34 posts tagged activism
How The Big Greens Contain & Dissolve Resistance
By kat yang-stevens, groundworkforpraxis.com
September 7th, 2014
Above: Black frame with a white frame inside it. Inside the white frame are two teal “boxes”, one rectangular shaped on the left, a square on the right. The left rectangular box contains grayscale images of Maura Cowley (executive director at Energy Action Coalition), Michael Brune (executive director at Sierra Club), and Bill McKibben (co-founder of 350.org). In front of Cowley you can see the tops of two microphones. Written vertically on the right hand side of that box in white letters it reads, “DISMANTLE THE NGOS”. To the right in the teal square shaped “box” it reads in white letters, “QUELLING DISSENT: How The Big Greens Contain & Dissolve Resistance” under that in black letters it reads, “by kat yang-stevens”. Below that the text reads, “excerpts appeared previously in issue #113 of” with the logo for the magazine, Adbusters appearing next to that text.] // image credit: Adbusters // Why Use Image Descriptions?
Quelling Dissent: Big Greens draw attention, recognition, and visibility away from localized and community-based grassroots organizing
We are living in an age of unparalleled destruction. The prevailing colonialist capitalist order is forcing humanity to a state of near-total estrangement from the natural world. The earth can no longer sustain the parasitic extractive industry, which is fueled by the unending growth that capitalism demands. As we surpass the apex of the age of fossil fuels, the global elite is desperate to maintain power and control in the face of inevitable, rapidly-approaching economic collapse. They will continue to attempt to maintain the current conditions they have created, in which the incessant pursuit of the luxuries of modernity has reduced the earth and Indigenous peoples worldwide to being viewed as commodities that exist simply to provide “resources” for civil society. They will continue to deploy one of their biggest tools to quell dissent to these conditions: big “green” non-governmental organizations [NGOs].
Within the colonial borders of the US, more and more communities are feeling the direct effects of environmentally degrading industrial facilities and extractive industries. In a blatant act of cultural genocide, the city of Flagstaff, AZ recently committed 3.6 billion gallons of treated sewage water for snowmaking at the Snowbowl ski resort that sits on a mountain sacred to over 13 indigenous nations, including the Dine’ (Navajo), Hopi, Zuni, Haulapai, Havasupai, Yavapai-Apache, Yavapai-Prescott, Tonto Apache, White Mountain Apache, San Carlos, Apache, San Juan Southern Paiute, Fort Mcdowell Mohave Apache, Acoma and Tohono o’odham. Klee Benally, a Dine’ volunteer with Protect The Peaks, saysthe project is “incredibly offensive, unsustainable and ultimately irresponsible considering the escalating water crisis we’re facing in the Southwest.” In Chester, PA, five large waste facilities, including a Convanta incinerator – the largest in the country, processing over 3,500 tons of trash a day – have led to an asthma crisis in the majority black community. 5.6 million tons of New York City waste has already been burned in Chester, and according to the Chester Environmental Justice Facebook page, on August 13, 2014 the Chester city council approved a plan that will bring 30 years worth of trash from NYC by rail to Chester.
Frontline community organizers like Yudith Nieto with the group Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.E.J.A.S.), based in the East End of Houston, TX, have described the conditions of their mostly Latina and Xicana communities as a “living example of environmental racism.” There are hundreds of thousands of people who are living fenceline to industry and being poisoned mercilessly with little to no intervention from the Environmental Protection Agency. People there are engaged in a battle against tar sands, as their communities sit at one of the terminus points of TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline – the other terminus point is in the predominantly African-American community ofPort Arthur, TX. Just over the artificially imposed border between the US and Canada lies the Aamjiwnaang First Nation Reservation, which borders the city of Sarnia in Ontario – this area is also known as “Chemical Valley”. According to a 2011 World Health Organization study, the area is plagued with the most polluted air in settler colonial “Canada”. Communities there have been waging opposition to tar sands as the Enbridge corporation prepares to finish a project that will allow Line 9 to transport tar sands. Both communities are surrounded by smokestacks and being forced to breathe the poisonous byproducts of refineries and petrochemical plants, many of them owned by corporations heavily invested in the exploitation of tar sands and fracked gas as well as the construction of new pipelines to transport the toxic products. Both communities are engaged in grassroots community-led organizing and resistance to the presence of these industries. (For more on indigenous resistance to tar sands, see the short film “Kahsatstenhsera” produced by Amanda Lickers of Reclaim Turtle Island.)
WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM?
Vital to building a more complete framework for understanding environmental racism within the context of the United States and Canada is to not simply acknowledge but to incorporate into our basic conceptions of the world that every single bit of land, of “the environment,” that the US and Canada occupy has been stolen from indigenous peoples through ongoing processes and structures of colonization. “We’ve always been here. Nobody can argue that we weren’t here first.” said Amy Juan, an activist and poet and member of the Tohono O’odham Nation in a May 2014 interview with Al Jazeera. The Tohono O’odham are one of several nations whose territories and communities have been devastated by the imposition of colonial borders and their subsequent militarization. Their territories were literally divided by an arbitrary line created through the “Gadsden Purchase” in 1854. This forcefully annexed part of the Tohono O’odham Nation into the US side of the border in so-called Arizona, encompassing the cities of Tucson and Phoenix, and separated the other part of Tohono O’odham territories to “belong” to so-called Mexico.
So what is meant when we refer to “the environment”? The environment IS the indigenous lands we live, work, eat and play on. This is a different understanding than the mainstream environmental movement’s romanticized conception of “the environment” – which is inherently classist, elitist, and racist – that construes “the environment” as equivalent to the “nature” and “wilderness” that conservationist/preservationists are always trying to “save”. Think Sierra Club, which, incidentally, has a deep history in white nationalism. (For more on this concept see: “Asian American Environmental Activism” by Julie Sze.)
Environmental racism encompasses public and human health concerns for indigenous communities and communities of color such as border militarization, conditions for undocumented migrant farmworkers, public housing, factory conditions and immigration reform. (See “Comprehensive Immigration Reform is Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Indigenous” by Mari Garza and Franco Habre.) Therefore, I argue that the state (and public) sanctioned shootings and murders of black people – part of the legacy of chattel slavery and ongoing genocide of black people – by police and vigilantes are also a part of environmental racism. The 2012 annual report “Operation Ghetto Storm” conducted by theMalcolm X Grassroots Movement calculated that every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the US government killed a Black man, woman or child. This omnipresent threat to black communities – whether while shopping (like John Crawford), walking to their grandmother’s house (like Mike Brown), hanging out at the park (like Rekia Boyd), or even seeking help after a car accident (like Jonathan Ferrell or Renisha McBride), and surely we can’t forget the many black transgendered women (like Islan Nettles or Kandy Hall) who are murdered merely for existing – is environmental racism. Systemic anti-black racism and the devaluation of black life as well as the epidemic rates of indigenous women who are going missing and being murdered – part of ongoing genocide and colonization – must be considered in order to develop a holistic and realistic understanding of what constitutes “the environment”.
Environmental racism includes the intentional and systematic targeting of communities of color and indigenous communities & Nations with regard to the placing of industry that poses environmental/health hazards and the ongoing failure to enforce environmental regulations. For businesses that threaten public and environmental health, it is easier to operate near these communities that are often low-income and disenfranchised, with less political, social, and economic power to stop these “projects”. Environmental racism is yet another expression of systemic racism and the ongoing legacies of colonialism, genocide and slavery, and though it is less spoken about (and often conveniently ignored) by mainstream environmentalists, it is not a new phenomenon or concept. According to a report, “Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty 1987—2007”, co-authored by Dr. Robert Bullard (the so-called “father of environmental justice”), no progress was made during the 20 years the study covered. The study concluded that half of all Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Indigenous peoples and three out of every five African Americans and Latinos lived in communities with uncontrolled toxic waste sites.
We cannot build a complete analysis of environmental racism without incorporating an understanding of border imperialism. This is a concept that has been explored in detail by Harsha Walia, co-founder of the Vancouver chapter ofNo One Is Illegal, in the recently published anthology featuring voices from directly impacted communities, “Undoing Border Imperialism”. Walia asserts that capitalism and empire, coupled with the militarization of imposed borders – which are constructed by colonialist and imperialist nations and entrenched in racial and hierarchical structures – are responsible for the mass displacement of impoverished communities and the expansion of globalization. Globalization is an ambiguous term that is usually (purposely) laden with warm connotations of unification; however, this structure allows corporations to be highly mobile and travel anywhere in the world to maximize profits through the least governmental and environmental regulations, the best tax incentives and the cheapest labor. They can constantly target and/or undermine any existing legal protections in order to gain access to easily exploitable communities in which corporations have freedom to do as they please. Consequently, we see continued and heightened attacks on indigenous sovereignty, cultures, livelihoods – such as the assassinations of anti-extraction activists in Central and South America or of miners in South Africa – and the fragile and unique ecosystems upon which plant, animal, and human life alike depend.
ENTER THE BIG GREEN NGO
Many people in settler colonial societies of Canada and the United States, as well as other parts of the “developed world,” who consider themselves “well-meaning,” “left-leaning,” “liberal,” “earth-friendly,” “sustainable,” “green,” etc., recognize that there is something deeply warped and malicious embedded within our societies and get sad, upset, and restless. If not sufficiently pacified, their energies could be harnessed in such a way that they would become a major threat to the status quo.
Big Green NGOs present an exciting semblance of resistance. A vapid shell that allows people who are grasping to find something to cling onto in their disillusionment about the world, to feel that they too can make a difference! All they have to do is click here, sign there, watch a flashy video about an adventurous “direct action” that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to stage, make bi-annual trips to the White House to really give that darn president a piece of their mind! Oh, and they must not forget to pay their monthly tithes to their NGO of choice! These NGOs market themselves as catalysts of what they whimsically (and falsely) refer to as “movements.” Their every move is a careful calculation designed to placate, pacify and render ineffective their target consumers: white, college educated, liberals with a small sense of the hollowness of everyday life in capitalist America (or Canada). By proposing simple and false solutions inside a framework of what’s been cleverly branded as “Peaceful Resistance,” potential disruptors of the colonialist imperialist ablist white supremacist capitalist cis-hetero patriarchy are rendered ineffective while simultaneously believing they are engaged in meaningful resistance to “save” the planet as well as acting as great “allies” to indigenous communities and other people of color.
The most obvious indicator of this insidious function of NGOs is the fact that the mainstream environmental “movement” in the US has done almost nothing to counter the political and economic conditions that make participation in their contrived organizing spaces inaccessible to many people from the very communities bearing the brunt of degradation and state violence. At the same time, these hyper-visible Big Greens draw attention, recognition, and visibility away from localized and community-based grassroots organizing. In fact, these white-led liberal elite NGOs have time and again refused to take direction from primarily-impacted communities and have incorporated racist and colonialist elements directly into their recruitment tactics. Silencing the voices of leaders of indigenous communities and communities of color while often simultaneously using their images and appropriating bits and pieces of their cultures is a deeply entrenched mode of operation for many Big Greens. They often mash together multiple Indigenous cultures as if they were one, a method that reels in their target consumers, who often possess deeply misguided ideas of “Native Americans as the first environmentalists” and who can often be seen engaged in reformist “support work” that thinly veils their commitment to the settler colonial project. Queen Sacheen, a founder of Ancestral Pride and contributor at Last Real Indians, asserts that “there is no one size fits all way of dealing with over 1000 individual and distinct nations.” These kinds of racist and colonialist practices of cultural appropriation and tokenization play off of people’s fetishized ideals of “the other”. Ultimately, this feeds individualistic desires to place oneself at the center of everything and misdirects the energies of the mainstream public to both reinforce historical barriers and create new ones to building meaningful resistance, rather than facilitating engagement in meaningful work centering on relating environmental degradation to race and colonialism.
Tom Goldtooth, the Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, urges people to think critically and question the validity of many popular NGO’s. In a 2011 interview with Africa Report he said:
“We challenged the big organizations with environmental racism – including Greenpeace and Sierra Club, to bring our voices to the board. They resisted us. Look at 350.org – we had to challenge them to bring us to stand with them on the pipeline issue. Bill McKibben, the ivory tower, white academic, didn’t even want to take the time to bring people of color to the organizing.”
THE NON PROFIT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
It’s not just an issue of “not wanting” to bring people of color to the proverbial “table.” There are tangible reasons which make it impossible for environmental justice (or any justice) for communities of color to be achieved by organizing with Big Green NGOs. For over a decade, the funding sources of non-profits have been heavily critiqued for the amount of leverage funders are able to exert over the priorities and political work of NGOs. Activist, author, and professor Dylan Rodriguez defines the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) as “a set of symbiotic relationships that link political and financial technologies of state and owning class control with surveillance over public political ideology, including and especially emergent progressive and leftist social movements.” The NPIC is how state and corporate interests use colonial and exploitative practices (branded as social movements) to manipulate and control the ways that dissent from the public manifests and operates.
In an essay entitled “The Industry of Black Suffering: Breaking Down The Non-Profit Industrial Complex”, Adam Jackson and Dayvon Love of Leaders of A Beautiful Struggle describe how Black-led grassroots organizing in Baltimore, MD was destabilized, disempowered and co-opted. In response to how the NPIC manifested in their community, they stated: “It is essential that we be astute in our political analysis of the ways that white liberalism impairs our ability to effectively gain independence from white supremacist institutions that ultimately do not have our best interests at heart.” A common critique of the NPIC is that it exploits the suffering of already marginalized peoples while operating in ways that ensure the continued oppression of the very communities they claim to be in service to. We cannot choose to ignore the sources of these exorbitant amounts of money that makes all of this happen, nor to assume that there is no connection between those sources and the agendas being pushed through these NGOs. Big Greens are allowed to operate on the condition that their target consumers will not gain access to or develop analyses that would allow them to critically engage with the ways in which these organizations co-opt political movements in order to protect and further capitalism, white supremacy, and settler colonialism. (For more on the non-profit industrial complex see: “The Revolution Will Not Be Funded”, edited by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence.)
350.org openly admits to being heavily funded by the Rockefeller family, one of the most elite and depraved families of all time, who played an integral role in the creation of Big Oil as well as monopolizing the American Medical establishment. But 350.org is not the only Big Green guilty of partnering with Big Business. Big Greens can often be found accepting large sums of money to partner with some of the most environmentally degrading corporations in the world, producing media campaigns that market their products as “sustainable” and “green” (see “green capitalism” and “greenwashing”). Dishonest and deceitful behaviours and actions are so normalized that no one seemed to bat an eye when the Sierra Club took over US$25 million dollars in donations from the gas industry in 2012 – most of that coming from Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest fracking companies in the world. These Big Greens often have so little integrity that they will outright solicit for donations for causes that have already been lost, such as when Greenpeace continued to posture as the only thing standing between whales and whalers, making desperate pleas for donations to “help refuel their boats”,when the Whale Sanctuary in question had already been surrendered to the whalers. Even Greenpeace’s former leadership has charged them with outright fraud. Paul Watson, an early and influential member of Greenpeace, referred to it as a “public relations strategy in a global campaign to fleece money from people of good conscience”.
In a July 2013 interview with Franklin Lopez of Submedia.tv, Lionel Lepine of the Athabascan Chipeweyan First Nation, which is located downstream of the largest tar sands operation on the planet in Alberta, CA, had this to say (full interview can be seen here starting at about 6 minutes in; some of the text below has been altered at the request of Lionel Lepine): “At first, they came to Ft Chip promising to help us out…in the end they took all the credit. When the news comes on TV, it’s all NGOs. You see a bunch of white people…you don’t see US.”
Given the legacy of broken treaties between the Canadian and US governments and the indigenous peoples whose sacred and ancestral lands these two settler colonial nations are continuing to occupy through ongoing colonization and genocide, one can easily see these dynamics expressed through the behaviors and actions of these NGOs. Lionel continues:
“The elders in Fort Chipewyan — they don’t like Greenpeace or any of the other NGO’s campaigning around tar sands because they know damn well that these people aren’t from there, they’re not indigenous to that land, they’re white, they have no understanding of our culture — I don’t think they even want to know about our culture. All they want is their name in the paper so they can get money for their next campaign, for their next tar sands tour, for their next whatever. All they’re trying to do is gather money off of our death. They are profiting off of our deaths!
One of the most insidious tactics in the arsenal of the Big Greens are their constant calls (literally – some organizations/corporations like listservs and phone banks) to “actions” and marches.Flashy ad campaigns and promotional events billed as meaningful resistance are an easy way to quell would-be radicals capable of making critical connections that would render such organizations targets for destruction, or at least obsolete. These corporate-backed Big Greens put a lot of funding into fooling and exploiting impressionable students and other well-meaning people to spend vast amounts of time, energy, and resources to mobilize for these ultimately counterproductive and completely contrived events.are little more than giant
This is where NGOs would prefer to see people put their energies instead of participating in or financially supporting the growing number of direct action campaigns and “action camps” being organized and led by members of directly impacted frontline communities and indigenous Nations across US-Canadian colonial borders. Resistance camps such as theYuct Ne Senxiymetkwe Camp, where a sacred fire has been lit outside the Mount Polley Mine site operated by Imperial Metals in so-called British Columbia. The camp sits at the site of a tailings pond breach which released 2.5 billion gallons of contaminated water and 4.5 million cubic meters of metals-laden fine sand into drinking and fishing waters. Or theUnis’tot’en Camp on unceded (unsurrendered) sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory, also in so-called British Columbia, which is and has been blocking several pipeline projects – including ones that would facilitate tar sands and fracking – since July 2012. Dini Ze Toghestiy, Hereditary Chief of the Likhts’amisyu Clan, reminds us: “This isn’t just a fight about pipelines. This is a fight about indigenous sovereignty, our sovereignty.”
Environmental and “climate justice” cannot be separated from the expansive intersectional and anti-colonial work and imperatives that true justice demands. Big Green organizations are a part of the NPIC and replicate and perpetuate systems of domination and white supremacy. Therefore Big Greens betray, contain, and dilute potential for the scale of collective action needed to achieve genuine environmental justice.
We must refuse to be obedient, passive, and malleable “movement builders” armed with self-righteous egos and e-mail lists, invoking elite names in the white liberal left like Bill McKibben, Michael Brune, and “up and comers” like Maura Cowley with Energy Action Coalition, marching towards the next carefully calculated, police-approved, staged “action” in pursuit of a symbolic victory. The stakes are so high with 400,000 people, mostly indigenous peoples and people of color, dying each year from climate-related disasters. An international panel on climate change recently released what is being hailed the most comprehensive study on climate change to date that warns that “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” are already here and will increase due to rising greenhouse gas emissions.
Time is running out for countering the damage that has been done to the global environment.
We must dismantle all NGOs operating within frameworks that do not, and by nature cannot, foreground a value of supporting self determination by oppressed Indigenous, Black and other migrant/diasporic/settler communities of color.
kat yang-stevens is a cisgender queer woman and first generation Asian American of Chinese ancestry. kat grew up on and currently lives on occupied territories belonging to the Onondaga & Cayuga Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in so-called New York. Narrowly avoiding the school-to-prison pipeline & having no formal education or degrees, they understand the need to create spaces for education outside state and private structures and are instead linked into larger projects committed to community well being and liberation. A main focus of their work includes addressing intra-movement racism and the barriers that it presents to creating meaningful multiracial alliances. They are currently being politically targeted. Their work includes critques of the non-profit industrial complex and work to subvert the placating and incapacitating effects that Big Greens have over struggles against extractive industries.
kat yang-stevens // @greencircleas // groundworkforpraxis@
Today is World Water Day, and we’d like to salute some of the organizations striving to provide clean water for all, including Water.org, charity: water, and Students Rebuild through its water challenge.
Pictured here are students at the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, Kenya, who have benefited from Shining Hope for Communities’ clean water project, which includes a water tower that provides scarce clean water in a community where there is no running water.
Q. “It seems like lots of people around me know the government sucks and things aren’t working out well. They keep complaining and I asked myself why they don’t do something about it. But at the same time I am tired of it too, and I have no idea what to do or where to start. Any idea on what we could do?”
- Asked by Anonymous
Before I address this, I want to impress upon you all that when responding to these sort of questions, our answers too often focus only on some obscure task—join the “movement” or volunteer here or there—and we forget to visit two altogether essential elements of resistance: love & strategy. With that in mind, I know that this blog on occasion has revisited tactics and strategy, while most often focusing on education. Love, care, compassion, these are all parts of building a truly encompassing resistance and future where we can hope to sustain meaningful lives, especially as we resist together. Therefore, because she has a wonderful touch for finesse, I have asked my partner to contribute to this blog—starting with this question of “What can we do?”
The following is her response:
I’m going to skip the canned response about giving money to charity or spending x number of hours volunteering. Instead, I think it would be far more valuable to ask you to think on the following: care and community. What does it mean to practice care in a meaningful way? What does it mean to cultivate and live in community with others? This is the foundation you’ll need to set down first.
A bit of background information about myself: I was born in the Philippines and seeing firsthand the living conditions in certain areas of the country – the images of miles of dilapidated houses lining the highways, of emaciated old women squatting in the streets, of preteen sex workers arm in arm with middle-aged male foreigners – caused me to be intensely committed to justice and resistance at a young age. As a kid with those thoughts, you’ll find more often than not that your ideals will get shot down, and so I spent a lot of time, even years, feeling directionless, jaded, and apathetic before I came back around. Looking back, my own hopelessness often came from the defeatist thought that my actions are statistically insignificant, and that can act as a huge dead weight.
But then I began to shift my perspective. I made the attempt to see every interaction between myself and other folks as a chance to build in some way, beginning with dialogue. Being intentionally present for people, hearing from them about their lived experiences, can be incredibly worthwhile in itself. I’m glad that by a combination of circumstances I was reinvigorated and re-politicized, because there is really always so much work to be done. Don’t let yourself be fooled into self-isolation or alienation; remember that it is a privilege to even have the ability to retreat to inertia.
That said, I’m not suggesting that you go into some “poor” neighborhoods with this idea in your head that you’re going to “save” people. Just one example, the gentrification of low-income neighborhoods is oftentimes framed as community betterment with good intentions - cleaning up streets, eradicating crime, renovating homes - when what’s ultimately taking place is the displacement, disenfranchisement, and policing of longtime residents as part of aggressive redevelopment strategy.
I really appreciate what indigenous leader Lilla Watson had to say on the question of mutual empowerment as opposed to mere (and in the worst cases destructive) charity:
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
It requires a lot of active listening to learn when, where, how, or even if your energies are wanted and needed. Regardless of what combination of efforts you decide to be involved in, keep the following in mind: take time especially to listen to communities that are being silenced, and find ways to amplify those voices. Never doubt a person’s ability - no matter what their current circumstances may be - to speak the truth of their experience, to articulate their own wants, needs, and vision. Be mindful and patient; it’s going to take a lot of exploration, trial-and-error, and navigation to figure out what your best points of intervention are in the struggle. Right now I divide my time up between grassroots organizing, working in the nonprofit world (which is a complicated relationship, for sure), political dialogue, and writing (prose and poetry, both political and personal) when I have time to spare.
I was tempted to answer this question in an overwhelmingly positive and energizing way, but I’ll admit that what I ended up focusing on when I began writing this response was your use of the word “tired”. Tired is what I’m feeling at this moment, tired is what you’ll be at certain times, and that’s the damn truth. But making a commitment to building community with others, not just being “an ally” or “in solidarity”, but rather authentically invested in engaging with, learning from, and growing with others is tough, demanding, and painful.
Care – care that is honest, deep-rooted, and humble – is what will continue to fuel both your own survival and your struggle with the people, even through moments of exhaustion and doubt. And that’s just as it should be.
We’ll be tackling strategy in a separate response. Look out for Part Two!
RIP Constantine Kosyakin, Opposition activist of the Left Front.
On August 10 Constantine Kosyakin died in a Moscow hospital after a long illness. In recent years he struggled with cancer. Kosyakin, an opposition activist within the left front since 2009. He was a regular participant and organizer of actions, Strategy 31, on Triumph Square in Moscow and “Days of Wrath” Anti-Government Actions: http://grani-tv.ru/tags/393/entries.html Kosyakin also active in the leadership of the “Moscow City Council.” Constantine Kosyakin was born in 1947. In his youth, he received his degree in mining engineering, he worked as a Company Specialists and Planner and in 1977 went to work in the Department of Coal Ministry, where he served as an engineer, senior specialist and Deputy Director for construction of the coal mining complex in the Zone Region of BAM. In 1999-2004, he was a member of the Moscow City Committee of the Communist Party.
Sergei Udaltsov, Political Prisoner -Left Front
"Characteristically, before the disease Kosyakin looked much younger than his years. He was a big man, full of energy and enthusiasm. I was very surprised when, soon after we met, he told me that he had retired. I think that he himself until the last days felt like years 18-20, not more. Naturally, that he almost immediately became popular with the young activists of the Left Front. He played with us in football, was a goalkeeper - we called him "our Lev Yashin." In his youth, Kosyakin was obviously nonconformist. I will never forget the time at a festival in our headquarters he lead everyone to dance floor to do the twist to rock ‘n’ roll. The youth were amazed with delight. Dozens of times … the police detained him at the Days of Wrath, on the Triumph Square and on other demonstrations. Many times he had to serve his arrest with 10-15 days in jail. But all of repression did not stop him from the game. Because he was a staunch champion of human rights and freedoms. At the same time upholding the civil rights, Konstantin, was a consistent supporter of a broad opposition coalition, bringing together various political forces. Here’s someone who truly fought "for your freedom and ours", it was Kosyakin.
… He never complained, on the contrary, he tried not to talk about his illness. Many of them even had no idea what it cost him of the courage to come to the next meeting or gathering. I was amazed when I learned that, until recently, he hid in the court of his disability, which would have released him from arrest. He did not want to break away from his companions, from the collective, from his comrades.”
#Russia #Moscow Left Front Opposition say goodbye to Constantine Kosyakin -
Farewell to Constantine Kosyakin - ♥ Rest In Power ♥
ALERT for NYC area! Please reblog.
"NEW YORK FRIENDS: If you are visited by the FBI in the next few days/weeks, please know that you DO NOT have to talk to them, you DO NOT have to let them in your house if they do not produce a warrant, and you should LET OTHERS KNOW that you were visited. Even if you are not involved with radical activities it is important to know your rights and to practice good security protocols. As a community we will get through this!"
If you get visited, please call NLG NYC 212-679-6018
Two Jackson, Mississippi Couples Denied Marriage Licenses
The waves of change are ever persistent, and even Mississippi, with all its citizens, will accept this simple human right of its and their own accords, or like separate-but-equal be struck down by the brave men and women marching onward into freedom and equality. The choice is simple, will you be on the right side of history and join us in supporting our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ communities, or will you cling to the bigotries of your past and of your state? And if you need somebody to show you the way because you are afraid, or you are skeptical, let me. My name is Frank Summerlin; I am a Mississippian; and I support the right of all couples to marry, to enjoy the same privileges heterosexuals enjoy in my home state, to love and be loved, to know community in all its facets, and to be a full-fledged member of our society without marginalization, without discrimination, and to know what it means to feel completely unified before the eyes of each other and the law.
I had the privilege of designing a poster for Bradleymanning.org, publicizing a demonstration aimed to reduce Bradley Manning’s sentencing. If you are in the DC area at this time, I encourage you to attend.
“JOIN OUR DAY OF ACCOUNTABILITY - defend whistleblowing and speak truth to power!After three years of confinement, Army whistleblower and peace prize winner Bradley Manning’s trial is drawing to a close. Join us at the last action of Bradley’s trial on July 26 from 3-5:30pm at Ft. McNair (near the Waterfront metro, Washington DC) outside the office of Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, the Convening Authority overseeing Bradley Manning’s trial.General Buchanan is a powerful figure who can reduce any sentence resulting from a conviction. While he reigns over Bradley’s destiny, we’re calling upon him to do the right thing!
The information that Bradley gave the public exposed the unjust detainment of innocent people at Guantanamo Bay, showed us the true human cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped fuel pro-democratic movements in the Arab world, and changed journalism forever. There is no evidence that anyone was harmed as a result of the leaked information, yet Bradley faces life in prison.
This is our opportunity to bring home to Gen. Buchanan the importance of his sentencing decision, not only for fair American justice, but for government accountability, international human rights, and the protection of other whistleblowers, including NSA Edward Snowden.
Enough is enough. The public has a right to know. So join us on Friday, July 26th and let the military feel the heat!
DC/MD/VA area folks please spread the word by downloading the poster from our website and posting it around your neighborhood or workplace. To volunteer or help with outreach, contact: Carrie 202-714-8530 / email@example.com
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to endorse this event.
P.S. We understand that many supporters work 9-5PM so we are asking you to plan on leaving work early so we can have maximum impact on the base.”
Activists Sue Federal Agency for Illegally Withholding Affordable Housing Funds
It started in Berlin: Anarchists, donning black bloc attire, hit the streets at night in pairs, small groups or alone to smash and dismantle the CCTV surveillance cameras adorning the city streets.
They posted videos and photos of their exploits online and called the guerrilla project Camover.
Ping’an YueqingInvestigation into the suspicious death of a campaigner who disappeared under the monstrous wheels of a mine truck. Artist and social activist Ai Weiwei put a team on the case and shows a wealth of sensitive material the Chinese government had tried to keep secret.
On 27 December 2010, village chief Qian Yunhui died in a road accident in Yueqing, in Eastern China. He was crushed under the front wheel of an enormous red truck. That, at least, was the version spread by the Chinese authorities and the trucker was soon convicted. But there were also doubts; according to his family and many fellow villagers, he was murdered. Protests soon swelled, especially online, where gruesome photos appeared of his crushed body.
Includes images that may disturb some viewers
Q: You've been out of the spotlight for a number of years. Why did you decide to give this interview?
A: I started hearing about attacks and vandalism claimed by an environmental group called E.L.F. Years ago, I founded the ELF. Of course this is a whole new entity but similar in its purpose. I felt it might be useful to make a statement at this time.
Q: On November 22, 1977, agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms arrested you at your home in Santa Cruz, California. Can you describe the circumstances leading to your arrest?
A: I was charged with violation of federal statutes. Specifically, I was accused of placing incendiary devices on seven crop dusters at the airport in Salinas, California on May 1, 1977. There were other charges as well relating to my underground activities.
Q: What prompted you to take that course of action?
A: At the time, I was frustrated. I chose to go underground and employ guerrilla tactics in defense of the earth. I felt conventional methods of civil disobedience were ineffective. I was upset because pesticide use and cancer rates were increasing in spite of the best efforts of the concerned scientific community to point out the hazards and alternatives to pesticides.
Q: To whom are you referring?
A: Two people influenced me: One was Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring. The other was Robert Van Den Bosch, professor of entomology at U.C. Berkeley. He wrote a book titled The Pesticide Conspiracy. He died shortly after the book was published. I believed that the warning signals were loud and clear but no one seemed to be taking heed. Here were respectable scientists with PhD's. They were working within the system but it seemed to me at the time not to be working. So I decided to take the struggle to the streets - use a bigger stick so to speak.
Q: And that was 24 years ago. Did your bigger stick work?
A: No. Our food is still being sprayed. But it seemed the way to go back then. I founded the E.L.F., which was an acronym for Environmental Life Force. With today's incarnation, E.L.F. stands for Earth Liberation Front. I've also heard it called the Environmental Liberation Front. We're comparing apples and oranges here. An ELF is an ELF - the aims and tactics are the same - defense of the earth by means of direct guerrilla action.
Q: In other words, violence. Isn't that a contradiction when you claim to be an environmentalist?
A: Yes. In truth it's not possible to where both hats. By definition, an environmentalist cherishes all life - including greedy, thoughtless people. Turns out, I was one of those thoughtless people too.
Q: Why did you resort to violence?
A: I justified my behavior by claiming "self defense" In reality, I was a pissed off frustrated sociopath. I see that now. An incident pushed me over the edge of rational behavior. Back then, I lived in an agricultural area. Lots of artichoke and strawberry fields. One day, I was driving into town (Watsonville) and I got sprayed with Parathion. A crop duster zoomed by me from behind. His wingtips were no more than fifteen feet from my car. Before I had time to roll up my windows and close up my vent, I drove into a toxic cloud. I went directly to the agricultural commissioner's office and reported the incident. Nothing ever came of it. For several hours I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. Parathion is an organophosphate poison that was developed by German scientists in WW II as a nerve gas. After the war, they started using it to kill insect pests. The incident served as a catalyst. The ELF was born.
Q: But the first ELF action had nothing to do with pesticides or the environment, did it?
A: In March of '77, ELF claimed responsibility for shooting the windows of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's vacation home in Watsonville with an air-powered pistol. It was a target of opportunity and no one was home at the time. Ms. Feinstein was then a San Francisco county supervisor. The action was in retaliation for the jail house death of Larry Williams, a young black inmate. He went into diabetic shock and died for lack of an insulin shot. ELF demanded that a medical screening program be initiated for all new prisoners. The rationale: the inmate was one of earth's creatures and he died of neglect.
Q: I still see this contradiction. On the one hand you feign concern for this unfortunate inmate, yet ELF places homemade napalm bombs on seven crop dusters. Am I missing something here? Couldn't a pilot or a firefighter have been killed?
A: ELF took extraordinary measures to avoid loss of life or injury. The devices were designed so only the low-yield detonators would fire. The napalm mix had been allowed to solidify so it could not catch fire. The fuses were timed to ignite at 2:00 am. I waited nearby until all the detonators exploded. If someone would have happened by, I was prepared to warn him or her off, even at the risk of capture. Later in the day, a communiqu� was dropped at the local newspaper. ELF listed viable alternatives to the excessive and inappropriate use of pesticides on our food.
Q: What about the crop dusters?
A: They suffered some blistered paint. It had rained that night. All the planes were spraying crops just hours after the incident. But it was a successful media event. Guerrilla theater, if you will. The listing of alternatives was important. You rarely hear of bombers and activists offering alternatives to their grievances. Usually, they just rant.
Q: Were there other issues ELF focused on?
A: There was an action in Oregon. A pipe bomb was placed at the headquarters of Publishers' Paper Company in Oregon City on August 1st, 1977. (Footnote: The facility operated by Publishers' Paper is now owned by Blue Heron Paper Company). This was another retaliatory action. Fairly serious stuff because it involved the transport of explosives across state lines.
Q: What were the circumstances?
A: Publishers' Paper owned land in Rose Lodge, Oregon. They cultivated fast growing trees to provide pulp for their paper mills. They routinely sprayed herbicides to kill off competing plant species. Eventually the chemicals found their way into streams. The spawning habitat for steelhead and salmon were at risk. In protest, some local folks had chained themselves to trees on Publishers' land. They were ordered off the property and when they didn't go, a helicopter sprayed them all with the herbicide Tordon. The pipe bomb was set off at Publishers' corporate offices. ELF demanded that the company provide life-long health care and medical monitoring for the spray victims.
Q: Did anyone get hurt when the pipe bomb went off?
A: No. It was designed to be a low-yield device. The lesson learned at the Salinas airport action was: it was not necessary to do any real damage to create a media event. I think a window was blown out. Publishers' never provided the medical care; that would have been an admission of guilt. Interestingly, Publishers' Paper was owned by the Los Angeles Times News Agency. When I went to trial, all charges were dropped that related to the Publishers' action. I think pressure from the L.A. Times may have influenced the decision to drop the charges. Just a guess. I had taken full responsibility for the incident so there was no reason for the federal prosecutor to let me skate on that one. (Footnote: Reportedly, several of the Rose Lodge protestors have experienced health problems which they attribute to being sprayed with the herbicide.) THE LOS ANGELES TIMES NEEDS TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND PROVIDE MEDICAL HELP FOR THESE PEOPLE!!!
Q: What came after Oregon?
A: Nothing, really. I got arrested and went to jail.
Q: How did you get caught?
A: Good old-fashioned investigative techniques and advanced technology. ELF was issuing a lot of communiques. To avoid getting into a predictable pattern, different copy machines were used each time. We learned at my trial that the ATF had a complete record showing the time and address where every ELF communique had been printed in both California and Oregon. But I made the mistake of using a copier where my girlfriend, Carla Susan Olander worked. The ATF traced the communique to that machine and started asking the management questions: was anyone aware of an employee who had expressed anti-pesticide opinions? They learned that my girlfriend was under a doctor's care and was drawing disability payments due to an exposure to pesticides while working in a cannery. They kept the two of us under surveillance for a couple of months. On November 22, 1977 the ATF and Santa Cruz SWAT came through my front door while I was sleeping. Scared the hell out of me. In the spirit of civil disobedience, I made a full confession and prepared myself for some serious prison time.
Q: Were there other arrests?
A: No, my girlfriend Carla was a participant in the ELF's actions. She cooperated with the ATF so she wasn't charged with anything.
Q: Now that the statute of limitations have expired, can you tell if others were involved with ELF at the time?
A: I'm not sure there is a statute of limitations for terrorist acts. I told the authorities that I acted alone. They accepted that and I think their investigation bore that out. For the record, I acted alone. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Q: Thank you, Bart Simpson.
A: No, it's true. There was no more ELF actions after I was busted.
Q: Until now.
A: Right. I have no knowledge of the latest incarnation of ELF. I was alarmed when I heard one of the talking heads on the nightly news mention ELF a few months back. I thought, Oh boy, they'll be charging through my front door again.
Q: But that hasn't happened, has it?
A: No. I think they've ruled me out. (Knock on wood). My life is an open book. I have a career that takes up all of my time and I'm constantly traveling. I'm retired from that stuff. I enjoy my freedom too much to revisit that nightmare I went through a quarter of a century ago. My philosophy on militant environmentalism has changed over time. It's counter-productive to the movement. After my stint at Lompoc federal prison, I was released on probation. The judge had given me five years but he later modified the sentence to five years' supervised probation. After I was out, I contacted Richard Armentrout, one of the Rose Lodge spray victims for the first time. He told me that the ELF bombing had embarrassed them and alienated them from their former supporters. Just the simple perception that they may in some way be associated with a terrorist group was all it took to destroy their credibility in their community of peers. That really bothered me. I apologized but it was too late. the harm was done.
Q: So you no longer advocate militancy?
A: Not if it manifests itself in violence. Civil disobedience can be militant in practice or perception. But violence is NEVER civil. Thoreau and Gandhi landed in jail but they never could have accomplished their goals had they resorted to violence. They maintained the high moral ground and inspired support. They showed they were better than their adversaries.
Q: Do you consider your past actions to be a failure?
A: Yes. Both morally and strategically. After my arrest, I opted for another approach. I founded a not-for-profit organization to assist commercial growers to develop strategies for cutting back on their use of pesticides. This was a program developed, in part, by Dr. Van Den Bosch. I was fortunate to gain his support before he died. The strategy is called Integrated Pest Management or IPM. It was a fairly new concept in the late 70's. It's widely practiced these days.
Q: Are you still active in the IPM field?
A: No. I recruited a board of directors with college degrees in entomology and plant pathology. I wrote the initial seed-funding proposal and received a generous grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Then I reluctantly stepped down. The board of directors felt my pending trial could be problematic. And, of course, I had no professional credentials. Basically I was a confessed bomber awaiting trial. Not the greatest public relations asset if you're trying to influence commercial growers. The academicians took over the corporate helm but they failed to secure additional funding and the enterprise faded away. The good news is that similar businesses have flourished. So I'm reassured that my instincts were sound. Perhaps we were ahead of our time. With hindsight, I see that IPM has accomplished more than those seven firebombs ever did.
Q: What would you like to say to the ELF today?
A: If I transport myself back to when I was Underground, I don't think I would Have listened to an old fart like me. Most likely a lot of the people who make up today's ELF weren't even born when ELF was founded. So I'm not too optimistic that the current cadre will listen. But here's my request: Stop the violence. It's only a matter of time before someone gets injured or killed. Arson can get out of hand very quickly. Who would want an innocent firefighter to get killed doing his or her job? I'm so thankful no one was hurt during my activities. I couldn't live with myself had that happened.
Q: What's your opinion of the new ELF?
A: My opinion doesn't matter. I can certainly empathize with their frustration and their desire to defend the environment. But their means and methods will lead nowhere. Maybe prison. Some of the actions attributed to the ELF are so dumb it boggles the mind. Torching a used car lot or a luxury home? What the hell is that? That's the kind of crap you would expect from somebody trying to run an insurance scam or a provocateur hoping to discredit the movement. On the other hand, you have people like the Rose Lodge protestors or the young woman that lived up in that old-growth tree for months on end. She really accomplished something positive. Even the loggers had to respect her tenacity and courage. Now that's what I'm talking about. That's the true spirit of civil disobedience. The movement needs more people like them. We don't need more unibombers and idiots like my former ELF persona, running around trying to change the world by coercion and intimidation. That just doesn't get things done.
The seventeen named in the order were all arrested in October following an attempt to block several entryways onto the base. Though this was just the latest in a series of protests directed at the US drone program which operates out of Hancock, the group interprets the order as an escalation against their efforts and a direct assault on their right to peaceably assemble and voice grievances to their government for acts they deem illegal under domestic and international law.
The seventeen activists are forbidden to do the following:
…assault, stalking, harassment, aggravated harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, forcible touching, intimidation, threats or any criminal offense or interference with the victim or victims of, or designated witnesses to the alleged offense and such members of the family or household of such victim(s) or witness(es) as shall be specifically named Earl A Evans.
This is completely absurd.
If you have wondered “What has happened to the Occupy Movement?”
Lee Camp, in his always informative yet entertaining bomb of sarcasm, clues us in with this weeks Moment of Clarity. As a hint, maybe pepper spray and batons at the hands of State thuggery were but a phase, and the future could be a whole lot brighter.