Will the real story please stand up? Darby, democracy and self
Hello comrades, friends and allies
After listening to the pieces on 'This American Life' about Brandon Darby in which parts of my life have been overturned. I had some thoughts.History and participating in it is odd. Perceptions, truths and half truths swirl in a muck to produce 'the story'. There is always so much more to say.
This story, the story of informants, activists and motvies, is complicated, as are all of our lives. It is hard to get the whole picture from all the voices, concerns and viewpoints, especially when one of those voices--the government is holding their cards close and withholding information. It will take years to sort it all out.
I don't want to give it much more brain space, but want to clarify clearly a couple of things and ask some public questions, so please bear with me for a moment.
1. Darby DID NOT co-found Common Ground. He and I went in a boat to get our friend Robert King of the Angola 3 who we believed was trapped in New Orleans. After that mission, Darby left New Orleans for SIX WEEKS. Malik , Sharon and I co-founded the organization based on our expericences and a plan I had drawn up on the first trip, which Malik agree to. Darby was NOT an organizer and had NEVER organized ANYTHING in his life. He had attended a few demonstrations. Period. He wanted nothing to do with the idea when I proposed it. Malik, out of a sense of loyalty to us in what we did defending against the white militia, always bestowed it on him.
He didn't have the socio-political analysis to see the power vacuum the failing governments had created by their negligence and indifference to historically marginalized people. He saw and action adventure mission and charity, and once it was done, so was he until the organization grew.
The organization was well established in Algiers, Houma, and along the coast as well as had been making excursions for relief into the wards from the get go. We had already been working in the 9th, Lower 9th and 7th wards, albeit on much more clandestine and smaller scale when he returned. On the recent Democracy Now(Jan 09') story on this case, Malik gave him credit again, but regretted the statement and wanted to withdraw it afterward, but it was live and recorded.
It also begs the larger question what does co-founder mean? Besides 'street cred'. There were many wonderful, imaginative and hard working people who coordinated and organized many projects at Common Ground. What about those people, especially the early ones who built the first programs within days and weeks?
Darby was brought in as the interim director for almost three months, but under great internal politicking by him and causing duress from coordinators on the ground at the time. When he left the organization was in non-functioning on many levels. But that is a longer story for later.
2. Darby was NOT an anarchist. He actually never claimed to be for the longest time. He disagreed with horizontal organizing and many of the underpinnings of anarchism. He DID however absorb the language, when necessary for interviews or speaking in public. He NEVER absorbed the practice during the 6 years I have known him. He actually was more of a quasi 'central-democratic' Marxist. He thought anarchist wasted time, energy and resources. "Myself and few excluded of course." He would blurt in the same breath. He aligned himself with what he thought the Black Panther Party central committee would do--whether it was true or not. He didn't have a liberation or even an anti-oppression analysis, but enough information to get by
within radical circles.
He is a self described 'former christian fundamentalist' which might explain is 'all or nothing', binary 'beliefs'.
He was the only '''anarchist''' I have ever known that wanted to 'overthrow the government'. I debated and argued with him about the impossibilities and reasons why that was a bad idea on so many levels, but he took that message many places to the chagrin and dismay of many radical circles.
3. On at least THREE different and unrelated times Darby has stated that it was the FIRST time or reason he contact the FBI. The first was in 2004 when he, according to what he told me and my partner, went to visit the New Orleans office of the FBI to see what they had on him. It sounded SOOOO paranoid. He explained the story in great detail about his visit. The second time was in recent interviews where he has stated he saw that Brad and David were going to do something 'harmful' at the RNC in Minneapolis and he had to intervene. And now he is saying that he had to visit the Feds when he saw that Riad Hammad , his friend, was not in fact a school teacher in Austin, but was involved in some other 'nefarious' activities. So which is the truth? I know he met commander Bryson of NOPD in Oct/ or Nov. of 2005. He has stated in interviews that Bryson is the one who introduced him to the Feds. Did he begin his work to spy on Common Ground and all of us then? Where is the real Darby?
4. In the 'T.A.L.'/NPR story, they mention Darby going undercover to stop a Palestinian peace activist named Riad Hammad from recruiting people for potentially 'terroristic' like activities. They don't mention that Riad was found dead at the bottom of a river here in Austin under very unusual circumstances which the Feds ruled a suicide, but looked like was done to him. (See: http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/ReaderComments/?ContainerID=621848) And that there is NO public evidence that anything that Darby is saying is true. I don't know myself, but Riad cannot defend himself against the accusations.
They also don't mention that when I went to meet Darby at the Green Mews coffee shop in Austin during this time he was often with Riad and some men he described in excited tones as 'real revolutionaries' not activists. He could not wait to tell me, as if I would be impressed. I told him , as always that he needed to watch out for people he didn't know, but what I didn't know was working for the Feds. Silly me. So he is bragging about this in a public place, did he entrap Riad for the Feds like Brad and David? I have know idea, but I know that Riad is dead either because he took his own life because he thought someone was after him, or someone else took his life, because they figured there was an informer in their midst. Either of those scenarios are completely sad and scary, and not the world I want to create or be a part of.
5. In Darby's 'revolutionary rhetoric' over the years he tried to get numerous people, including myself, to do the things the two men were eventually taken down for. I believe now he tried to set me up in 2006 (after he, according to FBI documents began informing and provoking) to firebomb a bookstore called Brave New Books in Austin. I was NOT interested at all and thought it was stupid. I tried to talk him out of it. The event never happened. He was allowed to change his mind and move on. What if the Feds had raided him at the time?
It was the kind of action mixed with his confused politics that was a pattern with him. I was going to testify to this in David McKay's second trial. For years he advocated 'blowing things up' and later using arson. I don't know if he did, but he sure did try to get other to do it. So was it revolutionary zeal or agent provocateur shit straight out of the manual?
That is all I have to share now. Thanks for taking the time to let me clear the air on this rainy day. Two men are now in prison for a thought crime, one man is dead in Austin and according to the bad governments documents from the McKay trail he is still on the payroll working on other cases.
This is not democracy, this is a farce with real consequences and real impacts on so many lives. The pollution and fear mongering of the statehas gone unchecked of years, and now a new generation of men and women are in prison.
I still do not fear the government, but recognized the dangerous and ludicrous levels they will go to to justify bureaucracy, and budgets and departments and 'security'. When did we it become ok for anyone to turn in people for money and talk to the media like it was a sporting match between two teams? (Scratching of head...)
More of this will be revealed as the future becomes the present.
Do not be afraid, do not stop trusting, and do not stop dreaming of better worlds.
Still humbly dreaming of collective liberation.