Friday, June 30, 2006

Shaka Sankofa remembered

On 6th anniversary of his execution
By Gloria Rubac

Published Jun 30, 2006 6:43 AM
The Houston chapter of the National Black United Front held its annual Shaka and Assata Community Work-In on June 22, to commemorate the life and contributions of Shaka Sankofa and to remember the dozens and dozens of political prisoners locked away in prisons around the United States.
The Houston chair of NBUF, Brother Kofi Taharka, began the work-in by reading the last words of Sankofa, an innocent Black man who was executed by the state of Texas on June 22, 2000, after a long struggle to win his freedom.
“I’m an innocent Black man that is being murdered. This is a lynching that is happening in America tonight…. Keep moving forward, my brothers. Slavery couldn’t stop us. The lynching couldn’t stop us in the South. This lynching will not stop us tonight. We will go forward.
“Our destiny in this country is freedom and liberation. We will gain our freedom and liberation by any means necessary. By any means necessary, we keep marching forward,” said Sankofa as he lay strapped to the gurney awaiting his murder.
Taharka also read a moving tribute to Sankofa by death row prison activist Howard Guidry. Guidry, another innocent Black man, recently had his death sentence overturned by the federal courts and is in the county jail in Houston awaiting a retrial on July 17.
Njeri Shakur, organizer for the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, spoke of Sankofa’s courage and leadership on death row. She encouraged everyone to remember his words: “The odds and dangers we face in the struggle are great, but even greater is the power of the people.”
Prince Imari Obadele, a former New Afrikan Independence Movement political prisoner, also spoke. From firsthand experience, he told of the hardships faced by political prisoners in the United States, of the loneliness of being locked away for decades and hoping that those in the struggle have not forgotten you. He spoke of his father, a founder of the Republic of New Africa, and of members of the RNA, the Black Liberation Army and the Black Panthers whom he grew up knowing. Obadele reminded the crowd of the impor tance of writing to and supporting the political prisoners in the United States.
Around 50 letters to various political prisoners were circulated and signed, including ones to Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier. A special focus of the letter writing was on political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim, aka Anthony Bottoms, who the NBUF corresponds with. Muntaqim is up for parole in July
See for more information.


For immediate release
June 30, 2006

Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, condemns in the
strongest possible terms the Israeli war crimes committed against the
Palestinian people, including the comprehensive siege imposed on the West
Bank and Gaza Strip. We call upon the international community to take up
their responsibility in protecting the Palestinian people from this
aggression, and terminating the continuing Israeli policy of collective

Since Tuesday, June 27, 2006, Israel destroyed vital bridges, water and
electricity stations. As a consequence more than two-thirds of the people
have been denied access to water and electricity. Children, the sick and
elderly are the first to be affected.

Israel also arrested more than 64 elected Palestinian Legislative Council
members, city mayors, cabinet ministers and lawmakers.

Israel, the US and European Union governments have put the Palestinian
people under siege for the past few months as collective punishment because
they did not approve of the results of the democratic elections Palestinians
held. Palestinians understood that the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza
Strip which took place this past year was meant to turn it into the largest
prison with the largest population of prisoners in the world. The
acquiescence of world governments to this indicates complicity in these war

Nothing justifies the Israeli savagery, including the elimination of water
and electricity access to hundreds of thousands of people. Racist media
coverage in North America has been trying to minimize the importance of
these war crimes.

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, calls upon all people who
support the Palestinian struggle for self determination and return, to
demand of their representatives, the media and their governments to ensure
that the genocidal Zionist State of Israel ends its siege and fully
compensates for the destruction of life and infrastructure that it has
visited upon the Palestinian people. The potential future cost to human life
the destruction of the water and power supply may cause cannot yet be

Al-Awda calls upon the international community, Palestine solidarity
activists and groups, Arab community organizations including community
centers, mosques and churches, to demand:

- Ending the siege imposed on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip
- The protection of civilian lives and property, as stipulated in
International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.
- The immediate release of all political prisoners, including all elected
representatives of the Palestinian people.
- To provide Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and West Bank with
financial and material support, and to Demand the implementation of their
inalienable right to return to their homes and lands from which they have
been dispossessed since the imposition of the Zionist state in 1948 and
- An end to all Zionist occupation, Apartheid and all other war crimes
- An end to all U.S. aid to Israel which supports the continuing occupation
- Immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out
by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere.

To find out about a demonstration in your area to protest the siege, please
visit the messages posted at

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel.: 760-685-3243 or 415-678-6220
Fax: 360-933-3568

Eco-terrorism in Higher Education

Check this... from the "Accuracy in Media" webpage... "for fairness, balance, and accuracy in news reporting"...ha!

Eco-terrorism in Higher Education

By Malcolm A. Kline | June 29, 2006

America's universities are both the major targets as well as the incubators of a rapidly growing class of criminals—eco-terrorists.

"The Department of Justice named them the number one domestic terrorist threat," Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, told a college-age audience at the Eagle Forum's annual summit on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C. "Their direct actions include bombings, stalking of individuals and teaching members how to commit arson."

"They attacked and destroyed a ski lift, an SUV dealership, and an apartment complex." Four hundred tenants were evacuated from that complex.

Sen. Inhofe chairs the U. S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In that capacity, he has discovered just how radical environmentalists can be.

"The killing of an animal and the killing of a human are morally equal," Dr. Jerry Vlasak of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) told Sen. Inhofe in a hearing. "At American University, he tried to show college students how to commit arson," Sen. Inhofe remembers. Dr. Vlasak has called such acts "a morally justifiable solution to the problem" of alleged animal abuse.

He has also said, "A mouse is the moral equivalent of a child."

Two other groups—the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front—are responsible for 1,200 acts of violence and $200 million in damages, Sen. Inhofe notes. He points out that they have attacked the labs at:

• The University of Iowa

• The University of Michigan

• Louisiana State University

• The University of Wisconsin

On the other hand, as noted earlier, universities can serve as a breeding ground for eco-terrorists as well, frequently sponsoring talks by the likes of Dr. Vlasak. "Yes, I believe they do enable the eco-terrorists," Sen. Inhofe said. "At Oklahoma University people who advocate the overthrow of the government are brought in as speakers."

And their nurturing stance towards such groups has a real world impact that goes even beyond the university labs such groups repeatedly target. "Employees of GlaxoSmithKline were stalked," Sen. Inhofe recounts. "The New York Stock Exchange refused to list them because of terrorist threats."

In his effort to bring such information front and center in congressional hearings, Sen. Inhofe can rarely count on bipartisan support. "Democratic Party funding comes from such groups," Sen. Inhofe says. "The Democrats were funded by organized labor until about 15 years ago, then by the American Trial Lawyers Association, which conspicuously exempted itself from Campaign Finance Reform."

"Now, far left environmental groups provide most of their funding."

Sen. Infhofe's committee oversees 17 bureaucracies. "It is poetic justice that I head this committee," Sen. Inhofe told the Eagle Forum Collegians. "I spent 30 years in the private sector."

"I built buildings," he remembered. "My greatest obstacle was the federal government." "I tried to get a permit in Texas and had to go through 28 offices."

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.

Pennsylvania Toughens Eco-Terror Law

Legislators, governor united to safeguard people and property
Written By: James M. Taylor
Published In: Environment News
Publication Date: July 1, 2006
Publisher: The Heartland Institute

A new law significantly strengthening the punishment for convicted eco-terrorists took effect in Pennsylvania on June 13. The law received overwhelming, bipartisan support in the Pennsylvania legislature, passing the House by a vote of 168-16 and the Senate by a vote of 38-10. Governor Ed Rendell (D) on April 17 signed the bill into law.
"Destroying property, intimidating Pennsylvania residents, or illegally confiscating animals as a way of political protest will not be tolerated in Pennsylvania," said Rendell in an April 14 news release. "This state is putting measures in to protect all of our citizens, as well as our natural resources. HB 213 adds an additional safeguard so that we can ensure that our homes and our lands aren't mistreated or vandalized by senseless acts."

Stiffer Penalties
The new law increases penalties for arson, criminal mischief, vandalism, crop destruction, burglary, criminal trespass, and theft intended to intimidate people who participate in lawful activities regarding animals, plants, or natural resources.
Under the new law, an act of eco-terrorism that previously had been considered a summary offense, carrying a maximum jail sentence of 90 days and a $300 fine, will now be considered a third-degree misdemeanor, carrying a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Similarly, an act of eco-terrorism that previously had been considered a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $20,000 fine, will now be punishable by a maximum sentence of 40 years and a $100,000 fine.
"The primary motive of these animal rights terrorists is to intimidate law-abiding citizens and businesses throughout the nation," said Frankie Trull, president of the National Association for Biomedical Research. "This is a growing problem with serious implications. Intimidation and other unlawful activities are driving brilliant minds away from necessary biomedical research."

Serious Crimes
"The need came from seeing, not only in Pennsylvania but all across the country, what environmental extremists are capable of doing," the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Robert Godshall (R-Montgomery), told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for an April 18 story.
As an example of eco-terrorist activity in Pennsylvania, Godshall noted a 2002 attack in which members of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) burned down an environmental research facility in the Allegheny National Forest. Also, Godshall noted eco-terrorists in 2005 destroyed an exotic tree farm in Bucks County where scientists were conducting monkey research.

Intimidation, Not Speech
Jeff Schmidt, director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club, criticized the new law.
"Law-abiding people who are trying to draw attention to an environmental harm might be worried that they might step over the wrong line and just decide it's not worth it to protest," Schmidt told the Post-Gazette.
"Those who oppose animal research certainly have the right to use the political process to express their views," Rendell countered in a letter to Pennsylvania House members, according to the Post-Gazette. "But if they intentionally destroy property as part of their protest they should be charged accordingly for any property crimes they have committed. These persons should receive additional punishment because their conduct is intended to intimidate and stop lawful activities."

Increasing Pressure from Feds
Pennsylvania's new law mirrors an increase in pressure on eco-terrorists by the federal government.
On May 11, the federal government indicted four persons for a May 2001 attack on a botanical research center at the University of Washington. A fire set at the facility caused $7 million in damage to university property and set back research on environmental adaptation of trees.
On May 18, the federal government indicted four persons for burning down a ski lodge in Vail, Colorado in 1998. The blaze caused $12 million in damage.
Congress is currently considering amendments to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act that would close loopholes in the anti-terrorism law and stiffen penalties for convicted terrorists.
"While state-specific action is very helpful, federal action is also necessary," noted Trull. "With the advent of the Internet it has become relatively easy to plan, orchestrate, and carry out terrorist crimes over state lines.
"Attacks in one state are often planned and orchestrated in another state, which makes it difficult for state and local authorities to have all the resources and tools they need to fight those who orchestrate terrorism from out of state," Trull explained. "These people are very clever, and they often orchestrate attacks from out of state on purpose. Their Web sites often give advice on how to take advantage of seams between state laws."

Applause from Media
Newspapers in areas hit by eco-terrorists applauded the stepped-up pressure.
"Attempts to soft-pedal the sabotage as somehow less ugly and threatening because it is aimed at property, not people, [are] insulting," explained the Seattle Times in a May 23 house editorial. "All of the fiery menace and destruction is focused directly at people who construct, sell or study things and ideas that offend and incense a radical minority.
"The accusations against the shadowy Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front are not the property crimes of insurance fraud or stupid vandalism," the Times added. "All of the attacks were intended to frighten, intimidate and discourage."
West Virginia's Wheeling News-Register agreed in a May 27 house editorial: "Eco-terrorists often claim that they are not out to harm human beings, only to safeguard the environment. But their tactics often place others in great danger and involve massive losses of property."

James M. Taylor ( is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

News at "Bombs & Shields"

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Guelph, Ontario, Canada - An anonymous individual sent an email to a local media outlet claiming the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) was responsible for the Tuesday morning fire that destroyed a partially constructed home at 75 Summit Ridge. The email contained anti-development slogans. The structure was already completely destroyed by the time the fire department arrived to extinguish the blaze. The cost of damages was estimated to be at $200,000.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

White Shield, North Dakota, U.S. - Last week a retired Catholic priest and two veterans in clown costumes used bolt-cutters, a sledgehammer and household hammers to gain access to the E-9 Minuteman II nuclear missile facility where they sabotaged a Minuteman III missile silo. The Luck, Wisconsin group Nukewatch, whom the three are affiliated with, said in a statement that "they disabled the lock on the personnel entry hatch that provides access to the warhead and they hammered on the silo lid that covers the 300 kiloton nuclear warhead. The activists painted 'It's a sin to build a nuclear weapon' on the face of the 110-ton hardened silo cover and the peace activists poured their blood on the missile lid."
The trio were apprehended by a military security team who brought them to the McLean County Jail. They were charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief, both Class A misdemeanors, and released after they each posted a $500 bond. The FBI is involved in the case and federal charges are pending.
Bainbridge Island, Washington, U.S. - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and local fire investigators have begun sifting through the smoldering remains of a $2.9 million house that many believed was burned deliberately by environmentalists. The luxury home, which was only 60% complete, was being constructed on a sensitive old-growth wetland. The development, which began this past winter, had already elicited a significant amount of opposition on behalf of concerned residents and local environmentalists.
Numerous fires of partially completed luxury homes in the area have been claimed on behalf of the radical Earth Liberation Front (ELF) in recent years. The ELF is a pro-environment movement which uses arson, sabotage and property destruction "to stop the exploitation and destruction of the natural environment." Responsibility for fires set by the ELF in the area have often been claimed by way of large banners left behind that include a simple slogan or demand and the letters ELF.
A similar fire set by the ELF razed another $3 million trophy house on another Puget Sound island, Camano Island in January. Investigators found a pink sheet with an anti-development message on it near that fire but have not found any similar messages at the scene of the latest fire.

Jeff Hogg MOVED!

The following is from Ceci, Jeff Hogg's partner. He has been MOVED TO JO COUNTY!!!

Hey everyone-
today is my visitation day with Jeff, but he has been moved to
Josephine county without word as to why....So, I don't have his new
address yet, but will post soon. Paul (Js laywer) left a message for
the feds, but knowing them, they've taken off early for the 4th.
Bastards. More later C

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Activists: Ruling won't close Gitmo soon

By BRENNAN LINSLEY, Associated Press Writer Thu Jun 29, 12:55 PM ET

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - Defense lawyers and human rights activists praised Thursday's Supreme Court decision rejecting military war crimes trials for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, but most felt it likely won't force a quick shutdown of the prison.

The base's commander predicted earlier this week that an adverse ruling would not bring a closure of the jail, saying many of the prisoners could not be released.

Attorneys and advocates called the 5-3 decision a rebuke to the Bush administration's anti-terrorist policies and use of the Guantanamo facility, which has been strongly criticized by foreign leaders.

Some detainee lawyers expressed hope the ruling will increase political pressure to close the facility, where about 450 prisoners swept up since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States are being held on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.

"There certainly will be some fallout from this and it may very well lead to the closing of Guantanamo Bay in the near future," said Army Maj. Tom Fleener, who represents Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al-Bahlul, a Yemeni among the 10 detainees who were facing military trials.

But others agreed with Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the Guantanamo base, that a shutdown wasn't likely — at least in the near future.

"If they rule against the government, I don't see how that's going to affect us," Harris said this week.

Jumana Musa, advocacy director for Amnesty International USA, said the Supreme Court's decision doesn't address the jail's future.

All it does, she said, is "stop dead in its tracks ... the sham trials that have been going on under the guise of war crimes trials, charging people with crimes that aren't even war crimes, and I think that's the fundamental effect of this."

Bridget Arimond, assistant director of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University's School of Law, said that "the administration is clearly going to have to come up with a different approach to trying these cases if it wishes to try the detainees under the military justice system."

Barbara Olshansky, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents about 300 Guantanamo detainees, said the cases belong in civilian courts.

"We have lawful courts in this country that are perfectly capable of hearing these cases," she said. "Try them in law courts or release them. This notion of

President Bush
creating his own universe is not permissible.

Grand Jury Subpoena in Olympia


From the open publishing newswire: On June 27th, Jim Dawson received
a subpoena to appear before a grand jury at the Federal District
Courthouse in Seattle, WA on July 6th at 9:00 am. There will be a
rally outside the courthouse at 8:30 am, please come support Jim.

U.S. Supreme Court Bars Bush's Military Tribunals

June 29 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Bush administration lacks authority to try Guantanamo Bay inmates before military tribunals in a ruling that sharply scales back presidential wartime powers.

The justices, voting 5-3, said Congress hadn't expressly authorized the commissions. The justices also said the structure and procedures of the tribunals violate both the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The ruling is a major political and legal setback for President George W. Bush, scuttling plans to try three dozen Guantanamo inmates before tribunals. The ruling also boosts suits challenging the incarceration of hundreds of other detainees.

Today's ruling was a victory for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden who is fighting a government charge of conspiracy.

``In undertaking to try Hamdan and subject him to criminal punishment, the executive is bound to comply with the rule of law that prevails in this jurisdiction,'' Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court.

The U.S. is holding 450 inmates at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, most of them captured in Afghanistan during the 2001 war against the Taliban. Bush is facing increasing international pressure over Guantanamo in the aftermath of three inmate suicides earlier this month. The president has said on several occasions that he would like to close the prison.

Joining Stevens's wrote the court's majority opinion in Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer joined the entirety of the opinion, and Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the bulk of it.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented. Chief Justice John G. Roberts didn't take part in the case because he served on an appeals court panel that considered it.

The majority also rejected a Bush administration argument that a new federal law stripped the court of power to hear the case.

The case is Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 05-184.

Government continues harassment of former Black Panthers


Federal agents and local police served DNA warrants on several former Black activists throughout the US today allegedly in connection with an unsolved 1971 incident in San Francisco resulting in the death of a police officer. Despite being available to the prosecutor through their attorneys, police served the warrants through coordinated early-morning raids in 5 different cities on Tuesday.

Five former Black Panthers were jailed for refusing to cooperate with a California State Grand Jury investigating the same events in 2005 in San Francisco. All five were released October 31, 2005 when that Grand Jury term expired. Those served with warrants today included the same individuals and others. They have been harassed by police visits for several years.

Two men, John Bowman and Harold Taylor, were also tortured in 1973 in New Orleans to force them to make statements about the 1971 case. Subsequent attempts to prosecute Black activists were halted by court orders because of the illegal coercion and physical brutality inflicted on them. The 1973 arrests and torture were part of the US Government’s COINTELPRO program designed to destroy the Black Liberation movement.

The continued harassment of these same activists is being carried on in the spirit of unending government human rights violations and to discourage dissent.

Claude Marks

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977

The New History of the Weather Underground

by Ron Jacobs
Dan Berger, Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity(San Francisco: AK Press, 2006), 450 pages, paperback, $20.00.
Despite its many detractors and small numbers, the Weather-man/Weather Underground Organization has emerged in the past ten years as a major topic in the growing history of the 1960s. Many of those who knew the group during its existence—personally or in name only—often wonder why this is so. After all, goes this train of thought, Weatherman/Weather Underground represented all that was wrong with the movement against the war in Vietnam and against racism. The group encouraged violence and represented the epitome of arrogance. What about the rest of us?
As the author of the first of a number of recent books about the Weather Underground Organization (WUO), I heard this refrain quite often during the small book tour I took after the publication of my book back in 1997. The only answer I felt necessary to provide then was that if we truly wanted to understand history, then we must examine it all. This meant that WUO was worth examining along with the New Mobe, SCLC, the Black Panthers, and all the other organizations and coalitions that were part of the historical period known in the United States as the sixties. This answer is still met with resistance by those historians and nostalgia buffs that like to pretend that groups like the Panthers and WUO were aberrations and represent the “bad sixties” as opposed to the “good sixties” of Martin Luther King Jr., the early SDS, and George McGovern. Besides the obvious superficiality of this perception, it is also antipolitical.
The most recent book related to the WUO is Dan Berger’s Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity. In his introduction, Berger, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, political radical, and writer, makes it clear that he does not subscribe to the good sixties, bad sixties paradigm. Indeed, Berger understands quite well that “the ‘dream’ was killed, mostly by the state or by those acting in its interest....At the same time, cities across the country rose up in rebellion after rebellion. Therein lies one of the greatest fallacies of the Tale of Two Sixties: it obscures why people embraced radicalism and militancy. Without understanding the impact of state repression, radical movements don’t make sense.” This historical accuracy informs Berger’s text as he winds through the history of WUO and its successors. Furthermore, it informs his discussion of the meaning of that history for today’s anti-imperialist activists.
The facts presented here are well-documented and were derived from a multitude of primary and secondary sources, as well as from personal interviews with former members of the WUO. The interviewees represented various positions within the organization itself and lend a credible insider’s look at life in the political underground of the United States of the 1970s. In addition, the text denotes the larger debates within the movement and insists that people do make life-altering decisions based on politics—even in the United States of America.
Like any vibrant left organization, Weatherman/WUO constantly debated politics and tactics. This is reflected in their brief history. While the role of political violence (and the shape that violence should take) was fundamental to the group’s formation and existence, even more important was its relationship with the struggle for black liberation in the United States. Indeed, not only was that relationship the reason for the group’s birth, it was also the reason for the group’s death according to Berger and those former members with whom he seems to agree.
So, what was the intended relationship between Weatherman/WUO and the black revolutionary struggle in the United States? If one takes a look at their founding document “You Don’t Need a Weatherman...” one finds these words:
The only third path is to build a white movement which will support the blacks in moving as fast as they have to and are able to, and still itself keep up with that black movement enough so that white revolutionaries share the cost and the blacks don’t have to do the whole thing alone.
In other words, the primary role of the white revolutionary organization was to support the black revolution for liberation. This, in turn, meant that one’s concept of black people’s position in the United States and within the U.S. working class was the basis for any type of solidarity with other revolutionaries and activists. Were they just part of the working class? Did they experience a special oppression due to their race? Were they a separate nation? Weatherman subscribed to the latter argument: that African Americans were indeed a separate nation based on their special history and the nature of their oppression.
Once this relationship was understood within Weather, everything else followed. Its use of political violence was partially intended to take some heat off of revolutionary black groups like the Black Panthers, while its struggle “against the people” in the fall of 1969 was intended to draw a line between those who were willing to fight and die for the black revolution and those who weren’t. Much like John Brown and his soldiers, Weatherman/WUO attempted to offer themselves to the struggle for black freedom in the United States.
After a Weatherman-sponsored week of protests and street fighting in Chicago in October 1969—a week that became known as the Days of Rage—Weather retreated and regrouped, ultimately deciding to wage a campaign of bombings and other armed attacks on law enforcement and the U.S. government. This meant that many members would go underground, many would leave the group, and some would operate as aboveground supporters. This entire process was accelerated when three members of the organization died in an explosion that occurred while one of the group was making bombs in the basement of a New York City townhouse on March 6, 1970. These deaths not only forced the remaining members underground, they also forced an organization-wide reevaluation of political violence, with a decision being made that the group would no longer adhere to their belief that the most violent action was necessarily the most revolutionary.
This decision was not lightly taken, and according to Berger’s research, this decision widened some differences in the group between those who supported it and those who saw it as essentially taking advantage of their class and race position to lessen their personal danger. Apparently, part of the argument of those who disagreed with the decision was that they viewed their use of violence as a measure of sincerity and commitment to the black liberation struggle.
Berger begins each chapter of Outlaws of America with a quote from former member and prisoner David Gilbert, who is serving a seventy-five-year-to-life sentence for his role in the failed 1981 Brink’s robbery outside of Nyack, New York. This expropriation was a joint effort of the Black Liberation Army and the May 19th Organization and resulted in the deaths of three police officers after the robbers were stopped during the getaway. Both of these organizations were small in numbers and committed to armed struggle. In addition, both were descended from the Black Panther Party and Weather Underground Organization, respectively. Gilbert was a Columbia University student when he joined SDS and was one of those Weather members most committed to both armed struggle and the theory that white-skinned people in the United States had no choice but to support the black revolutionary struggle as the only true revolutionary struggle.
The insistence that the oppression of black people in the United States was one of the fundamental (if not the fundamental) issues that white-skinned revolutionaries in the United States had to deal with was a position in the New Left that had to be confronted. It ultimately tore apart WUO as the organization tried to construct an approach to communist organizing that would work in the political climate after the end of the U.S. war in Vietnam. Berger’s book subscribes to the argument that Weather’s betrayal of its original pledge to build a “white revolutionary movement” to support the black revolutionary movement was the primary internal reason for the group’s demise.
As mentioned previously, this argument holds that the reaction to the March 6, 1970, deaths and subsequent attempts to organize the political element of the sixties counterculture constituted but one more example of a U.S. leftist organization turning its back on the black struggle. To this element of the group, the prime example of this betrayal was the freeing of drug guru Timothy Leary from a California prison in September 1970. Why should Weather free a drug guru and not an imprisoned black liberation fighter? This analysis considered that “betrayal” to be exacerbated by the “New Morning” communique in December of that year—a statement full of counterculture rhetoric and language extolling the youth movement and its use of marijuana and psychedelics. The communique was criticized by the New York wing of the Panthers, whose communal experience with drugs was quite different than that of white middle-class youths.
By the time 1974 and 1975 rolled around, this critique had extended to WUO’s attempts to provide a theoretical basis for its future via their publication known as Prairie Fire. This book, which is a succinct and reasonable examination of the state of the United States and the anti-imperialist movement, was seen as another betrayal of the group’s original commitment to the black revolution. The Hard Times economic conference and the documentary film Underground were also attacked for similar reasons. Of course, by this time, it was not the primarily white counterculture that was the focus of WUO’s organizing efforts. Like almost every other leftist formation in the United States by that time, their focus was shifting to the working class of the United States. Despite their analysis that acknowledged the multiracial makeup of the working class (as opposed to other groups like the Revolutionary Union that continued to view it as primarily white and male), the organization was sharply criticized as racist by an ad hoc people of color caucus at the Hard Times Conference who took aim at their aboveground allies, the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee (PFOC). For an organization that defined its very essence by its antiracism this criticism caused major cracks. Some WUO members continued to argue for a more traditional class-based organizing approach—an approach that removed much of the nation status previously ascribed to black people in the United States by WUO. The other members continued to insist on adhering to their revolutionary black nationalist–inspired analysis.
Meanwhile, this ongoing debate was overshadowed by the necessity of individuals to stay together and help each other hide from law enforcement. The combination of the two phenomena led to a non-political period within the organization.
One of the advantages given Berger due to the timing of his research was the greater openness of former WUO members to talking about their experiences. Another was the greater availability of government documents detailing law enforcement operations against them and other antiwar and antiracist organizations during the 1960s and 1970s. Berger takes advantage of this and provides the reader with useful information and details about these actions. In today’s world where government spying, torture, and persecution are the stuff of daily headlines, this information makes it clear that today’s headlines are not new or aberrations. Indeed, they are business-as-usual for law enforcement, only with modern technological enhancements. Berger argues that the repression suffered by the black liberation and antiwar movements was a good part of the reason groups like WUO came into being. Not only were nonviolent and open tactics being shown to be ineffective, went the reasoning of those who went underground, they were providing the police with easy targets for arrest, harassment, and, in some cases, murder. The subsequent history of WUO and other such organizations, however, might seem to prove that their turn toward armed struggle rendered them even less effective than they were before they took that route.
Berger subtitles his book, The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity. This is what most clearly separates this text from previous books about the WUO. Berger, being of the generation of radicals that came of age in the 1990s and the early twenty-first century, obviously has a different context than those who gained political awareness in earlier times. This is important because it informs the approach he takes in the book and also because it naturally leads to differing emphases regarding the period of history from which Weather sprang.
Berger’s book is one of a very few current books that stresses the politics of racial solidarity. Although the movement against global capitalism is worldwide in scope and includes people of many nations (and consequently many skin tones), it has yet to span the racial divide in the United States in any noticeable way. The same can be said for the movement against the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—although there are considerably more U.S. people of color involved in opposing the wars than in the movement against global capitalism.
However, as Berger points out, much of the impetus for today’s struggle against U.S. imperialism and its excesses comes from “people of color, from Porto Alegre to Port-au-Prince, from Caracas to Chiapas, Durban to Detroit, Buenos Aires to Brooklyn, the West Bank to Washington.” This is in part, as the WUO and other anti-imperialist groups of the early 1970s had already pointed out, because U.S. imperialism is the number one cause of injustice in the world.
Berger writes that the WUO’s analysis of the role of prisons in capitalist society, the making of political prisoners, and the need for solidarity with prisoners remains as pertinent today as it was then. As the prison system run by the United States and its client states expands its role beyond serving as a dumping ground for those members of society no longer needed by capitalism into also serving as a holding-pen for those individuals singled out by the state as linked to potentially subversive and “terroristic” activities, the need to insist on the end of such prisons increases. Indeed, the ongoing revelations of mistreatment and murder at the various secret prisons run by the U.S. regime around the world make this insistence a matter of life and death for hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals whose primary crime is often merely being Muslim or Arab.
Outlaws of America measures the Weather Underground by its own yardstick: revolutionary solidarity with third world revolutionaries is the pathway to ending U.S. imperialism. By that definition, this means that the primary role of radicals in the United States is to support those revolutionaries, including those who comprise the black nation in the United States. Although one might disagree with this analysis and its limits, Berger argues that it was the attempt to follow through on this analysis that created the Weather Underground. Likewise, it was the attempt to follow through that caused its demise.

Fed agency probes Bainbridge Island fire

By Nancy Bartley
Seattle Times staff reporter
Federal agents are sifting through the charred debris of a $2.9 million Bainbridge Island house destroyed in a weekend fire, trying to determine if the blaze was arson and possibly the work of environmental extremists.
The fire at the house, which was nearly complete and for sale, was discovered Saturday night. By the time units from the Bainbridge Island Fire Department arrived it was too late to save the 5,700-square-foot home.
The tile roof collapsed onto the structure, making investigation more difficult, said Bainbridge Island Fire Chief Glen Tyrrell, who asked for help from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
ATF agents arrived Monday, and along with Bainbridge Island inspectors and an accelerant-sniffing dog, are expected to continue combing through the rubble for several more days or until they can determine how the fire started.
Over the past few years fires at several homes under construction in Snohomish, King and Island counties have been blamed on environmental extremist groups such as the Earth Liberation Front.
In January, a luxury home under construction on Camano Island burned and a pink-died sheet with a spray-painted message — which investigators would not reveal — was left at the front gate of the property.
Agents suspect arson and are still investigating that fire — which destroyed the $3 million, 9,600-square-foot house. Shortly after the fire, investigators said they thought it was the work of environmental extremists.
There was no similar message or other writing at the Bainbridge site, which does not appear to be linked to the Camano Island fire or necessarily to environmental extremists, Tyrrell said.
Ruling out environmental extremists and finding out how the fire started will be the focus of ATF's investigation
It's "like peeling an onion," said ATF special agent Julianne Marshall. "It's very systematic."
Whenever there is a fire in a house with no occupants, "that raises an eyebrow," Marshall said. "We do try to go in without preconceived notions."
The 2.5-acre property, which has a view of the Olympic Mountains and Port Orchard Passage, is near an area that once was considered wetlands, Tyrrell said. Clear-cutting the area was discussed in "Obituary for a Wetland," an article on the Bainbridge Buzz blog — a site for community news from parking issues to book groups. The authors of several online blogs — including one with a pro-environmental stance — discussed the fire in relation to the wetlands
Tyrrell said investigators are aware of the controversy but said that at this point it doesn't appear to be a factor in the cause of the blaze.
Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or

Today's Hearing

From Gumby Cascadia

Today in court, Jonathan, Nathan, Joyanna and Daniel were arraigned on superceding indictment II. I will have to compare indictments to see what is different from the last superceding. All four of them were in the courtroom with their attorneys, Nathan and Joyanna in shackles and "jail greens".
US Atty Kirk Engdall gave an update about discovery. He said 27,000 pages have been released to defendants, as well as 71 CDs, 4 DVDs and 3 cassette tapes. He said that 1000 documents related to Romania Chevrolet and UW would be released within 30 days, as well as documents and materials related to the testimony of cooperating defendants and unindicted informants.
Jonathan Paul's attorney asked for a hearing on the motion for discovery, stating that Judge Coffin had already ruled that the delayed discovery was to be released within 30 days at the last status hearing (at the beginning of June). He further stated that he is concerned with the continued use of the Grand Juries for trial preparation - a misuse of Grand juries under the law, and that he believes this is why the remaining discovery has been delayed. The other attorneys seconded this concern, to which Judge Coffin stated flippantly that everyone's rights would be reserved. No reprimand was given the US attorney's office for the delays or the misuse of the Grand Jury. A hearing was set for August 7th.
Nathan's attorney also asked that Nathan and Joyanna be allowed to be in each others' presence in their attorneys' presence. Coffin allowed that the remaining four defendants may meet with each other in the presence of their attorneys. Nathan and Joyanna have not been able to see each other outside of court appearances until this time, so this was very good news.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rob los Ricos to Be Released From Prison June 29, 2006

Anarchist activist plans summer/fall speaking tour.

By: Marlena Gangi

Rob Thaxton, AKA Rob los Ricos, will be released from the Oregon State Correctional Facility on June 29 after having served seven years as a convicted felon.

Thaxton, a Chicano anarchist, was arrested for hitting an officer on his shoulder with a rock during the June 18, 1999 Reclaim the Streets demonstration (which came to be a police riot) in Eugene, Oregon. Of the twenty-one people arrested in connection with the June 18 protest, Thaxton received the stiffest charges: Assault II, Riot and Attempted Assault I. An Attempted Murder charge was briefly brought forth and then dropped.

The June 18 protest was timed to coincide with the 25th G8 summit in Kolm, Germany. Eugene was one of 140 cities that rose up against the institutions of global capitalism that day.

Thaxton explains, "The G8 Summit is where the representatives of the eight wealthiest nations in the world come together to figure out what to do with the rest of us."

Raised in the Texas panhandle Thaxton, 46, began his activism at the age of twelve. He came of age during the Civil Rights struggle and institutionalized racism served as an early catalyst for his political leanings.

"I was called "nigger" a lot by redneck kids. I admired Blacks for standing up for their rights. Muhammed Ali's refusal to enter the army blew my mind. 'No Vietnamese ever called me a nigger,' Ali explained."

The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Robert Kennedy left an early mark.

"The so-called 'race riots,' the anti-war protests, the whole struggle for basic human rights that took place in this country that was supposedly built on a foundation of democracy; I saw the hypocrisy and refused to accept the myth of equality. I read the Communist Manifesto and considered myself to be a revolutionary by the age of twelve. I understood that the police and government were not my friends."

While in high school and as a college student, Thaxton went on to organize with the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, ACT UP and served as Program Director at KNON-FM "the people's radio station" in Dallas.

Organizing in Austin, Thaxton worked with the growing anarchist community there as well as with the Palestine Solidarity committee, Earth First! and the Black Banner brigade. He traveled to Portland to write for the Anarchist Info Shop. In Columbia, Missouri, he helped publish Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed. It was at this time that Thaxton's activity came into the scrutiny of the FBI. He headed back to Dallas.

The Reagan era left Thaxton with little hope for the future and even less for the present. Activism was in lull; greed was good.

"In between minimum wage jobs and periods of homelessness I felt myself drawn to street life. I did hard drugs and hung out a lot with hookers, hustlers and junkies doing the kinds of things people like us did."

Thaxton lived in Hawaii before returning to Portland where he became a father. As his relationship with the mother of his daughter came to an end, he found himself once again shooting up hard drugs and lost in the life of the streets.

"When faced with heart rendering decisions, I turned to drugs to avoid the situation for awhile. It took the love of a remarkable woman and the unconditional support of activist friends to overcome this way of thinking."

Set on turning his life around to create an existence independent of dominant culture, Thaxton headed deep into the woods of southern Oregon with like-minded activists.

"To live outdoors, free of authority, growing our own food, drinking water from springs, building our own housing: I finally came to accept myself, my circumstances and decisions that defined my life as it existed up to 1999."

And then came the June 18 International Day of Solidarity in opposition to the G8 Summit.

"There was an anarchist gathering in Eugene on June 16. My friends had enough sense to leave on the 18th, but not me." June 18 was to be his last day of freedom.

Finding himself immersed in the daylong Reclaim the Streets clash between police and protesters, Thaxton was caught in a crowd cordoned off by riot-geared police.

"We were standing around, illegally blocking traffic. Out of sheer boredom a Taco Bell was attacked. They gave an order to disperse but they had us surrounded. Cops in protective gear shot mace and clubbed us."

Thaxton threw a rock in the direction of charging police in an effort to put distance between them and him. The rock connected. Sgt. Larry Blackwell, the cop who took the hit, raced toward Thaxton in a rage. Unable to escape, Thaxton was thrown face first to the pavement and repeatedly clubbed. His left shoulder was dislocated when pulled to his feet. As blood dripped from his nose broken by the first impact, he was told that he should have been shot. When transported to the Lane County Jail, police threatened to "get him" in his cell.

After a brief exam, he was given Vicodin and a sling for his arm. His booking photo was digitally altered to delete gashes on the swollen and purple left side of his face.

"The nurse refused to examine my scalp because of the amount of dried blood."

Thaxton's bail was set at $240,00. In a trial fraught with bias as Judge Mary Ann Bearden continually sided with the prosecutor, Bearden also allowed jury members to be seated who stated that they could not be impartial about anarchists given the news coverage of the events of June 18.

In September of 1999, Thaxton was sentenced to 70 months for Assault II. Bearden departed from Measure 11 sentencing guidelines to hand down18 months for Riot. The sentences ran consecutively rather that concurrently.

Throughout his incarceration, Thaxton has been singled out for harsh treatment because of his ethnicity and unrepentant political stance. When the Oregon Department of Corrections "documented" anarchists as a Security Threat Group, they became designated gang members. Thaxton's incoming mail including publications by or about anarchists was intercepted. This included anything with the anarchist Circle A insignia.

Not one to retreat, Thaxton sent a call to supporters to mail in post cards that displayed the Circle A with the caption "This is Not a Gang Symbol." Some 500 cards rolled in and Thaxton was sent to solitary for 4 months. Former anarchist political prisoner Brian McCarville filed suit to change this mail rule and won. Anarchist prisoners were once again allowed to receive anarchist material.

For one who has written countless articles during his imprisonment ranging from commentary to political theory and book reviews, Thaxton is uncharacteristically mum on the form that his activism will take once released. Well published before his arrest, Thaxton has received international attention throughout the years as anarcho list serves and websites ring electric with what many perceive to be the sheer injustice of his trial and sentence.

"I've been down so long, I'm really not sure what it looks like on the outside," he says.

He expresses some concern about what supporters might expect him to do or be once freedom is granted.

"I'm no movement poster dude. I'm flawed and have relationships to mend. I plan to keep writing, I'm working on scheduling a speaking tour and am intent on pulling my articles into book form and have it published sometime this fall. For now, I can't really say too much about what my future might hold. I'm just looking forward to getting out."

Rob Thaxton is featured as a contributing author in the recently released Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of Earth from AK Press. Thaxton will give a reading presentation on Saturday, July 1 at Laughing Horse Bookstore 12 NE 10th St. Portland Oregon. For more information call 503.493.2505.

Marlena Gangi is an activist, educator and photojournalist. She resides in Portland.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Anna the Medic Have Wire, Will Travel

Originally published by Broward-Palm Beach New Times 2006-06-22
©2006 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.

Listen, my children, to the story of Anna the Medic, who travels the land, bringing the harsh scrutiny of federal law enforcement to Americans engaged in political protest.
In the past two years, Anna, whose real name may be Anna Davies or Anna Davidson, has turned up at rallies and marches from South Florida to Northern California, with a lot of stops in between. She has demonstrated for animal rights and protested the Iraq War, all the while meticulously gathering information on political dissidents for the FBI. According to FBI affidavits, Anna has been a paid informant in 12 investigations of "anarchist" groups. She's a veritable Scarlet Pimpernel, on the federal government tab.
As a confidential informant, Anna is topnotch. She has a way of inveigling herself into meetings and revving up the emotions of young dissidents, protest group leaders say.
For example, days before planned protests in June 2005 at the Broward Convention Center, where the Organization of American States held its annual meeting, Anna showed up out of the blue in crisp black scrubs and a kit bag with a red cross on it, says Ray Del Papa, a member of the protest planning committee.
Del Papa says his suspicions were immediately aroused. "I had just had a phone conversation with the defense headquarters set up in Fort Lauderdale to handle arrest situations," he says. "I told them we needed medics. The next day, Anna shows up, dressed as a medic. I knew our phones were tapped, so I thought she might be an infiltrator."
Anna, in her mid-20s, seemed more interested in the planning for the protest than in medical contingencies. She asked a lot of questions and seemed to have prior knowledge of all the preliminary planning sessions, Del Papa says. "She'd come up and ask me, 'What happened at the legal observer training session?'" Del Papa says. "I'd say, 'How did you know about that?' And she'd say, 'Well, I heard you were there. '"
During the protest on June 6, Anna was called upon to use her supposed medical skills. She was summoned to help an elderly woman who was apparently suffering from heat exhaustion. She gave the woman, Barbara Collins, a drink of Gatorade. After her symptoms persisted, though, Anna declined to return to assist the woman again, says Collins' friend Linda Belgrave, a University of Miami sociology professor.
"She told us to walk over to where some air-conditioned buses were," Belgrave says. "Anna was too busy hanging out to help. Eventually, [Barbara] collapsed by the side of the road, and the cops called an ambulance."
Things went smoothly at the protest until a small group of teenagers decided to stage a sitdown in front of a squad of police officers in riot gear. Here's where Anna showed her true calling. Del Papa and others say the teenagers had been orchestrated by the charismatic Anna. The setting was at a bottleneck in the march to the convention center, and cops seemed to be preparing to step in. "I said, 'This is a trap,'" Del Papa recounts. Other protest leaders eventually interceded, persuading the teenagers to move along before the cops moved in.
Anna showed up later that month at the so-called Bio-Democracy protests in Philadelphia, at which demonstrators protested experiments on animals. Some 15 demonstrators were arrested during street protests at and around the Philadelphia Convention Center, where biotech companies were meeting. Anna posted an "article" about the protest on an independent media website. "How empowering!" she crowed, recounting how she had chanted "Puppy killers, GO HOME!" She made subsequent appearances at protests and meetings in Boston, Pittsburgh, and Asheville, North Carolina.
But Anna's big coup was in Northern California, where she became the prime prosecution witness in federal conspiracy charges against three alleged "eco-terrorists." The three plotted to blow up a dam, a genetics lab, a U.S. Forestry Service facility, and cellular telephone towers, federal authorities say. Anna was there, recording the whole plot with a body wire.
However, according to attorney Mark Reichel, who represents one of the defendants, Eric McDavid, it was actually Anna who recruited the three during the Philadelphia protest. McDavid, Zachary Jenson, and Lauren Weiner traveled with Anna to Auburn, California, where Anna rented a cabin and assisted in preparations for manufacturing bombs and scoping out targets. Reichel says Anna promoted the plot and bought the supplies (including "canning jars, coffee filters, a mixing bowl, a hot plate, petroleum jelly, a gasoline can, bleach, an extension cord, and battery testers," as a court document recorded it) that were purchased to make bombs.
The three alleged conspirators, supposedly members of an Eco-Liberation Front (ELF) cell, were arrested in January; Weiner has agreed to testify against the other two.
South Florida lawyer/activist Jennifer Van Bergen began to connect the dots in Anna's headlong career as an informant in a June 8 article for Raw Story, a progressive online newsgathering organization. The truth about Anna's involvement with the ELF plot was by then beginning to surface in court hearings. An FBI agent revealed that Anna — referred to in court as "the source" — was paid $75,000 and expenses over the past two years to serve as an FBI confidential informant. He also conceded that Anna had rented the cabin and purchased at least some of the bomb-making supplies. Attempts to reach Anna at her e-mail address ( got no response. Judy Orhuela, spokeswoman for the FBI Miami office, said the agency wouldn't comment on confidential informants.
Tailpipe remembers stories from the dark, Nixonian 1960s and '70s about undercover operatives who used insidious tactics to ratchet up the violence, then showed up in court as paid informants. ("When somebody in a crowd shouts 'Let's get some guns,' you know he's a paid informant," activists used to say.) But hasn't that kind of questionable law enforcement activity been attacked in federal court?
In the Bush era, all civil-rights bets are off. The 'Pipe asked the world-bitten Reichel about the possible fallout should Anna be shown to have been a provocateur rather than an impartial observer. "Please," he said. "They'll give her the Medal of Honor."