Seattle: PSPS Statement on Recent FBI Activity

Seattle: PSPS Statement on Recent FBI Activity

From Puget Sound Anarchists

Puget Sound Prisoner Support (PSPS) is an anti-repression collective
 based in Seattle. For 5+ years we have provided jail and legal support for 
people who have been arrested at protests and demonstrations. We walk people through 
the legal procedure of arrest, court proceedings, bail if necessary, 
getting in touch with a lawyer also if necessary, and in general help 
people understand a confusing legal system. We do not provide legal
 support for people who get arrested for civil disobedience; rather, we
 provide an “emergency service” for when participants of a protest or
 demonstration get arrested. We offer a safety net for people to land in 
when the unexpected happens and things go wrong. We’ve supported friends
 and strangers alike, bailed people out, showed up at court proceedings 
throughout trials, and helped with fundraising to cover legal costs. Our 
major caveat is that we do not offer support to anyone who would
 endanger our communities by way of cooperating with the police, the
 courts or any other governing agency. No snitching, plain and simple.

The nature of our work has changed over the last 5 years as the
 anarchist and radical milieus have shifted in the Seattle area. We
 worked primarily by word of mouth up until very recently. Frankly, we 
used to know enough of the crews and they knew us that we didn’t need to
’advertise.’ Recently, we found that the newer formations of more formal
organizations and the accompanying growing radical left meant that we 
needed to more broadly put ourselves out there as a resource. Hence the 
new @pugetsupport twitter and increased public engagement. A lot of the
 more formal crews and groups in the area have their own jail support
 structures, and we deeply applaud this. Our work has almost always 
focused on helping unconnected, newer or unaffiliated people stay out of
 legal trouble by not being alone through the process. Cops, District
 Attorneys and the feds love to focus on people that they think might be 
more peripherally involved and therefore less invested, experienced and
 more susceptible to pressure. We are primarily here for those folks.

The FBI in particular has a long and active history of targeting 
anarchists in the Pacific Northwest. We are hoping to create some
 workshops and open events about the history of the use of the Grand Jury
 to target anarchists soon. We recently realized that people who are
 newer to the area or the scene may not be aware of this history of 
repression, or our collective response to it. Our aim is to reinvigorate
 some of the security culture that was built in that time, and to learn 
from the wins and losses of that older movement. With that, we would 
like to address what we see as a deep necessity to be open and 
transparent about investigations that are happening in our area,
including visits from the FBI or other federal agencies. In the
 meantime, here is a zine and resource list prepared by Resonance Audio
Distro on Grand Juries.

Every instance of state surveillance should be viewed as a threat not 
just to ourselves but our networks that stretch beyond what we may think of
 as those who are affected. Sometimes even the smallest detail opens up 
bigger and broader nets for the state to cast in an attempt to try to get 
information. In openly tracking what is happening around door knocks and 
other surveillance activities, we can both foster support for those 
targeted and directly impacted, and allow for lessons to be passed on 
about how to respond if an agent is at your door, work, etc. It is from 
a culture of open sharing and dialogue that safer communication can come
 from those targeted as well, allowing them to say what happened, instead 
of rumors and misinformation circulating. A lack of transparency
 allows for possible mistrust, and also helps the state sow that 
same mistrust even deeper and weaken us. It is also important to track
 what alphabet agency is knocking (FBI, SPD, DHS, JTTF, CBP, etc.) for
 the purposes of at least examining where and with what the state seems
 to be attempting to exert power. If we see patterns or know who to watch
out for, the community/milieu/whatever at large is safer than if people
on the fringes are picked off one by one to try and move in on more and
more individuals.

With all that in mind, here is a statement from Ezra, a member of the 
local community, recounting from his perspective a conversation he had
 with FBI and CBP agents, which we will be responding to:

Greetings comrades.


On January 2nd, 2020 I was visited by an FBI agent and a CBP agent. They
arrived at my home the day after I bought a plane ticket to
Sulaymaniyah, Iraq to join the YPG as an International Volunteer. In
what was frankly a moment of fear I allowed them to speak with me about
the intentions of my visit. I allowed them to come inside and they spoke
with me about my trip for approximately half an hour, and left.
Immediately afterwards, I told my comrades what happened and what was
discussed. I’ll be the first to admit I should have turned them away,
but I wanted to make it clear to them that I wasn’t joining ISIS or
anything like that. I understand that this may damage the trust that our
community has in me, and I will respect whatever consensus is reached. I
hope the community will prioritize a culture of security and trust, and
that the success of Antifascist, anti-capitalist struggle is maintained. You can reach out to me for any questions in regards to this before I leave.


Love and solidarity,

Ezra B.

This visit was brought to our attention via a third party and not from
 Ezra. When we did reach out to Ezra, he was very amenable to the idea of 
having a sit down conversation about the visit and possible responses to 
it. There were several issues we found inside of our conversation that lead to the desire for a public statement. Namely, a 30 minute
 conversation with the FBI is a serious situation that everyone needs to 
know about in order to make their own decision about. Secondly, we felt 
that Ezra while acting in good faith, should have spoken to more than just
 his “comrades” about the situation. A lack of public engagement leaves
 large holes for possible misinformation and distrust, and leaves the
 rest of us in the dark about possible repression. One telling fact from 
his encounter is that a CBP agent was with the FBI, something we have not 
encountered here in the Seattle area and is good information for those 
doing anti-repression work or individuals currently attempting to dodge
 authorities.

This statement is not an attempt to chastise Ezra, but to bring to light 
that a person inside our community was visited by federal agents and 
decided for their own reasons to have a sit-down conversation with them 
and then neglected to inform the broader community around him. We are 
reproducing his statement here in an effort to dispel rumors, and give
 the broader community of anarchists a chance to make up their own minds 
about their future involvement with Ezra. We don’t know what was said
 inside this conversation, and we never will. We do know that 
non-cooperation with the state has been a long-standing mantra of the
 anarchist community, and that in this instance, regardless of intention, that idea was broken.

If you are visited by the FBI, JTTF, CBP or any other organ of the state 
repression apparatus, please let the broader community know. You do not
 need to out yourself or identify yourself in any way. We are all safer
 when a brief statement of day, approximate time, and the agencies
 involved are made public. Here is a link to an article from 2017 when
 FBI agents were knocking on peoples’ doors in Olympia, WA
.
 PSPS is always here as a resource to help facilitate this, and anonymous
 posts can be easily made to pugetsoundanarchists.org. Secondly, if you are visited, please do not speak with the officers in any capacity.
 Close the door, walk away, say nothing and get yourself out of that 
situation. Contact a lawyer, us, or both and let people know what has 
happened. The state has a monopoly on fear, and that fear is a huge part
 of these interactions. Anyone who says they are not afraid when an agent
 knocks is lying, we all are. But we can move through that fear together,
 we can shoulder it among all of us and make the weight less for each 
of us. To do this though, we must inform each other and extend those
 small tendrils of trust. We are all in this together.

You can reach out to Puget Sound Prisoner Support via email at psps (at) riseup (dot) net or via twitter @PugetSupport

-Puget Sound Prisoner Support crew

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