How the Government Is Turning Protesters Into Felons

  • Posted on: 21 April 2017
  • By: SUDS
pew pew

"It's crazy, a few windows got smashed," 23-year-old Olivia Alsip said, two months after her arrest on felony riot charges. "Why are 214 people looking at ten years in prison?"

Alsip only knew one other person at the protest march that day. The political science graduate student from the University of Chicago had met her partner in November, when the two had joined the camps at Standing Rock opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. When they heard about calls to protest Donald J. Trump's inauguration in D.C. on January 20th under the banner "Disrupt J20," they felt they had to be there. "I identify as an anarchist, and I've been an activist for women's and queer rights since the 8th grade," Alsip told me over the phone from Chicago.

Alsip is among 214 defendants facing felony riot charges, up to a decade in prison and a $25,000 fine for their participation in the anti-capitalist, anti-fascist march, which ended with a mass arrest on the morning of Inauguration Day. As far as the student understands, the evidence against her amounts to little more than proof of her presence at the unruly protest, as indicated by her arrest. Like the vast majority of her co-defendants, Alsip didn't break or throw anything. Now she lives in shock over the steep price she and her fellow protesters might pay as the new administration and police forces set the tone for how they will deal with the spike in organized dissent.

Anarchists and anti-fascist activists across the country have responded to Trump's ascendancy, and particularly the attendant emboldening of white supremacists, with confrontational protest. Rivers of digital ink were spilled approving and denouncing the meme-friendly punch delivered to neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, as well as the militant demonstrations that prevented far right troll Milo Yiannopoulos from waxing hateful at UC Berkeley. But while scattered vandalism and punching (a neo-Nazi) were deemed headline-grabbing militancy, the media relegated the most extreme incidents involving anarchists and antifascists—namely, recent treatment of them—to footnotes.

A New York Times article published two weeks after the inauguration about anarchist protests accorded just half a sentence to the fact that a Yiannopolous supporter in Seattle shot and seriously injured an anti-fascist activist, and has yet to face charges. Fifteen paragraphs down, a mere mention was given to the mass arrest of the 200-plus anti-fascist protesters on Inauguration Day. The fact that these arrestees now face felony riot charges went unmentioned by the Times—blanket charges, which carry a heft unheard of in the last decades of protest history.

"In my over thirty years of practicing law, I've never seen anything like this," said veteran D.C. attorney Mark Goldstone, of the charges. Goldstone, who has defended dozens of activist cases and is representing six of the J20 defendants, called the charges "unprecedented territory."

Dragnet arrests at protests are nothing new—recall the arrest of over 700 Occupy protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge. Nor is the leveling of serious criminal charges to demonstrators accused of property damage. With a legal logic seemingly opposite to that in the J20 cases, just one man was blamed for the $50,000 of property damage wrought during the 2009 Pittsburgh G20 Summit; he was convicted of felony criminal mischief and three misdemeanors. But the charge of felony riot is in itself rare, let alone when applied to over 200 people.

The charges all stem from the single mass arrest of protesters who had taken part in the Disrupt J20 march. It was a typical black bloc march, in which protesters mask their faces and wear all black. More than 500 participants gathered some two miles north of the inaugural parade route and surged southward, marching, chanting, and crowding the streets as an aesthetically united force. Whether illegal activity occurred in the context of the march is not in question. By the time D.C. Metropolitan police moved in with pepper spray and flash-bang grenades, a number of march participants were smashing windows–of banks, of chain restaurants, of a limo. Some pulled trash cans into the street, some set off handheld fireworks, and one cop was hit by a rock. Police filings claim that protesters damaged more than $100,000 worth of property that day (a figure that includes destruction caused after the mass arrest).

But no one—neither the police nor the government—suggests that that most or even many of the arrestees directly engaged in property destruction or violence. Nonetheless, the police department and the government maintain that not only was a dragnet arrest appropriate, but that the police had probable cause to believe that each and every of the more than 200 arrestees had "willfully incited or urged others to engage in the riot." On this point, the law is precise: Even in the case of an alleged riot, the police must have probable cause to arrest each and every individual.

"All the police officers were outstanding in the judgment that we used," Metropolitan Police Department interim chief Peter Newsham said the day after the inauguration, "I couldn't be more proud of the way this department responded." Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted her support for "our officers as they handled crowds." But it is precisely police judgement that problematizes these riot charges.

The original arrestees included a handful of professional journalists, medics and legal observers, most of whom have since had their charges dropped. Of the remaining 214 arrestees, a handful of individuals also face property damage charges, having been allegedly identified smashing windows. One man, Alsip's partner, has been charged with felony assault on a police officer for allegedly throwing the rock that struck a cop; he was identified by his shoes.

As the pretrial court proceedings enter into the discovery phase, the prosecution's position is becoming clear: The evidence so far against numerous defendants amounts to no more than video footage of their continued presence in the march and their choice of black bloc attire. If the mass arrest was imprecise enough to sweep up journalists and legal observers, how can it be maintained that the police had probable cause to arrest every single other protester for rioting and inciting? If continued presence, proximity and black garb is sufficient for the necessary legal standard of individuated probable cause for arrest and prosecution under these charges, the D.C. police and the government have, from day one of Trump's presidency, lowered the standard for what it takes to turn a protester into a felon.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a legal organization that has long fought civil and human rights cases, expressed concern about police making dragnet mass arrests without particularized probable cause. She said that arrests "simply based on proximity or shared political views at a march" set a troubling precedent for all protests, not just anarchist marches. She explained that "it means at any demonstration," if a participant or a provocateur commits an illegal act, then "the entire demonstration can be subject to indiscriminate force and large groups of people can be suddenly arrested without notice or opportunity to disperse, and face life-altering charges."

Mass arrests, let alone with felony charges, have been rare in D.C. since 2002, when the then-assistant police chief Peter Newsham (the current interim police chief) ordered the arrest of roughly 400 people during an anti-World Bank/IMF demonstration in Pershing Park. The dragnet arrest included both peaceful protesters and bystanders walking to work, and led to years of litigation and an $8.25 million settlement on the part of the Justice Department and Department of the Interior. It also led to the establishment of policies and statutes governing protest policing and defending First Amendment activity in the capital. "From the first day of the Trump administration, Newsham and the police department have really stepped back in time," said Verheyden-Hilliard.

I had joined the march at its genesis at Logan's Circle, as participants tightened black bandanas around their faces and gathered in formation behind block-wide banners. I heard glass crack around us as we snaked through the city's wide boulevards, and some protesters peeled from formation to take a rock or a stick to a window. Chants common to contemporary U.S. protest boomed louder than any breaking glass: "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!" At no point did the police move in to grab individuals as they destroyed property, but after minutes that felt longer than they lasted, cops charged the group en masse.

After one group of protesters had broken through a police line on the intersection on L and 12th Street, cops penned in the remaining crowd of 230 and held them there for more than four hours before taking them into holding. In the chaos of charging police, wafting pepper spray, and scrambling protesters I had detached from the crowd just half a block before the cops closed in.

"When the police kettled us [corralled them into a net], they pushed us all into one big writhing mass with not enough room to stand," Alsip recalled. "When they stepped back, people were screaming and crying because they had just been maced or hit."

The government claims that First Amendment protections don't apply in the J20 cases because property damage began "from the jump" (i.e. immediately). The indictment states that protesters "did not exercise multiple opportunities to leave the Black Bloc," and cheered and chanted "fuck it up", "fuck capitalism" and "whose streets?" (Slogans that have peppered most every protest I've attended, from Occupy to environmental marches to Black Lives Matter.)

According to Verheyden-Hilliard, such a claim goes against 50 years of cases in which property damage or violence occurs during First Amendment activity. "The glue that holds this group together is First Amendment activity," she said. "The line that violence began 'from the jump' distracts from the fact that the police acted unlawfully, as we can see from the fact that the government is trying to extricate particularized probable cause after the fact."

At a pretrial status hearing I attended in March at the high modernist D.C. Superior Court building, assistant United States attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff told the court that the government had collected more than 600 hours of video footage and data pulled from more than 100 cell phones taken from the arrestees. She said that each defendant would be shown individuated evidence of their participation in the riot and its incitement. But on a late-March conference call with 15 other lawyers representing J20 clients, Goldstone learned that for a number of defendants this alleged evidence amounted to no more than, as he put it, "Here's your client at the beginning of the march, wearing black clothes and goggles, your client could have left but did not, and here is your client at the end, in the police kettle."

"The scary thing about it," said Goldstone, "is that defendants who want to test that theory have to be willing to face a jury, who could uphold the government's line." It's not hard to demonize a masked protester.

As such, while civil liberties groups and legal support groups stress police misconduct and prosecutorial overreach, the pressure for defendants to plead out is high. And if pleas are extracted from most defendants, the ability to bring civil litigation against the police department will be significantly diminished if not foreclosed. It's a predicament all too typical of the judicial process in this country, which threatens lengthy prison sentences to extract pleas out of court.

At the time of writing, just one defendant has taken a plea. Last week, an 18-year-old man pled guilty to one count of misdemeanor rioting or inciting to riot, a suspended 180-day sentence, one year of supervised probation, a $500 fine, and 50 hours of community service. Because he is under 23, the defendant was charged under the Youth Act, which allows for a young person who "will derive benefit" to get special treatment under the law. This would not apply to most every other arrestee, most of whom were between 25 and 40. "The plea deal that was accepted by one defendant was both a bad deal and irrelevant to everyone else's cases," the Dead City Legal Posse, a D.C. volunteer legal support group set up to assist the J20 cases, wrote in a statement.

The support group does not offer legal advice, but commented on perhaps the most salient information to come from the plea. "After the plea deal was accepted, the prosecutor is required to say what the government 'would have been able to prove'," the collective noted. According to the group, the government was only able to show the following: That the defendant joined a black bloc with 200 other people; marched with the black bloc for 30 minutes; Had multiple opportunities to leave and did not; Wore black and goggles; and, in the words of the prosecutor, "knew or reasonably should have known that the black bloc was causing destruction," and "the actions of the black bloc caused and constituted a riot."

This, the statement notes, "is literally all they had on him." As the cases against more and more defendants appear to rest on the same scant evidence, it doesn't take a defender of black bloc tactics to see a dangerous legal precedent quietly crystallizing. A possible 10 years in prison would be an extreme punishment for breaking windows. But the J20 cases are not an occasion to debate the moral or tactical merits and flaws of political property damage. How could it be? Most J20 defendants broke nothing at all.

Of the dozens of New York activists I know who traveled to D.C. to join the J20 protests and the vast but placid Women's March the following day, three were arrested in the kettle. In the week that followed the J20 arrests, the names and personal information—including some addresses of arrestees—were made public by far-right site GotNews.com, and the New Yorkers I spoke to claim to have received numerous online threats.

One 29-year-old Brooklyn-based protester told me that this sort of harassment highlights one impetus for deploying black bloc tactics in the first place—tactics that have grave implications for less seasoned dissenters. "Clearly, it was in the best interest of everyone present for the anti-fascist march on the day of my arrest to conceal their identities," he said, "because in the current climate in which we exist, the danger is very real."

But while the shock of felony charges, and the arduousness of a lengthy legal process weighs on the defendant, he told me that he has been surprised and heartened by the supportive attitude of some more mainstream anti-Trump protesters towards the black bloc.

He told me that following his release from jail on January 21st, he went with some friends to D.C. institution Ben's Chili Bowl. "We found quite a few pink pussy hat-wearing Women's March attendees inside," he said. He asked the women what they felt about the Richard Spencer punch and the J20 protests, expecting that they might repeat historic denunciations of "bad protesters." "To my surprise," he said the women said that they wished they could have punched Spencer themselves. "The women thanked me for being in DC that weekend and for everything that took place on the 20th."

Government action, like the mass J20 arrest, could make the tired "good protester/bad protester" narrative obsolete, if presence, proximity and chanting are sufficient to "bad protester" make. While radical leftists would banish the "bad protester" label to collapse the dichotomy, the state seems keen to erase the concept of "good" protest. In recent weeks, as the preliminary hearings J20 defendants began, Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states introduced legislation to increase the severity of charges for traditionally non-violent protest tactics, like blocking highways.

The government has already proven its willingness to set what Goldstone called "a monstrous trap" for protesters, by leveraging high risk trials against paper-thin cases. At this point, unsurety hangs over the remaining J20 cases. With 213 remaining defendants, and nearly as many separate lawyers defending them, it is unknown whether better pleas will be offered or taken, how many protesters will take their case to trial, and how many, if any, convictions will stick. The process may well bleed into 2018, with the threat of lengthy sentences weighing on the defendants every day as it goes on.

"It definitely hits in waves," Alsip told me. "I'm nervous. I try to think that even if I do go to prison, I would remain committed, and politically active. But," she paused, "I just can't believe that my thoughts have to go there. And that we're all facing this." Another pause. "A few broken windows."

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Article reposted from: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a54391/how-the-government-is-turnin...

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Comments

Jeff Luers got 22 years for setting SUV's on fire, back in 2000. (later reduced)

Ever since Seattle 1999, I've been telling people the courts and laws are going to just keep on ratcheting up property crime penalties until they match or exceed those of other personal felonies like murder. Most people thought I was exaggerating.

So if you're going to do something now, it might as well be murder. It's way more effective anyway, and you'll probably even get a lighter sentence.

Is murder effective? I thought we had established that assassination politics do fuckall in large, entrenched systems. Like, Google will still be Google no matter how many Sergey Brins you kill, North Korea will still be North Korea no matter how many reenactments of "The Interview" you do, etc.. That's not to claim lighting SUVs on fire is effective either, but if efficacy is what you want, maybe you should first identify what your goals are? Because I can't think of very many things outside of very situational interpersonal conflicts in which "murder!" is the best choice these days.

On a personal note, I would rather light an SUV on fire than kill someone, but I also don't care that much about the efficacy, and wouldn't do either if I thought there was a solid chance of getting caught.

When the FBI was busy slaughtering leftists in the 1960s and 70s, you don't think that had any impact on the social movements of those times? The government essentially crushed the left for decades.

Do you think history would be any different had JFK lived? Oswald? MLK? RFK? Che? Or on a smaller scale, say in Philly, when cops bombed MOVE. Would those neighborhoods be any different today had MOVE not been destroyed?

Or go back further, to the 1930s when the government destroyed the labour movement. It NEVER recovered from that.

Or even further back to Haymarket, or to the Luddites during the 19th century.

Of course murder is effective. It changes historical trajectories, for better or worse. It alters social evolution. Killing people changes things, because people are agents who act on and affect their social environment, and when actors are removed, their actions cease, and the social environment changes as a result. If murder didn't work, governments wouldn't do it. Not only domestically, but internationally. Governments even use murder to create more of what they ostensibly oppose...like in the present Middle East where they deliberately kill innocent Muslims in order to create more terrorists, which keeps the war on terror going, and the military funding flowing.

Whether we like it or not, violence is a major driver of historical change. Not just for humans, but animals as well. The differential outcomes of who lives and who dies affects evolution.

I guess I didn't think I would have to clarify that I meant in terms of the trajectories and goals *we* may desire.

As for the "assassinations" you list, I see some major problems. For one, you're making a massive conflation between murder and extensive targeted killings, for lack of a better term. I can murder someone. I cannot murder enough FBI higher ups to the degree that the FBI stops being a thing. My friends and I cannot join forces to accomplish this. If you think you or anyone else can, you're fooling yourself. Again, I'm only interested in a conversation of our perspective, not statecraft we have no desire for (or at least I don't). The other problem with this list is in the cases of events that were unambiguous assassinations, you'll notice that it was always the case that either 1, the target was fundamentally crucial to the existence of the real target, typically because it was fairly small or unstable (see my point above about murder vs. state apparatuses for murder for why that makes it irrelevant for our purposes), or 2. the assassination, while impactful by some measure, did not have the intended consequences. Yes, JFK's assassination made a noticeable difference on the course of history. If that's your goal, boy howdy give it a go. But you'll notice, capitalism didn't collapse, the US still easily won the Cold War despite losing the Vietnam War that was created before JFK's term and continued long after it, social relations still looked pretty much the same, etc. etc.. Other than "Kennedy is DEAD!!!1!" and Oswald becoming famous, what of Oswald's desires do you think were actualized by the assassination? Shit, HE was murdered. That sounds like a resounding failure to me (I'm nobody's martyr, especially for a shit show of a... what, cause?).

I suppose you could make an argument that some sort of assassination of major alt-right figures would have similar efficacy to that of the assassination of Huey Newton & co., but honestly, I doubt it. I don't get the impression that these groups are actually lead by these "leaders" so much as they are reflections of the shit that lies beneath. If anything, I bet killing them would rile up their base, since unlike Newton, MOVE, AIM, etc. there's no narrative of "They were a terrorist!!" or anything like that to sway public opinion. In the end, it's not the major figures that are doing the hate crimes or getting in fights with antifa or whatever, it's their "followers". I don't think that it's a coincidence that the language people like Milo or Trump uses shifts based on what their base wants --- fuck, that's what populism *is*. But I'm no expert, and maybe I'm wrong. Maybe if you kill them, the people who supported them will suddenly realize the errors of their ways and that will be the end of that. I guess I just don't see how.

What I am saying applies to political killings in general, not just to governments, but anyone.

Targeted killings are murder too. You could theoretically murder enough FBI agents if you had enough people willing to do it for an extended period. It takes 2-3 years to train an FBI agent. They wouldn't be able to replace them fast enough. There is nothing intrinsically different about it. The Bolsheviks faced similar odds in Russia. They were able to mobilize enough people.This is all hypothetical of course, but in principle it could be done.

I only mentioned Oswald because had he lived, his trial would have blown the lid off the conspiracy to kill JFK. President Johnson would probably have been impeached, or at least forced to step down, and the US would have likely not invaded Vietnam. Think about the implications of that. Instead the US was forced into a long, drawn-out bloody proxy war that devastated and demoralized an entire generation. The people who killed JFK were not interested in capitalism's collapse, but the expansion of the military industrial complex.

Political killings by themselves would not be completely effective. You'd still need massive outreach and propaganda, as well as a way of managing the fallout, particularly economic fallout.

Second paragraph... not so true.

- November 17th had a good bodycount of CIA agents, yet it didn't make the CIA retreat from Athens. It would have perhaps been just more effective if they had located and arsoned their secret offices.

- ETA has had an impressive bodycount of police and military personnel. Over 800 I think. Surely not as big as religious fanatics, tho still huge comparatively with contemporary radical political insurgent groups. Yet everyone knows how they went nowhere.

Morale of the story... if you want to take down a chain of command, attacking the foot soldiers or even the elite agents won't do much good, as they can find more. But attack those at the top, and you're likely to see sharply different outcomes. When it comes to capitalist networks, it gets even easier as they got more democratic relations and are always exposed, even if hidden in plain view.

Third paragraph... very correct. What happened back in 1963 was a fascist coup, from the inside. With Dulles and McCloy, two old pro-Nazi comrades who were sitting on the Warren Commission, as the main kingpins. Inversely, if these two guys who have been shot on the orders of Kennedy (the guy was way too civilized), he would have probably survived and remained in office, and yeah the Vietnam War would have ended way sooner, as the propaganda cover for Containment would have been blown open.

No wonder assassinations are still regular political practice in the Chinese State. Gangstas gonna pew-pew.

The state cannot get by on murder alone and it is certainly not the default. Belief and cultural moods are what drive things ultimately. Some of the examples you give include thought and orientation currents that were already on the way out. The labour movement of the 30s along with the greater radical movement was already declining after ww1 and moving in an increasingly managerial direction. The labour movement was not so much destroyed as much as it changed into the models we see today. Same with the 60s 70s movements. Bob Black argues that the raw radical epoch was done by the end of 1970(Withered Anarchism), part of what helped to curtail it was the anti-vietnam war movement which came at the expense of the more everyday life insurrectional expressions of the mid-late 60s(Issac Cronin interview with Aragorn). In much of those examples murder has an add on effect more then a driving one.

MOVE represented ideological trends that were on their way out in the early 80s. The JFK point is certainly interesting as he did want to break up the CIA. I would say that murder can change things under certain circumstances but for the most part it is a structural reflection of the today and now. What movements have to do is take advantage of the times they have to make their transformations happen on a belief and behavior based level, if that happens no amount of murder can stop that process.

Just as a point of fact, the labour movement experienced a resurgence following WW I, as all across Europe there was unrest in not only working conditions, but in some cases resentment over the results of the war itself e.g. Germany. Lenin began his coup in Petrograd, which served as a touchstone to the left all over the Western world. During the 1920s the Red Terror spread across the rest of the Soviet Union.

Most of the left turned a blind eye to Lenin's atrocities, and by the 1930s, socialism was on everyone's lips. Even Hitler adopted the word for his new party. Socialism and the labour movement became so popular that capitalists got extremely worried...at least as worried as they were during the 19th century. During the Depression, Emma Goldman was touring the US speaking to tens of thousands, while Spain was going through upheaval. So great was the fear of a worldwide communist revolution that in the Soviet Union, Stalin began exterminating whatever was left of the left-communists, in Germany, Hitler outlawed unions and rounded up Marxists; Mussolini's blackshirts were attacking communists in Italy, and Franco ultimately crushed the communists in Spain.

The US was really the only place where the labour movement declined briefly in the late 1920s and early 1930s. But that soon changed with Herbert Hoover, who began loosening anti-union laws. Then in 1933, the new Roosevelt administration recouped dissent with The Wagner Act, along with the New Deal. This at least reduced the fear of communism, but kick-started a major union drive across the country. Union membership went from 3.4 million in 1930 to 10 million by 1941 when the US entered WW II.

So no, the labour movement was not "declining" during the 1930s (except briefly in the US), it was welling up in fact. However, by 1940, the more radical labour movements throughout the world had mostly either been crushed, exterminated, or recouped. This is why the newly formed industrial unions went in a managerial direction after the war. The government's previous heavy hand persuaded these new unions (and the labour movement in general) to domesticate themselves under business rule, or face brutal extinction.

I don't deny that there was a final push of the old labour of the 19th century, or that state violence does not have strong determining effect. However, I think if you study revolutionary movements you will find that they have windows of opportunity to do things before the weight of historical change comes to bare.

The fact is the old 1880s model of labour was going away because of what happened with WW1 and what didn't happen in Eastern Europe during that same time. I agree with Dupont that Eastern Europe and WW1 was the window of opportunity to live differently from today and that opportunity was wasted. Overall it's because human belief and behavior began to change due to things like consumption habits which were tied to things like the integration of labour and capital which was greatly accomplished during and after WW1. I don't think the final expressions of 1880s labour/ideology was really going to stop this though you had an admiral final go at in Spain. Again we can give some credit to state violence to a certain degree but I tend to think you have to look at certain prefigurations in the form of ideologies like scientific management and the corporatism of syndicalist ideology. Those elective positions and proposed solutions tend to be the real radical killers which bare murderous fruit later.

With the US you did see a depression era labour radical comeback but the overall trend was in the managerialist direction and away from the more pure labour interest of the old model. To your last point I would say that recuperation and changes in consumption habits were mostly responsible for the old labour model going away once and for all which was the general trend anyway after WW1.

I could make the same argument for nationalism. You are seeing a final expression of it right now but the overall trends via consumption and other surrogate activity habits are toward some kind of post-national model.

When the punishment no longer fits the crime the state deciding these matters is in trouble. However, many young people may decide not to risk street action due to repression like this. I hope they don't give up completely and take up the opportunities proffered by the anarchic internet. I don't have to tell them not to kill anyone since I know most anarchs are pacifists anyway :-)
Respect.

Correlation is not causation but assassination politics may have already changed the USG.
2 examples.
One: the US Secret Service moved from ' investigating' all threats to protected persons to 'assessing' all threats.
Two: a sidewalk near the Whitehouse has just been sealed off from the public.

Jimmy Bell posed two important questions for all anarchists... " How can we extend our internet freedom to real life?" and " Who wants to join the LAST revolution? The one to take down ALL the govts?"

Then assassination markets may be used as a radical form of civil-disobedience in the MLK tradition. " No body has to die "

( Denver cypherpunk )

I would never suggest Sergey Brin be assassinated, even though I did author " assassinating Larry" (Page) in the cypherpunk archives and have advocated that Eric Schmidt ( and Bill Gates, Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim May, Julian Assange and Cody Wilson ) all should be. As far as I'm concerned if you can't defend propaganda of the deed you don't belong here.

Never doubt a few determined assassins can change history - sometimes they are the only ones changing history. If you want a "total-systems" approach to change then go hang with the Marxist morons. Good riddance to you!

>One: the US Secret Service moved from ' investigating' all threats to protected persons to 'assessing' all threats.
>Two: a sidewalk near the Whitehouse has just been sealed off from the public.
Stop the fucking presses.

>As far as I'm concerned if you can't defend propaganda of the deed you don't belong here.
Interesting that you think propaganda of the deed is something that needs to be "defended."

>If you want a "total-systems" approach to change
Au contraire, I want the opposite. I would seek to change the things that I can change to make my life and the lives of those around me better. I don't see assassinations as a viable means of accomplishing much for me other than getting arrested or killed, and not much for others aside from yet another spectacle in the spectacle pile.

>Never doubt a few determined assassins can change history
Again, I never doubted this. I doubted that it can change things in ways we desire.

I am NOT saying all civilizations were made through assassinations. However, both good & bad civilizations, (some at least), would not be in existence if not for these assassins. Some were to defend their countries or lands while others were to crush or destroy them. All that can be said is "Desperate times call for desperate measures." Agréé or disagree. Call me crazy or correct. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

"Cihange" should be ""CHANGE"

In Switzerland there was a single bureaucrat -Zapelli- who's been responsible for the evictions of squats and also the gentrification of poor neighborhoods in Geneva and to some extent Lausanne. Geneva anarchists have been the flimsy platformist liberal types for a very long time, with a few occasional riots carried by mostly out-of-town youngsters... unlike in the smaller urban areas and towns were the folks are much wilder and pragmatic. Back then, I thought that if some CCF-types would have brought it next level and targeted that influential urban designer/promoter (instead of some high-profile State officials like Sarkozy), the landscape of Geneva would have been quite different today, and it'd still be possible to fuck around in the place where some of the world's richest are spending crucial business trips, and also political meetings at the UN or related big global organizations.

But last time I was there (not long ago), it became an over-gentrified hellhole with bougie scum being the new normal, in a neighborhood once filled with underground artists, punks and/or squatters.

And in a context where you're exposed to 10 years of prison just for attending a Women's Day march in Washington, murder can be easily put back on on the top list of anarchist insurgency. Tho I wonder what's holding some people back?

In the context of anarchs being hung for a lamb, I suggested they may as well take a sheep. And between the teeming flood plains of pacifism and the high peaks of spectacular terrorism lies the varied terrain of the threat.

" Power concedes nothing without the demand - it never has and it never will "

Though I'm under the impression that a threat is something quite different than a demand, even though demands can come with a threat.

But within hierarchic relations, there are always people -usually the clever/competent manipulative kind- who achieve consolidating a lot of influence over the rest of the crowd. Examples of these people are everywhere through history, yet they are not so often a head above the crowd, and more often the Vice-Presidents, advisors, Chiefs of Staff, speculators, etc. Napoleon was a rare instance of despots who attain both centralized influence AND official position of leadership (thus, killing Napoleon the 1st early in his rule would have changed the course of history as well... British Empire would have become 2x bigger and more powerful... then a British Vs Russia war... blablabla). So it's about making a thorough socio-political analysis of the distribution of formal and especially informal power through networks, how influence is being centralized and exerted, etc.

At the bottom line of this investigation you get targets that are more worthy to be taken down than being pressured to fulfill some demands. I mean... demands can be good options, if you wanna buy time and space, but they maintain the power of those in positions of power.

STIFFS dotcom has been going continuously since the 90's. Prediction-assassination markets could go viral at any time from now. Chance favors the prepared mind. And as for propaganda of the deed is something that needs to be "defended." HELL YES!
I just listened to a fucking podcast that alleged all anarchists are antiwar!
FUCK THAT NOISE!
We are in a netwar right now - " world war five'
GET YOUR WAR ON!

oooohhhhhhh, rat is SO MILITANT and BAD-ASS!!!!!!

get your fucking war on if you want, i am every bit as ANTI-war as i am ANTI-capitalist or ANTI-state. opposing war does not equate to pacifism, fyi. i am not anti violence by any means. there's a huge difference. class war is for the classes, i am classless. yes, pun intended.

Only outlaws can protest.

We've been through this before, more than once. I will use a "shoe on the other foot" example: the Clinton-era FACE act that tried to stop anti-choice harassment by criminalizing the far-right blockades and disruptions of women's clinics. This law imposed prison time for right-wing clinic trespassing and disruption similar to the amount of prison time a clinic bomber would expect to serve, with predictably ugly results.

The protests and blockades (and that getting up at 4AM shit to hold the line at the clinics) stopped soon enough, only to be followed by a wave of brutal anti-choice violence that lasted nearly a decade. I still remember clinic escorts having to don body armor, the "I'm Pro-Choice and I shoot back" buttons, and one crazy Jan 22 (Roe v Wade day) when some bystander picked up what turned out to be a grenade detonator left by an unknown idiot in a broken lampost and it exploded in his hand, causing minor injuries. I was on the front line defending a clinic, and the radio and TV news went nuts about the grenade detonator incident, scaring the hell out of all our families. We still were getting a few right-wing protests too, and in fact those continue to this day, though at last some of the violence has subsided. That may be because anti-choice activists are not personally/physically affected in any way by winning or losing.

As much as I hate theocracy, misogyny, and religious bigotry, it seemed clear to be then and it does now that outlawing protest does not work, it only escalates things, far more than being stopped by counterprotesters does. In DC, we always or almost always were able to hold the clinics open even against waves of hundreds of blockaders in the late 1980's and early 1990s as we met their mobilizations with even larger ones of our own. Little violence resulted from this, even if those 4:30AM meetups were a royal pain in the ass. Then came the FACE act, widely asked for by hard-pressed clinic defenders, especially after the week-long right-wing siege of Wichita, Ks in 1992. The FACE act was passed and signed into law, only to literally blow up in our faces.

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