakota for the past several months. But a lot of folks from different struggles came through and I can’t speak for them because they saw what they saw with their own eyes, depending on when and where they were in those camps they could have seen drastically different things and been told drastically different stories as to what was happening at that moment, what had happened up until that moment and where things were going to go. But I do think folks are waking up and I think the intersectionality of struggles that is becoming more present is what will allow this discussion of diversity of tactics to really come more to the forefront. I don’t think it needs to be a discussion, I
think it just needs to be a respect that happens. And with different groups that aren’t in a position to lose privilege from where they’re at, have that freedom of nothing left to lose, whereas privileged folks, largely a lot of white folks, but settler-colonialist folks who have more access to stuff, pull their punches. They have a real tendency to pull their punches in these situations, or paid-organizers pull their punches because finishing off a campaign definitively leaves them without work or without the control of an organization that they had. Whereas, folks whose hearts are true, who really are committed to that land, that water and that future, and getting everyone free as soon as we can now, they’re gonna be more willing to not view a broken window or some damaged bulldozers as violence when they see people starving, people going hungry, people being incarcerated, unarmed protestors, etc. We have people who are facing decades (in prison time) for a lockdown. We have this aggressive set of policing tactics that are being deployed against us that, like it or not, folks
need to create that big crowd for some more direct action to happen out of so that it can be done safely and non-violently, or the options that will be left will be groups that don’t come out in public and only see violence as an option and not getting caught, if non-violently praying and getting arrested can get someone 10-20 years (in prison). It’s going to push folks in that hardcore direction, and it’s more a question of if we can do the outreach and the education that the bulk of the dissidents of society come with us, rather than cling to law and order as the main goal of society rather than evolution or something like that.
TFSR: You mentioned the intersectionality of struggle a little while ago, and one of the last questions that I have is that is struggle an inappropriate word? Just to go off script for a moment…
N: It definitely is a struggle. We’re all tired and hurt and sore. It’s a damn struggle, convincing folks to support, folks having to win that support through footage of them standing in prayer getting the crap beat out of them by multi-state law enforcement, that’s a struggle, that’s a fight.
TFSR: For real! Then this struggle has generated a lot of momentum it seems, at least within anarchism, around anti-extraction industries and there was a lot of momentum prior to this, but this feels somewhat different. Also one thing that I find really exciting is that it has generated a lot of discussion about meshing these two discussions of anti-extraction struggle with an explicit anti-colonialist discussion as well. Would you talk about whether you see this as being something new, and a bit about the importance of intertwining these two analyses?
N: I think the intersectionality starts becoming to be real obvious when you look at things like the current immigration raids versus the fact that Flint still isn’t a priority of our federal government, to get them clean drinking water. The fact that the state of North
Dakota has spent $23 million and counting on policing costs to get a pipeline put in that’s not going to create much revenue or jobs or anything for that state. There’s a need to kind of recognize the continual looting of this land by financial interests of various sorts, that is the base injustice. Folks who want to tweak or modify the system, I feel are failing to appreciate the toxicity of what this American system was built on, that it is built on stolen land, that it is built with stolen hands, and much of this profit. I’ve done a lot of work in labor and class stuff, and there’s a temptation to say “Oh this is a class thing” and “the value of our labor is being taken from us” but even the labor that we’re taking on is being stolen from the land
of folks who were the first inhabitants here. None of that is possible, a lot of the anarchist and revolutionaries will fight for everyone and forget the Native people, and so I think that it is crucial that how we start thinking about these struggles brings into the anti-colonial decolonizing mindset and the support and leadership of folks who are still strong in their indigeneity, to avoid tokenizing folks because “Hey you’re Native, we’re gonna put you in charge” even if someone was raised Christian and they don’t know much about where they come from. The importance of that indigeneity, those are the folks that have that understanding of living with the land and living as
part of an eco-system, and they have that appreciation of the land and the creatures that all vie for us.
And so when we talk about the pollution and damage done by these extreme industries, we need to look at that damage done and that cultural genocide that’s been done against folks who just want, like many Indigenous cultures around the world who lived as part of the land they were on, and were thankful for that land, for providing for them, as opposed to the Christian concept of dominion over the
land, which is an interesting interpretation of being good stewards. I think that the need for those intersections, the need for Black Lives Matter and how powerful it was to have folks like Chairman Fred Hampton Jr come out with folks and all the 300+ Nations that came out and showed their solidarity and numerous white folks from different organizations that came and showed solidarity, saw in a lot
of ways how that camp was operating in a good humble way, and there was no need for money for most things. If you’re doing work, there’s kitchens that will feed you, and a lot of folks took that shit like it was Burning Man and just came and took and were culture-vultures on the whole thing and were fetishizing Natives in resistance and were just working on their photo or art project or wanting to
come up and tell the tale. Are you Native? You probably shouldn’t be telling that tale, you should help and empower these Native youth who are trying to tell their tales right now.
And I think that’s some of the importance of intersectionality is these recognitions that there are going to be folks who just know how to do it better because they were raised that way. It’s like the damn tipis that didn’t budge in the windstorms, and everyone’s tents that gotten flattened out. There’s some stuff that local folks will just know, and when we’re talking about these rural places and when we’re talking about taking Indigenous leadership or local leadership in place, is we have to recognize that just because you may be educated, or a permaculture demi-god to folks out there, that doesn’t actually translate to that bio-region, and if that doesn’t translate to pragmatic
things that folks can do, if you’re just gonna come and say you should do it all in this way, it’s that same problem. It’s not looking at the intersections, it’s presenting “this is the way it should be done. This is the model we have, this is how we’ve been doing. We fail most of the time, but this is the model of how we do this.”
TFSR: That also calls into question really challenging people to actually fully examine why they’re doing something. Are you going to Standing Rock because you want to work on your photo project? Are you going to be updating your instagram about it? or are you going to actually have as real solidarity with people and struggle as
you can have?
N: And there’s the question there about a lot of conditional allies out there. I’ve seen their facebook comments about how getting beat up or saying mean things to law enforcement doesn’t keep with our message and loses support for us. And I challenge anyone that if your support is so easily lost, did you ever really give it in an earnest
and heartfelt way? There are some grandmas out there who just about make me cry with the support they show their youth, and how proud they are of these young folks. I’ve seen these young folks get to the top of the hill, where there’s footage of folks getting brutalized at the bottom, they’ll touch a cop, not in a harmful way, just touch ‘em.
Showing their bravery, demystifying and showing that they could do more but not having to. Seeing these different ways of doing things, seeing these powerful moments of praise that folks get, knowing that these young folks are earning real prestige in their culture by doing these things while others are both trying to shame them while other
grandmas are holding them up. It’s a lot.
TFSR: That’s incredible, and for me such an amazing concept and very inspiring thing to hear about. Those are all the questions that I had, do you have anything else that you wanna add?
N: Just that there isn’t a region in this country that’s free from pipeline expansions right now. Get trained, get rowdy, let’s kill this stuff. Let’s kill some black snakes.
The first segment is a short conversation with members of NYC Antifa, an antifascist group in New York City. In this conversation we talk a bit about the history of this day of solidarity plus the state of fascism in the US and abroad. This conversation was transcribed and re-recorded to protect the folks’ identities. To learn more about this, you can visit https://nycantifa.wordpress.com/, and to donate to the international defense fund you can visit https://intlantifadefence.wordpress.com/about-2/
A large portion of this episode is a conversation with a member of Keep
Hoods Yours. Keep Hoods Yours, or KHY, is a radical graffiti crew based
in the SF Bay Area that organizes against gentrification, against sexual
predators in the scene, against racism and more. During the
conversation, we’ll hear about the rebel cultural car events called
Sideshows, the police killing of Richard
Perkins: https://itsgoingdown.org/rises-east-responses-police-killing-richard-perkins/during one of these Sideshows, KHY participation in
uprisings against the Ferguson verdict, resistance to Fast Agent and
poning of Kenny Truong and the shutdown of racist, gentrifying business
“Locals Corner” in the Mission District. You can find KHY on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/keephoodsyours/ or in the
streets. Keep an eye out for this interview in an upcoming issue of
Rolling Thunder Magazine.
On July 25th at 9 am Luke O’Donovan will walk out of Washington State Prison after serving two years there. We are thrilled to see our friend free from behind prison walls. He is in high spirits and very excited to be released. As many of you who have been in touch with him know, he has occupied his time with a rigorous workout routine, lots of reading, and correspondence with all those who took the time to communicate with him.
Unfortunately he will not be allowed to return to his home and life in Atlanta. Due to the judge adding a banishment condition to his probation, Luke will have to move all the way to the West Coast for the next eight years, or until the conditions of his probation are changed. Moving forward, here are some ways to continue to support Luke as he starts life on strict probation.
Money– Luke will need money in order to cover his living expenses while he gets on his feet and moves his belongings and life to the West Coast. He will also need money to cover the probation and drug testing fees that he will be subject too. You can donate or set up recurring donations by visiting their paypal site:
Care Packages– Luke will need lots of little things, like clothes to rebuild his wardrobe, delicious vegan food, and other items that you are not allowed to have in prison. If you would like to send a care package please email email@example.com to work out details on where and what to send.
Solidarity and Support- Throughout Luke’s case and subsequent imprisonment the support and solidarity he has gotten has been overwhelming. From the solidarity marches and actions to the mountain of mail and the hundreds of postcards sent to the judge we have been thrilled by all those who have taken action for him. Once things are more clear we will begin trying to get his banishment condition appealed, check back for updates. For now any and all actions are appreciated. As Luke’s new living situation isn’t worked out yet we can’t provide contact info at this time, but email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch.
Luke is set to be free from prison, but there is still a lot to do. Thanks everyone for your past and future support.
**Update** On June 4th, after struggling, the Bailiff kept good on their promise and overwhelmed the resisters with Sheriff’s and movers. A few defenders were injured in the process and Jennette and her son were dislodged from the house. A fundraiser is online to get her and her teenage son into a new house here: https://www.youcaring.com/jennette-shannon-and-her-16-year-old-son-580529
This is a special podcast release from The Final Straw Radio, airing weekly on WSFM-LP in Asheville, North Carolina and elsewhere.
On June 1st, 2016, Jennette Shannon and members of Detroit Eviction Defense held a block party in a neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan. Jennette, a resident of this neighborhood for decades, and her teenage son have been in immediate danger of eviction due to legal wrangling and financial violence done by the vulture fund sometimes known as Thor Real Estate. Jennette has paid tens of thousands of dollars in fees to cover the company’s tax debts and to lawyers, has had her backyard parcelled and mortgaged by the company multiple times over and has been offered potentially fraudulent deeds and other paperwork. The block part was well attended by neighbors and activists from a plethora of community organizations from around Detroit to kick off the defiant struggle against eviction.
Today, June 2nd marks the beginning of that occupation, in which community members and folks from Detroit Eviction Defense are holding the space in solidarity. More on this house defense and the work of Detroit Eviction Defense can be found at http://detroitevictiondefense.org.
For other episodes of our show, check out thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org or find the current episode at http://ashevillefm.org/the-final-straw and feel free to drop us a line at email@example.com
Portions of this content will air in the episode of The Final Straw Radio for Sunday, June 5th, alongside part of an interview iwth Arianna Staiger, daughter of eco anarchist prisoner Marius Mason. In the interview, Arianna talks about her father, his incarceration, their relationship, about activism and shares some of her music.