Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sexism, egos, and lies: Sometimes you wake up and it is not different

An important article detailing the history of FBI informant Brandon Darby in the Austin and New Orleans anarchist scenes, from The Rag Blog:

Brandon. Darby. Still from a video /

Sexism, egos, and lies:
Sometimes you wake up and it is not different

By Lisa Fithian / The Rag Blog / March 22, 2010
Community organizer and nonviolent activist/trainer Lisa Fithian will be Thorne Dreyer's guest on Rag Radio, Tuesday, March 23, 2-3 p.m. (CST) on KOOP 91.7 FM in Austin. For those outside the listening area, go here to stream the show.
[The Rag Blog has reported extensively on FBI informant Brandon Darby and the Texas 2. We have also dealt with the larger issues related to governmental use of espionage and informants. Please see links to all of our previous material at the end of this article.]

On December 31, 2008, the Austin Informant Working Group released a statement titled: “Sometimes You Wake Up and It's Different: Statement on Brandon Darby, the 'Unnamed' Informant/Provocateur in the 'Texas 2.'” It’s been over a year since then and here is my long-overdue version of that story.

It was on December 18, 2008, that I learned unquestionably that Brandon Michael Darby, an Austin activist, was an FBI informant leading up to the 2008 Republican National Convention protests in St. Paul, MN. He was the key witness in the case of two young men from Midland, TX, Bradley Crowder (23) and David McKay (22) who, thanks to Brandon’s involvement, have been convicted of manufacturing Molotov cocktails.

They are now serving two and four years, respectively, in federal prison. In 2010, Brandon will be a key witness in another important case to the Government -- the case of the RNC 8, Minneapolis organizers who are facing state conspiracy charges.

The case of the “Texas 2” gained national media attention as a result of Brandon’s unique blend of egomania, the media’s attraction to charismatic and controversial men, and the persistence of the U.S. government to criminalize and crush a growing anti-authoritarian movement. I found myself strangely entwined in the story -- past, present and future.

I knew Brandon, and I was given a set of the FBI documents because, as it became apparent from reading them, I was one of the primary people he was reporting on to the FBI. (I, like many others engaged in political protest, am suspect because of my politics not my actions.) Now all of us who knew Brandon and worked closely with him, have been coming to terms with what he did, how he was able to do it, how we were used and abused in the process, and what we might do differently next time.

The Texas 2: David McKay and Bradley Crowder.

Waking up

Some of us were more surprised than others when Brandon revealed himself as an informant. My first reaction was deep sadness. I then went through a range of emotions: disbelief, shock, anger, outrage, and at times vindication. I am still hurt and angry, not just with Brandon, but with the whole system that supports and enables him.

I am still struggling with forgiveness for choices made in activist communities and by some of my friends. I understand how difficult it was; Brandon, at times, was also my friend. In the end we must examine the behavior we experienced, reflect on the array of choices we had, and explore what we could do differently to insure this does not happen again.

Brandon’s behavior was problematic long before 2008. Whether or not he was actually working for the state, he was doing their job for them by breeding discord within our politically active communities. I raised my concerns about Brandon’s behavior in New Orleans, in Austin, and also in Minneapolis.

The news story broke on Thursday, December 29, when Brandon published an open letter to the community admitting he worked with the FBI. He knew we were about to blow the whistle, so he successfully preempted our headline. His initial words, however, were lies.

When asked why he got involved with the FBI, Darby said it was because he discovered that people he knew were planning violence. "Somebody had asked me to do something that would've resulted in hurting people, and I said no," he said. "So they started asking other people. At that point, that's when I went forward and contacted somebody in law enforcement."

Darby had been involved with a group of young people from Texas who traveled together to the RNC. Their journey has become part of the fodder in the legal and media frenzy since September 2008. The trip proved to be a disaster. David and Brad ended up in jail, and the rest of the group was served Grand Jury subpoenas. The subpoenas were eventually dropped. While preparing for their trials, David and Brad both said Brandon was an informant and the community refused to heed their warnings. They felt like they knew Brandon, he’d been around for years.

Scott Crow (left) and Brandon Darby were photographed together on Nov. 3, 2007, at a party in Austin hosted by KUT Radio. Photo from

In November an article appeared in the St. Paul Press asserting that Brandon Darby was an informant. This, unfortunately, was based on false evidence. Scott Crow, a friend of mine, and Brandon’s main ally in the activist community, defended Brandon calling the accusation a “COINTELPRO lie.” Little did Scott know how right he was - this whole damn thing is COINTELPRO shit.

The documents we got in December 2009 were clear -- Brandon began working for the FBI in November 2007. In November 2007 Brandon had no relationship with David or Brad and could not have known their plans for the St. Paul Republican Conventions. Their plans didn’t develop until after Brandon had become an informant and after he established himself as their ally and mentor.

Furthermore, Brandon has never been squeamish about violence. He owned guns and cultivated his reputation as a hotheaded, militant revolutionary. At least a half a dozen people were prepared to testify, under oath and with some risk to them, that Brandon had approached them with proposals to commit robbery or arson. Ultimately Brandon admitted that he turned informant for the money.

Brad, David, and their families’ lives have been changed forever because these two young men were seduced and influenced by a paid FBI informant. In his early memos to the FBI, Brandon referred to them as “collateral damage.” Now these two men are spending several years of their young lives in Federal Prison.

There are many people in the activist community who have crossed Brandon’s path and have been hurt, demoralized, alienated, frightened, or run off by him. Those of us who were lied to or lied about, spied on, bullied, must deal with the trauma of his abusive behavior. We must also come to terms with the behavior of those who supported and enabled Brandon. And, as a community, we must deal with those parts of ourselves that were seduced, manipulated, and marginalized by Brandon so that we can defend each other, our political work, and ourselves.


I met Brandon through his relationship with another organizer, after I moved to Austin in February 2002. Over time I learned that it was a tumultuous and abusive relationship. When it ended in 2004 Brandon moved to New Orleans for about six months. Years later Brandon told me that he had turned himself in to the New Orleans Office of the FBI when he lived there during that time. He apparently told them that he knew they were looking for him, so here he was.

It was early 2003 around the U.S. invasion of Iraq, that Brandon inserted himself in the anti-war community and gained a reputation as a paranoid guy who got himself into unusual situations with police.

During the protests on the first day of the war, Brandon was supposedly arrested for photographing undercover cops. After that action he was, mysteriously, the only person who did not want legal support. The arrest apparently does not show up in any legal records. For more on this, go here.

During this time, Brandon began showing up regularly at anti-war rallies, trainings, and other events. The anti-war community had started to use civil disobedience as a protest tactic. In the first training I did following Brandon’s supposed arrest, Brandon insisted that one of the participants was an undercover cop and demanded that I ask that person to leave. High drama around other people being undercover is behavior I’ve learned to associate with informants as a way to divert attention from them. It also breeds distrust and is destabilizing of collective efforts.

In another intense protest when UT students attempted to block an intersection with a tripod, the police unfortunately were waiting near the intersection and quickly pulled out the legs of a tri-pod, and dropped the person about 15 feet onto the pavement. Brandon who had helped bring props to the site became erratic and started yelling at the police resulting in even more people being arrested, including people who were not intending to risk arrest. Several students left the anti-war movement as a result of this action.

At this time, it became very clear that a key local organizer was being intensely targeted. Her home was broken into repeatedly. She found her vehicle tampered with, was fired from her job, and her cat was poisoned. Coincidentally, also at this time, Brandon began to court her as a mentor, asking her to teach him what she knew about organizing.

The first time she recalled meeting Brandon was the day he was arrested, when he ran up to her yelling that there were undercover cops in the crowd. Following his arrest, Brandon consistently called her, wanting to talk about his arrest and aftermath but rejecting the legal support she was helping organize. Recently, when the Austin Informant Working Group did an open records request on this organizer, the FBI found 600 documents with her name in them (they have not been relinquished by the FBI to date).

Brandon also participated in a protest at the Halliburton shareolders' meeting in Houston. He unexpectedly joined the group intending to commit nonviolent civil disobedience. The group was on edge the night before, and now I understand why. In the planning session the night before the action, Brandon argued strongly that provoking and fighting the police was a tactic to open the eyes of the masses to police brutality, and bring more people into our cause.

He held his ground even when the group strongly disagreed and told him that under no circumstances would the group agree to him provoking or fighting the police. Brandon was a loose cannon and a bully. Even when he said he would agree to nonviolence in the action, it was clear that in his mind his agreement was contingent on the police not “provoking” him. Going into the action the next day was like sitting on a tinderbox waiting to explode.

At some actions, Brandon would show up, all masked up, with a video camera and take a lot of footage. He has continued to do this over the years, including in Minneapolis. I don’t believe he has ever posted or published any of it.

Brandon also befriended a local Palestinian activist, a man named Riad Hamad. In the spring of 2008 his house was raided by the FBI. In April Riad was found bound, gagged, and drowned in Town Lake. The death was ruled a suicide and the FBI is not releasing any information, but it was made clear in David McKay’s trial that Brandon was also involved as an FBI informant on that case.

It was in the fall of 2005 that my path became more intertwined with Brandon's.

New Orleans and Common Ground Relief

After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was a post-apocalyptic state. The whole social order had collapsed. A military occupation was underway and vigilantes were literally shooting Black men in the streets. It was in the midst of this chaos that Common Ground Relief was born. The organization grew from a driveway operation into a massive grassroots response to the Katrina disaster. With ex-Black Panther Malik Rahim at the helm, it was outside of government or charity organizations, and based in direct action, mutual aid, and solidarity.

Within the first year Common Ground Relief hosted over 12,000 volunteers and established an effective grassroots relief network in New Orleans following Katrina: CG moved millions of dollars in goods and resources; set up a free medical clinic; cleaned and gutted over 1,500 homes, churches and schools; organized a free legal services, media and computer centers; revived community gardens, planted thousands of acres of wetlands and did numerous bioremediation projects.

This work was done by an incredible group of long-term organizers who committed their lives for months if not years to the work. Brandon, was part of this team of volunteers but he held a great deal of power because of efforts he and Scott Crow made in the early days of the storm to rescue a friend, Robert King Wilkerson, and to defend Malik’s home in Algiers from the white vigilantes. It was during their second trip to New Orleans that Common Ground was born.

Despite all the good accomplished by Common Ground, there was discord with other local groups and organizers who were struggling to come home. Much of the discord involved Brandon. Brandon had strong authoritarian tendencies but his lack of organizing skills and experience and his resistance to working horizontally or collectively created discord and challenges.

He insisted on being the person in charge. He demanded a chain of command with him at the top. At one point he tried to create a central committee to insure that only a select few would be in any position of power. This style put him out front whether it was the media or a group of volunteers who would be doing the heavy lifting while he talked.

For example, in the Bywater area, Brandon insisted on being the liaison to the activist community. But he treated them with such disrespect and patronization that Common Ground lost an important ally base in the local community. In another example, a local organizer was talking about putting together a women’s space and clinic. Instead of supporting that process, Brandon just moved ahead and set up a space separate from that effort, further alienating local activists.

Brandon actively agitated against any relationship between Common Ground and the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF). He and Scott Crow, one of the co-founders of Common Ground, took a particularly hard-line position against certain members of leadership within the PHRF.

In December 2005 Brandon goaded Scott Crow to write a public letter accusing PHRF of corruption. The letter was very destructive. I had never before or since seen Malik so angry. He understood the danger of this letter and the negative impact it could have on Common Ground and the community, and he moved quickly to limit the damage.

With Common Ground Relief as his platform Brandon attempted to extend his influence internationally. He pushed for a trip to Venezuela, which made little sense and raised even more questions about Brandon, especially for those who traveled with him. In the summer of 2006 Brandon tried to initiate another emergency response and relief effort only this time in Lebanon. It was called Critical Response and was going to save the people of Lebanon from the Israeli attacks in the war with Hezebollah. Fortunately this effort never happened.

Sexism, egos and…

Brandon was a master of manipulation, and worked both women and men. He would draw them into his sometimes-twisted perspective by cultivating them through coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, revolutionary rhetoric, emotional neediness, or his physical presence -- either seductive or intimidating.

Young women are often attracted to Brandon. At Common Ground, his unrestrained sexual engagement with volunteers was a problem. His “love for sex” became part of the organizational culture. His leadership role set a tone that led to systemic problems of sexual harassment and abuse at Common Ground.

When a group of the women in leadership challenged his behavior and asked that he stop sleeping with volunteers, he said “I like to fuck women, so what.” Our concerns were disregarded. The abuse became so rampant that Common Ground had to issue a public statement in May of 2006 acknowledging problems of sexual harassment in the organization.

Brandon left for a while but returned in November 2006 when he was asked to become the Interim Director of CG. His first focus was to dismantle the primarily women and queer leadership team at the St. Mary’s volunteer site. He then started recruiting men for the security team, trained them in martial arts, and asked if they were willing to carry guns, despite the fact that Common Ground had an explicit policy against weapons at our sites.

Offices of Common Ground Relief in New Orleans. Photo from

Brandon picked fights in the community, increasingly drawing police into the area and to Common Ground. He initiated action to kick down the door of the Women’s Center at two in the morning, to get rid of a man who was staying there. Brandon also kicked in the door of a trailer and pointed weapons at a group of volunteers who were hanging out with someone whom Brandon had asked to leave CG. As the Interim Director, Brandon felt he could do what he wanted without the consent of or accountability to the volunteers, the communities CG served, or other leadership.

In another incident, Brandon was arrested in a car chase. He was so angry about being arrested that Brandon once again trumped other work being done by deciding that he was going to personally clean up the New Orleans Police Department. He printed up hundreds of yard signs and put them around New Orleans, with a phone number saying that if you had a problem with NOPD, call Brandon Darby, Interim Director of Common Ground.

Brandon’s ego was getting more and more inflated making him even more dangerous. He covered his megalomania with a practiced humility and drawl. He became increasingly reckless and kept everybody in defensive and reactive postures.

Sexism, like racism, affects all of us. Brandon was allowed to assume leadership and authority at Common Ground because he was a strong, good-looking, charismatic, straight white male who was willing to take risks, even if reckless. As Malik’s favored son he did pretty much whatever he wanted. Yet, the work of activists who were women or queer or busy doing relief remained relatively invisible. Those activists were only given power where it didn’t challenge Brandon’s and he made sure of it.

During the first year of Common Ground, Brandon decided that I was an obstacle to his authority, and he worked to undermine me. He successfully diverted attention from my challenges to his sexist, abusive, unethical, and unaccountable behavior by framing them as a “power struggle”. Where he wasn’t able to convince others in the organization, he silenced them with fear of his retribution.

Brandon attacked me in public and spread disinformation about my work. He built a small group of dedicated followers that were willing to do his dirty work. They would tape record people, including myself and report back to him. He snitch-jacketed me -- accused me of being an FBI agent. When I reached out to others, particularly men in New Orleans to intervene, I received little support. None of them were willing or able to challenge Brandon’s clearly destructive behavior. Those who backed his authority contributed to the organizational divisions that allowed his continued abuse of power.

In January 2007 I drove to New Orleans to pick up a friend who was kicked out of Common Ground by Brandon because she was a friend of mine. She was one of the coordinators at the St. Mary’s site. Other relief work coordinators were leaving the organization and because of this Brandon accused me of coming to town to wage a coup against him.

Early the next morning one of his “assistants” called me, threatening me with lawsuits. Then I get a call telling me that Brandon told them that King told him that Scott and I were conspiring against him. Crazy shit, crazy COINTELPRO shit. At the same time Brandon began a purge of three long-time coordinators by demanding they turn in the keys and leave the premises. But this time even Brandon went too far. Malik intervened and stopped the purge.


Brandon lies. He lied at Common Ground. He lied to the FBI. He lied in his open letter. He lied to his friends. He lied to the media. He lied to the judge and jury.

The government and the FBI lie, too. There is a long history of government infiltration and violence to disrupt social movements, a history that they have lied about in the past and they continue lie about today. It is documented that the government infiltrated and disrupted protests at the Republican National Conventions (2000 in Philly and 2004 in New York City). But in St. Paul they took it to a whole new level and they were more than willing to use Brandon to do it.

The government’s efforts to break the grassroots direct action anti-capitalist movement led to one of the most fascist operations I have experienced in the U.S. During the RNC -- between knocking down doors, confiscating organizing materials, raiding homes, snatching people on the streets, impounding the skills training bus, and even surrounding my car with guns, they also arrested hundreds of innocent people and are continuing to prosecute the RNC 8, who are facing state conspiracy charges.

To this day it is my firm belief that the government set up both Brad and David, and another young man named Matt DePalma, in order to legitimize their acts of repression and to taint the environment in the case of the RNC 8. There were only two instances of Molotov cocktails in St. Paul and both of them had an FBI informant involved. In the case of Matt, the informant brought him to the library to learn how to make them, brought him to a store to buy the stuff and then made and tested them together!

In the case of David and Brad, Brandon had been goading them into a destructive mindset from the very first meeting and he continued to goad them throughout. Brandon created the environment in which they made some very bad decisions. I do not believe that those Molotov cocktails would have been made if Brandon had not been a part of that group.

One year later

At the time of this writing, Brad and David are both serving time in federal prison. Brad plea-bargained and was sentenced to two years. David went to trial and the first jury could not reach a verdict. Awaiting his second trial, prosecutors threatened to bring additional charges against Brad and to call Brad as a witness to testify against David.

Rather than force his friend to choose between self-interest and defending him, David made a decision to plea out. Instead of leniency, the judge doubled David’s sentence to four years without parole as punishment for the first trial.

Kate Kibby, who was previously arrested dressed as a zombie in a demonstration in Minneapolis.

Then in November 2009 the FBI unsuccessfully prosecuted a young woman, named Kate Kibby, for allegedly threatening Brandon in an email. Fortunately, the jury delivered a unanimous not guilty verdict. One of the many interesting things we learned in that case is that Brandon had actually drafted his open letter near the end of October and posted it against the FBI’s wishes.

We also learned that one of the FBI’s motivations in pursuing this case was the hope of finding a new informant. In their interrogation of this woman, they asked if she was working with me or Scott Crow. They told her she could be facing 20 years, but more likely 2-4. If she wanted to become an informant in the Austin and New York City anarchist scenes, they could work something out.

Fortunately, this woman had integrity and principles, and refused to be threatened or bullied. Because of this, she had to endure an FBI invasion into her life, and a terrifying trial. As her father said afterwards, “I knew if we could get 12 adults to sit down and look at this, they would see how absurd it is…”

I wish that this trial could be the end of any damage that Brandon might do, but we know that Brandon is likely to be a main witness in the trial against the RNC 8, organizers from Minneapolis who are facing conspiracy charges. Who knows how many other people he will concoct stories or fabricate lies about? Or how his brain twists the facts.

After Kate’s trial he sent an email to Scott, saying that Scott and I were responsible for David being in jail. He said:
I feel that you and Lisa bear some moral (not legal) responsibility for two of the years that David McKay is serving. Y'all let your dogma and your personal resentments guide you in the advice and encouragement you gave him. He did wrong and he would be free soon had he just been honest.

Y'all somehow convinced him that he had to "fight the man" and that his being honest was somehow unfair to the oppressed peoples of the world. Thankfully, Mrs. Kibby did not take y'alls guidance or drink your koolaid- and she's free.

A few years ago, I began to feel that you guys were similiar to radical Imams in that y'all spout hatred (not all hatred, good things too) and young activists get in trouble all around y'all, but never y'all. I feel that y'all did that with my youthful anger as well.

Though I'm sure you don't appreciate receiving an email from me, I think you can deduce some of my motivations from its words.
I am sorry; I have worked with thousands of young people over the years and none of them are in the situation that people find themselves in after working around Brandon. I have no time for his twisted logic, vague threats and destructive behavior. Instead, let us vanquish him and learn from this to insure that he, or people like him, can never do this again. To that end…

Behaviors of Brandon’s or others that enabled this kind of damage to be done.
  1. Deferring or listening to men, as opposed to women and/or attacking women in leadership positions. Our patriarchal society has taught us this and we need to deconstruct it.
  2. Charisma and confidence enabled him to assume leadership and control -- people deferred even though he had little experience. He cultivated a handful of women and men to become personal assistants who did a lot of his work for him.
  3. Assuming credibility by his associations -- Brandon tried to associate himself with other high profile organizers in the activist community.
  4. Preying on and exploiting people’s vulnerabilities and insecurities, particularly using alcohol or other addictions. He liked to “play with people's minds."
  5. Bullying. All bullies abuse their power and people let them do what they want because they are afraid of what will happen if they do not go along. They use their physical prowess to intimidate both women and men.
  6. Disrupting group process in meetings, derailing agendas, questioning process, challenging others, or not coming to meetings at all to avoid accountability. Or using secrecy and sub-groups to divide the whole.
  7. Pointing fingers at and ‘snitch-jacketing’ other people, accusing them of being cops, FBI agents, etc. This kept everyone on guard, and created an environment of suspicion and distrust.
  8. Seducing people using power or sex, leaving a lot of pain and destabilized situations in his wake or provoking people to do acts they would not do on their own.
  9. Being persistent and pursuing people, by calling them repeatedly or showing up at their homes, inviting them for coffee, he would wear you down, or find other ways back into important relationships.
  10. Being an emotional/physical wreck, becoming very needy and seducing people into taking care of him. Then people would defend him because of his emotional vulnerabilities or physical needs.
  11. Time and energy suck. Talk endlessly, consuming hours of time and energy -- confusing, exhausting, and indoctrinating.
  12. Being helpful or useful -- showing up when you most needed support. Brandon would arrive with tools, money, or whatever was needed at just the right time.
  13. Documenting through videotaping or photographing actions but never using it or working on communications systems which he attempted at the RNC.

Brandon Darby at work. Image from New Orleans Indymedia.

Some day I hope to wake up and find things different

Brandon’s behavior over the years makes it clear that he is a misogynist, an egomaniac, and a liar. Unfortunately, many in our broader community bought into the illusion that he was a great radical self-described "revolutionary." They defended him again and again. He repaid their support with betrayal. He continues to make a mockery of our work and supports the FBI in their efforts to crush our struggle for justice.

Some day I hope to wake up and find things different. I hope to see our communities deepen our understanding and commitment to uprooting all the “isms.” I would like to see a community where we create agreements and structures of accountability that will not allow behaviors like those highlighted above to continue, and if they do continue, that men will listen to women, and stand up to each other when someone is clearly abusing their power and authority.

In the end, I do not know what other choices I could have made short of leaving Common Ground earlier. I actually believe I tried to interrupt, make visible, warn and mitigate the damage of Brandon, but it was the people around me that continued to support Brandon despite the obvious problems.

Some of the lessons I have learned are that if someone is continually engaging in a pattern of disruptive behavior, like those mentioned above, that people must make clear agreements about what kind of behavior is OK and not OK and then collectively hold each other to those agreements.

If people/women are continually raising an issue about a particular person I will pay more attention, do some research, and if questions or problems continue to arise about that person, I will work together with others to ask that person to leave. Whether they are infiltrators or not, the behaviors that they are exhibiting are counterproductive to a world rooted in justice and equality. They are also, by their very nature, putting all of us at risk of unjust government action and imprisonment by their reckless and provocative behavior.

I also hope that someday when I wake up that I will live in a world where people do not use the threat of or use of violence to get their way or impose their will. That if we have such people in our movement that we will not be intimidated but instead will work together to end those abuses of power, for they mirror the abuses the Government in their efforts to exploit and control.

I also hope more people will chose nonviolent action since such action prefigures our future, can be strategically effective, and minimizes our movement's vulnerability -- and because I do not believe we can make lasting real radical change through violent means in this country.

Some day when I wake up, I hope to find an end to the systemic oppression and repression that unjustly locks up so many innocent people, while destroying and thwarting the dreams of so many others. Perhaps if we built our communities based on just agreements and real accountability, prisons would become obsolete.

Until we wake up in that world, let us remember that no one is free until we all are free. No day will be different until we make it so. Let us begin today.

Here is a link to a story about a long-time informant in New Zealand that also made the news in December 2008. It is uncanny how many similarities there are and lots of good lessons for us…

A great deal has been written about the case of the Texas 2 and can be found at

Many thanks to the following for their editorial support: James Clark, Lauren Ross, Ted German, Casey Pritchett, Scott Crow, and Missy Benavidez.

[Lisa Fithian has been organizing for 35 years -- working with peace, labor, student/youth, immigrant and global, environmental and racial justice organizations and movements. Much of her work has been focused on using creative nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience in strategic campaigns. She is a member of the Alliance of Community Trainers, a small collective working to empower communities for collective transformation.

Lisa has worked with Common Ground Relief, the post-Katrina New Orleans collective; the new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); United for Peace and Justice; and environmental groups like Save our Springs -- and she helped Cindy Sheehan coordinate activities at Camp Casey. Check out Lisa’s websites: and]

Top: Lauren Ross, center, is comforted by her friend Lisa Fithian after they were arrested during a protest in New York Sept. 2, 2004. Photo by Bebeto Matthews / AP. Image from CommonDreams. Below: Lisa Fithian and Ken Butigan at a National Assembly of United for Peace and Justice in Chicago, 2007. Photo by Diane Greene Lent /

Previous Rag Blog articles on Brandon Darby and the Texas 2:Go to the Support the Texas 2 website.

And listen to “Turncoat,” a story about Brandon Darby on Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life. [The Darby segment starts 13 minutes in.]

Also, read this remarkable piece of reporting: The Informant: Revolutionary to rat: The uneasy journey of Brandon Darby by Diana Welch / Austin Chronicle / Jan. 23, 2009

For more background on the history of informants in Texas, read The Spies of Texas by Thorne Dreyer / The Texas Observer / Nov. 17, 2006.

And see the entire "Hamilton Files" of former UT-Austin police chief Allen Hamilton that served as documentation for Dreyer's story, here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Expelling Undercovers from Montreal's Demonstration Against Police Brutality

undercovers jump and run at Monday's anti-cop demo

One of the most disheartening aspects of the 2009 March 15th Anti-Police Brutality demonstration in Montreal was the diffuse nature of resistance, so that people would do various things but even when undercover cops were identified in the crowd there was no capacity to eject them, or to unarrest comrades.

That's why the following video circulating on Youtube made me smile. The scene is Monday's demonstration, the 2010 March 15th Anti-Police protest - and what you see are a number of undercover cops identified, and expelled from the demo.

Watch. Learn. Apply.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

DOUBLE BOOK LAUNCH March 19th in Montreal: Two Books about the Black Revolution

When: Friday, March 19th 2010; 6pm
Where: Concordia Co-op Bookstore, 2150 Bishop St. • metro Guy-Concordia
Tel-: 514-848-7445

Montreal - The Certain Days Calendar Committee and Kersplebedeb Publishing are holding a Black Revolution Double Book Launch on March 19th 2010, starting at 6pm. The book launch will be co-sponsored and hosted by the Concordia Co-op Bookstore - 2150 Bishop Street, Guy-Concordia Metro. The books being launched are Safiya Buhkari’s The War Before, and James Yaki Sayles' Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth. Following readings from each book, there will be a discussion of local efforts around U.S. political prisoners and prisoners of war.  Erica Meiners, Associate Professor of Education and Women's Studies at Northeastern Illinois University and a longterm anti-prison activist, will speak on the ongoing ravages of the prison-industrial complex, and its relevance in Canada. Light refreshments will be served.


The decades after the Second World War witnessed successful revolutions against colonial rule around the world. Struggles against national oppression took place on every continent – including within the borders of the United States, in what Che Guevara described as “belly of the beast.” Millions of people worked in a variety of ways against the ongoing destruction of their communities and societies by a racist and colonialist white power structure.

It was within this context that the Black Freedom Struggle engaged in its definitive 20th century confrontation with racialized capitalism in the U.S.A. Hidden from popular histories of the Sixties and the Civil Rights movement, the reality on the ground was that there was a war. Hundreds upon hundreds were killed, tens of thousands spent time in prison – and some still languish behind those bars. More than that, communities were destroyed, entire cities emptied, as white America and its government set about murdering the Black Liberation Movement.

Safiya Bukhari and James Yaki Sayles were two revolutionaries who participated in those fateful clashes, who found their calling in the struggle, and who would devote the rest of their lives to the liberation of their people – and of all people. After decades of struggle, Safiya Bukhari died in 2003 at the age of 53. James Yaki Sayles spent almost his entire adult life in prison; he had just been released a few years earlier when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died in 2008 at the age of 59.

In February, two posthumous volumes were published, making the words of these fallen freedom fighters available for the first time to a wide audience. Safiya Bukhari’s The War Before: The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther Keeping the Faith in Prison, Fighting for Those Left Behind, was published by The Feminist Press at CUNY and James Yaki Sayles’ Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings was co-published by Spear and Shield Publications and Kersplebedeb Publishing.

At a time when we are instructed to keep our eye on the man in the White House and others who have “made it” and been integrated into the “American Dream,” Bukhari and Sayles’ words speak for and to those for whom the world’s only superpower remains an “American Nightmare.” In an age where there are more Black men in U.S. prisons than in U.S. colleges, where years after Katrina New Orleans has been rebuilt as a tourist attraction for the middle classes, and the U.S. continues to wage war on peoples around the world, these are two volumes to detox your mind, to help you keep your eye on the prize.

- BIOS -

James Yaki Sayles spent almost his entire adult life in prison. In the 1970s he was a leading figure in the New Afrikan Prisoners Organization, he would serve as Minister of Information for the Republic of New Afrika, and also worked in other, less public, groups. He was also an important theoretician of the continuing need for New Afrikan Revolution and the realities of New Afrikan Nationhood, writing under a variety on names, including Owusu Yaki Yakubu and Atiba Shanna. He died of lung cancer in 2008.

Safiya Bukhari joined the Black Panther Party in 1969. Imprisoned for nine years, for charges related to the Black Liberation Army, Bukhari was released in 1983 and went on to co-found the New York Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition and other organizations advocating for the release of political prisoners. She died in 2003 at the age of 53 years of age.

For more information about The War Before, please visit
For more information about Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, please visit
For more information about the Certain Days Calendar Committee, please visit
For more information about the Concordia Co-op Bookstore, please visit

When: Friday, March 19th 2010; 6pm
Where: Concordia Co-op Bookstore, 2150 Bishop St. • metro Guy-Concordia
Tel-: 514-848-7445

For more information regarding the event, please email or visit
- END -

Montreal's International Day Against Police Brutality, 2010

comrade throwing a firecracker at cops at yesterday's demo

From the McGill Tribune, a report on yesterday's march against police brutality in Montreal:

Police arrest 100 during March Against Police Brutality

Protestors, journalists detained for hours on STM buses

Matt Chesser | Published: 3/16/10

Protestors clashed with Montreal Police at a demonstration on Monday evening. Some launched fireworks at officers on horseback.
Media Credit: Adam Scotii, Alice Walker, Evelyne Bedard

Protestors clashed with Montreal Police at a demonstration on Monday evening. Some launched fireworks at officers on horseback.

The 14th annual March Against Police Brutality was declared unlawful shortly after beginning yesterday evening, as police used mass arrests to quell the demonstration in Montreal's Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood.

The Montreal Police Department (SPVM) arrested 100 protestors. Seventeen were charged with criminal offences, while 83 were apprehended for violating municipal bylaws, detained for three to four hours, given a ticket, and then released at random locations across the city. Police began making mass arrests of protestors and journalists - for participating in an unlawful protest - around an hour after the march began.

"We declared the protest illegal after some protestors started shooting fireworks at police," said Sergeant Ian Lafrenière, media relations supervisor for the SPVM. "Two times, before any arrests were made, we read a statement in English and in French saying that the protest was illegal and that people had to leave."

The Montreal police would not confirm the number of officers deployed to manage the march, but there appeared to be well over 100. The SPVM also used at least a dozen undercover police officers who posed as protestors, wearing black scarves, goggles, and large winter jackets to conceal body armour. These officers made a number of individual arrests and were involved in a brief fight about 15 minutes into the march, when they were identified as undercover police officers by a group of demonstrators.

Unlike last year's march, in which protestors caused over $200,000 in property damage, demonstrators did little harm to the mostly residential area. Aside from tipping over mailboxes, dragging garbage cans into the street, and throwing paint, the only major incident occurred when protestors set a dumpster on fire on St. Germain Street.

"The outcome was generally a positive one," Lafrenière said. "No one was injured on either side, and the total amount of damage was not nearly as bad as it was last year. I would have preferred a peaceful protest, but that might be dreaming."

Protest declared unlawful

Approximately 900 people attended the march, which began just after 5:30 p.m. near the Pie-IX metro station at Olympic Stadium. The crowd made their way southeast on Boulevard Pie-IX and into a residential area along Ontario Street, though the marchers changed direction repeatedly, presumably in order to disorient police.

The Collective Opposed to Police Brutality, the Montreal group who planned the event, refused to inform the police of the protest route before the demonstration began. According to the SPVM, there are approximately 1,500 protests in Montreal every year, and the March Against Police Brutality is the only one in which organizers refuse to inform the police of their demonstration route beforehand.

"[Most protest groups] want to make sure that we close streets, and they want to make sure that no one gets injured," Lafrenière said. "This is the same problem we have every year [with the Collective], though. They don't want to share the route - they say that legally they don't have any obligation to do so."

Police declared the protest an unlawful assembly at 6:05 p.m. after demonstrators clashed with riot police at the corner of Ontario Street and Valois Avenue. Protestors threw paint bombs and food at officers with riot shields and shot fireworks at those on horseback. Riot police responded by shooting offenders with a paintball gun in an attempt to mark them for future arrest.

Moments later a similar confrontation occurred at Raymond-Prefontaine Park as police executed a pincer manoeuvre that split the protest into two groups. Police charged demonstrators from both ends of Hochelaga Street, scattering demonstrators into separate groups and leading many involved to abandon the protest.

Police began making mass arrests moments later, as the larger protest group headed up Prefontaine Street and clashed with officers who had blocked off the road near the Prefontaine metro station. Riot police charged the crowd after protestors hurled objects at them. The police then detained dozens of people on city buses.

Demonstrators invoke Villanueva

The march coincided with the International Day Against Police Brutality as well as a coroner's inquest into the fatal shooting of Fredy Villanueva by a Montreal police officer in August 2008. Protestors could be heard chanting "Lapointe, murderer" early in the march, in reference to the police officer who killed Villanueva.

"We need to take back our streets," said Sara, a protestor who declined to provide her last name. "[The police] get away with too much … [we need to] show them that they can't get away with whatever they want."

Others had less principled reasons for attending the event.

"I just want to see things get fucked up," said Renaud, a protestor who also declined to provide his last name. "Fuck the police."

Protestors began gathering around 4:45 p.m. and were supervised by at least 50 riot police. Many demonstrators carried signs with slogans such as "60 dead since 1987. Disarm the Montreal police." and "Justice and truth for all the victims."

According to the Montreal Gazette, police stopped metro service to the Pie-IX station on the city's green line around 5 p.m. in an attempt to delay the arrival of more protesters. At least four protestors were arrested as the march began when they were discovered to have the ingredients for a Molotov cocktail.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Laugh Out Fucking Loud

These are tags. One says "Fuck the Police", another says "All Cops Are Bastards." We have also seen these slogans at demonstrations in the past, so we can surmise that the group we are dealing with here is a group that we see in demonstrations.
- Yannick Ouimet, Service de police de la Ville de Montréal

The above quote is in regard to the attack on a deserted police station over the weekend. The cop's logic is brilliant, fucking brilliant.

Remember, tonight is COBP's annual Demonstration Against Police Brutality metro Pix-IX at 5pm...

More on Scotland Yard Deep Cover Revelations

If you are interested in radical change, please read the following. Revelations from the anonymous "Officer A" in England reveal how deep cover agents were places in both fascist and antifa camps in the 90s, and later used the latter positions to gain entry into campaigns against the coverups of Black deaths in police custody. But people should be crystal clear that any group working effectively for radical social change will be targeted by these kinds of operations.

The solution is not paranoia, but nor is it willful ignorance.

Please read the following from the Guardian (and also check out the television clip linked to here):

They got drunk together, stood shoulder to shoulder as they fought the police and far-right activists, and became so intimately acquainted with each other's lives that in the end they were closer than brothers. But it was all a sham. Hidden among the close-knit and highly motivated group of violent far-left activists was a serving police officer, operating deep undercover, whose presence was intended to bring the group to its knees.

That man, known only as Officer A, has now come forward to give his account of the years he spent working for Scotland Yard's most secret unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), on a mission to prevent disorder on the streets of London. For four years in the mid-1990s, he lived a double life six days a week, spending just one day a week with his wife and family.

Week after week, year in and year out, he lived and breathed the life of a hardcore Trotskyist agitator with a passion for heavy drinking, a deep-seated hatred of the police and a predilection for extreme violence. It was a persona that took him to the heart of some of the most violent groups in the capital at a time when tensions between extreme left and extreme right were at their peak.

"I never had any respite when I was back at home. I simply couldn't relax," said Officer A. "The respite for me was being back in my undercover flat because that was where I was supposed to be. Even if my targets were not there, I felt more at ease. I had a really good time with my targets and enjoyed their company enormously – there was a genuine bond. But I was never under any illusion about what I was there to do. They were not truly my friends. The friendship would last only up until the point when they found out what I really was. I was under no illusion about what would happen to me if they did."

The SDS started life in 1968 after anti-Vietnam war protests turned violent in Grosvenor Square, London, outside the US embassy. No one had been prepared for the unprecedented level of violence directed at the police. It was a wake-up call to senior officers in the Metropolitan police who realised they needed a new way to gather intelligence about the hate-filled "subversives" they now had to deal with.

Known as the "hairies" because they had to look like the agitators they were mixing with, the 10 undercover officers who made up the unit were given new identities, flats, vehicles and "cover" jobs while working in the field for years at a time. Officer A had joined the Met in 1986 straight from school. Having discovered an interest in political ideology and public affairs, he initially wanted to join the security service but found that entry was barred to all but Oxbridge graduates.

His best chance of doing that kind of work, he was told, would be to join the Met and apply for a job in Special Branch, essentially a wing of MI5. Having distinguished himself during cadet training and his two-year probation, he joined Special Branch after four years in uniform and spent three years working to counter Irish terrorism before being recruited to the SDS.

"The day you join the SDS, you have a big leaving do. Although you're still a police officer, being in the SDS means you won't be seeing any of your police friends for at least five years. During your deployment, your only official link to the Met is your payslip," he said. SDS officers use the same methods as Frederick Forsyth detailed in The Day of the Jackal to choose their new identities. This involves applying for the birth certificate of someone who died at an early age and using this to fabricate a cover story. "That first step gives you a name, a flat, a vehicle and a life story that makes it all real."

Before being deployed in the field, SDS officers are taken into a room and interrogated about every aspect of their cover story by two experienced operators. If they pass this test, they are then told the cautionary tale of how an SDS officer's cover was blown when his targets asked him to explain the death certificate for the cover name he was using and had to jump from a second-floor window to escape.

Officer A's initial target was a young student union activist who was a key member of an up-and-coming Trotskyist organisation that had led a violent protest against BNP paper-sellers in Brick Lane, east London. The organisation was considered one of the most violent in the capital at the time and its leader soon became a priority SDS target.

Officers normally spend months getting to know their targets and winning their confidence. In the case of Officer A, however, it took far less time. "I enrolled at the college where the target studied and on my first day there I heard a bit of an altercation while I was in the queue for lunch. A few things were said to one of the female staff, some of which had a bit of a nasty racial overtone. I pushed forward to intervene. It all got a bit heated and the guy who was giving the abuse took a swing at me. Big mistake. He was soon on the floor, out cold.

"A close friend of my target was in the canteen at the time and had seen the whole thing. A couple of hours later, I was in the student union picking up some passes and the bloke who had watched me fight was there again. He turned to my target, who was sitting next to him, and said: 'That's the one I was telling you about.' A little later, my target came over and introduced himself."

Officer A eventually agreed to attend a small demonstration the following weekend. When the event turned violent, he found himself standing next to his target and others from the group as they launched a series of attacks on uniformed police. "The one thing all these groups have in common, both on the left and the right, is a total hatred of the police," he said. "It means you are having to maintain a false identity in a completely hostile environment. Under those circumstances you have no choice but to engage in acts of violence. That day developed into a major ruck. At the end no one would have believed I was a police officer.

"If anyone had accused me [of being a police officer] there would have been a dozen people willing to come forward and swear it wasn't true. We were all buzzing when it was over," said Officer A. "We couldn't wait for the next event. Because of what we'd all been through, I was accepted by them right away."

Officer A wasn't the only one attacking his former colleagues. At the time of his deployment, other SDS officers had infiltrated opposing right-wing groups such as the BNP and Combat 18, as well as other far-left groups. It was a time of extreme racial tension and violent clashes with the police and rival political parties were rife. Two weeks later, Officer A took part in a much larger, far more violent, protest in Welling, south-east London, against a BNP-run bookshop that served as the party's headquarters. Intelligence he obtained revealed that the demo was to be far larger than had been expected and that a particularly violent faction was planning to storm the bookshop and set fire to it, trapping any BNP members inside.

As a result, police leave was cancelled for that weekend and more than 7,000 officers, including a large mounted contingent, were deployed. Instead of being spread out along the entire route, police focused on blocking the main roads leading to the bookshop and forcing the march along a route that would take it away from its target. A violent confrontation ensued with a group of hardcore protesters – Officer A among them – attacking the police lines in an attempt to break through. Dozens of police and protesters were injured in the clashes.

Despite the violence, the operation was deemed to be a success for the police and Sir Paul Condon, the then Met commissioner, went to meet members of the SDS to thank them.

"I didn't have any qualms about what I was doing," said Officer A. "I was clear that my role was to target subversives and prevent disorder. The consequences of that day would have been far worse had the SDS not been involved."

At that time, some of the SDS officers were known as "shallow paddlers" because they spent only limited time with their targets. Others, like Officer A, were "deep swimmers" who immersed themselves in the role. During one operation to infiltrate an Animal Liberation Front cell, one officer is said to have lived in a squat for 18 months, virtually 24/7.

As months turned to years, Officer A's personal life was beginning to suffer, and his relationship with his wife and children was under particular pressure. One major cause of stress was that he was spending so much of his time fighting with fellow police officers and was now on the wrong side of a riot shield. "It was a total headbender," he said.

Once inside the groups they were ordered to infiltrate, it was relatively easy for SDS officers to rise to the top because they were often prepared to work long hours on boring, administrative jobs. Often they tried to become membership secretaries or treasurers, where their position gave them access to the records and secret agendas that were so useful to the security services. Often more efficient than those around them, operatives had to strike a balance to ensure they did not end up running the organisations they were trying to destroy.
Protestors clash during an anti-racist march in Welling, south-east London, in 1993. Protesters clash during an anti-racist march in Welling, south-east London, in 1993. Photograph: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/PA NEWS

In the aftermath of the Welling riot, senior Met officials began to express concern that the so-called "black campaigns" that had sprung up in the aftermath of the murder of Stephen Lawrence in April 1993 had the potential to lead to further bloodshed on the streets of the capital. "It had only been a couple of years since the beating of Rodney King led to the riots in LA. When young black men started dying in police custody and racist murders were going unsolved, a lot of people were getting increasingly angry," said Officer A. Fearing they were in danger of losing control, the SDS decided to target these new groups.

Having won the trust of several high-profile anti-facism and anti-racism activists on the far left, Officer A was ideally placed. Over the next two years he worked his way up to become branch secretary of Youth Against Racism in Europe, a leading anti-racist organisation that was a front for the far-left group Militant. Getting alongside these new targets called for a different approach, said Officer A. "You get given a file on your target that tells you everything you need to know. You become that person's brother. You know everything that makes them tick. You know how much they like to drink, you know where they like to drink. You know what kind of music they like, you know what kind of women they like. You become the brother they never knew they had. None of it is ever said to the target, it's far more subtle than that. The first time they get in the car, it will be just the right kind of music playing. The first time a redhead walks by it will be: 'God, I'm really into redheads.' It's all done fantastically cleverly.

"When your target is a man, it is just a matter of becoming his best friend. If your target is a woman, that becomes impossible. SDS officers would get together for regular meetings and you always knew if something was going on. If someone started talking about getting good information from a female target, we all knew there was only one way that could have happened. They had been sleeping with them." He himself had slept with two members of his target group. Although not officially sanctioned, such activity among SDS officers – both male and female – was tacitly accepted and in many cases was vital in maintaining an undercover role. "You can't be in that world full-time for five years and never have a girlfriend or boyfriend. People would start to ask questions," said Officer A.

But the pressures continued to grow. "At first, I could convince myself that my job was about fighting subversion, but once I began targeting the groups set up to win justice for those who had died in police custody or had been victims of racism, it was clear that what the loved ones of the deceased wanted was justice. My presence in the groups made that justice harder to obtain. The remit was to prevent disorder, but by providing intelligence you rob these groups of the element of surprise. If every time they have a demonstration the agitators are prevented from causing trouble, they are less effective. Once the SDS get into an organisation, it is effectively finished.

"If I were a regular police officer and I wanted to plant a bug in your house or your office, I would need to get all kinds of permissions. But the SDS can put a person in your car, in your house, in your life for 24 hours a day for five years and nobody outside the SDS will know anything about it.

"While I was undercover, my targets would refuse to talk on the phone because they felt it wasn't safe, but they had no qualms about inviting me into their homes to talk about their plans. I couldn't get over the irony of it. If the SDS had been in existence at the time of the Suffragettes, their campaigns would never have got off the ground and they would have been quickly forgotten."

The constant strain of living a double life was also beginning to take its toll. "I couldn't get out of role. Even after 18 months I was having trouble leaving the undercover persona behind. One time I was out swimming. Someone said something derogatory and my angry persona took over. It was an immediate reaction. There was blood everywhere."

Before they were deployed, every SDS officer was visited at home to ensure they were married. "They introduced that rule after one officer refused to come out of the field. It turned out he just enjoyed being with his contacts so much that he was willing to give up his police salary and everything that went along with it in order to stay with them. Now you have to be married on the basis that, if you have something in the real world to come back to, you are less likely to want to remain in role. That's the theory."

The pressure began to become intolerable when a public inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence was announced. "There was concern that my role within the campaigns might emerge during the inquiry," he said. "In the end the SDS decided not to disclose it themselves. Because the remit was to prevent disorder, it was felt that if it had emerged at the time, it would have led to more violence.

"Looking back, I should have done something. I should have dealt with this 11 years ago. I am coming forward to get closure for the things I did back then. By the end I'd spent four years fighting the police. When I came back to Special Branch I had to suppress who I was. I was no longer the same person. I hated the job and everything about it."

Officer A was later diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He sued the Met and received an out-of-court settlement. The Metropolitan police, meanwhile, has refused to comment on any matters connected to the SDS.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Smashing Cop Cars in Montreal

Play safe and don't get caught!

From the CBC:

Vandals hit 11 Montreal police cars
Saturday, March 13, 2010
CBC News

Eleven cruisers were vandalized overnight at the Montreal police traffic and road safety division's building in the city's St. Henri district, police said Saturday.
Windows were smashed and the police cruisers' computers were damaged.Windows were smashed and the police cruisers' computers were damaged. (CBC)

Windows were smashed and the vehicles' computers were damaged.

Witnesses who alerted police said between 15 and 20 people, dressed mostly in black hooded jackets, used rocks and baseball bats to damage the vehicles in the parking lot on Dominion Street at Notre Dame Street West.

The vandals also spray-painted messages in English on the building, which was unoccupied at the time, said Const. Yannick Ouimet of the Montreal Police Service.

He speculated there may be a connection between the vandalism and Monday’s planned march against police brutality.

"We've seen these [graffiti] tags during past demonstrations," Ouimet said.

No arrests have been made.

Police Infiltrating Militant Anti-Fascists in UK

Revelations of cop who infiltrated Youth Against Racism in Europe during the 1993-1997 period - he engaged in violence alongside antifa, had sex with his antifa "targets", and eventually became a leading figure in various campaigns.

As this pig brags today, "My role was to provide intelligence about protests and demonstrations, particularly those that had the potential to become violent. In doing so, the campaigns I was associated with lost much of their effectiveness, a factor that ultimately hastened their demise."

During the 1990s there was lively debate on this side of the Atlantic about the degree to which antifa should cooperate with police and the state. During the Clinton administration there was a mass far right mobilization - the militia movement - and some people felt that "we" should work with the state against the fascists, as the lesser of two evils.

While it differs as to who the ostensible immediate targets were, the so-called "Grant Bristow Affair" in Canada already provided ample proof of the state's involvement in attacks on antifa here. And across this continent there continue to be numerous examples of heavily-funded "antiracism experts" (think SPLC) who openly advertise their function as auxiliary political police - and during the current era of far-right "tea party" mobilizations, these state allies are receiving a hearing in some quarters where folks should know better.

But this most recent case provides a stark example of even anti-state, anti-capitalist comrades being infiltrated and manipulated by the police -- and it would be ridiculous to assume that "Officer A" in England did not have his parallels in North America. While there is no way to guarantee that one will not be targeted and neutralized by such "deep cover" agents, their open existence should put to rest naive ideas of "working with the police" (hate crimes units, etc.) against the fascists. If the capitalist state is "anti-fascist", its antifascism is of a completely different sort than out own, and stands in direct opposition to us. Any cooperation simply increased our vulnerability.

The complete story, from The Guardian (be sure to also check out this chilling television clip):

An officer from a secretive unit of the Metropolitan police has given a chilling account of how he spent years working undercover among anti-racist groups in Britain, during which he routinely engaged in violence against members of the public and uniformed police officers to maintain his cover.

During his tour of duty, the man – known only as Officer A – also had sexual relations with at least two of his female targets as a way of obtaining intelligence. So convincing was he in his covert role that he quickly rose to become branch secretary of a leading anti-racist organisation that was believed to be a front for Labour's Militant tendency.

"My role was to provide intelligence about protests and demonstrations, particularly those that had the potential to become violent," he said. "In doing so, the campaigns I was associated with lost much of their effectiveness, a factor that ultimately hastened their demise."

His deployment, which lasted from 1993 to 1997, ended amid fears that his presence and role within groups protesting about black deaths in police custody and bungled investigations into racist murders would be revealed during the public inquiry by Sir William Macpherson into the death of south London teenager Stephen Lawrence.

His decision to tell his story to the Observer provides the most detailed account of the shadowy and controversial police unit that has provided intelligence from within political and protest movements for more than four decades. He believes the public should be able to make an informed decision about whether such covert activities are necessary, given their potential to curtail legitimate protest movements.

Officer A – with a long ponytail, angry persona and willingness to be educated in the finer points of Trotskyist ideology – was never suspected by those he befriended of being a member of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), a secret unit within Special Branch, whose job is to prevent violent public disorder on the streets of the capital. Known as the "hairies" due to the fact that its members do not have to abide by usual police regulations about their appearance, the unit consists of 10 full-time undercover operatives who are given new identities, and provided with flats, vehicles and "cover" jobs while working in the field for up to five years at a time.

The unit has been credited with preventing bloodshed on numerous occasions by using intelligence to pre-empt potentially violent situations. Unlike regular undercover officers, members of the SDS do not have to gather evidence with a view to prosecuting their targets. This enables them to witness and even engage in criminal activity without fear of disciplinary action or compromising a subsequent court case.

Officer A joined the SDS in 1993 after two years in Special Branch. It was a time of heightened tension between the extreme left and right and almost every weekend saw clashes between the likes of the Anti-Nazi League, Youth Against Racism, the British National party and the National Front. The SDS is believed to have infiltrated all such organisations.

During Officer A's time undercover, all 10 covert SDS operatives would meet to share intelligence about forthcoming demonstrations. The information was used to plan police responses to counter the threat of the demonstration getting out of control.

A key success for Officer A came just two weeks into his deployment during a demonstration against the BNP-run bookshop in Welling, south-east London. His intelligence revealed that the protest was to be far larger than thought and that a particularly violent faction was planning to storm the bookshop and set fire to it.

As a result of intelligence provided by Officer A, police leave was cancelled for that weekend and, despite violent clashes, the operation was deemed to be a success for the Met. The then commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, met the members of the SDS to thank them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Canadian Counterinsurgency vs. Indigenous Resistance: Doug Bland's Predictions

Counterinsurgency hype [tripe] from one of Canada's white warriors:

Conditions ripe for major aboriginal uprising, academic says

Young first nations people are largely poor, uneducated, prone to crime and live near vulnerable resource areas, ex-Forces officer argues

By Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver SunMarch 11, 2010

Canadians and their political leaders are ignoring all the signs of a looming aboriginal insurrection in their midst, warns a prominent military analyst.

Douglas Bland, a former lieutenant-colonel in Canada's Armed Forces who chairs defence management studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., says conditions are ripe for a major uprising by first nations people.

He told a luncheon audience of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Winnipeg last week that "the typical federal or provincial politician in Canada has no idea what to do with this matter. They only see it as a difficulty for themselves."

In turn, aboriginals are "emboldened by the prevailing political reluctance to act."

In a speech titled, "Where Are Aboriginal Affairs in Canada Headed?," Bland answers the question by noting that Canada is particularly "vulnerable to a national disturbance, given its economic dependence on the export of oil, gas, natural gas, hydro power and other commodities to the U.S.

"Abor iginal communi -ties are sitting on those supply chains. At any moment they can turn that system off, which would pose a danger to the economy and to Canadian sovereignty."

Canada has witnessed several instances of the sort of aboriginal unrest Bland is talking about.

First nations groups have staged roadblocks on Highway 401 near Kingston and put up barricades on major railways. A crisis over disputed land occurred in Oka, Que., in 1990, and in Caledonia, Ont., in 2006. Another standoff took place in 2009 near Cornwall, Ont., between Mohawks and border services personnel who had planned to start carrying firearms.

Bland says he began studying the feasibility of an aboriginal uprising after the 9/11 debacle in the U.S. He recently wrote a fictional account of an aboriginal insurrection, titled Uprising.

Aboriginals make up the largest and fastest growing group of young people in the country.

Their median age -- 25, compared to 40 for nonaboriginals.

Incredibly, more than half of on-reserve aboriginals are 24 and younger. Too many of them are not being educated. Fewer than 24 per cent finish high school, even as 80 per cent of non-aboriginals graduate.

Another problem, says Bland, is that the aboriginals who graduate from universities most often don't return to reserves where they could improve governance and economic prospects.

And so, on-reserve unemployment stands at 28 per cent. Youth unemployment is more than 40 per cent.

A disproportionate number of young first nations men are being incarcerated in jails which tend to serve as "community colleges for the gangs."

For example, 71 per cent of those who are held in custody in Manitoba are aboriginals, despite the fact they make up only 15 per cent of the population.

Of course, aboriginals often experience deplorable living conditions characterized by rural isolation and housing that's dilapidated and overcrowded.

A community with a sense of grievance needs only a particular economic or political condition to aggravate it, along with a unifying leader able to mobilize the group to trigger an insurrection.

Because aboriginals reside in areas adjacent to Canada's resource bounty and these sometimes remote and expansive tracts of land are largely undefendable, the feasibility of a major conflict is that much greater.

Bland is a student of war and his soundings are worrisome. While past Liberal governments in Ottawa have deployed a strategy of big spending to alleviate unacceptable on-reserve living conditions, the Harper government has taken a different approach.

Conservatives have focused more on urban-dwelling aboriginals and, of course, given a formal apology and financial redress for historic injustices at first nations schools.

In any event, no political action will be as helpful as getting young on-reserve aboriginals educated.

With only five of 308 sitting MPs (and six senators) reflecting Metis, Inuit or first nations ethnicity, Parliament would be better equipped to respond to aboriginal challenges if more first nations people were to become engaged in national political processes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


An important public service announcement regarding police invasions of women's shelters in canada, from the fine folks at No One Is Illegal Toronto:

OUT OF OUR SHELTERS! OUT OF OUR LIVES! was the message delivered
to the Canada Border Services Agency on March 8th, International Women's
Day, by the 120 plus women and trans-folks who poured into the Toronto
Rape Crisis Centre for an Emergency Assembly.

The Assembly was called after it came to the attention of the Shelter |
Sanctuary | Status campaign that in Feb. 2010 an Immigration Enforcement
officer went into a women's shelter, looking to deport a non-status migrant
woman, and survivor of violence. Since this information has been made public,
more and more women have started to break the silence.

The Assembly agreed to begin a large-scale campaign insisting that
Immigration Canada make women's spaces and services OFF-LIMITS to
Immigration Enforcement. We are writing today to ask for your support. Please
read below, forward and act! Our actions can make immediate change.

(Details of the assembly can be found at
Here is what the Toronto Star had to say: )

The gathering of over a hundred women, with support from hundreds of others calls for:

This FRIDAY, March 12:
Phone or Email Reg Williams, Director of Immigration Enforcement in Toronto
Phone: 905.612.6070
Email:, cc

Insist that CBSA has no place in anti-violence against women organizations.
A sample of what you can say or write can be found at:

Forward this call to your friends, family and networks. The more
people/organizations that they hear from, the stronger our message will be!

2) If you are part of an organization that serves or supports migrant women,
transpeople and children, or work in a shelter or anti-violence against women
organization, invite a member of the SSS campaign to talk to you about
Access Without Fear. We can work with you to ensure that your centre is safe
and accessible for all people, regardless of immigration status.

3) Shelters and anti-VAW organizations across the city and across the country
are signing on to a declaration demanding:
-a moratorium on all deportations for women surviving violence
-Immigration Enforcement stay out of shelters and anti-VAW spaces
-women fighting back against violence be given immediate status

The full declaration is available here:
If you are working in the anti-VAW sector, work with residents and
participants to get your organization to sign on to the declaration.

4) Get involved with the SSS campaign. On March 19, come out to the
SSS: Access Without Fear Forum for front-line workers and service providers
to develop strategies aimed at ensuring access to essential services for people
without full status. Register here:

The Shelter|Sanctuary|Status Coalition is a growing movement of over 120
anti-Violence Against Women organizations that are working to create safe
spaces for all women, regardless of immigration status.

Monday, March 08, 2010

March 12-14 in Montreal - Study in Action: Other Inconvenient Truths: beyond "sustainability", towards environmental justice

MARCH 12-14, 2010
Concordia University, MONTREAL

The Study In Action conference is free. Welcome to all!

Opening Panel:
Beyond "sustainability", towards environmental justice
FRIDAY, March 12, 6:30pmde Sève Cinema, 1400 de Maisonneuve West(métro Guy-Concordia)

Speakers include:
  •  Gord Hill: Indigenous (Kwakwaka'wakw) artist and organizer, author of "500 Years of Indigenous Resistance," member of the Olympics Resistance Network
  • Sharmeen Khan:environmental justice and anti-racist activist, writer and researcher
  • Poya Saffari: farmer and activist active with le Coop jardins de la résistance & Solidarity Across Borders
  • Catherine St-Arnaud-Babin: queer feminist activist and ex-squatter, member of the eco-radical collective Liberterre

Keynote panel followed by a reception at QPIRG-Concordia (1500 de Maisonneuve Ouest, #204).
SATURDAY, March 13 (10am-6pm) & SUNDAY, March 14 (10:30am-6pm)
7th Floor, Hall Building, 1455 de Maisonneuve West THEME: "Social and Environmental Justice"

Topics include: Radical Environmentalism; Racism in Canada; Food Security and Urban Agriculture; Urban Renewal and Public Space; Greenwashing NGOs; Indigenous Land Issues and Development; Impacts of Canadian Mining; “Greening” Prisons; and more

  • The Study In Action conference is free. Welcome to all!
  • Breakfast, lunch and beverages are provided free during the conference.
  • Wheelchair accessible.
  • Childcare available o­n-site (please phone 48 hours in advance)
  • Whisper translation available for all panels and workshops in English and French.

Please pre-register by e-mail at (students: please indicate your name, school and field of study; community members: let us know who you are).

Opening Panel: OTHER INCONVENIENT TRUTHS: Beyond "sustainability", towards environmental justice FRIDAY, March 12, 6:30pmde Sève Cinema, 1400 de Maisonneuve West
GORD HILL (Kwakwaka'wakw) is an indigenous artist and organizer who has been active with the Native Youth Movement and other groups. He is a main contributor to as well as Warrior Publications, and is active with the Olympic Resistance Network of the Coast Salish Territories. Gord has been repeatedly targeted by the Vancouver Integrated Security Unit (VISU) in relation to his unrepentant advocacy for direct action in defense of the land and anti-Olympics organizing o­n the theme: "No Olympics o­n Stolen Native Land". He is the author/artist of the graphic novel: "500 Years of Indigenous Resistance".

SHARMEEN KHAN works at OPIRG-York in Toronto and is o­n the Advisory Board of Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action. She has been active in media activism, environmental justice and anti-racism for many years and has organized with the Bus Riders Union in Vancouver and currently programs for CHRY 105.5FM in Toronto.

POYA SAFFARI is an Iranian-born farmer and activist based both in Montreal and Ormstown. He is a member of Coop jardins de la résistance an ecological farming project that grows a diversity of vegetables and fruits according to ecological practices, while also striving to develop meaningful links with communities in Montreal. During the past several years Poya has also been active with migrant justice struggles with groups like No o­ne Is Illegal and Solidarity Across Borders.

CATHERINE ST-ARNAUD-BABIN was a member of the former eco-radical collective Liberterre, as well as the former Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC), and has been active in transcontinental movements against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). She is a radical queer feminist and ex-squatter who is currently a community worker with immigrant families. She is also a member of the Collectif de recherche sur l'autonomie collective (CRAC). Through these different struggles and experiences, Catherine proposes a reflection o­n the environment, and the different relationships within the notion of space and time, that show the various intersections of oppressions from an anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian point of view.

For more tel: 514-848-7585

STUDY IN ACTION is a project of the Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) at Concordia.Community - Research - Resistance

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

@ 7th floor of Concordia University’s Hall Building
1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest (metro Guy-Concordia)
Montreal, QC
10h – 11h
Registration & Breakfast served by the People’s potato
11h – 12h30
PANEL – Living the Land: “developing” indigenous land relationships

Erin Coughlan – “Drawing Lines in the Sand: drought and privatization in Kenyan Maasai-land”
This anthropological research assesses how pastoral strategies of land use by the Maasai of Kenya respond to conditions of climate change, specifically a severe drought, in the light of legal land tenure changes. Land that was once held collectively has now been subdivided into individual parcels, which is not a viable policy for the indigenous pastoralist grazing strategies. To cope with a restriction on migration, people have called on principles of reciprocity, and I explore the policy’s effects as well as the interaction and synergy of legal and traditional land entitlements.

Sandra Simbert -Urban Inuit in Montreal: an example of sustainability?”
By referring to sustainability as the combination of the social, economic, environmental and political development, is the global situation of Montreal Inuit sustainable? A portrait of their main occupations, community support resources, intercultural challenges, strategies for ethnic pride and achievement. Are Inuit equal citizens of the metropolis?Does Montreal urban life allow opportunities for Inuit’ environmental friendly heritage to take root, be expressed, and
take form?

Emilou Kinsella – “Property Regimes in Kahnawake: implications for human relationships with the environment” Our group worked alongside the Mohawk Traditional Council in Kahnawake to investigate the history of land privatization in Kahnawake. We looked at the history of Kahnawake, conducted a map and legal analysis, and talked with community members in personal interviews to show how land has changed and how people’s attitudes about land has changed. Ultimately we wanted to answer the question: Has land privatization in Kahnawake altered its people’s relationship with the Environment? The short answer is, yes.

12h30 – 13h30
LUNCH – served by the People’s Potato

13h30 – 15h

Kerri Westlake – “Beyond Local Food: Guest-Worker Programs in Canada’s Agricultural Sector”
The presentation will focus on the Canadian government’s creation and maintenance of a ‘flexible’ and exploitable agricultural workforce through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker and the Temporary Foreign Worker Programs. These immigration policies serve the needs of an ever expanding and consolidating agricultural sector by creating conditions which restrict workers’ rights and voices. They will be examined in the context of trade liberalisation, “labour shortages,” and Canada’s history of racist immigration policies.

Sameer Zuberi (from the Canadian Muslim Forum) – “The State of Islamophobia in Québec and Canada” The presentation will look at the growing recognition of Islamophobia internationally and examine groundbreaking research into the phenomenon. The degree to which Quebec and Canada have recognized and combated Islamophobia will also be discussed. Specifically, the role of the media vis-a-vis Islamophobia and the Reasonable Accommodation Commission headed by Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor in will also be highlighted.

More presenters to be confirmed

WORKSHOP – “Radicalizing” Green – Reclaim!

(description to come)

15h – 15h15

15h15 – 16h45

Fred Burril and Cleve Higgins – “Precious Metals, Stolen Lands: the colonial roots of the Canadian mining industry” The Canadian mining industry is one of the most powerful in the world, committing atrocities in the name of profit across Latin America, Africa and Asia. But what about right here? This presentation re-frames Canadian mining from an anti-colonial historical and contemporary analysis of mining, market structures, and displacement of indigenous people on Turtle Island, making an argument that Canadian mining in the Global South is Canadian internal colonialism writ large across the globe.

Dru Oja Jay (author of the Offsetting Resistance report) – “Offsetting Resistance – who are the environmental NGOs accountable to?” Offsetting Resistance examines the effects of foundation funding on resistance to clearcutting in the Great Bear Rainforest historically, and looks at the plans the same groups and funding bodies have for the tar sands. The presentation discusses the scenario of resistance diverted into closed-door negotations, ultimately resulting in a sellout deal. The question is raised: who are ENGOs accountable to?

Katie Harris – “E-waste Management Policy Development” Presently, province-by-province, Canadian e-waste policy is being written co-operatively by an interdisciplinary team of industry and government specialists. The team forms a not-for-profit corporation that is effectively writing the environmental policy and standards which they (as industry representatives) will be held accountable to. This approach is quite different from the stringent approach of the European Union (EU). My paper will provide a short synopsis of what e-waste is, and why it is such an important international environmental issue. I will then explore the current state of policy creation that Canada is undergoing for e-waste management practices, with a focus on the state of policy in Quebec. Finally, by comparing our process with that of the Conventions arrived at in the EU I will provide a critique of our national process as something that could be labeled as green-washing. Exploring the idea of e-waste, the benefits of public-private policy collaboration in Canada in comparasion with the EU is an empowering discussion, and is a creative idea I feel will fit well with the theme of the conference.

WORKSHOP – “Your Radio is a Bomb: the explosive power and potential of independent media”

Aaron Lakkoff – Independent News Journalist (from CKUT Radio)
This workshop will explore the revolutionary potentials and limitations of independent and community media. With a particular focus paid towards community radio, we will look at some of the turning points in the recent history of grassroots media, and try to draw inspiration to fuel our present-day struggles. This workshop will also look at research being done on the history of community radio, from the Bolivian miners’ stations to pirate radio in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Sunday, March 14th

@ 7th floor of Concordia University’s Hall Building
1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest (metro Guy-Concordia)
Montreal, QC

10h30 – 11h
Registration & Breakfast served by the People’s Potato

11h – 12h30
Cameron Fenton “Dam It! James Bay Hydro, land use and the myth of green power” With the global environmental consciousness fixated on climate change, hydro-power is being cheered as a low emissions energy source to fuel the future. Quebec is banking on its current and planned hydro developments to lead the province in a clean energy future, but at what cost? Hydro-Quebec has a long and sorted history with indigenous communities, especially in the James Bay territory, turning traditional lands into flood plains, fracturing forests and forcing provincial politics on the Cree and Inuit people who have inhabited the region for hundreds of years.

Gaby Pedicelli (from Journal of Prisoners on Prisons) – “Green Prisons” There are currently a number of prisons being built across Canada. In selling imprisonment to the public, officials describe the ‘green’ features of the facilities. This workshop will discuss how prison authorities are mobilizing liberal environmental discourses to justify the expansion of the carceral in our communities. In this session, we seek to develop strategies to resist this trend.

Diana Rivadeneira – “Are Fair-Trade and organic labels enough? The case of quinoa production in Bolivia” In this presentation we will explore the socio-economic and environmental implications that consumption patterns of quinoa have along the commodity chain (from producer to consumer).This will be supplemented with a brief analysis of how the meaning of quinoa as a commodity is constructed in Western society through the creation of an specific market and how this meaning differs from colonial-based Andean perceptions.

Catherine Delisle L’Heureux (from ACTION CN) – “Redéveloppement et embourgeoisement dans Pointe Saint-Charles : qu'est-ce qu'on veut pour le quartier?” Des citoyens se mobilisent face à un projet de redéveloppement résidentiel, industriel et ferrovière sur les terres du Canadian National (CN) dans le quartier Pointe St-Charles. Cette présentation s`intéresse particulièrement au phénomène d’embourgeoisement et aux divisions idéologiques et symboliques entravant la démarche participative entre les promoteurs du projet et les résidents du quartier.

12h30 – 13h30
LUNCH – served by the People’s Potato

Special lunchtime workshop – The “Recycling” of Prisoners

13h30 – 15h

Alexandra Matak (from TAPthirst) This presentation will contextualize problems associated with the bottled water industry in the global fight against privatization of fresh water resources. It will touch on environmental, health and monetary costs of the bottled water industry (which we believe to be one of the biggest scams of all time) as well as highlighting the human rights issues involved with privatization as a whole. We will offer a brief overview of the problems as well as some tangible solutions for individuals wanting to be in solidarity with the struggle to keep one of our most fundamental needs accessible for all people, everywhere.

Virginia Moore – “Urban Agriculture and Food Security in Notre-Dame-de-Grace, Montreal” Food insecurity is an habitual problem for many of the urban poor due to lack of access to and knowledge about healthy food. Action Communiterre, a nonprofit community gardening network in Notre-Dame-de-Grace, Montreal, is one organization attempting to mitigate this problem through urban agriculture initiatives. This presentation will discuss the degree to which this strategy appears to be successful

Joana Luz (presenting a CURE project) – “People’s Potato Demographics”
(description to come)

Faiz Abhuani (from le Frigo Vert) – “Food for thought: food politics beyond critique” Thoughts from an anticapitalist food store about food as folk and the folk of food. Issues discussed include eating culture, the recipe of food production (or, food economics for fools), fear and food as cannon fodder, and funny stories from a food store

WORKSHOP – “Subverting Higher Education – developing an environmental justice course”

Katheryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon and Asha Philar (from University of Waterloo) We will talk about the process of planning and facilitating an environmental justice course, at the university level. We will talk about challenges and successes we’ve encountered, how to start discussions about difficult topics in an environmental studies context, and share resources and ideas. We will also lead sample activities that we have used in the classroom.

15h – 15h15

15h15 – 17h
DISCUSSION – Closing Plenary