scott (b. Feb. 18, 1967) grew up in a working class family and has engaged his varied life as an international author and speaker, coop business co-owner, political organizer, educator and strategist, activist, filmmaker, dad and underground musician in a lifelong quixotic quest in the ideas of collective liberation for all rooted in the philosophies of anarchy.
For over two decades he has focused on diverse socio-political issues including worker cooperatives, animal liberation, feminism, police brutality, environmental destruction, prison abolition, political prisoners, alternatives to capitalism and disaster relief.
His first book Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy and the Common Ground Collective (PM Press) has been critically lauded including being named by Progressive Magazine as one of the“Top five books of 2011″. His writings have appeared within the books Grabbing Back: Essays Against the Global Land Grab (AK Press) and What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race, and the State of the Nation (South End Press) as well as within radical publications including Fifth Estate, INFOSHOP.org, Free Voices, Slingshot, Turning The Tide, Earth First! Journal, and been translated for German and Spanish periodicals.
scott has worked for a number of national organizations creating and implementing direct actions, protests and mobilizations including Greenpeace, A.C.O.R.N., Rainforest Action Network, Ruckus Society and the short lived, but powerful networks, Continental Direct Action Network, and Mobilization For Global Justice. Additional he has worked with many grassroots groups on campaigns, education efforts and strategies including the Industrial Workers of the World and Anti Racist Action. In these efforts over the years he also co-founded a number of diverse projects, businesses and organizations rooted in cooperative, power sharing models including Lesson Seven (political industrial band), Radical Encuentro Camp (education project), Red Square (co-op art gallery), Dirty South Earth First! (environmental campaign) Century Modern (antique cooperative), Treasure City Thrift (volunteer/worker cooperative) and the Common Ground Collective (the largest anarchist organization in modern US history) in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
He has appeared in international media including the New York Times, Democracy Now, CNN, NPR, RT News, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, Der Spiegel , Z Magazine, Pacifica Radio, Medium and Vice among others. The New York Times characterized him as “anarchist, veteran organizer and an aficionado of civil disobedience” , the FBI called him “a puppet master involved in direct action” and NPR’s This American Life called him “a living legend among anarchists”. In other media he appeared in the documentary films Informant (Music Box 2013), Better this World (PBS 2012) and Welcome To New Orleans (Fridthjof Film 2006) and co-produced a documentary film Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation (PM Press 2008).
Beginning in the late 1990s, scott was under investigation and surveillance in nine states by the FBI for his political activity related to animal rights and radical environmental issue. He was labeled as an alleged "domestic terrorist" for a decade although no charges were brought. His high profile case was one of the precursors to the unveiling of the US governments spying on political activists and citizens that was widely revealed in 2013.
Today, when not a home in Austin, Texas he can be found speaking at college campuses and community centers internationally talking about anarchy, surveillance, political prisoners, climate change and environmental issues, animal rights, community organizing and worker cooperatives or at his site www.scottcrow.org.
Setting Sights: Histories and Reflections on Community Armed Self-Defense
Editor: scott crow • Foreword by Ward Churchill Publisher: PM Press ISBN: 978-1-62963-444-9 Published: 01/2018 Format: Paperback Size: 9x6 Page count: 336 Subjects: Politics / Civil Rights
Decades ago, Malcolm X eloquently stated that communities have the legitimate right to defend themselves “by any means necessary” with any tool or tactic, including guns. This wide-ranging anthology uncovers the hidden histories and ideas of community armed self-defense, exploring how it has been used by marginalized and oppressed communities as well as anarchists and radicals within significant social movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Far from a call to arms, or a “how-to” manual for warfare, this volume offers histories, reflections, and questions about the role of firearms in small collective defense efforts and its place in larger efforts toward the creation of autonomy and liberation.
Featuring diverse perspectives from movements across the globe, Setting Sights includes vivid histories and personal reflections from both researchers and those who participated in community armed self-defense. Contributors include Dennis Banks, Kathleen Cleaver, Mable Williams, Subcomandante Marcos, Kristian Williams, George Ciccariello-Maher, Ashanti Alston, and many more.
Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy, and the Common Ground Collective, Second Edition
Author: scott crow • Forewords by Kathleen Cleaver and John P. Clark Publisher: PM Press ISBN: 978-1-60486-453-3 Published: 08/14 Format: Paperback Size: 9 x 6 Page Count: 288 Subjects: Politics-Activism/Current Events
First edition named one of the “Top 5 Reads for 2011“ by The Progressive
When both levees and governments failed in New Orleans in the Fall of 2005, scott crow headed into the political storm, co-founding a relief effort called the Common Ground Collective. In the absence of local government, FEMA, and the Red Cross, this unusual volunteer organization, based on ‘solidarity not charity,’ built medical clinics, set up food and water distribution, and created community gardens. They also resisted home demolitions, white militias, police brutality and FEMA incompetence side by side with the people of New Orleans.
Crow’s vivid memoir maps the intertwining of his radical experience and ideas with Katrina’s reality, and community efforts to translate ideals into action. It is a story of resisting indifference, rebuilding hope amidst collapse, and struggling against the grain. Black Flags and Windmills invites and challenges all of us to learn from our histories, and dream of better worlds. And gives us some of the tools to do so.
The Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation Produced by scott crow and Ann Harkness Narrated by Mumia Abu-Jamal Released September 2008 ISBN: 978-1-60486-020-7 UPC: 022891476399 Format: DVD (NTSC) Language: English Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Length: 109 Minutes Subject: Documentary, Prison Abolition $19.95
The Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation tells the gripping story of Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, men who have endured solitary confinement longer than any known living prisoner in the United States. Politicized through contact with the Black Panther Party while inside Louisiana’s prisons, they formed one of the only prison Panther chapters in history and worked to organize other prisoners into a movement for the right to live like human beings. This feature length movie explores their extraordinary struggle for justice while incarcerated in Angola, a former slave plantation where institutionalized rape and murder made it known as one of the most brutal and racist prisons in the United States. The analysis of the Angola 3’s political work, and the criminal cases used to isolate and silence them, occurs within the context of the widespread COINTELPRO being carried out in the 1960’s and 70’s by the FBI and state law enforcement against militant voices for change.
In a partial victory, the courts exonerated Robert King of the original charges and released him in 2001; he continues the fight for the freedom of his two brothers. The ongoing campaign, which includes a civil case soon to come before the Supreme Court, is supported by people and organizations such as Amnesty International, the A.C.L.U., Harry Belafonte, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Ramsey Clark, Sen. John Conyers, Sister Helen Prejean, (the late) Anita Roddick, Bishop Desmond Tutu and the ANC. Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox have now endured as political prisoners in solitary confinement for over thirty-five years.
Narrated by Mumia Abu-Jamal, The Angola 3 features interviews with former Panthers, political prisoners and revolutionaries, including the Angola 3 themselves, and Bo Brown, Geronimo (ji Jaga) Pratt, Malik Rahim, Yuri Kochiyama, David Hilliard, Rod Coronado, Noelle Hanrahan, Kiilu Nyasha, Marion Brown, Luis Talamantez, Gail Shaw and many others. Portions of the proceeds go to support the Angola 3. Features the music of Truth Universal written by Tajiri Kamau.
Extras include: "Angola 3" music video for a song written and produced by Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics) in support of the A3 featuring Saul Williams, Nadirah X, Asdru Sierra, Dana Glover, Tina Schlieske and Derrick Ashong. Directed by Robin Davey. Plus a trailer for the film which features outtakes not in the feature.
To catch a terrorist: The FBI hunts for the enemy within This is a compelling story in the recent issue of Harper's magazine about the targeting of Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent, and the use of informants who do more than gather information in the ludicrous 'War on Terror'. I am quo...
scott crow: Interview on KOOP radio This is a recent interview w/ scott crow on Rag Radio with host Thorne Dreyer on Austin, Texas' KOOP 91.7. The interview is from Aug. 8th, 2011.
Ghosts, Warriors and those the state tries to bury alive Some of these warriors fell in battles, but some of these warriors were locked far away and forgotten by those who assume to hold power over the rest of us. Put into living coffins to finish their lives, and to their keepers dismay they co...
"If Setting Sights has a single thesis, it’s that support for gun control is not an inherently left-wing position.
This is a particularly hard sell in the United States, as author and historian Neal Shirley admits. Those opposed to gun control “tend to be right-wing, pro-government folks in their practical attitudes toward domestic and international military and police repression, yet somehow they see themselves as fighting against government control.” The National Rifle Association (NRA) has spent over $200 million since 1998 lobbying, campaigning for, and contributing to the campaigns of (predominantly) Republican candidates. A large majority of domestic terrorist attacks are committed by right-wing extremists. On February 14, a 19-year-old gunman, Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 people at his Florida high school with an AR-15. As if drawn to match Shirley’s description, Cruz was a former ROTC member who allegedly trained with white supremacist groups (though these claims have been disputed) and posted Islamophobic rants on Instagram; in his profile picture, he’s wearing a MAGA hat."
Examining the Role of Community Armed Self-Defense in an Era of Gun Violence By Chris Steele Truthout April 21st, 2018
"...In Setting Sights, editor scott crow poses tough questions on the philosophy of liberatory community armed self-defense, such as: When is armed engagement appropriate? How would we want it to look? How do we create cultures of tacit or direct support and include people who would never themselves engage in armed defense? How will we keep from centralizing power? When do the consequences outweigh the benefits? As students raise the issue of gun control in mass protests across the US, it is worth considering the lessons learned from history and the questions posed in Setting Sights."
A Political Philosophy of Self-Defense by Chad Kautzer:A Setting Sights excerpt The Boston Review February 1st, 2018
This week, Dan and Kyle are joined by author and activist scott crow. They discuss armed community resistance, a topic in crow’s new book, as well as successful activism tips, FBI informants, and crow’s views on the atheist community.
This week, Dan and Kyle are joined by author and activist scott crow. They discuss armed community resistance, a topic in crow’s new book, as well as successful activism tips, FBI informants, and crow’s views on the atheist community.
Everyday Antifascism & The Limits of Antifa: scott crow On Movement Building Under Trump by Kit O'Connell kitoconnell.com January 31st, 2018
“A reporter asked me the other day — they’re like can you build movements on antifascism? I said no, because it’s a reactive set of ideas, and strategies and tactics that are really good for this very limited thing, which is confrontation and bringing witness, if you want to use that term, to egregious exclusion — neo-nazis and fascists of all forms.”
Rather than a movement in its own right, antifascism is a tactic, a reaction to the presence of a specific danger to our communities and their most vulnerable members. “There are limits to it because it is a politics of reacting to something that is rising or fear of something that may become bigger.”
This week, we'll speak to scott crow, an author and former antifa activist, to talk about what the media coverage tends to miss about these often controversial groups of radical fascist-fighters.
Then we'll be joined by David Neiwert, a veteran journalist who's covered far-right movements for years. David is currently the Pacific Northwest correspondent for SPLC's Intelligence Report and the author of the upcoming book: Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. We'll talk to him about the riots at Charlottesville, and what they say about the latest iteration of white nationalism in the US.
"...I would strongly recommend this book to people less familiar with anarchism and social movement history than your average well-read punk or anarchoid is. For the person in your life who thinks anarchists only wear black and smash windows, or doesn’t know who the Zapatistas are, or sees no place for the kind of armed self-defense (yes, with guns) that the immediate post-flood situation required, this is a perfect book. If you don’t know much about the grassroots efforts post-Katrina (and I didn’t), it’s a compelling read, and crow’s passion and heart comes through on every page..."
Black Flags and Windmills: A Review by John DuBose Anarchist Studies 23-1
"Black Flags and Windmills is about looking at disaster from the point of view of those who are always forgotten: the poor. The past struggles of the Black Panther Party and the Zapatistas (EZLN) are where Scott and others draw their political activist strength. These groups have to fight against a system that sees them as unimportant and must survive on their own terms. Black Flags and Windmills is not a testament about fighting and winning against the system, rather it a testament of what people can accomplish when they meet collectively on a common ground."
Black Flags and Windmills: A Review by Tommy Strange Mission District September 2014
"...The subtitle is Hope, Anarchy, and the Common Ground Collective so it is a memoir of that short time span. Starting with a first aborted attempt days after to find ex-panther Angola Prison released Robert King, then to his return a week later to meet with Malik Rahim, and Sharon Johnson. They immediately sat in Malik’s Algiers home (on high ground right by levees that held by a river west of city general) after Katrina and formulated a plan and put it into action. With in one month they had hundreds of helpers and were distributing food, and setting up health clinics. That alone is worth your time..."
scott crow interviewed on Animal Voices Radio by Vic Mucciarone Animal Voices Radio July 29, 2014
Building on ideas of larger struggles, crow discusses the philosophy of anarchism and the practical applications it has – how can anarchism create a framework for asking questions and challenge ourselves to envision different futures in which we don’t have all of the solutions.
Crow draws on his experience with Common Ground Collective, which was built up in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and what disasters reveal about collective liberation.
How do animals fit into this vulnerable economy involving our food and energy grids?
The following interview was first published in the spring edition of the Earth First! Journal, now available to view free online.
scott crow is a longtime anarchist political activist, political strategist and author based in Austin, Texas, and a founding member of the Common Ground Collective, an anarchist Hurricane Katrina relief effort. We caught up with scott to ask about his work with Dirty South Earth First! (DSEF!) and Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), as well as his thoughts on the state of the eco-resistance struggle today.
The voter, says crow, must pass into oblivion. In his or her place must arise the doer, the creator—that person who sees all potential and jumps into action.
Ancient Rome suffered a political paralysis similar to contemporary America. In Rome voters were mostly irrelevant. Into this political void came the Roman emperors who, while bringing some domestic stability, only hastened Rome's fall. Whereas the great American political paralysis might be a melancholic moment for this country's patriots, scott crow on the other hand sees vast opportunities to do great things.
scott crow at the Austin Film Fest: 'Sparks fly' by Stephen Saito The Moveable Fest October 23rd, 2012
“Let me say that we had nothing to do with making the film except that we were interviewed for it,” said Austin-based activist Scott Crow in one of the more unusual introductions to ever begin a Q & A session at a film festival.
Proudly identifying himself as an anarchist, but quickly adding that “the world I actually want to live in is an egalitarian world,” Crow ushered a touch of chaos into the typically staid practice of a post-screening chat when he took center stage at the Austin Film Festival’s premiere screening of “Informant,” which had won the festival’s prize for Best Documentary earlier in the day.
scott crow in Chico: As the crow flies by Vic Cantu newsreview.com December 13th, 2012
“I am a revolutionary.”Thus began Scott Crow’s rousing speech about making the world a better place. Speaking in Ayres 106 on the Chico State campus on Dec. 6, Crow, an Austin, Texas-based activist and author and self-described anarchist, advocated fighting for what is morally correct, even breaking the law if need be. And Crow should know—10 of his friends, including his father and uncle, have been jailed for protesting, mostly for vandalism.
Repression against grassroots hurricane relief lingers in New Orleans by Vic Cantu newsreview.com December 13th, 2012
Since Hurricane Katrina landed over seven years ago, residents of New Orleans and the surrounding communities have faced one environmental and humanitarian crisis after another. The BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 severely damaged the Gulf ecosystem, leaving the public to bear the costs. Epidemics of poverty, homelessness, violence and incarceration continue to plague New Orleans. When Hurricane Isaac recently pounded the Gulf Coast with heavy rains that led to extensive flooding in August, it left in its wake another environmental disaster.
In nearby Braithwaite, La., the Stolthaven Chemical Facility has reported that as many as 191,000 gallons of chemicals — including toxics such as octene — may have leaked into surrounding waterways and communities.
When I began reading Black Flags and Windmills (PM Press 2011), by scott crow, my imagination was sparked by the power of scott crow’s commitment to radical organizing. There is a sense of no return that pervades this deep and intense work. In passionate and effusive prose, crow describes the nature of Hurricane Katrina’s impact as well as organizing efforts to support communities of color and poor people in the Algiers neighborhood. But crow lends an equal amount of time to exploring the logistical aspects of organizing, and how they relate to an unshakable faith in anarchism. For the fascinating and courageous insight into strong, though radical in its self-critique, anarchist praxis, Black Flags and Windmills has become a classic in the genre of non-fiction, and an important tool for folks today working in the context of rising cats-tastrophy (hint, hint, Hurricane Sandy…).
Black Flags and Windmills: One of top 5 Reads for 2011 By Steve Hart Razorcake Friday, March 30 2012
Black Flags and Windmills is an incredible book about a group of dedicated men and women who, faced with challenges from all sides of the United States government, built an oasis in a desert of shitty water and bloating animal carcasses. The author also writes about some of his internal struggles with the collective and doesn't shy away from his criticism of his own techniques and beliefs.
I highly recommend this book. It is dramatic and tense, full of intense hope and utter despair. Everyone should read this.
Black Flags and Windmills: One of top 5 Reads for 2011 The Anvil February 19, 2012
While the group had many contributors and co-creators, it is fair to say that CGC (now a non-profit called Common Ground Relief) was initiated by a local ex Black Panther, a local woman, and an anarchist, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when New Orleans was traumatized; entire neighborhoods had been emptied – sometimes through force; the government was demonstrably more interested in controlling the behavior of those who were left, than it was in meeting their needs. CGC, like many other efforts that seek to serve people’s needs without government or NGO mediation, has been lauded by some as an example of direct action, and criticized by some as a charity. In fact it was probably both, depending on when and on which people or subset of people one focuses on. Scott crow makes clear that there was an ongoing negotiation between working with people who were not anarchists, not used to dealing with anarchist horizontal process and mostly probably not interested in learning to deal with it, and the anarchists who made up most or sometimes all of the volunteers who were coming in from outside the area. Differences that were not made any less challenging by the different racial, economic, and cultural compositions of the two groups.
Black Flags and Windmills: One of top 5 Reads for 2011 by Elizabeth DiNovella The Progressive Magazine December 21st, 2011
crow says the surveillance and ongoing criminalization of dissent is “an absolute farce. People like me are paper tigers. If you are going to have a war on terrorism, you need terrorists. Who are easy to find? Social activists.”
He knows that the FBI uses surveillance as a way to intimidate activists. “What everyone fears about surveillance, it’s happened to me, and I’m OK,” he says. “It hasn’t been pleasant. But I’m OK.”
Black Flags and Windmills: A Review by Mariann G. Wizard The Rag Blog December 13, 2011
Black Flags and Windmills, crow's first book, focuses on Common Ground Collective, an anarchist-based relief organization he helped found when official disaster relief efforts not only failed to meet the needs of affected residents along the Gulf Coast, but seemed intent upon criminalizing them.
But that wasn't what he set out to do. While millions sat stunned, weeping at televised images of a drowned metropolis, as mythic to the American psyche as Atlantis to the Greeks', scott crow drove from Austin, Texas, to New Orleans to look for a stranded friend.
Black Panther Party matriarch Kathleen Cleaver's insightful introduction sees this as the fulcrum, asking, "What deep motivation drives anyone to travel by boat across an unfamiliar flooded city looking for a friend under life-threatening circumstances?"
The answer comes from another BPP icon, Geronimo ji Jaga: "Revolutionaries are motivated by great love for another world."
Founding Common Ground by Blair Parsons Texas Observer September 16th, 2011
While Common Ground took shape the vacuum began to fill with a volatile cocktail of greed, racism, and fear. Some members of Common Ground took up arms to protect themselves and their community, knowing their work could not flourish without security. I have never brandished a weapon, but neither have I had one pointed at me. Right or wrong, Common Ground decided guns were a necessary response. Throughout this tenuous time, Common Ground’s commitment and work remained unshaken. Undaunted by constant security threats, the collective remained steadfast. Crow writes “we would not let Power deny dignity and self-determination to anyone.”
Black Flags and Radical Relief Efforts in New Orleans: An Interview with scott crow by Stevie Peace & Kevin Van Meter Left Eye On Books November 13, 2011
On a personal level it was healing to write: I came back with post-traumatic stress, couldn’t function in society and felt like the ghost in the machine a lot. The writing actually helped me to relive those traumas in a different way, to really dissect them. It was almost a five-year process; I feel so much better now than I did when I started the book. This is not to say that Black Flags and Windmills is a sorrow-filled book. There are lots of beautiful stories along the way and lots of really engaging organizing that was going on. The book describes the anarchist heyday of Common Ground, when the most self-identified anarchists came; this was early September 2005 until 2008. Afterward, the organization became much more structured in a traditional nonprofit way. This is not to denigrate it—just to say that the book focuses on this initial period of “black flags” at Common Ground.
The Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation By William T. Armaline (Ph.D.) and Damian Bramlett Political Media Review
It is no secret that the United States does not hesitate to incarcerate. While the US only represents 5% of the global population, it cages nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners-approximately 2.3 million people. Of these 2.3 million people, approximately half are African American (13% of US population). Of course, the vastly disproportionate caging and state coercion of African Americans in the US has a long and brutal history. This bloody legacy is made manifest in prisons like Angola, named for the country from which many southern plantation slaves were abducted. The Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation details the history of not only Angola prison, but the broader struggle between the US police state and organizations like the Black Panthers over the rights and quality of life of African Americans in the US...
Narrated by Mumia Abu-Jamal, this is the story of Robert King Wilkerson, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox - men who have endured solitary confinement longer than any known prisoner in the US, and who formed one of the only prison chapters of the Black Panthers. Inside the notorious Angola prison - a former slave plantation where the only change since slavery is it’s classification, prisoners work under much the same conditions as the 1800’s, watched by mounted overseers with shotguns.
It is these images of a modern day plantation that hit the hardest, combined with first hand accounts of institutionalized rape and murder that keep the population in physical and psychological chains. The Angola 3’s victory is that in this environment of total oppression, they organized fellow prisoners into a movement for the right to live as human beings. Within the context of the COINTELPRO operations being carried out by the FBI in the 60’s and 70’s to silence radical voices, this achievement is nothing short of a miracle.
Through interviews with the 3, as well as original Black Panthers Geronimo Pratt, David Hilliard and others, the nature and scale of this struggle is revealed, and the down to earth humanity of all the members of the movement shines through. Although occasionally very dry in presentation - many of the interviews are on scratchy, penitentiary intercoms with only a photograph to accompany them - patience is rewarded with gems of wisdom and the indomitable spirit of true freedom fighters.
For those that don’t know, this film is an excellent introduction to one of the greatest social movements of the 20th century - The Black Panther party, an organization that had the American power structure shaking in it’s goose-stepping boots for over a decade until it was mercilessly crushed and nearly destoyed, it’s leaders assasinated and imprisoned, its true political aims obscured. Time to watch Huey P’s speeches on YouTube again kids.