This week, we air a conversation recorded on Friday, after the final arguments in the case of the first trial group of the J20 arrestees, the 194 people facing as many as 60 years in Federal prison for the property damage that occurred on January 20th, 2017, in Washington D.C. during the inauguration of Donald Trump. The march was advertised as an Anti-Fascist and Anti-Capitalist protest against the incoming administration. The march started with as many as 500 participants and ranged 16 city blocks, often chased by police spraying super soaker-style guns filled with OC pepper spray, stingball grenades, concussion grenades and swinging batons. At the intersection of 12th & L, people were pushed into a kettle where many were forced to sit in the January cold and mist for over 6 hours without water, without medication or professional medical aid, in clothing soaked in OC spray, having to relieve themselves outside and among other people. The property damage at the center of this case amounted to 5 chain businesses windows. And now the trial is moving forward, drawing 6-8 defendants to D.C. at a time, this first group’s trial lasting 4 weeks thus far (plus however long jury deliberation will take). The trials have led to pressures on individuals, relationships, loss of employment and income, legal and other huge costs and threaten to pave a path in this administration and beyond of the criminalization of participation in street demonstrations in the U.S. The attempts at criminalizing street medics and journalists, as well, for being present also poses a dangerous precedent.
For the hour, we spoke with Betty Rothstein of DefendJ20Resistance and Jude Ortiz of DefendJ20Resistance and the Titled Scales Collective, about how the case is going as this first trial group finishes up it’s defense and the prosecution fires it’s last shots.
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 are presenting two anarchist voices regarding DACA, among many other things. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and has been in the news recently because of a stay on this program by the current administration.
I should say that these two interviews were conducted separately, and I am trying something different regarding their presentation, namely weaving the two of them together in the way that seemed to make the most sense to me so as to present all the information in the most succinct way, all in the same place, while still trying to preserve the arcs of both interviews. I’m still not really sure how I feel about this radio tactic, and I’m seeking opinions from listeners if you feel moved to shoot me an email via email@example.com.
The two interviews were very different, and from slightly different
perspectives though the two interviewees were both anarchists and both living in North Carolina. We talk about DACA and its histories, some psychological and logistical impacts of this stay on affected communities, and the mental calisthenics involved in being an anarchist while living in a world so saturated by the state and all it entails.
If you enjoyed this presentation, both of the interviews in their entirety including my replies and questions are on The Final Straw
Radio’s archive.org collection for anyone to listen to. Just visit
archive.org and search The Final Straw Radio Collection and navigate to the post entitled “DACA interviews, full versions”.
The interviewers recommend getting in touch with regional
organizations for solidarity and resources where possible. CIMA operates out of Asheville, and stands for Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción, which is “a regional network connecting and strengthening organizations that empower Latino communities in Western North Carolina. At one point about 25 organizations actively participate in the coalition.” You can follow them on the web at http://cimawnc.org/ and email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first conversation is with a supporter of Kara Wild. Kara is an anarchist, a trans woman, an artist and is currently incarcerated and awaiting trial in France for participation in the Nuit Debout protests that swept across France in 2016 against changes to labor laws in that country. Kara was arrested on May 16, 2017 and will finally be going to trial Sept 19-22nd and so could use some immediate support. More information on Kara’s case can be found at freekarawild.org.
* Here’s a little background on the Aachen robbery case referenced in the interview.
* And here’s a guide to writing to Lisa of the Aachen Case
* Solidarity to Aachen from International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces
* Info about the Kalimero Solidarity Group
* An article about Damien’s release
* An article about Damien being beaten
* Kara retracts her apology that she was weaseled into giving to the judge by her previous lawyer. She really regretted it and after Krem was arrested, she decided to retract her apology.
To write to Kara:
BRAULT, David (Kara) #428682,
MAH de Fleury, 7 Ave des Peupliers,
91705, Fleury Merogis, Cedex, FRANCE
Conflict in Movement
Next, we do something a little experimental. We present a conversation with a member of an anti-authoritarian movement in Europe. We don’t say what movement. We talk about conflict internal to their movement, but we don’t name the parties involved. The conversation was conducted from an anti-authoritarian perspective, in the interest of creating heterogeneous communities of struggle. The purpose of this recording is to promote a mental exercise on the part of the listener to plug in their own experiences in movements with many different trajectories inside of it. The anonymous nature of the conversation was in part to not contribute to internal conflict to the movement, conflict is better addressed between parties involved than with an outside party (our radio show) who’s interest may not be the same as the movement. I hope that this conversation is helpful, for all of it’s purposeful vagueness.
If you are in Asheville, there will be a benefit for North Carolina grand jury resister Katie Yow on Tuesday the 29th of August at the Double Crown on Haywood Road in West Asheville. There will be bbq of the vegan and non vegan sorts, plus a great lineup of bands including Margaret Killjoy’s Nomadic War Machine, Snake Musk and Wyatt Yurth and the Gold Standard.
Yow, who is a social worker with a professional past in education, has been an anarchist for over half her life. Her commitment to resist this grand jury shows a bravery in the face of the kinds of trauma and isolation that only the state can instill, yet she has named this resistance as “the easiest decision I have ever made”.
Stay tuned for an interview with Katie Yow and a supporter on next week’s Final Straw!
For more information on Yow, updates on her resistance, and many resources on grand juries and grand jury resistance, you can visit https://ncresiststhegrandjury.com/
Cvill, AVL, and Calls for Solidarity
It’s been a week and a day since the events in Charlottesville, and for me it is a bit difficult to know what to say. There have been many excellent report backs – from Solecast, It’s Going Down, CrimethInc Ex Worker, and Radical Underground podcast – definitely check those out for in depth analysis and on the ground perspectives from anarchists and antifascists. Since Cville there have been very well publicised resistances to fascism and ongoing white supremacy in Durham, Boston, and right here in Asheville where four brave community members attempted the removal of a plaque commemorating Robert E. Lee at downtown’s Vance Monument. These four folks put themselves and their safety on the line to fight white supremacy and racist, revisionist history by engaging in this act. If you want to read a statement from these folks or donate to their legal fund, you can visit youcaring.com and search for “Asheville Monument Removal Legal Fund”.
Activity seems relentless right now, with elements on both sides galvanized by recent events, marches and calls to action are coming fast and furious. It is important to mobilize, but mobilize wisely, in the spirit of complete honesty about your capacities and energy. We cannot fight longterm unless we fight alongside all our comrades, support those who put themselves or are on the frontlines, and help prioritize all levels of antifascist engagement and accompliceship.
With that in mind, I want to say that if you are interested in keeping up with these calls or solidarity keep your eyes on itsgoingdown.org for announcements and updates.
One that’d like to mention right now are a call for solidarity in Phoenix AZ. This is a “call for an anti-fascist & anti-colonial contingent against Trump’s rally on Tuesday, August 22 at 6pm at the Phoenix Convention Center.
We will converge, in the spirit of solidarity and hostility to the current order, and as a physical body ready to act in self-defense and mutual protection of each other from cops, fascists, and liberal/radical ‘peace police.'”
This rally is a reaction to Trump’s suspected decision to pardon former AZ sheriff Joe Arpaio who was recently found guilty of criminal contempt for defying a state judge’s order to stop traffic patrols targeting suspected undocumented immigrants. Those patrols were kept in place by Arpaio for 17 months after the order was issued. This same sherrif rose to infamy for his intentionally cruel and sadistic treatment of incarcerated people.
This rally will be held on Tuesday, August 22 at 6pm at the Phoenix Convention Center at 100 N. 3rd St. in downtown Phoenix. It’s recommended that people arrive and look for the black flags.
On August 12th in Charlottesville, many IWW and GDC members from across the country were present. Members of Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Committee, or MACC, from New York City also had members present at the vehicular manslaughter that occurred that day. The NYC GDC and MACC stand in solidarity with all those who oppose the growing wave of fascism around the world. Cowardly attacks will only strengthen our resolve to fight back and defend ourselves. An injury to one is an injury to all!
To support all those injured by fascist violence in Charlottesville, NYC GDC of the IWW as well as MACC are holding a fundraiser and screening of the latest episode of “Trouble” by SubMedia at Rebecca’s, at 610 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn on Sunday, August 27th from 8pm to 10pm. “Trouble” is a new monthly documentary series that broadcasts first-hand accounts of struggles for community self-defense. Previous episodes have explored topics like water protectors fighting the construction of the DAPL pipeline at Standing Rock, anti-fascist organizing, solidarity efforts for refugees and resistance to state repression. SubMedia has encouraged groups to host screenings of the show to bring communities together and provoke discussion of tactics, struggles and movement dynamics.
The best defense against fascism is a strong and supportive community, based on principles of mutual aid, solidarity and self-defense. Heather Heyer will live in our hearts forever!
In this podcast special, Bursts spoke with L.A. & Hawaii, collective members at the Radiozones Of Subversive Expression, Radio98fm, a squatted pirate radio station on the campus of Athens University & the Polytechnic School in the Zografou suburb in the capitol of Greece. During the chat, L.A. & Hawaii talk about the radio station, about recent threats of repression at the hands of the university, telecommunications ministry & the police, and about collusion between those agencies and a commercial pirate radio station. You can find the station’s website at https://radio98fm.org
To hear the statement by Radio98FM about the repression, check out the July 2017 episode of B(A)D News: Angry Voices from Around The World. That podcast and more episodes of The Final Straw can be found at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org
This week William interviewed Mark Bray, who is a professor, author, and anti authoritarian, about the G20 protests that took place in Hamburg Germany last week. We will talk about the event, how it unfolded, much in the way of cultural and historical context for resisting G20 summits, and much more! You can follow our guest on Twitter @Mark__Bray and search any search engine to find his books.
B(A)D News #2
The July 2017 edition of the monthly English language podcast, Bad News: Angry Voices from Around The World, is just out from the International Anarchist Radio Network. As of this moment, the network’s website has yet to debut at a-radio-network.org, so check out our post and our rss podcast feed for a link to this newest episode.
Fuck a Grand Jury; Grand Jury Resistance
We’d like to present a breaking announcement. Longtime North Carolinian, organizer and anarchist, Katie Yow has just released a statement that she’s been subpoena’d to a Federal Grand Jury in Greensboro and will be refusing to cooperate. We at the Final Straw Radio wish to express our care and support to Katie as she faces down this threat with our hearts full of the knowledge that she won’t be resisting this alone, but alongside all of us who know that backing down is not a choice. Many before have resisted and will. To the recalcitrant refusals of Team Grumbles!
In the Asheville area, here are a few upcoming events:
On Thursday, July 20th at 7:30pm at Firestorm there’ll be a showing of Trouble #4, about movement defense and resisting repression followed by episode 2 of Channel (A)!, a compilation of screen representation of anarchists from popular media. This event sits in the international week of solidarity from July 20-27th with J20 defendants from the inauguration protests in D.C. this year.
“We are calling for a Week of Solidarity with the J20 defendants from July 20 to 27, 2017. July 20 marks six months from the initial actions and arrests during Donald Trump’s inauguration, and on July 27, a motion to dismiss the charges will be argued in court. On January 20, 2017, tens of thousands of people converged in Washington, D.C. for the DisruptJ20 protests to oppose the inauguration of yet another president. A combination of blockades, marches, and festive demonstrations shattered the spectacle of a peaceful transition of power. Unfortunately, with resistance comes repression. Approximately 214 arrestees now face a total of eight felony charges a piece, including conspiracy and destruction of property. All of the J20 defendants are now facing up to 75 years in prison. The majority of defendants are working together, collectively responding to the charges and using solidarity to push back against the state. How effectively we support the inauguration day defendants will determine how effectively anyone can keep resisting under the Trump administration. Turning protest into a felony offense is dangerous for anyone who believes in the right to resist. We call on supporters to organize events and actions in solidarity with the J20 defendants throughout the week. Be creative and strategic! Help cultivate a spirit of resistance and mutual aid! Visit Defend J20 Resistance for more information”
On July 21st at 8pm at Firestorm, a report-back from the protests in Hamburg, Germany, will take place at Firestorm. From the original announcement
“In July 2017, the rulers of the world’s 20 most powerful nations met in Hamburg, Germany to coordinate the preservation of capitalism and state power at the expense of humanity and the natural world. Over 20,000 police were brought into the city in order to brutally suppress dissent. Yet the more violently the police attacked demonstrators, the more the general population of Hamburg came together in rebellion against them. In the end, in response to escalating attempts at repression, massive riots paralyzed the city, with some areas becoming police-free zones. We will hear a full report from Hamburg, complete with photos and video.”
On July 22nd, don’t forget about the bbq, bake sale and benefit punk show for J20 defendants. Details should be up on It’s Going Down along with other scheduled events around North Carolina for the week.
This week we featured two conversations in the episode.
“Stop The Pipelines Action Camp”
Firstly, Bursts chatted with erin. erin is a resident of the Blacksburg VA area and an affiliate of Blue Ridge Rapid Response Project (or BRRRP) and is helping to organize the “Stop The Pipelines Action Camp” in that area from July 13-17th, 2017. The action camp is being organized in hopes to spread resistance to the Mountain Valley & Atlantic Coast Pipelines that are traversing Appalachian West Virginia, Virginia and, in the ACP’s case, North Carolina. We talk about what it is to live in a place and defend your home, to get to know your neighbors, to build the skills needed to resist ecocidal, capitalist infrastructure projects. More info at https://blueridgerapidresponse.wordpress.com. The event is being co-sponsored by Smokey Mountain Eco-Defense (SMED)
erin mentions pipeline security pursued by mercenary groups like TigerSwan as well as industry-sponsored astro-turf (or fake grassroots) group YourEnergy meant to muddy the water of community resistance to pipeline expansion and other infrastructural projects.
After that, Bursts chatted with 2 residents of the squatted neighborhood of Errekaleor Bizirik in the Basque territory within the borders of so-called Spain. The residents talk about the history of Errekaleor Bizirik, feminism, energy infrastructure, recent attacks by police on the project and pre-figuring a post-capitalist life-way in the rubble of the existent. For more info on the project, which translates to Dry River (Errekaleor) Lives (Bizirik)!, check out:
The draft wikipedia page;
An IGD post about the project with links and context;
Their Coopfunding page.
We wanted to also state that the folks at Errekaleor reached out to us for the interview, which was super awesome. If you have a project, a book, an article, a fight that seems like it’d be interesting to us and our listeners, send us an email at email@example.com and get the ball rolling.
If you want, find us on itunes and subscribe for free. You can rate us there as well, to help others find us more easily.
The Arizona based humanitarian aid group No More Deaths (No Mas Muertes in spanish) has been under semi constant surveillance by Border Patrol for the past week. This is unprecedented attention; since its foundation in 2004 this group has had a written agreement, essentially a non interference good faith contract, with Border Patrol that names the group as a health aid and humanitarian group that has every right to be doing the work it’s doing. NO More Deaths is a group based on certain faith principles (it is an official ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Tuscon) and on critical engagement with policy reform, nevertheless it is a group that has a high degree of anarchist involvement and solidarity with what could be called anarchist principles. It is most famous for desert aid; volunteers hiking out and leaving supplies such as water – essential in the 100 plus degree heat – food, socks, blankets, other supplies, and directed first aid where needed along remote corridors in the Sonoran Desert. The group also engages with legal aid, abuse documentation, searching for missing or disappeared people, helping getting belongings back from Border Patrol, networking with other border solidarity groups in the area, and consciousness raising and education to subvert the extremely stale narrative that immigration has in the US.
A couple of days ago, after almost a week of constant surveillance, Border Patrol raided a camp “in an unprecedented show of force, [with] approximately 30 armed agents raided the camp with at least 15 trucks, two quads, and a helicopter to apprehend four patients receiving medical care.” We hope to talk with someone about this situation soon for the radio show; the fact that this raid is coming now is a clear sign of the administrations attitude toward this kind of work. For more information on this issue and to keep up with No More Deaths, you can go to their website https://nomoredeaths.org
In this week’s episode we feature two interviews. In the first, we spoke with Em, a supporter of the mass arrestees from the January 20th inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington DC earlier this year. We also speak with Jay, who was one of the arrestees. The two share first and secondhand experiences of the arrests, detention, denial of medication, rough rides and arraignment that accompanied those arrested at 12th & L that day. We also talk about where the court case is now and how to support the over 230 people kettled as Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff and other state agents attempt to give everyone 80 years in prison for alleged property destruction. More info on the effort at https://defendj20resistance.org
In the second portion, I chatted with anarchists in Hamburg, Germany about the upcoming protest against the G20 summit that is scheduled there between July 6th and 8th. The guests speak about the history of resistance in Hamburg, the state ramping up repression, it’s impacts on marginalized folks living there and on the planned protests and how to get involved. More info on this initiative can be found at https://g20tohell.blackblogs.org/2017/02/11/english/
Our blog and podcast will also host links and audio from a few songs in German meant to bring folks out into the streets of Hamburg. Here’s a video for one.
If you’re listening still on June 11th, happy day of Solidarity with Long Term Eco & Anarchist Prisoners, Marius Mason and beyond! Whatever your solidarity looks like, don’t get caught. Local events can be found at june11.org. Don’t forget to submit your anonymized and proxied exploits to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out the awesome series of interviews with prisoners, former prisoners and their supporters done by the June 11th crew that are up at It’s Going Down by searching for june 11th.
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson
New Afrikan Black Panther, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is a long term prison organizer and published author. Rashid is being retaliated against for his prison organizing. According to the blog PAPS Texas, “He had a shank planted on him which was used as an excuse to take away his legal materials and typewriter.
Please call the following numbers.
William Clements Unit
(806) 381-7080 – ask to speak to the warden’s office or if unavailable to property
Region V Director
Phone: 806-296-4500 or FAX 806-296-4521
Ask for Captain Ramirez
Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Phone: (936) 437-4927
Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m
Follow up by emailing: email@example.com”
more info, including a script you can borrow from and more in-depth descriptions of what happened to Rashid can be found at http://rashidmod.com
As in many locations yesterday (June 10th 2017), Raleigh NC saw immense opposition to the Anti-Sharia Law marches, for the most part called for by Act for America which is a far right islamophobic group that alleges that the US is slipping into Sharia Law via whatever wingnut influence they think is going on. Like pretty much everything in this vein, this notion belies an extremely poor understanding of what Sharia is and how it functions, basically transforming it into yet another proxy for islamophobia and “patriotic”, white supremacists zealotry in the mouths of racists. Yesterday saw (as I mentioned before) nationwide opposition to this farce, with battles from Seattle and Portland to our very own North Carolina, where the anti-racist crew outnumbered the racists by about 4 to 1, demoralizing them into an early dispersal and hopefully a lowered self esteem. Keep your eyes peeled for updates and report backs on your favorite anarchist news sites, like It’s Going Down!
To editorialize for a second, at the start of this Pride month 2017 there were seemingly a lot of LGBTQ people joining the Act for America shindig in the name of protesting the alleged homophobia and misogyny under Sharia. As a gay person myself, I would say to any LGTBTQ individual who joined Act for America yesterday that you need look no further than your own home country to see brutal and systemic attacks against women and queer folks any day of the week without resorting to otherising and racist rhetoric to express your so called rage at homophobia. And before you start crying, wringing your hands, and trying to derail this statement, it’s true that patriarchy and homophobia exist everywhere, it would be ridiculous to say otherwise. That’s not what I’m talking about tho. What you did yesterday and what you are continuing to do by joining the right is lending them another facet by which they justify their own bigotries (plus I daresay expressing your own as well), and by lending them numbers. What in any case is the point of protesting this phenomenon, which the right neither understands nor knows how to interpret, other than to oppress an already beleaguered demographic of people in the States?
In closing, I’ll say that make no mistake that the far right will throw you under the bus at the first opportune moment. They historically always have. So if you like that kind of thing, then knock yourself out. If not, check your shit and examine who is telling you what, why, and at what cost to you.
This week Bursts spoke with Jude, a member of the Tilted Scales Collective, about the collective’s new book, A Tilted Guide to Being a Defendant out from Combustion Books.
In this interview, they speak about the Tilted Scales Collective, which is “a small collective of dedicated legal support organizers who have spent years supporting and fighting for political prisoners, prisoners of war, and politicized prisoners in the occupied lands of Turtle Island (i.e., the so-called united states).” from their website, and about the book which is a comprehensive run down for people facing legal charges and how to cope with handling them.
The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons (FTP) is a collaboration with the Abolitionist Law Center. FTP’s mission is to conduct grassroots organizing, advocacy and direct action to challenge the prison system
which is putting prisoners at risk of dangerous environmental conditions, as well as impacting surrounding communities and ecosystems by their construction and operation. At this time, FTP is focused on opposing the construction of a new federal prison in Letcher County, Kentucky.
FTP is inspired by the abolitionist movement against mass incarceration and the environmental justice movement, which have both been led by the communities of color who are hardest hit by prisons and pollution.Both these movements also have long histories of multi-racial alliances among those on the front lines of the struggle and those who can offer support and solidarity, which we aim to build on.
FTP has been informed by the ongoing research and analysis of the Human Rights Defense Center’s Prison Ecology Project, as well as the work of the Earth First! Prisoner Support Project and http://June11.org
FTP has just announced that their 2017 convergence will be from June 2-5th in Denton/Fort Worth Texas. It will include speakers, panels, workshops, protests and cultural activities, including an art show and hip-hop performances.
Some proposed topics are:
– Mapping Toxic Prisons
– The History and Future of June 11
– Building Mult-Racial Alliances Against Incarceration
– EJ Lessons from the Pipeline struggles
Environmentalists know Texas as the financial headquarters of oil and gas empire that controls the nation’s political system, where fights against pipelines like Keystone XL and Trans-Pecos have captured the attention of the nation.
Prison abolitionists know Texas as home to one of the most brutal and corrupt state prison systems in the country, where extreme heat is coupled with tainted water, and vocal participants from the September prisoner strike like Keith ‘Malik’ Washington sit in long term solitary confinement, subjected to both.
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.