For this May Day episode William had the chance to speak with Nutty, who has been holding down a monopod blockade which is blocking the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in the renamed Hellbender Autonomous Zone. She has been without the ability to reup her food and water supplies for over 21 days due to cop and forest ranger interference. We get to speak about the monopod and her experiences participating in this struggle, as well as her views on resisting the MVP, some ideas on the future of this struggle, some actionable items, and direct asks for support.
On the very first day of this blockade as some listeners will remember, Nutty’s direct support was arrested while trying to explain the rigging of the blockade to the police. Monopods rely on a series of rigs to support a platform where resisters typically sit. The Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is a massive 303 mile proposal by the company Dominion Resources in partnership with Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas, is proposed to span land from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia and would disrupt and destroy countless habitats and complex interconnected water supplies, as well as the human communities it would likewise destroy. To hear an in depth podcast about this issue, I recommend End of the Line broadcasting out of Richmond, which you can find at http://pipelinepodcast.org/ and on https://soundcloud.com/pipelinepodcast/
Our guest will mention in the interview that the MVP’s proposal just got amended to go through a 70 mile stretch of North Carolina. For those who are concerned by this, we’d recommend looking into the Atlantic Coast Pipeline which would span a 600 mile track of land over WV VA and NC. Opposition to this pipeline is already gaining steam, so keep an eye on your favorite news sources for updates on that.
Next up is a conversation Bursts had with two community organizers in Sonoma County, California, named Sebastían and Mara. These two folks do organizing around immigrant communities and are helping to organize May Day festivities in Santa Rosa this year. Sebastían and Mara share about past years organizing around May Day, immigrant struggles against ICE and community efforts in the follow up to the devestating fires that raged through Northern California last year. Mara also shares about last year’s workplace organizing initiatives of Sonoma County waste workers that won them a contract, agricultural workers who won a contract from Gallo Sonoma Vinyard, and current struggles of employees at the Hyatt Vinyard Creek Santa Rosa. Sebastían also talks about the student walkouts he helped to organize on March 5th and plans for similar walkouts on May Day alongside the “Day Without An Immigrant.”
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Finally, we’ll hear from Jack and Quinn, two local Wobblies helping to plan a May Day rally and march in Asheville meeting at 4pm at Pritchard Park in downtown. Later that evening Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross will be hosting a benefit concert at Fleetwoods on Haywood rd in West Asheville. The show starts at 8pm and will feature the music of Poor Excuse, WRHCKD, Earth Collider & Nomadic War Machine and the moneys will go to the local efforts to release black mothers from the Buncombe County Jail via the Black Mama Bail Fund effort on May 10th. More info on Black Mama Bail Out at https://nomoremoneybail.org/
For a longer version of the chat with the Asheville Wobblies, check out the podcast version. There you’ll also find announcements about Herman Bell and Mumia Abu-Jamal.
If you care to, you can send us a letter at our new address:
The Final Straw
P.O. Box 6004
Asheville, NC 28816
There is no Sean Swain segment this week due to scheduling errors on our part, but don’t worry we promise to have him back on next week’s episode. If you miss the sound of his voice, you can his website, SeanSwain.org and easily find his segments going back to 2014.
Herman Bell leaves prison!!!:
We’re happy to announce that former Black Panther, BLA soldier and elder Herman Bell walked free from prison this week. From his support crew:
On Friday, April 27th, Herman Bell, a 70-year old respected elder, was released after serving nearly 45 years in prison. Herman was one of thousands of incarcerated older people who was repeatedly denied parole for over a decade after completing his minimum sentence.
“His release is a result of important and urgent changes in the criminal legal system and parole regulations that are part of nationwide efforts to end mass incarceration. Let us hope that Herman’s release brings inspiration for more change.
“Herman is deeply humbled and grateful for the broad expressions of trust and support, but out of respect for the feelings of the victims’ families, he will not be making any public statements. We welcome him home.
And so do we at The Final Straw.
Pack The Courtroom for Mumia:
In other political prisoner news, Mumia Abu-Jamal has a court appearance tomorrow, April 30th in Philadelphia and his support crew is asking folks in the area to show up and pack the courthouse. Show up in courtroom attire to support Mumia at 8am at room 1108, Criminal Justice Center at 13th and Filbert St in Philadelphia. In this hearing the Judge will consider the argument that former PA Supreme Court Judge Castille should have recused himself from considering Mumia’s appeal because Castille had been working with the Philly DA’s office at the time of Mumia’s prosecution and during later appeals. A similar situation was deemed unconstitutional in the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2016 Williams v. Pennsylvania.
There is also a call for supporters of Mumia to call current Philly DA Larry Krasner and request that he release the files on Mumia from the Philadelphia District Attorney office and Philadelphia Police Department. You can call Larry Krasner at 215-686-8000. More ideas of how to help out Mumia can be found at mobilization4mumia.com.
Correction from the scott crow interview from Bursts:
On last week’s episode of our show, in which I interviewed scott crow about his new book “Setting Sites”, I asked a question about toxic masculinity and gun culture by using the term “male socialized” to describe men. I misspoke. What I meant to communicate in the question was masculine expectation and performativity and not to lump people who’ve been coercively assigned male by society based on a doctor’s childhood assessment. I should have said “men”. Sorry for the misspeak and thanks to the folks who gave us feedback.
This week, Bursts had a change to speak with two participants in the L’eu Est La Vie camp (Water is Life in French) organizing against the Bayou Bridge pipeline that Energy Transfer Partners is trying to push through the swamps of Louisiana at the tail end of the Dakota Access Pipeline. For the hour, they speak about the pipeline, the lifeways of people living in the bayou, potential impacts on the environment and the impact on our guests of increased indigenous forefronting to struggles to defend the environment in recent years around Turtle Island. More on their work can be found at http://nobbp.org/
Resist the TWP in Knoxville! January 21st at 12 Noon
The Traditionalist Worker Party is a neo-Nazi, white nationalist group which is headquartered right here in North Carolina. This group promotes white separatism and a white supremacists view of Christianity. Begun in 2013 by the now infamous Matthew Heimbach as the official face of the similarly neo-Nazi group the Traditionalist Youth Network, the TWP’s main focus seems to be promoting their agenda by making attempts on public office in local elections while maintaining something that could be called a street presence.
There is much more to be said about this group, from its formal designation by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group to its yearning to establish Turtle Island as something called a “white ethnostate”, seemingly a mythological and highly revisionist creation of the alt right and its philosophical forebears.
What is more relevant right now is that this group is seeking to descend on Knoxville, TN on January 21st at 12 noon to protest the second annual Women’s March and support the anti-choice group Right to Life. The exact TWP rallying point is still unknown but may coincide with the Women’s March rallying point in Market Square at 12pm and then join the Right to Life rallying point at World’s Fair Park at 2pm. Details will be shared as they get received, so keep eyes on your favorite news sources for updates.
From the Holler Network and Nashville ARA:
“The TWP and other white supremacist groups view Southeast Appalachia as an ideal region for a white separatist movement, and they prey upon rural and semi-rural areas to build their base. But their claims to Appalachia fly in the face of centuries of resistance to white supremacy and settler colonialism that are woven into these hills and rivers. From indigenous resistance to militant maroon communities, to multiracial labor strikes and prisoner uprisings, to the very existence of tight-knit black and brown communities across these hills, we know Appalachia has never been and will never be their all-white vision- as long as we continue to resist.”
This week we are featuring a recording from an Anti-Repression panel that took place in Denver in October of this year. The sound quality is affected by a fan system that the venue had running, but the words are well worth hearing.
For the hour, we’ll hear words from a few perspectives of resistance in the U.S. currently. First, we hear from Danica from occupied territory of Portland about work around anti-colonial antifa resistance and self-defense in the North West. Next up, Firehawk talks about work in un-ceded Pueblo, Colorado, about working with femme, queer & trans prison rebels, Unstoppable zine and The Fire Inside project. Montana talks about autonomous relief work in Houston after Hurricane Harvey and the slow-disaster that is white supremacist capitalism in Texas. We hear from Jude talking about the J20 conspiracy cases coming out of the Inauguration, the court case moving forward and up til a few weeks ago. Finally, we hear from Jess who has been working with Water Protectors doing legal collective work up in so-called North Dakota mostly around #StandingRock with a very in-dept report-back on wider repression and specific case details.
A few updates are worth mentioning in the J20 case since Jude spoke on this panel: the first defendant convicted, Dane Powell, has been released and there is a linked support site for his post-release; two of the riot charges have been dropped down from Felony to Misdemeanor; & the first court dates have been moved forward to November 15th and info about how to help with court support can be found at Its Going Down.
As stated above, 2 of the initial 8 felony charges (‘engaging in riot’ and ‘conspiracy to riot’) have been dropped to misdemeanors, thus shaving decades from the potential sentences of the defendants. We here at The Final Straw suggest that Judge Leibovitz use a secure tor browser and visit https://dropj20.org to learn more about ending this expensive, insulting and dangerous act of political persecution that is the J20 case.
This week, we spoke with Whitney about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, two pipelines flowing through mid-Appalachian and the mid-Atlantic region on Turtle Island and both connect Transco pipeline in Pennsylvania County, VA. The pipelines are 48 inches in diameter and are made for transporting dangerous compressed and pressurized natural gas through many watersheds, towns and farmlands. In addition to fears of contamination of waterways and soil, through possible leaks and explosions, many people are concerned the pipeline will be carry gas for export , not even for domestic consumption.
Whitney is also involved in an upcoming podcast series to inform folks in Virginia about the history and aspects of the pipelines to be released in the run-up to the decisions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on whether or not these projects can move forward.
As of now, there is no website address for our guest’s podcast, but their podcast’s mission statement is as follows:
“‘End of the Line’ is a pre-recorded podcast created by local Richmonders, following the developing story of two proposed pipelines in Virginia – the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Over the past year, the subject of fossil fuel “pipelines” has reached a high point of saturation in the national consciousness. While the nation watched major milestones unfold around the rejection of Keystone XL by President Obama and Standing Rock’s struggle to protect water against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, resistance to pipelines in Virginia has been building as well. Residents and landowners in mostly rural parts of the state have taken on an uphill battle to try and stop two high pressure natural gas pipelines from going through their land as well as some of Virginia’s most treasured places.
Featuring the voices of those directly affected by the proposed infrastructure, this ongoing series will examine every aspect of the local pipeline struggle, episode by episode, starting at the very beginning and working our way to the present. Through voices of those on the frontlines, we will touch on issues such as eminent domain, energy policy, industry influence on local politics, environmental impacts, and the mental health aspect of how residents are coping with this tremendous burden. Our goals are to provide listeners with the stories of Virginians who have been and are currently resisting both proposed natural gas pipelines and build a wider audience of people throughout our region who may not be familiar with all that has occurred since the summer of 2014 when the pipelines were first introduced. The built-in question we will be posing to listeners is the same many landowners are facing, “Are these pipelines a ‘done deal’?” To that end, as our episodes begin to meet up in real time with the decision-making process at state and federal levels, “End of the Line” will continue to report on developments as the pipeline saga unfolds”.
We will announce a website for this project as soon as we know!
Other, regional upcoming events related to the ACP & MVP pipelines may consider attending include the following: Beyond Extreme Energy will be putting on a convergence in Washington DC from April 26-28th. BXE was a co-sponsor of the walk across NC areas that may be affected by the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. More info on the conference and other stuff by BXE can be found at http://beyondextremeenergy.org Delaware River Keepers have compiled “People’s Dossiers” on shortcomings of studies in the economic and environmental harms of the ACP & MVP by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC. http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/ongoing-issues/peoples-dossier-ferc-abuses-economic-harms
Another site of interest worth check out is http://www.apppl.org for the Alliance of People to Protect the Places we Live.
If you’re in the South East (or wherever), you are cordially invited to attend the 1st Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfaire, also known as ACAB2017 from May 5-May 7th in Asheville, North Carolina. The weekend of events kicks off with an a welcome table at firestorm books at 610 Haywood Rd from 3pm until 6pm with a schedule of events and ways to plug in. There are multiple musical events Friday and Saturday night. Featured speakers include Shon Meckfessel, Jude Ortiz of Tilted Scales Collective, members of the crimethInc collective as well as from the Water Protectors Anti-Repression Crew and a special appearance by author and activist Ward Churchill. Vendors over the weekend will include PM Press, AK Press, Little Black Cart, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, Combustion Books and many more. Consider the daytime events to be all ages. Check out https://acab2017.noblogs.org/ for updates and info.
This week on the show we spoke with Ikmu, an indigenous activist who was involved in the Red Warrior Camp at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Ikmu is now affiliated with the Red Warrior Society and is traveling with comrades around the country on a tour to talk about their work, decolonization and the struggle against ecocidal projects like #DAPL.
For the hour, Ikmu and Bursts talk about the Camps at #StandingRock, indigeneity, decolonization, the cases against Water Protectors Krow, Red Fawn Fallis and others, prayer, direct action and more. We had this conversation just after the eviction of the Oceti Oyati Camp by pol-igs of various stripes. To find out about the upcoming West Coast branch of the Red Warrior Society Ride For Resistance Tour, check out https://facebook.com/redwarriorcamp
Charles “Scorch” Jordan
Burleigh County Jail
PO BOX 1416
Bismarck, ND 58502
and Michael “Rattler” Markus
PO Box 1108
Washburn, ND 58577
Please write to and support these folks! For more information and further ways to support these brave folks, you can get up with the Water Protector Legal Collective at https://waterprotectorlegal.org/ and the Water Protector Anti Repression Crew on fedbook. Fundraising sites for these folks can be found at It’s Going Down
To check out our 2013 conversation with Krow on defending the Penokee Hills in northern Wisconsin, it starts 35 minutes, 47 seconds into the episode.
Updates from Sabal Trail Resistance
Following our interview last week with Karrie and Niko of Sabal Trail Resistance against the Sabal Trail Pipeline in the South Eastern U.S., the the two locked down inside a section of the pipeline in Marion County, Florida to hamper the construction of the high pressure gas pipeline and demanding the release of a revised Environmental Impact Statement.. You can donate to the legal fund for these and other Water Protectors in the South East by visiting https://sabaltrailresistance.wordpress.com/donate/
Building The Commune in Durham
#BUILDINGTHECOMMUNE is a convergence organized to spread the tools and knowledge for self-defense and autonomy throughout our community in Durham, NC. We are dedicated to building a culture and space for autonomous resistance against Trump and his regime, the State, and capitalism. This convergence is happening across three different venues in Durham: Pinhook, Arcana, and the Atomic Fern.
The Welcoming Committee will be setup at Pinhook (at 117 W. Main St, Durham, NC 27701) with materials/programming distributed there. Childcare will be provided with drop-off/pick-up at the Atomic Fern (at 108 E Parrish St, Durham, NC 27701). A free lunch will be provided at Pinhook by Durham FoodNotBombs.
To close out the day, an Autonomous Assembly will be held at Pinhook from 4:00PM – 5:00PM. The assembly will collectively create the agenda to be discussed, but we’d like to suggest that folks come prepared to discuss: announcements and projects to collaborate on; skills, resources, and spaces we can share with one another; direct issues/crises facing the community or concerns we’re feeling; and mutual aid networks (cop-watches, community medical programs, rapid-response call networks, etc.) we can begin building in Durham now. We will provide materials to help folks learn how they form affinity groups, so that they may begin autonomously building these networks themselves.
You can see an entire list of workshops and events at the website http://www.buildingthecommune.com/
If you are in Asheville or the surrounding area, consider participating in the first ever Asheville Anarchist Bookfair! The dates for this event are May 5-7th, and will include workshops, shows and dance parties, nature events, and a whole day of tabling revolutionary and anarchist art and literature.
Keep your eyes on http://acab2017.noblogs.org for the latest in news about the fair, and also use this webiste to submit ideas for workshops, speakers, or tabling. See you there!
Sabal Trail Resistance
This week we’re sharing a conversation we had with Karrie and Niko, two folks involved in the initiative called Sabal Trail Resistance. The immediate goal of Sabal Trail Resistance is to block the Sabal Trail Pipeline, actually a series of 3 pipelines meant to run through Georgia, Alabama and Florida, carrying pressurized natural gas. We spend about a half an hour of this episode chatting about the route, who’ll be effected, the companies behind the pipeline, environmental racism, decolonization and other related topics.
Coming up, they plan a weekend of action February 23-27, including an action against prisons and in solidarity with longterm Indigenous political prisoner, Leonard Peltier.
More on their project can be found at https://sabaltrailresistance.wordpress.com and http://stopsabaltrail.com
After that, we’re spreading a 10 minute interview between comrades at FrequenzA out of Hamburg, Germany, published in English at the end of January. From https://frequenza.noblogs.org:
“The interview is about the first issue of ‘antipolitika’, released in summer 2016 with the topic antimilitarism. The anarchist newspaper consists of statements and articles from ex-yugoslavia and greece and is dedicated towards a broader public.”
Updates on Sean Swain
Before these words from anarchist prisoner Sean Swain, we have a quick update on his dietary situation. We’ve just gotten word that Sean resumed eating on his 50th day of hunger strike. He is still not being given a halal diet in line with his practice of Islam, and neither are other Muslim prisoners in Ohio, but he’s said that the administration is considering the move. He’s achieved the other demands that he was hungerstriking for. If you’d like to see Sean and other adherents to Islam in Ohio prisons during this age of increasing Islamophobia be able to at least eat according to their faith’s dietary practices, give a call to Ohio Governor, John “JWow” Kasich. You can call JWow at 614 466 3555, that’s The Honorable Governor of Ohio, John Kasich at 614 466 3555. You can also write to him via
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6117
And request that Sean Swain, prisoner #243-205 who’s being held at Warren Correctional, be allowed to eat according to his faith.
Reporting ICE Raids on Social Media
As many of yall are aware, there has been a lot of concern and fear regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or ICE) checkpoints recently. Given the rising tide of overt xenophobia and racism in this country, these concerns are valid, and there has been a lot in the way of confirmed raids and detentions by ICE. However, the use of social media in these situations is something that can both help and hurt the situation, both being an effective way to broadly communicate an issue and a platform for a whole lot of unsubstantiated claims and rumors.
In an effort to battle this aspect of social media use, I’d like to plug a resource that DRUM put out some time ago. DRUM stands for Desis Rising Up and Moving, and they are a NYC based group which “is a multigenerational, membership led organization of low-wage South Asian immigrant workers and youth in New York City.
Founded in 2000, DRUM has mobilized and built the leadership of thousands of low-income, South Asian immigrants to lead social and policy change that impacts their own lives- from immigrant rights to education reform, civil rights, and worker’s justice. Our membership of over 2,400 adults, youth, and families is multigenerational and represents the diaspora of the South Asian community – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Guyana, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad.”
They have put out a very useful resource entitiled “A Brief Guide for Reporting Raids on Social Media”, which we will link to directly in our blog. Basically it cautions against the spreading of unsubstantiated information and provides a step by step guide for what to do if you witness something:
To see more about DRUM you can visit http://www.drumnyc.org/
From our comrades at supportkrow.org:
On February 4, while supporting the No DAPL struggle, Krow (Katie Kloth) was assaulted and arrested by a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer (there is video of the incident below). She was walking on a public road, away from the Sacred Stone camp, when she was chased down by the officer. It is believed that she was specifically targeted because of her ongoing involvement and visibility within the No DAPL resistance, which had resulted in two arrests on misdemeanor charges previous to this incident. Krow was also known at Standing Rock for being an advocate for creating a unified front in fighting the pipeline.
Krow has been charged with violation of felony probation and is being held at Morton County Correctional Center. The probation is from previous charges in Wisconsin stemming from an environmental protest against mining in the Penokee Hills in 2013, for which she served nine months in jail. After a recent bail reduction hearing, Krow was assigned a cash-only bail of $100,000. The stipulations of the judge require that the bail be paid in full. Even if the full bail is paid, it is likely that Morton County would refuse to release Krow. We are currently working with lawyers and legal teams in North Dakota and Wisconsin to figure this out. Donations to support Krow will go towards paying lawyers, commissary, postage, travel for supporters visiting Krow, and/or bail. Krow has stated that she wants the bail paid.
We fear for Krow’s safety and well-being, especially in light of her assault and the severe mistreatment other water protectors have received in this particular facility.
Krow is an activist, artist, forager, sustainable farmer, biologist, and amazing person loved by many within the environmental movement. We need to show her as much solidarity and support as we can at this vital time. In Krow’s own words, “We must negate state repression by protecting ourselves and land-bases therein; we must not give our people up, and recognize that to be in solidarity with one another is more akin to the idea of ‘harmony’ than ‘unity.’ Harmony implies that we can all do different things within the same song, and still find conclusion together.”
Whether you are a direct action environmental activist or simply support the No DAPL struggle and protection of the land and all of its people, join us in supporting Krow, in solidarity with all things wild and free.
Contact Krow’s support team at supportkrow[at] riseup.net
You can also donate to Krow’s legal fund at http://supportkrow.org/
Resisting Snitching in Berkeley
From the Anti Repression Committee in Oakland:
ARC is aware that UC Berkeley PD is circulating images of individuals who they claim are associated with the Berkeley anti-Milo protest on February 1. They are actively seeking information about these individuals, and are asking anyone with information to contact them.
We want to remind everyone NOT to assist UC Berkeley PD in their investigation, EVEN IF it seems like the information you give is harmless. Remember that even minor information, like identifying a “witness,” can be used to increase surveillance of activist communities. Police use this kind of information to map activist networks and harass them. In the current political climate, the state is looking for ways to clamp down on dissent and resistance. Let’s not help them do that.
Remember that you have NO LEGAL OBLIGATION to talk to police or FBI if contacted about the protest. They may try to make you feel intimidated, but you ALWAYS have the right to remain silent. If you are contacted by phone, email, letter, or in person, either ignore the correspondence, or tell the officer that you decline to speak with them.
If you are contacted, immediately call the National Lawyers Guild at 415-285-1041 so that they can give you legal advice, and also so that they can be aware of police/FBI activities.
Finally: DO NOT post or circulate the UC Berkeley PD webpage with pictures of individuals. We do not want to signal boost anything that will increase surveillance and targeting of our communities.
NC J20 Defense
As always, you can help support our comrades who got kettled in DC by donating to http://ncj20defense.com/
This week we are airing two short interviews, the first is with an anarchist legal worker who has been participating in resistance at Standing Rock in so called North Dakota. This interview is specifically about the grand jury summons which was recently served to someone who was struggling at Standing Rock, we speak about what a grand jury is and how people might resist them, also a bit about what it means for this movement to have a grand jury subpoena occur at this moment.
Scott Campbell on upcoming tour of Mexico with It’s Going Down
The next interview we will present is a conversation with Scott Campbell who writes the Insumisión column for itsgoingdown.org. Insumisión is a semi regular publication which aims to highlight anarchistic and anarchist struggles and news all around Mexico. Scott and members of IGD are in the process of launching an information gathering and affinity building tour around Mexico in early next year. In this interview we talk about Insumisión and what inspired it, as well as some of the strategies and influences both North American and Mexican struggle can take from one another, among other topics. To read Insumisión and for a write up about the upcoming tour, you can visit https://itsgoingdown.org/insumision/. To donate to the tour and to see a write up about it, you can visit the rally dot org website https://rally.org/igd-mexico
You can also check out El Enemigo Común (or The Common Enemy) at https://elenemigocomun.net/
From their website “[This project] is an international watchdog against state sponsored repression. It is the project of a small collective of volunteers in the U.S. and Mexico. We publish and translate communiqués, articles, and other media by, about, and for social movements. Our primary focus is on indigenous peoples, women, and youth, in both urban and rural communities in Oaxaca, but we also publish about other struggles against neoliberalism throughout Mexico”.
A quick shoutout of thanks to KFED for the lovely new image for the series podcast. Much appreciated!
Since the time that this episode of the Final Straw podcast was recorded, Steve Martinez, a Water Protector and grand jury resistor appeared at the U.S. District Court in Bismarck, North Dakota. On January 4th, 2017 Steve gave a statement outside the courthouse amidst dozens of other Water Protectors who braved the single digit temperatures to stand in solidarity.
My name is Steve Martinez. I have been subpoenaed to this federal grand jury. I refuse to cooperate with these proceedings on the grounds of not helping opposition towards water protectors. I will in no way condone or cooperate with this attempt to repress the movement here at Standing Rock. I know that by refusing to cooperate I will most likely be incarcerated. The loss of my own freedom is a small price to pay for keeping my dignity and standing up for what is right- the defense of the earth and all that is sacred. Mni Wiconi!
The motion to quash the subpoena was denied by the federal judge and a new subpoena was issued by the U.S. Attorney demanding that Steve appear on February 1st, 2017 in Bismarck.
What we know about grand juries is that they have a long history of being used to target those in resistance to the state and engaged in political or revolutionary movements. The purpose of this grand jury and all grand juries that target revolutionary people and communities is to cause division, manufacture prisoners of war, and create paranoia or suspicion amongst comrades. We will not be intimidated and resistance to this is only strengthening our resolve to kill this black snake and all the others.
Water protectors stand in resistance to this grand jury and all tools of state repression, be it on the ground through Morton County’s violent tactics or in the shrouded secrecy of a grand jury courtroom. We will continue to build on the vibrancy of our resistance movement here at Standing Rock in order to destroy the pipeline, the grand jury and their world.
– Water Protector Anti-Repression Committee
TFSR: So we are here talking with an anarchist legal worker who has been participating in the Standing Rock resistance, and we’re here to talk about the grand jury subpoena, which recently came to a Water Protector at
Standing Rock. Would you briefly explain what a grand jury is for those listeners who don’t know and how they have historically been used to divide and subdue radical movements?
Standing Rock: So what a grand jury is is a federal proceeding and it’s intended to produce a federal felony indictment. So in order for a felony indictment to happen, there has to be some process, and it’s typically a grand jury process, that determines whether there’s enough evidence to proceed with a federal indictment and formal charges. And while grand juries are used as a way for U.S. attorneys to produce indictments for a wide array of things, they are especially used as a tool of repression towards political movements, resistance movements, and have a long history of that, going back to the origins of grand juries, which are a holdover from British legal proceedings. So it goes back a really long way, but most recently people have memories of their use around political resistance movements, like the Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement, even more recently
earth and animal liberation movements.
TFSR: Gotcha. And I think that we can remember people like Jerry Koch who got sent to prison for nine months for doing grand jury resistance in response to a bombing that happened in Times Square in New York City. I was wondering if you would talk a little bit about what the specifics of grand juries tend to look like on the ground, or how participants of grand juries, what people have to go through if they are subpoenaed for a grand jury.
So the first step that typically happens when somebody’s called to be a witness at a grand jury, or provide testimony or physical evidence, is that you would be served a subpoena by a federal agent. So in the case of Water Protectors at Standing Rock, a federal agent could be an agent from B.I.A. (or Bureau of Indian Affairs), which is a federal policing force, but often times it would be an F.B.I. agent or even a U.S. Marshall who might serve you the subpoena. And then what that means is that you’re required to attend the grand jury and provide information to them. So at a grand jury, they’re unlike any other court proceeding, where normally there’s a judge in the courtroom and you’re allowed to have your own legal council present with you at a legal proceeding. But at a grand jury, there’s no judge in the courtroom, the courtroom really belongs to the U.S. attorney and the
prosecutor. And you are the person who’s been called to the grand jury, you don’t know for sure why you’ve been called because they operate in almost total secrecy. You don’t know if you’ve been called just as a witness, you don’t know if you’re the target, or the person that they are
potentially trying to indict. And so you’re also not allowed to have your legal council in the room with you. You can, and you really should, obtain legal council if you’ve been subpoenaed to a grand jury, because they can provide you support in the process of resisting a grand jury.
So once you’ve been served and you’re required to go to the grand jury, you have a few options as a person who is working to resist the grand jury. Your first option is that you can just ghost. That’s a really hard option for most people because it means you can’t talk to your friends, your loved ones, your family, your comrades, it means you can’t go to the normal places that you go to. It means that you probably need to leave your hometown, or maybe even the country as a whole. And some people have done that, andthe people have done that have had very difficult experiences. It also puts you at risk still of being in contempt of court and my understanding is that if you just ghost after you’ve received a subpoena, that the contempt can turn into a criminal contempt versus a civil contempt, which I’ll explain a little bit as well.
And so your other option would be, well basically some people have never walked into a grand jury room. They would just show up, hold a press conference with all their friends, loved ones, comrades, and legal council and read a statement in front of the courthouse, or in front of the grand jury room, and that says “We’re never gonna talk to you. I stand in solidarity with my community and this is a tool of repression, and I’m part of a impenetrable wall of silence.” And people have certainly taken that tactic.
Another tactic that people used to resist a grand jury, if they’ve been called to testify, would be to enter the grand jury room and provide only their name. And then any question that they’re asked after giving their name to the U.S. attorney, they would invoke their 5th amendment right, which is their right to not say anything that would incriminate yourself. What happens typically though, is that a prosecutor then says, “Okay we get it, you’re using your 5th amendment right.” And then they might let you go for the day, or they might right on the spot go have a hearing with a judge in another room, and at that hearing the judge would almost certainly impose on you immunity. And I say impose because a lot of people have the idea that immunity would be a good thing, right? That they can’t say
the things that you’re saying in the testimony against yourself, but the thing is they can still use it against your friends, they can still use it against the movement as a whole, they can still use it against all kinds of people,
you might not be aware of how they would use it.
And so then once you’ve had immunity imposed on you, you’re no longer allowed to invoke your 5th amendment right against self-incrimination. And so when you refuse to answer questions, then the U.S. attorney is going to say, “Okay I get it, you’re not going to answer any of my questions.” They’re going to have another hearing with a judge. And that hearing is a civil contempt hearing. Which is not a criminal proceeding, it’s a civil proceeding. And what grand juries do is if you refuse to cooperate, they
try to coerce your cooperation out of you. And if you’re charged with civil contempt in that hearing, then they can incarcerate you for up to the length of the grand jury.
Like you mentioned before with Jerry out in New York, he was incarcerated for around nine months. People in the Pacific Northwest who were resisting a grand jury in 2012 were incarcerated for around four-to-six months, and that’s a coercive incarceration that’s meant to pull testimony out of you. But they’re not allowed to punitively incarcerate you, which is like all semantics right? We all know that all incarceration is punitive. It’s all meant to punish us for something. But they’re using tricky legal language, so that it’s not punitive, “It’s just coercive, we’re just trying to torture all of your testimony out of you by incarcerating you and removing you from your community and your loved ones.”
But, because people have used this tactic of being really public and saying that not only are they not personally going to cooperate, and they personally have put up a wall of silence, but also that they’re whole community is in a silent resistance to this grand jury. Then that can be used as evidence further that you’re not ever going to cooperate, and something then that can happen is called a grumbles motion, which is a fantastic name and it’s actually named for people who were a married couple who resisted a grand jury, it has a really beautiful history of it’s own.
A grumbles motion can be filed by your council, by your attorney, and it’s basically saying “This person has made it evident and clear that they’re not going to cooperate with this grand jury, and this incarceration has gone from coercive to punitive.” Which is illegal for a civil proceeding, which is what that is, it’s a civil contempt charge. And so that’s how Jerry was able to get out of coercive incarceration, and that’s how many other people have been able to do that. But I think it also really ties into this public display, community-wide, nationally, even internationally, that people have taken up around grand jury resistance, especially in this last decade, of being really firm and open from the onset, from the moment they receive a subpoena, instead of being quiet as a community which is what the feds hope will happen. That you get scared and that you self-isolate. But instead, build your own vibrancy in our communities of resistance and that same loving solidarity that we have, we continue that as a way of resisting.
TFSR: Yeah, like you said it seems like so many things in the legal system, this just seems like a pretty diabolical framework for doing this sort of thing and I think that like so many things, the success of it just rides on isolation,it rides on personal despair or being worn down. And it seems really interesting to me, and really telling, this grand jury subpoena has come pretty hot on the heels of the supposed easement of the Dakota Access Pipeline. I was wondering if you would speak about the timing of this
grand jury subpoena.
SR: I think it’s smart for us to be looking at the whole picture like that. You know on November 20th there was a battle, a kind of stand off, at the backwater bridge, which is just on the North end of the Oceti Sakowin Camp, there
at Standing Rock, which is the Northern camp, which originally had been an overflow camp for Sacred Stone and Rosebud on the reservation side. And that battle that happened on November 20th, which a lot of people have now burned into their memory, not just across the so-called U.S. but really across the world because of the use of water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures by Morton County Sheriffs. There was also a young woman, Sophia Wilansky, whose arm was horrifically injured, and another woman named Vanessa who might lose her eye due to the insane force that was used by Morton County. So just a little more than a week, a week and a half later, is when this grand jury was convened. And what we know from
on the ground is that those things that happened on November 20th on that bridge, what happened to Sophia Wilansky, we know that Morton County Sheriffs were already trying to victim blame her, saying that somehow she had blown her own arm off. I personally was on that bridge and I can tell you that no one was blowing their own arms off there. What I saw was people who were not, it wasn’t even street fighting in that setting, it was really just people who are so incredibly frustrated and incredibly broken at the continued horrific use of colonial forces in their territories and in their homelands. And I saw a lot of young indigenous people who were just trying to turn that knob on the pressure valve and let some pressure off of them. It’s not just been building for the last month at Standing Rock, but really people are letting the pressure off of ancestral trauma that goes back more than five hundred years. And I think all of that context is really
important when we’re looking at this grand jury situation as well. What we know about this grand jury is that it has something to do with, at least in part, with what happened on the bridge on November 20th. And we know so far that they are looking at potentially eco-terrorism that’s taking
place at Standing Rock, which isn’t taking place. The only terrorism that’s taking place is the terrorism of the state.
The person who received this first subpoena, we believe has been targeted because of their close proximity to Sophia Wilansky. This is a person who helped to transport Sophia when her arm was injured and get her to medical care. And so there’s very little information that any body has right now about what exactly this grand jury is trying to put together information-wise. But at the end of the day, we don’t need to know for sure. We know it’s being used as a tool to repress the work that’s happening with water
protectors at Standing Rock, and potentially to connect it to other resistance movements to extraction and environmental terrorism that’s happening at the hands of capital and the state.
And that first subpoena was received a day before that announcement from the Army Corps (of Engineers) about the easement. And I don’t think that the timing is coincidental. I think the timing is probably pretty intentional. You had a lot of people distracted feeling like they won, and I don’t want to say that that was an entirely false victory, but it’s not a permanent victory. In the camp, when the announcement of the denial happened, and there were cheers, you know rippling throughout the camp for the entire day and night, people celebrating and feeling excited. And I do want to recognize that that only happened because of people’s collective power. The Army Corps didn’t deny the easement, the people who’ve been
fighting this pipeline denied the easement and will continue to deny it, and will continue to deny Dakota Access Pipeline and their ability to do what they’re doing.
I want to recognize that while that is a victory, it’s a victory of one battle in a long-game war. What’s happening is that the state, while people are distracted by the victory of that particular battle, are doing the backdoor dealing with the grand jury and that they’re trying to prey on people who
are in resistance to extraction and to the Dakota Access Pipeline, and really to colonialism in general, and imperialism in general. This is a movement about indigenous sovereignty, and not just about one pipeline. But I think that the timing is really purposeful, and this is also a movement where a lot of people are really new to being in resistance. A lot of people are really new to political and social organizing, and so what is important and the work that’s happening amongst legal workers and supporters at the camp right now is that because there’s so many new, fresh people, it’s also a ripe environment for the feds to prey on people who might not understand that
what feels like innocuous testimony they might give to a federal agent, in or out of a grand jury room, that information is never innocuous to the state. While it might seem like not a big deal to say that you ate dinner with so-and-so or yes once you had coffee with so-and-so, the state can then use that to socially map an entire movement of resistance, and that’s why people have really taken on this work, running full speed ahead, and moving as quickly and strategically as possible to disseminate the
information and make sure that people aren’t just distracted by the victory of one battle, because there’s a whole war that we’re trying to fight right now.
TFSR: I think that’s a fantastic point because I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion about “Yay we won! We can go home now!” But I was wondering, maybe you’ve already answered this as much as you want to, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts on how real the easement is, or how permanent you think it is. Do you think that people will just come back and start building once the regime has flipped, or what are your thoughts on that?
SR: Things up there (at Standing Rock) are in a pretty delicate situation. The tribal government of Standing Rock and their chairman Dave Archambault, you know in the beginning he said that a re-route would never be a victory
of Standing Rock and for Sioux Nation, and the only victory would be a complete block of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Well now you have Dave Archambault, who came to the camp and drove around in his personal pick-up truck, announcing to people that they have won, and that people could return to their homes. And what is suspected to be happening with this denial of the easement by the Army Corps, they’re denying the easement in that spot at the Oahe Lake, which is actually just a lake that’s resulted
by the damming of the Missouri River, which is a whole other history that I encourage people to look into, the way that the Missouri River has been a point of struggle for the people at Standing Rock and the Sioux Nation for many, many years.
And so denying the easement in this one tiny spot on Lake Oahe on the Missouri River is not a victory, because we all, tens of millions of people, rely on the water from the Missouri River, the largest water basin in this region of the country. And putting the pipeline crossing of the Missouri
River twenty miles north or, forty miles north, is still going to result in the same risks for everybody who drinks that water and for all the people of Standing Rock, and for all the people of Sioux Nation. And so I think it’s important for people to be examining. You know, I’m an anarchist, I’malways examining the people who hold power, and I think my indigenous comrades who are up there, or who have been up there at Standing Rock, they also come from a perspective that somebody who is in tribal government, these are governments that mirror colonial government and colonial power. And so there’s something to question there. This isn’t the ways in which traditionally indigenous people of Sioux Nation would have governed themselves. And if we’re going to be talking about being in solidarity with indigenous sovereignty, then we as non-native people,
allies and accomplices to them, need to be following their lead, but we also need to be critical of whose lead we’re following and what kind of power those people are wielding.
But I think that there’s a lot of people who are not going home, and I think that’s really important to remind people right now, that there are hundreds and hundreds of people who will not be returning home. Over on the reservation side at Sacred Stone and Rosebud camp, there’s still around six hundred or more people on that side, at Oceti Sakowin which I believe has actually been renamed to Oceti Oyate, which that rename has come from the indigenous youth council and from this person Chase
Ironeyes who actually had run for U.S. Congress, he did not win, which I think is a good thing, so that he can stay in the community as opposed to ascending to actual power, but Chase Ironeyes is actually from Standing Rock. Him and his wife have been fighting this pipeline really along with the people, and he’s stepped into a real role of leadership that I think is a positive role of leadership. And he is encouraging people along with Ladonna Allard whose land Sacred Stone is on, is one of the founders of Sacred Stone Camp, are telling people to not go home, that people who are already there need to continue holding space, to continue to fight this pipeline, but also to continue to assert their indigenous sovereignty over
these lands that don’t belong to North Dakota and were never ceded by the people of Standing Rock and Sioux Nation.
TFSR: So earlier in the interview you spoke a lot about ways to resist grand juries; ghosting, press conferences and invoking the fifth amendment. Are there any other ways that you would recommend people fighting a grand jury scrutiny?
SR: Yeah, so the first thing, I said a little bit earlier, but I think it bears repeating, it’s scary when you are the person who receives a subpoena, and it’s meant to be scary, that’s the tool that the state is using, is to be the big scary,
secretive entity that intends to isolate you. So number one, reaching out to people and not staying silent I think is one of our strongest tools. And also, I think the grand jury that happened in the Pacific Northwest, the grand jury that happened with Jerry out in New York, I think those are really great recent examples, the grand jury with Carrie Feldman in Minnesota a few years ago as well, are really great examples of building not just localized community resistance, but really started reaching out through the
very vibrant national networks of anarchist, anti authoritarian and radical people. And so I think doing that as well, reaching out in through all the networks that we have, whether they’re political or personal networks, and
building these ways of resisting together.
Also the Water Protector Legal Collective and the National Lawyer’s Guild have a really strong presence up there at Standing Rock and they’re doing a lot of work in the camp and out of the camp to help mount resistance to this grand jury and offer the support necessary. So just as a heads’ up to any person who, because people who are possible targets for subpoenas for this grand jury, so many people have come and gone from Standing Rock, that you could be back home in Ohio and receive a subpoena. You don’t have to be at Standing Rock or in North Dakota or that region of the country to be subject to this risk, and I don’t say that to stoke any fear but just to be really honest with people, that you may have come and gone but this is still a possibility. So reaching out to the Water Protector Legal Collective as quickly as possible is really important because they’re able to offer legal council that could represent you through the grand jury process, they’re able to connect you to those networks of resistance that are already existing if you yourself aren’t already plugged into them.
Water Protector Legal Collective has a website which is waterprotectorlegal.org, but if you received a subpoena, you should call them immediately. Twenty-four hours a day they have a hotline, and the number is 605-519-8180.
And also, right now people who want to help support grand jury resistance, donating to the legal collective fund is especially helpful. Not only does that legal fund that exists through the Water Protector Legal Collective going towards supporting people’s criminal cases, it’s also going towards supporting the people who are up there doing legal work who’ve left their homes and their families back in their own communities and are up there doing that work. The amount of resource that’s necessary to help 571 people, and that number of people with criminal cases is growing, to help those people with their criminal cases, also fighting a grand jury, also trying to support the people who have given up their lives at home to be engaged in full-time legal support. So donations are vital and that is
a way that people at home and outside of Standing Rock can continue to support not just grand jury resistance but also all the people that are facing criminal charges as well.
TFSR: I was wondering, you mentioned looking into the cases of recent grand jury resistance as a way to be more informed, but are there any other resources for grand jury resistance that you would recommend to listeners?
SR: Yeah, so I would say one of my number one favorite spots for grand jury resistance information is there’s a lot of really great detailed information that’s available through the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene, OR, and their website is cldc.org, and they have a number of resources that are available on there, both for a person or people in a community that are thinking about grand juries but also resources available for legal workers or attorneys about grand juries and how to fight them when they are being used against people of political or social resistance. Other good stuff that’s out there; crimethInc has some information, also the Midnight Special Law Collective has a grand jury training available on their website which is midnightspecial.net, and there’s also some really good history and information that’s available through the Freedom Archives. On the Freedom Archives, if you just search on there, which is freedomarchives.org; you can search “grand jury” or “grand jury repression” or things like that. There’s a lot of really good information on there, and there’s a lot of really good historical context about how grand juries have been used against people in social and political movements. People like the Puerto Rican Independinistas, people from the American Indian Movement, and the long history of grand jury use and FBI repression.
TFSR: Do you have anything else that you’d like to add?
SR: I think the only thing I would want to add is I think that there’s a lot of really exciting and beautiful and hopeful things that are coming out of this movement at Standing Rock. We’re seeing that spirit of resistance spread from Standing Rock Reservation, which probably most people had never heard of until a few months ago, but that’s spreading out not just across this country and continent but really globally, there’s global solidarity for this. And I think, I really want to drive home to people who are non-native people who are allies and accomplices to Indigenous people who are in this struggle, that part of what I feel like our responsibility is, we’re in solidarity
with Indigenous people who are fighting for sovereignty, that we not only be in solidarity with them on the frontlines, we not only be in solidarity with them in those kind of glamorous moments of resistance, but that we
be in continued solidarity with them when the repression, the inevitable repression comes raining down on those movements of resistance. And that we really take it very seriously that the grand jury, the feds, and local law enforcement, more importantly County law enforcement, that this isn’t something that’s just going to be happening in this next couple of months, that the repression that’s going to be coming against people who are in struggle for indigenous sovereignty over their lands, their water,
their communities, their spiritual practices, that this repression is going to last for a long time. I hope that non-native allies and accomplices are in it for the long haul as well.