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Flashpoint Imprint

Always provoking critical thought as he turns how we see the world upside down, it is with pleasure that PM has published Derrick Jensen's books, and are now partnering together in a new imprint, Flashpoint Press.

Flashpoint Press

Flashpoint Press was founded by Derrick Jensen to ignite a resistance movement. Our planet is under serious threat from industrial civilization, with its consumption of biotic communities, production of greenhouse gases and environmental toxins, and destruction of human rights and human-scale cultures around the globe.  This system will not stop voluntarily, and it can not be reformed.

Flashpoint Press believes that the Left has severely limited its strategic thinking, by insisting on education, lifestyle change, and techno-fixes as the only viable and ethical options. None of these responses can address the scale of the emergency now facing our planet. We need both a serious resistance movement and a supporting culture of resistance that can inspire and protect frontline activists. Flashpoint embraces the necessity of all levels of action, from cultural work to militant confrontation. We also intend to win.

PM Press and Flashpoint Titles:

Earth at Risk: Building a Resistance Movement to Save the Planet (Book)
Editors: Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith
Publisher: PM Press/Flashpoint
ISBN: 978-1-60486-674-2
Published January 2013
Format: Paperback
Size: 9 by 6
Page count: 264 Pages
Subjects: Politics/Activism/Nature/Environmentalism
$20.00

Earth at Risk: Building a Resistance Movement to Save the Planet is an annual conference featuring environmental thinkers and activists who are willing to ask the hardest questions about the seriousness of our situation. The conference is convened by Derrick Jensen, acclaimed author of Endgame, who has argued that we need a resistance movement against civilization itself.

The twelve people in this volume present an impassioned critique of the dominant culture from every angle: William Catton, Jr. explains ecological overshoot; Thomas Linzey gives a fiery call for community sovereignty; Jane Caputi exposes patriarchy’s mythic dismemberment of the Goddess; Aric McBay discusses historically effective resistance strategies; and Stephanie McMillan takes down capitalism. One by one, they build an unassailable case that we need to deprive the rich of their ability to steal from the poor and the powerful of their ability to destroy the planet. These speakers offer their ideas on what can be done to build a real resistance movement, one that includes all levels of direct action—action that can actually match the scale of the problem.

Earth at Risk includes Derrick Jensen, Arundhati Roy, William Catton, Jr., Rikki Ott, Thomas Linzey, Gail Dines, Jane Caputi, Waziyatawin, Aric McBay, Stephanie McMillan, Lierre Keith, and Nora Barrows-Friedman. This collection is sure to inform, engage, and inspire.


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The Knitting Circle Rapist Annihilation Squad
Authors: Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan
Publisher: PM Press/Flashpoint
ISBN: 978-1-60486-596-7
Published October 2012
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5.5
Page count: 192 Pages
Subjects: Fiction/Relationships
$14.95

The six women of the Knitting Circle meet every week to chat, eat cake, and make fabulous sweaters. Until the night they realize that they’ve all survived rape—and that not one of their assailants has suffered a single consequence. Enough is enough. The Knitting Circle becomes the Knitting Circle Rapist Annihilation Squad. They declare open season on rapists, with no licenses and no bag limits. With needles as their weapons, the revolution begins.

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Earth at Risk: Building a Resistance Movement to Save the Planet (DVD)
Editors: Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith
Publisher: PM Press/Flashpoint
ISBN: 978-1-60486-688-9 UPC: 760137535096
Published July 2012
Format: 4 x DVD
DVD Format: NTSC
Language: English
Package: 7.5 by 5.5
Length: 7 hours
Subjects: Politics/Activism/Nature/Environmentalism
$20.00

Earth at Risk: Building a Resistance Movement to Save the Planet is an annual conference featuring environmental thinkers and activists who are willing to ask the hardest questions about the seriousness of our situation. The conference is convened by Derrick Jensen, acclaimed author of Endgame, who has argued that we need a resistance movement against civilization itself.

The seven people in this film present an impassioned critique of the dominant culture from every angle: Thomas Linzey gives a fiery call for community sovereignty; Aric McBay discusses historically effective resistance strategies; and Stephanie McMillan takes down capitalism. One by one, they build an unassailable case that we need to deprive the rich of their ability to steal from the poor and the powerful of their ability to destroy the planet. These speakers offer their ideas on what can be done to build a real resistance movement, one that includes all levels of direct action—action that can actually match the scale of the problem. Earth at Risk includes Derrick Jensen, Arundhati Roy, Thomas Linzey,  Waziyatawin, Aric McBay, Stephanie McMillan, and Lierre Keith. This collection is sure to inform, engage, and inspire.

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Truths Among Us: Conversations on Building a New Culture
Author: Derrick Jensen
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-299-7
Published: September 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 9 by 6
Page count: 300 Pages
Subjects: Philosophy, Politics
$20.00

To function in this society, we are asked to live by lies: that humans have the right to take what they want from the earth without giving back, that knowledge is limited to that which can be quantified, that corporations and governments know what is best for our future. Our instinctive outrage at environmental collapse, political conspiracy, and corporate corruption is stifled by the double-speak of popular opinion telling us that the "progress" of civilization demands unquestioning allegiance to those in power. But the brave voices in Truths Among Us seek to help us acknowledge the values we know in our hearts are right—and inspire within us the courage to act on them.

Among those who share their wisdom here is acclaimed sociologist Stanley Aronowitz, who shows us that science is but one lens through which we can discover knowledge. Luis Rodriguez, poet and peacemaker, asks us to embrace gang members as people instead of stereotypes, while the brilliant Judith Herman helps us gain a deeper understanding of the psychology of abusers in whatever form they may take. Paul Stamets reveals the power of fungi, whose intelligence, like that of so many nonhumans, is often ignored. And writer Richard Drinnon reminds us that our spiritual paths need not be narrowed by the limiting mythologies of Western civilization.

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Resistance Against Empire
Edited by Derrick Jensen
Published: June 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60486-046-7
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 300
Dimensions: 9 by 6
Subjects: Politics, History

$20.00

A scathing indictment of U. S. domestic and foreign policy, this collection of interviews gathers incendiary insights from 10 of today’s most experienced and knowledgeable activists. Whether it’s Ramsey Clark describing the long history of military invasion, Alfred McCoy detailing the relationship between CIA activities and the increase in the global heroin trade, Stephen Schwartz reporting the obscene costs of nuclear armaments, or Katherine Albrecht tracing the horrors of the modern surveillance state, this investigation of global governance is sure to inform, engage, and incite readers.

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Mischief in the Forest: A Yarn Yarn
By Derrick Jensen
Illustrated by: Stephanie McMillan
Published: June 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60486-081-8
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 40
Dimensions: 11 by 8.5
Subjects: Children's Picture Book, Environmentalism
$14.95

Old Mrs. Johnson lives alone in the forest and loves to knit sweaters and mittens for her grandchildren in the city. One day, when returning from a visit to the city, her solitude comes to an end when her mischievous forest neighbors reveal themselves in a delightfully colorful fashion.

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The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability
By Lierre Keith
ISBN: 978-1-60486-080-1
Published June 2009
Format: Paperback
Size: 6 by 9
Page count: 320 Pages
Subjects: Environment, Politics

$20.00

Part memoir, part nutritional primer, and part political manifesto, The Vegetarian Myth will challenge everything you thought you knew about food politics.

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Lives Less Valuable
By Derrick Jensen
ISBN: 978-1-60486-045-0
Published September 2009
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 224 pages
Size: 8 by 5
Subjects: Fiction/Thriller

$18.00

Putting corporate disregard for ecology on trial, this novel follows Vexcorp, a wealthy corporation that, at a safe distance, counts both the lives of others and the health of the environment as expenses on a balance sheet.

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Songs of the Dead
by Derrick Jensen
ISBN: 978-1-60486-044-3
Published March 2009
Format: Paperback
Size: 5 by 8
Page count: 352 Pages
Subjects: Fiction, Thriller, Politics

$20.00

With Songs of the Dead, Derrick Jensen has written more than a thriller. This is a story lush with rage and tenderness on its way to being a weapon.

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How Shall I Live My Life?: On Liberating the Earth from Civilization
by Derrick Jensen
ISBN: 978-1-60486-003-0
Published July 2008
Format: Paperback
Size: 9 by 6
Page count: 304 Pages
Subjects: Politics, Environment

$20.00

In this collection of interviews, Derrick Jensen discusses the destructive dominant culture with ten people who have devoted their lives to undermining it.

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Now This War Has Two Sides
by Derrick Jensen
Released: March 2008
ISBN: 978-1-60486-007-8
UPC:  877746000720
Format: Audio CD
Time: 115 minutes
Package Size: 5.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Spoken Word, Politics

$19.99

"Where will you choose to make your stand? Give me a threshold, a specific point at which you'll finally stop running. At which you'll finally fight back. Stand with me. Stand and fight. I am one, and we would be two........"

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Resistance Behind Bars

The Struggle of Incarcerated Women
By Heather Brown
Feminist Review
July 5th, 2009

Of the many staggering statistics in Victoria Law’s eight-year study, Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles Of Incarcerated Women, the following fact will make your jaw drop: the number of incarcerated women in United States prisons has almost doubled from 68,468 to 104,848 between 1995 and 2004.

Like their male counterparts, this population of women is overwhelmingly comprised of African Americans and Latinas, which can be largely attributed to racial profiling—not, as popular mythology might suggest—an ad hoc increase in crime amongst these ethnic groups. Law’s fascinating text is born from her personal experience as a teenager who narrowly avoided incarceration herself, and the friendships she cultivated with women who were not so lucky. As Law raised her own consciousness about the prison-industrial—complex, she began investigating incarcerated women’s involvement in prisoners-rights movements and was told flat-out by other activists that “Women don’t organize.”

Resistance Behind Bars is a compelling testament to the untruth of this statement, and offers innumerable examples of women’s prison uprisings. One such instance is a 1975 sit-down demonstration for improved medical care at the North Carolina Correctional Center for Women, in which women fought back against prison guards attempting to beat and herd them into a gymnasium. Creatively, these prisoners used volleyball net poles, chunks of concrete and anything else immediately available, causing the state to invoke the aid of over 100 guards from other prisons to pacify the rebellion.

Law’s exhaustively researched text includes anecdotal information she harvested from interviews, letters, and conversations with prisoners as well as government reports and major media sources. Most importantly, Law highlights the deeply gendered nature of women’s prison experiences, which cuts across virtually all aspects of incarcerated life. Sexual abuse, motherhood, physical labor, education, medical care, and the extent to which women prisoners’ activism receives media attention are all areas that Law treats with a distinct sense of urgency. What’s more, Resistance Behind Bars has bonus features that underpin Law’s activist project: a list of resources organized according to region for how readers can get involved in the prisoners-rights movement, and an annotated list of recommended readings.

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Terms of Imprisonment

By Stefan Christoff
The Hour
June 25, 2009

U.S. political prisoner Robert Hillary King tells his arresting tale in From the Bottom of the Heap

Imprisonment has certainly been a source for incredible literary works throughout the ages, with key memoirs of liberation leaders or rebel artists often scribed and shaped behind bars.

Today, over two million people are in U.S. prisons - the highest national incarceration rate in the world. Despite the massive numbers of prisoners in the world's stumbling superpower, prison literature is not a major thread within the American literary landscape, although prisons unquestionably play a key role in shaping U.S. society.

Robert Hillary King's striking autobiography From the Bottom of the Heap tells the story of a Black Panther activist who spent 35 years in the infamous Angola state penitentiary in Louisiana for a crime he was exonerated from in 2001 after authorities reluctantly acknowledged his innocence. His book joins a long line of critically important literature penned by political prisoners in the U.S., including George Jackson's celebrated Soledad Brother and Leonard Peltier's Prison Writings, which spells out the thoughts of one of the Western world's most prominent prisoners and member of the American Indian Movement (AIM).

King's extended prison term included 29 years in solitary confinement in a six- by nine-foot cell and was a direct retribution by U.S. authorities for his successful organizing efforts as a militant behind bars. The book tells the tale of King's struggles to improve jail conditions for the majority African-American population in Angola prison,
  
and sheds light on life within Angola, the largest maximum security prison in the U.S., literally built on the grounds of a former plantation in Louisiana.

King's book speaks to an important political moment in U.S. history, a time when black liberation movements, led by groups such as the Black Panther Party, were locked in high-profile battles against institutional racism in the U.S., movements that also struggled to overturn dominant political structures in a nation with certain economic foundations rooted in slavery.

Beyond history, King's autobiography rings as a clear reminder that many Black Panthers remain behind bars, even with the election of the first African-American U.S. president. Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace remain in Angola prison. They, along with King, made up the Angola 3: a trio linked to the Black Panthers, subject of an ongoing national campaign in the U.S., and held in solitary confinement for decades due to organizing efforts behind bars. These prison activists were among the first to fight for the desegregation of prisons in the U.S. - now they're fighting for an end to violence against prisoners and for better living conditions.

From the Bottom of the Heap clearly shows that prison-related struggles of today are rooted in a long and often untold track of American history. The book paints a picture of the lived reality of African-Americans in the South prior to the civil-rights and black power movements in the U.S. King describes in a charismatic literary style the experiences of growing-up black and poor and also how poverty and political violence led him to join the Black Panther Party while in jail.

Even with the election of Barack Obama, many stories of the fight against racism remain underground. The circumstances and true-to-life stories described in From the Bottom of the Heap illustrate that there are multiple and diverse African-American experiences in the U.S., experiences that range from the White House to prison walls.

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Becoming Other Media:

A Reading and Review of Becoming the Media
By Kevin Van Meter | Team Colors

When Jen Angel, former co-founder and co-editor with Jason Kucsma of the countercultural-qua-activist magazine Clamor, first circulated a draft of Becoming the Media: a critical history of Clamor Magazine on the web nearly a year ago, I was excited that a history of the magazine would be available to future projects. With PM Press’s recent printing of an expanded pamphlet this material becomes available to the next generation of ‘media makers’.

Clamor Magazine (2000-2006) and the history described by Angel herein, serves us two fold: first, as a lens to particular point of composition in the counter-globalization and neighboring movements – those years immediately following the protests in Seattle; and secondly, as an example of the general approach taken by radical and progressive media outlets. Foremost, as Angel suggestions, Becoming the Media attempts to provide lessons to the creators of independent media and “radicals and progressives” in social
change movements, to use her terminology. To clarify my own, I often use movement media and independent media interchangeably; in this case the movement is the counterglobalization movement and neighboring movements and while independent media could refer to a larger array of media for the purposes of this article I am speaking of radical and left of left-of-center media.

As a reading and a review Becoming Other Media looks through this lens and utilizes these lessons to explore the history of Clamor, a brief genealogy of social movements, and the approaches of movement media and movement strategies themselves.

Becoming Clamor
Clamor was launched into a volatile and exciting time for radical movements in the United States - following the Seattle protests and the accumulation of nearly two decades of activity. As a publication it utilized the energy of the moment and parlayed it into a growing readership, and its launch was to be followed by an accompanying yearly independent media conference (Allied Media Conference, which continues), Clamor music festival and other activities.

Predominantly Becoming the Media is a personal account, rather then an analytical treatise or inquiry into independent media, and this makes sense in understanding where Angel and many participants in the project come from. Prior to Clamor Angel, Kucsma, and many independent media activists of the counterglobalization movement started with the rich and vibrant zine culture of the 1980’s and
1990’s. Here writers were able to develop the tools that would be useful in large undertakings and the years to come: developing a voice, speaking about the intertwined nature of personal and political issues, communicating effectively (affectively, sometime ineffectively), and of course production and distribution of media. Zines themselves are entrance activities to movements and activities requiring a higher level of involvement, composition, resources and coordination (such as a magazine with a national focus). But here Clamor remained very much in this spirit, and as Angel aptly points out, became a point of entry for new voices. She says, “From the beginning, we chose to prioritize new writers. We felt if you wanted to know what experts had to say, there were enough other magazines already available.” In the spirit of
zine culture, Clamor, Indymedia and additional new media initiatives launched during these years were (and in some cases are) highly participatory. The usual entrance requirements of academic degrees or name recognition in the circle of voices that make up the left in the United States, were tactically avoided in such projects. The possibility of participation in media - in voicing ones own and ones communities’ issues, experiences, and activities - is still unrealized even with the onset of blogs, ready-made
websites and existing alternative media channels. As new subjectivities develop in the course of struggle, utilizing media for both inter/intra-movement and extra-movement communication (often completely different activities) becomes part of the process of mapping struggles, linking them to others, and connecting with the realities faced by neighboring communities.

Here Clamor predominantly served as an inter/intra-movement communications relay for an ever-expanding movement, and the editors and participations of the publication attempted to link the publication to other movements and populations beyond the counter-globalization movement.
Too often when radical projects cease operations they fall in with our fleeting memories
without any documentation on their emergence, development, and eventual decomposition. In the process of documenting Clamor, Angel suggests a number of lessons to movements and movement media.

In providing Clamor as an entrance activity and a site for new voices the magazine attempted to challenge the professionalization of journalism. The process of limiting voices by requiring ‘credentials’, ‘traditional education’ or the output of time and resources unavailable to working class movements and many movements of color; is part and parcel of this professionalization and takes place on the left as well as in corporate media outlets. This attempt by Clamor to open this field, while limited and at times
problematic, should be noted and replicated. Clamor opened this process by, and can credit much of its success to, their approach of putting attraction before recruitment. Not only did the magazine seek to
attract readers by being aesthetically pleasing and interesting, but by providing communications channels and mechanisms for participation beyond just rhetorical openness. This took two forms: first, by presenting a publication that utilized open space, photographs and numerous type-faces, Kucsma (the primary designer) allowed readers in an increasingly visual media landscape to engage with more then just type on a page or screen. Additionally, Angel offers a number of examples of its participatory nature
including: a yearly national conference, regular events, local community reports, numerous opportunities to write in the publication and review recent books and other materials, and a supportive editorial staff that was willing to communicate with potential authors.

Part of this openness was a benefit of geography as the publication was based in the Midwest. Here Clamor editors were able to travel to both coasts while connecting with activists and communities outside of the major cities on either coast. Included among its pages were voices from the geographic center of the country and outside of major cities, and these are results of the relationships the magazine was able to build from its Midwest location.

Being based outside a major city provided Angel and Kucsma affordable rent while laboring part-time on the magazine. Additionally, Clamor ended up taking business loans for its start-up and in doing so took major personal risks. Here Angel concretizes the critique of the nonprofit industrial complex and how money is still a ‘specter’ in radical movements. While she provides no clear answer on how radical projects fund themselves, negotiate between paid staff and volunteers or separate themselves from the funding-state-apparatus; these are all difficult questions that should be addressed in the context of particular projects and initiatives, and strategies developed on a movement-wide basis. But I will comment shortly before moving on: if we seek to separate ourselves from the nonprofit industrial complex then we need to create intramovement structures for our own self-reproduction.

One of the strategies Clamor utilized was to have a tiered decision making structure, whereas Angel and Kucsma in taking the most risk (by taking personal loans) made the decisions that effected that risk. Editorial decisions, while initially made exclusively by the two of them, would eventually spread to a larger collective of participants. Here Clamor decided on a structure that was both ‘task’ based and changed with changing conditions and environs. To often organizational strategies are draw from ideological positions or assumptions of historical forms rather then a strategic analysis of the social field, the composition of movements and the project as an intervention into both these terrains. This flexible structure allowed Clamor to grow and develop during an important period in movement history, though it could not weather the downturn in this movements’ composition.

Finally, Angel provides a discussion of the dynamics at the heart of Clamor and in the process discusses her personal relationship with her partner and co-founder Kucsma. This personal relationship provided the magazine with a full time designer (Kucsma) while the other partner worked full time (Angel). By acknowledging the micropolitical relationships at play within Clamor, we are provided a clearer understanding of its functioning. Without these the form that Clamor takes is not clear, even with stated organizational mechanisms, as one must provide insight into the flows and channels of an activity. These are actually how radical projects function: as negotiations with different personalities, as mechanisms and coordinating bodies, as flows and intensities of activity. Only when we lay this bare – these micropolitical relationships as they intersect with organizational and molar structures - can we draw vital political lessons and map the processes taking place. Often this comes with an honest admission and Angels’ is far too rare in writings about political projects.

As a lens into the movement at the time and as a lesson to future media and radical projects Becoming the Media provides a few clear points. Clamor arose out of a particular set of conditions and precursors some of these factors are tied to the vibrant zine culture of the1980’s and 1990’s, and as a project sought to attract rather then recruit by providing an engaging project and clear avenues for participation (including many beyond just reading the magazine). By organizing decisions within Clamor in a taskbased way, the project was able to change along with changing conditions and grow; and Angel’s honesty when it comes to the personal dynamics at play within the magazine provides us with a useful piece as we engaged without own organizing work. These lessons and this lens become clearer when placed within a critical history.

The Problem of a (critical) History
Clamor is a do-it-yourself guide to everyday revolution.” As the concluding statement from Clamors’ mission statement this is just part of the terminology thrown around quite recklessly throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, usually referencing the Situationist International or rebellions in France during May of 1968. I didn’t then, and still don’t know, what Clamor or other activists are referring to when they say “everyday life”.

In response to this ambiguity, I suggest, everyday life is a terrain and a conceptualization of certain practices, activities, struggles, power relationships and flows; in spatial, temporal, and compositional ways everyday life functions as a series of moments – not a slogan for grossly abstracted politics. For during these years and rarely in the pages of Clamor was anything resembling an “everyday revolution” described. When theorists such as Henri Lefebvre, Guy Debord, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari speak of everyday life or workers centers, environmental justice projects and coalitions such as Right to the City organize in existing communities they are posing themselves outside and against a politics that seeks to intervene solely on macro-levels. Clamor as much of the counter-globalization movement functioned on the level of rhetoric, of the big issues such globalization and war, and rarely explored the struggles taking place in everyday life by inquiring or intervening directly into them. Specifically everyday life, and hence an everyday revolution, includes discourses and activities that aren’t defined outwardly as political and involve subjectivities that aren’t defined as “activist” or that are purely self-referential.

During the upswing in movement activity (in those few years following Seattle) and the increase in movement composition the affective winds, while powerful, temporarily blinded the movements’ participants to a process of self-reflection that would have revealed that our strategies were not intervening into everyday life. This blindness was summed up quite clearly with the often-quoted slogan spray painted on a wall during the Seattle protests: “We are Winning”. Many in the movements believed this as well, as did the author. The fact that the winds of protest were not tied to larger cycles of struggles was initially apparent in the affinity group structure – as those making up affinity groups didn’t have “affinity” with anyone in their communities beyond each other.

The counter-globalization movement in the United States suffered from ‘a thinness’ of extra-movement relationships and the lack of actual power. This became quite clear in the aftermath of 9/11 and with the onset of the American invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. Following 9/11 the movement already in decline with waning support for summit protests, found itself unable to response to the rhetorical climate. Here the language, energy and participants of the counter-globalization movement were captured by an authoritarian, liberal anti-war movement, which, except for very few examples, has been completely impotent. Neither movement at this point has recomposed itself.

If the counter-globalization had gone beyond the rhetoric of everyday revolution to actual organizing these difficult times could possibly have been weathered. Organizations and groups of affinity in other sections of the ‘movement of movements’ shifted and recomposed after 9/11 and with the onset of the Afghani and Iraqi invasions. In Europe they were tied to vibrant social centers, Asia to radical unions, in South America and South Asia to a multitude of community based organizations. The planets movement of movements shifted and continued organizing around issues of precarity (in Europe), land and water rights (in much of the global south), and the creation of immigrant workers centers and environmental justice projects (here in the United States). The self-identified activist-based counter-globalization movement, which was immensely self-referential, has thus been unable to recompose itself after these defeats, while other areas of the movement in the United States and across the planet have done so.

Clamor was caught up in this process of decomposition and the key fault of Angels’ Becoming the Media is not acknowledging the devastating effects of this. During the same period not only did Clamor cease operations, but so did similar general movement publications such as LIP and Punk Planet; and the North American / English language based publications that remain are increasingly ideologically based (Left Turn, Green Anarchy, Fifth Estate, Upping the Anti), limited to certain organizations or internally conceived voices (Rolling Thunder, Northeastern Anarchist) or are hardened “old left” with entrance requirements (Progressive, Z Magazine, Counterpunch); these are all hence limited in both their scope and functioning. While the past three years have been exciting for specific constituency based movement media (such as the launch and success of $pread Magazine) as well as the continuation and expansion of particular Indymedia projects, there is a serious lack in the independent media landscape in the United States for debate and discussion on movement and political composition.

Currently, while in a period of movement decomposition it is important to look at the range of movement media, how they function, what they do, and how they offer opportunity for theoretical flexibility and strategic innovation. Often organizational, strategic and tactical flaws that are not apparent in a period of movement growth become red herrings in a time of decomposition. The lack of organizational depth, community penetration and relationships in everyday life found in both the media and movement initiatives of the counter-globalization movement led to this decomposition during a shift in the political environment here in the United States. As an inter/intra-movement communications relay the Clamor magazine could not longer continue when the movement it functioned as part of and whose activities and energy flowed through its pages, decomposed. (Here the author challenged Angel on these very matters within her contribution to one-off online journal In the Middle of a Whirlwind: 2008 Convention Protests, Movement and Movements, which he is a co-editor of. The results of this challenge, while still not exhaustive, are available at the journals website www.inthemiddleofawhirlwind.info)

A close reading of Clamor (the Table of Contents and selected materials from its’ 38 issues is available online at www.clamormagazine.org) reveals an attempt at theoretical flexibility and strategic innovation that is trapped within the self-referential counter-globalization and neighboring movements, and limited by its identification with the “activist” archetype and equation of politics with “activism”. Particular offensive was the “What It Means to Be Active” (Issue #13, March/April 2002) issue featuring a white middle-class woman in her twenties on the cover. Beyond the immensely problematic representation of activists being white, middle-class, young, and fitting particular aesthetical, gendered and other standards – which the magazine attempted to addressed proactively in other issues - is this idea of activism-qua-politics all together. The concept of activism is both self-referential and self-limiting as it seeks to contain politics and political intervention within a particular category and set of activities. Additionally, activism as such often deals with molar issues (war, capitalism, the state apparatus) and while these do function in the terrain of everyday life (as the prison industrial complex, as the imposition of work, the violent maintenance of a certain forms of life) the site of intervention is the issues themselves (by activists), rather then substantive organizing campaigns into and throughout everyday life. While Clamor served a specific role as an intra-movement publication, a do-it-yourself guide to everyday revolution would function quite differently; this distinction is important since it reflects the particular political strategy and conceptualization critiqued above. Returning to the critical history contained within Becoming the Media, beyond separating Clamor from changes in movement strength and composition, the text does not address the core failures of the publications approach and the counter-globalization movements it represented.

An additional problem with the text is that it is in fact a history rather then a genealogy. As a genealogy Becoming the Media would account for the discourses flowing through it, the shift in movement composition, and seek to provide an account of the emergence, development and decomposition of the magazine in relation of these developments. A critical history attempts to make an argument for the importance of movement media as a moral argument, rather then a strategic one. Becoming the Media does not explore the important precursors to the magazine, nor does it describe Clamors’ becoming as an initiative and organ attached to the counter-globalization movement. This is not simply a challenge to Angel; but rather to the perspectives held by much of the left and radical movements in the United States and the movement media of which Angel is a part. The dichotomy between a history and a genealogy is tied to another problematic assumption represented by slogan used in movement and left media: “speaking truth to power”. Here neither truth nor power is given any substance or description on how they function. The idea that radical and movement media are speaking truth to the power structure is problematic, but that is an aside. The issue with “speaking truth to power” and the approach of radical and left media is that they are speaking “truth” against the “untruths” of corporate media outlets, the government and society at large. These assumptions force movement media into a corner, arguing for its own existence and self-preservation in moral terms rather then strategic and political ones. Rather movement media is highly subjective, speaks from subjective positions, and should serve as an amplifier for counter-subjectivities and new subjectivities that develop in the course of struggle.

I would argue that this is not simply a rhetorical difference it’s a fundamental difference in how media projects function as inter/intra-movement and extra-movement communications relays and the form its content takes. As stated above Becoming the Media and the magazine that it describes both seek, as does much of the radical and left media, to intervene in the consciousness of the population and the movement itself. Such an intervention, expressed as “truth to power”, attempts to create social change by changing how ‘people’ think – the attempt is that with a leftward or revolutionary change in thinking with come a leftward or revolutionary change in politics - which in turn will change everyday life. Not only is this overly simplistic but it is immensely problematic to believe that radical and left movements are the bearers of “truth”; and the strategies that develop from this poison tree are disastrous – as they cower in affinity groups where none of the activists have affinity with anyone beyond the activist scene, of activists that don’t see a politics beyond their own activism, in organizations that believe they carry the torch leading to a new world, and in movements which develop from moral or ideological arguments rather then from strategic and compositional ones.

Finally, as the bearer of “truth” radical and left movements often adopt a smug certainty and participate in duels between irrelevant positions (between green and red anarchism, between social ecology and participatory economics, between anti-civilization politics and other revolutionary positions), that is, positions that have no relevance outside of the self-referential movements themselves. This is not simply problematic from an organizational perspective – of a politics of attraction and engaging activity over a politics of recruitment and changing consciousness – but as a self-referential mechanism it contains and limits the possibilities for revolutionary change. This leads us to a strategic analysis of independent media generally, and to the question: what does independent media do?

What Does Independent Media Do?
As previously stated Becoming the Media attempts to make an argument for the importance of movement media as a moral argument, rather then a strategic one. Hence it does not situate Clamor within the field of movement media and does not provide a strategic analysis of its position in this field, its functioning as an inter/intra-movement communications relay and its relationships with extra-movement subjectivities and communities.

Different media initiatives do different things, and we need to be clear about what each do if we are going to repopulate the field of movement media. For instance, and for our purposes here I am limiting this outline to print and online text based media:

  • zines function as entrance activities for new writers and producers of media, as does blogs and websites, of which Infoshop.org and the Indymedia network are just two examples; these allow for the dissemination of material and ideas without the filter of established radical and left media outlets; and these forms of media often intertwine personal opinions and experiences with overtly political ones.
  • general interest movement media such as Left Turn, Clamor, Z Magazine & Znet, Counterpunch and LIP provide pathways for movement discussions around varied issues and portraits of activities taking place within the movement and society at large; these forms of media differ in regards to not just their content but to the extent that they are participatory and accessible.
  • specific interest movement magazines as with $pread Magazine utilize an existing community to accomplish much of the same purposes as general interest movement magazines, but with a targeted audience.
  • longer form journals as with Upping the Anti and Monthly Review allow for in depth discussion of movement positions and discussions, and attract an audience looking for such discussions beyond the snips provided by the other outlets.

Within this simple sketch there are three axes, which at points intertwine but serve as a useful way of discussing the effect and purpose of movement media; these are the communications relays described throughout Becoming Other Media: inter, intra and extra movement media. There are certainly roles for inter-movement communication (debating strategies for a particular protest campaign, for example), intra (discussing the creation of resources for the reproduction of movement media), extra (for describing movement activities to a wider audience); and the movement media field needs to be populated with all of them. Here we simply need to be clear and honest about what each one does, a particular publication can circulate information and discussion among a sector of the movement and perform this task in a useful manner, but we should not delude ourselves to thinking that it will also serve as a vehicle for extra movement social transformation.

Much of current movement media, of which Clamor posthumous example, don’t move beyond the orgasmic moment – that is beyond providing a portrait connected to an affective response of an issue, project, activity, or action. What is sorely needed is media that provides in depth analysis into the current composition and strength of movements, inquiries into the refusals and struggles taking place in everyday life, identifies new subjectivities arising in these struggles and organizational forms that are emerging in the conflicts with capital and the state-apparatus. This is not an either / or proposal, we need orgasms as much as we need engaged analysis.

Movements in the United States can draw from movement media across the planet that utilize varied mechanisms including militant and co-research | conricerca, inquiry, popular education, community dialogs, encounter | encuentro; and can draw upon the rich history of community organizing in the United States – to create new forms of media in a period of movement decomposition. These mechanisms and traditions seek to produce subjective, dialogical and strategic materials from within movements to intervene in everyday life to “produce breaks and mobilize flows”. Here these mechanisms attempt to engage with and attract those involved in political struggles that do not self-identify as activists, and construct community relays and institutions; hence theoretical flexibility and strategic intervention is developed out of the existing activities of those in struggle on the terrain of everyday life. Movement media becomes the communications relay for said activities and struggles, as it takes a myriad of forms and a multiplicity of voices channel through them. The task of current movements is to repopulating the media landscape in understanding its current composition, and the task of movement media is to map the current composition of the movement, refusals and struggles taking place in everyday life and the movements power visa vi capital and the state-apparatus. This is not just a question of becoming the media, but of becoming other media.


Becoming Other Media
What does a truly dialogical media do? What would our forms of media look like if we took seriously the challenge brought by our brothers and sisters in Zapatista communities and the proposals of The Other Campaign | La otra campaña? How would we in walking ask questions?

The task of becoming other media, of utilizing the lessons from Clamor is not simply to repopulate the movement media landscape but to intertwine the creation of new movement media with a renewal of the movement in general. While we find ourselves in a period of low movement composition and activity, there are a number of promising developments: workers centers, environmental justice projects, support campaigns for political prisoners, the Starbucks Workers Union, the creation of projects addressing sexual assault and mental health in radical communities, the increase in bike spaces and bike based activism, the grown of worker owned coops, the success of the 2007 United States Social Forum, the launch of the Domestic Workers United national campaign and emergence of the Right to the City Alliance and the opening of new infoshops and social centers across the United States. The renewal of independent, movement-based media begins with these struggles and at the point of composition we find ourselves in currently.

Dialogical forms of media - that in walking asks questions – would begin on the terrain of everyday life and seek to become communications relays, sites of encounter, and contain orgasms as well as substantive and useful analysis. Becoming the Media provides insight into how this would function in addition to some of the mistakes made by previous movement media outlets.

Finally, Becoming the Media can certainly be mined for additional lessons then the ones explored here, but the key one is the importance of documenting our genealogy, our endeavors, the functioning of our projects, and the moments that they inhabit. A collection of materials from Clamor should be put together, allowing its contribution and the materials contain therein to speak for itself. It would be a shame to loose these materials to the bottom of closets, and hopefully one of our fine radical publishers will have the foresight to support such a collection.

Author Biography
Kevin Van Meter is a community organizer and researcher (focusing on everyday resistance) originally from Long Island and a member of the militant research collective Team Colors. Van Meter appears, along with Benjamin Holtzman and Craig Hughes, in the AK Press collection Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigation // Collective Theorization, with an article titled "DIY and the Movement Beyond Capitalism”; an excerpt from his article “The Moment I Cannot Escape: Care, Death, Mourning and the Struggle Against It All” is published in the recent zine collection “The Worst: Grief and Radical Politics”; most recently Van Meter as part of Team Colors co-coordinated the one-off online journal published by The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press called “In the Middle of a Whirlwind: 2008 Convention Protests, Movement and Movements”, which is available at www.inthemiddleofawhirlwind.info; additional writings can be found and the author contacted at: www.warmachines.info

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Rick Dakan Interviewed by AMP

AMP Magazine
Aug/Sept 2008

I was able to get a short interview with the author, Rick. He himself was the creative force behind a video-game start-up (and a very successful one too), and much of what happens to Paul is based on Rick’s own life experiences during his stay in Silicon Valley. And as a Florida native, it was natural to set the second book in Key West. So my friend Gilda and I came up with a few questions for Rick…Gilda is definitely the more intellectual one as you can tell, though I wouldn’t say my only interest lies in what tattoos people have and where.  I would have definitely asked the question about living off the grid if she hadn’t! It has always been a small dream of mine…that and toppling the system...

Gilda: I loved the bootlegged surveillance system that the characters put together in Mile Zero.  It had a lot of veracity.  It made me want to try it.  So my question is – is that actually possible? Has anyone ever done that?  Or is it in the realm of possibility because there is so much surveillance out there?

Rick: My inspiration for the bootlegged surveillance cameras and RFID detectors that the Crew sets up all over Key West in Mile Zero is definitely the modern surveillance state we see in big cities like
London and New York, but which is spreading out across the world. Could someone set up such a network in secret? I'm not sure, but I think on a small scale that it would be absolutely possible. Key West is a dense, small island, full of lights and cameras and other electronics – plenty of places to camouflage your hidden cameras. While it would take a lot of work and commitment and money, I think it is theoretically feasible. I certainly wouldn't be surprised to learn some day that some private or criminal group had done something similar.


Andrea: There was one con in the first Geek Mafia book that I found particularly impressive, from the staging of the fake protest and spraying people with fake blood, to the following manipulation of the right wing media machine.  Was this based on any real-world events? Do you see any potential in an actual campaign like this to improve the quality of news or bring attention to issues that are usually forgotten?
       
Rick: I'm not aware of any particular events that put together all those elements – protest, media manipulation, and flat out conning. Well, the lead up to Iraq maybe... The way the media, especially the so-called new media, but all media in general, runs wild with stories has always fascinated me and I seem to return to it in my writing again and again. I don't know how well something like that would work in the real world, but I'd certainly be very excited to try if anyone's interested. Drop me a line.


Gilda: Your characters live “off the grid” in the spaces that the city allows with underground identities, economies, and values.  This too, comes off as really convincing, and its hard not to think that you may have had some experience being unfindable – is that a fact?       

Rick: I did my research of course, but I also spent a good part of a year playing a game of “cat and mouse” with a private investigator named Steven Rambam. I tried to hide my digital self and he worked hard to find me. I've also interviewed people who've gone off the grid and changed their whole identities to create new lives. And while it is possible, it's getting harder and harder to do. Let me clarify that. If you go through the effort (often illegal) and spend the time and money, it's definitely feasible to live a false identity. But living entirely off the information grid in this modern era is becoming more and more difficult and will, I think, someday soon be impossible.


Andrea: Do you actually have a tattoo of the logo of your former video game company like Paul?
       
Rick: Thanks goodness no! I might have considered it at one point, I was so proud of our little company. Lucky for me, the logo, while cool, was not particularly tattoo friendly. Although having said that, one of our artists who worked there did seriously consider getting such a tattoo. In his case it would have been just one of many, but since he doesn't work there anymore either, I hope he never got it.


Gilda: Key West is as much a character in Mile Zero as any humans, and has a layered character of history, forgotten zones, tourism, and gentrification.  How did changes to the city, particularly those that people call gentrification, affect your thinking about setting up the story and the characters?
       
Rick: I've been going to Key West for vacations off and on since I was in high school twenty years ago, and it has changed in significant ways. One of the most important and profound is that it's become almost impossibly expensive to live in. I had a long time resident describe it to me as the “Martha's Vinyardization” of the island, with wealthy out of towners buying third or fourth homes there, driving up the prices. With no industry to speak of besides tourism, it makes for a striking mix of wealthy and service class, and anytime you get that kind of sharp divide condensed into a small space, I think it's a great source for drama. Just wandering Key West and talking to people I had scenes and characters and locations jump out at me and demand to be in the book. For example, talking to a bartender at a fancy restaurant who was renting someone's screened in back porch as a bedroom gave me the idea for the Crew's housing scam. With the Crew having the self-defined goal of doing some good in the world, it seemed to me that striking out against that Martha's Vinyardization while at the same time exploiting the tourist trade was a natural area for them to pull their cons in.


Andrea: What current projects are you working on, and what lies ahead for Chloe and Pauls’ Crew?  Shall we see them again?

Rick: I'm finishing up a third novel which has nothing to do with Geek Mafia - a story about someone who becomes obsessed with the stories of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. But I'm jumping back into the next Geek Mafia book very soon, which I've got all outlined and ready to go, so hopefully that will be out early in 2009. So yes, lots more Chloe and Paul, plus some brand new Crew members. And lots of hackers.

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Behind the Mask on Vivisection

Vivisection.info
 
Shannon Keith's documentary Behind The Mask is a well constructed film that aims to 'humanise' the much maligned animal rights activist and to explicate the direct action wing, so to speak, of the animal rights movement.

It is not, as I expected, a simple juxtaposition of content but a synthesis of various resources - historical clips, interviews with noted activists, etc. - that aims to chronicle animal liberation.

Shannon, though, does not restrict herself solely to those who act extra-legally but includes voices from those who have, for one reason or another, faced repression from the state. It is strictly of the animal liberation cannon.

Although the participants 'tell their own story' - so Melanie Arnold, for example, discusses her slaughterhouse arson, a "successful operation" - Shannon has so edited the documentary that this personal recounting contributes to an understanding of the animal rights movement in general. We learn not only about particular incidents (which would be interesting but ultimately sterile) but about the larger context in which these occurred. The editing, the choice of material, etc., is to be praised for granting a twin insight, as it were, into the time bound and the transcendent: we learn about certain activists and something far greater simultaneously. Whereas much animal rights material merely threatens to say something interesting, Shannon's work is as provocative as it gets.

Her basic thesis, after all, is that animal liberation - breaking into laboratories, etc - is justifiable. Viewers (and readers of this short review) are free to disagree with this [01]. Her documentary seems to have a dual purpose. She not only shows that the demonisation of certain 'extremists' is, in general, misplaced but she also examines how that erroneous demonisation has become the principle weapon which animal abusing industries (and their servant western governments) use to combat peaceful, law abiding activists.

Animal activists are not the 'thugs', the 'monsters', the malestream media so glibly dismisses them as. This explains the call to lift masks. Needless to say 'mask' has more than one meaning. Shannon's work does, literally, show us behind the balaclava's - the faces behind noted lab. raids, etc. But only superficially, I think, is her work about lifting 'their' masks. I would argue that its real purpose is to lift our own masks. Or, if you prefer, those of society. It is a call for a rejecting of the masks of demonisation - the vicious stereotypes and caricatures that have come, over the last five years, to cover, to conceal, to obscure, the real motivations for direct action in the animal rights community through a lazy discourse of 'terrorism'.

Behind the Mask is not so much a challenge to the direct activists involved as it is a challenge to the viewer: if you genuinely believe that animal suffering matters, as we all profess to, how can you condemn those who seek to stop it through peaceful, but illegal, means? How can you - without wedding yourself to double standards - reject interpersonal cruelty toward animals but uphold institutional cruelty? As I have put it elsewhere: why is it regarded by society as wrong to stamp on the tail of a single cat but it is 'acceptable' to skin alive countless million mink for their pelts? (And why do authorities outlaw the former but defend the latter?)

Keith Mann, a humble, peaceful, clearly compassionate convict, offers a useful perspective on this. He explains the animal extremist worldview at its most reductive (but profound): animal liberation is the favouring of life over profit/property. The vast majority of us do know this… when it comes to cats and dogs. So if we want to understand direct activism, we only need look inside ourselves and remove our double standards. Most of us know, on one level or another, that taking the life of an animal for human trivialities - and that includes 'meat' - is unjust: we need only analogise from the dog being beaten in the street to the elephant being beaten for the circus or the cow for our food.

Shannon Keith 'humanises' various figures in the animal liberation movement - (by this, I mean that she counters the toxic propaganda of governments, industries, etc., that want to 'dehumanise' direct activists by constructing them as 'thuggish ringleaders' of the 'terrorist' ALF, etc.) - by showing that behind their masks, and behind society's masks, animal liberationists are harmless. To put it glibly, Shannon shows that animal liberationists are simply 'animal lovers' with enthusiasm (and without the obligatory hypocrisy). There is nothing genuinely 'monstrous' about animal liberationists even though, in the US and UK press, that's been the one sided depiction now for the last five years or so.

Of course, direct activists might very well be motivated by compassion. They are harmless, caring individuals no doubt. But if laws are broken then, by definition, activists will be punished. The politicised penality that has activists receiving excessive sentences is, without question, risible (it has almost becoming tedious to compare the obscene sentences handed down to animal rights activists for minor affrays with the slapped wrists that rapists, child abductors, etc., suffer both sides of the pond). But if direct activists break the law then, given the world we live in, there can be little complaint (and there very rarely is) over the consequences that befall the activist when apprehended. But a new stage has been reached in the repression of the animal activist: you don't even need to commit a crime these days to have the authorities knocking down your door or otherwise pursuing nefarious ends.

In Behind the Mask we hear from Kevin Jonas and John Feldmann. Kevin Jonas is, as most readers probably know, "staring down the barrel of many years in prison for running a goddamn website". His great crime was thinking the 'wrong' thoughts: he never harmed anyone, he never even threw a stone or exhibited zeal with spray paint. But he did fail to condemn those who did which is, of course, so depraved it warrants the kind of sentence meted out to baby killers! (I jest).

Shannon's documentary manages to capture both the obscenity and the absurdity of the political policing which the animal rights community faces today. John Feldmann, lead singer for Goldfinger, recounts how the FBI stormed his residence because, in essence, he attended a protest. Shannon herself has been investigated by the FBI simply for sympathising with direct activism. Netcu Watch readers need no introduction to the abuses of authority that our movement has weathered and will, without question, triumph over. One cannot say that the Netcu's of this world work for big Pharma, big business, for iatrocracy and pharmocracy [02], but one can say that they might as well be doing so. Of course, we are forever reminded that we have a 'democratic right' to protest: witness the recent letter to Netcu Watch by Blair's peons or the insipid, asinine letters from David McWhirter, of Thames Valley Police, to the SPEAK campaign.

But these 'rights' have been so winnowed over the last few decades that they have almost become a charade, a pastiche of genuine democracy. Things which we now take for granted, such as having to pre arrange events with the relevant police authority, the obligatory camera man, etc., would have outraged our grandfather's generation. The government is more than willing to 'support' legitimate protest as long as its so neutered as to be feeble: you have free speech, as long as no one can hear (turn off those megaphones); you've a right to express your opinion, as long as its fenceposted out of sight and you pack up and piss off within an hour.

What passes for protest, what the government 'permits' in its New World Order panoptican, is often an empty gesture allegiance to a democratic tradition that is, in truth, long dead. "Protest is fine" say the police in effect "as long as you pre arrange it with us first so that we can take the sting away and ensure its utter pointlessness". We see this with noted campaigns in England. They haven't succeeded but their goals are obvious: 'protest' exsanguinated of any content until it simply becomes a gesture. Direct action emerged within the context of a disciplined society that has rendered illegal any activism which is not thoroughly innocuous.

In conclusion, Shannon's work is inspiring and provocative. It is an informative and entertaining piece of work - yes, it's possible to entertain with animal rights issues, however ultimately depressing they actually are - that is suitable to the convert and to the sceptic. Unlike many documentaries produced by those unsympathetic to the movement, it allows direct activists their voice without first manipulating it and using it against them which is often the case when animal liberationists confront the media. This allows the viewer to reach a conclusion based on who animal liberationists actually are, rather than to conclude on the basis of what an unsympathetic editor chooses to construct them as (the construction is usually one of the following: bad or mad). Shannon is, in that sense, serving the movement well. Although I regard it as one of the best, if not the best, documentaries to come out of the animal rights movement in recent years, there are a few minor 'glitches' that I would point out simply to avoid being sycophantic.

One being, I think there was a lot more Shannon could have explored. I would have liked to hear, for example, more from Ronnie Lee, Rod Coronado, et al, the former hardly featuring at all. The documentary could have been twice its length. But maybe this is unfair. After all, Shannon obviously aimed to appeal beyond an 'captive audience' who would be happy to sit through many hours of content. It is questionable whether a sceptic would be willing to do this and, let's face it, it is important that Shannon's work isn't simply preaching to the converted. This shouldn't be read as critical.

My concluding point is that Shannon's work was so good that there should have been much more of it than there was: perhaps a sequel? It is a powerful, imaginative and in many ways unique documentary that is highly recommended. It is about time that we had a serious documentary about direct action in animal rights - after many hatchet jobs on British television - and, I think, we finally have one in Shannon Keith's Behind the Mask.

[01] Is direct action for animals justified? This is not the place to explore that. Shannon Keith's documentary goes beyond this. Even if it were not justified that would not, in a so called democracy, legitimate politicised penality and the crack down on legal, peaceful protest that we are witnessing today.

[02] 'Pharmocracy' is Thomas Szasz's word. It means, basically, a political system that becomes indiscernible from big Pharma. 'Iatrocracy' is Ivan Illich's word which, along with 'biocracy', is used throughout his brilliant Limits to Medicine to describe the expropriation of 'health' by Power, for Power.

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Behind the Mask on Indymedia


NYC.Indymedia.org

"Behind the Mask" is a compelling documentary detailing the methods used by the ALF in order to free animals from the daily tortures of experimentation and other forms of cruelty. Interviews with ALF activists, members of PETA, and many other important figures in the animal rights movement make this a great introduction to the ALF and the entire movement in general.

Behind the Mask", a documentary by Los Angeles animal rights lawyer Shannon Keith, takes a look at the methods used by the ALF, who operate as individuals or in small groups in over 20 countries throughout the world, most heavily in the U.S. and the U.K. The documentary's premier was well received by a near capacity crowd at the 11th street Loews theater in Manhattan on Thursday, September 14th.

Labeled as terrorists by the U.S. government and freedom fighters by the animal rights community, the Animal Liberation Front's aim is to free as many animals as possible from places of abuse. Outfitted in Army fatigues and Ski-Masks, activists carry out anonymous raids on university laboratories, factory farms, and fur farms in order to place animals in safe homes where they can live free from unnecessary suffering. The ALF has been known to set fire to empty buildings that house animal experimentation labs as well as sabotage expensive research equipment, in efforts of inflicting economic damage to animal exploiters. The ALF does however claim to be a nonviolent movement, with the primary goal of exposing and putting an end to atrocities committed against animals behind closed doors. The ALF also proudly states to have never hurt a human or animal in any of their daring raids, which has included the release of 6,000 Mink from a fur farm in southern England in 1998.

The film captures animals ranging from mice and rats to dogs, cats, and monkeys being used for the testing of pharmaceuticals, household and cosmetic products, many of which never see the shelves. Among several experiments documented was that of a newborn Macaque monkey, whose eyelids were stitched shut while intrusive sound effects were blasted into his ears during a blindness study. ALF members filmed themselves while breaking into a research facility at the University of California to rescue the monkey and ultimately introducing it to an adoptive mother where he began a slow physical and psychological recovery. This was a rare happy ending in an industry where an estimated 20 million animals are killed each year.

Members of PETA, the largest animal rights organization in the world were in attendance for the film along with other animal rights groups and activists. Following the screening, PETA's President, Ingrid Newkirk spoke on how it is the responsibility of people to reach out to the billions of animals killed for food, fur and experimentation every year. Newkirk went on to say that although some medical advances have been made due to cruel experimentation most are possible without animal testing. In fact, many of the major medical breakthroughs such as the isolation of the virus that causes AIDS, the discovery of the connection between cholesterol and heart disease, as well as the link between smoking and lung cancer were not results of animal testing. During research on the disease polio, in which a large number of monkeys were killed, the primates infected with the disease showed minimal hope for a cure while the real breakthrough came when scientists learned to grow the virus from cells.

Bed-Stuy resident Olivia Lane, who works as a content manager for the website supervegan.com, called the film inspiring and said that people should do anything within their power to help animals in need, be it breaking and entering or simply not supporting the leather or fur industries.

In the courtroom, director and attorney Shannon Keith represents animal rights activists and prosecutes animal abusers. She claims that great change is needed in order to get the few laws protecting animals to be enforced the way they need to be. The ALF and Keith both believe that breaking the law is often times necessary to create change. In the film, parallels are drawn to what at the time seemed like extremist measures during the civil rights movement. The ALF, PETA and other animal rights organizations are aware of the uphill battle that still lies ahead and believe in civil disobedience as a necessary tool to draw attention to the issue and for change to finally come about.

Newkirk wrapped up her speech by urging the audience to get involved in putting an end to all animal exploitation in whatever way they feel comfortable. Weather its writing letters to newspaper editors, handing out leaflets at local events, or simply questioning the lady in the subway wearing the fur coat. If enough people get active, human lives can be improved without animals suffering.

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Behind the Mask in the Calcutta Telegraph

It is not often that a film is made to give ‘terrorists’ a voice, especially when the people concerned are categorised as the number one domestic terrorist threat in the US by the FBI. Behind The Mask, a film about animal liberationists who break the law to free animals from laboratories, provides previously unseen footage on this much debated topic. No doubt, it has stirred controversy with accusations of glamourising vandalism.

Of late, animal rights activists have taken to illegal and violent actions to rescue animals from laboratories. However, such efforts have been widely condemned by the public and the mainstream media in the West.

Shannon Keith (writer-director), an American animal rights lawyer, made this film in an endeavour to present the animal rights activists’ side of the story. According to Keith, change only happens in society when laws are broken. The film shows footage of an animal rights activist named Jill Phipps being killed during a protest regarding transportation of live animals. “They call us terrorists but the reality is that over the years four animal rights activists have been killed during protests,” notes Jill’s mother, Nancy Phipps, in the film.

Keith Mann, Rod Coronado, Ingrid Newkirk, Melanie Arnold, Jerry Vlasak and Kevin Jonas have all been imprisoned for indulging in illegal activities and all of them present their opinions in the film. They are well-known names in the animal rights movement who believe in direct action to save animals from torture.

Footage of animal rights activists setting ablaze a slaughterhouse sets one thinking if ends justify the means. Arsonist Melanie Arnold says, “If I had an opportunity, I would do it again since economic damage to animal abusers is justifiable.” The film draws parallels between violence in the animal rights movement and violence in the human rights movement. There is great music synchronised with action footage and quotes from John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Junior have been utilised effectively.

Regardless of what one thinks about the tactics of the Animal Liberation Front, the film is an extraordinary one that is well worth watching.

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Jacinta Bunnell Interviewed in Colouring Outside the Lines

By Melanie Maddison
Colouring Outside The Lines zine
March 2005

Jacinta Bunnell
Location: Rosendale, NY

How would you describe your art?: Not high-falutin'

3 Likes: Sparkly markers, discovering really sweet and magical things for the first time, and laughing so hard that I cry.

3 Dislikes: Anything that makes someone feel bad about themselves, racism, and the fact that there is even one person who is homeless in this country of such wealth.

Daily Inspirations: The young people I know who ask me very earnestly to seatbelt their stuffed animals into the car, music that makes my heart burst open, my amazing friends who will listen to me say just about absolutely anything, and my partner who very cutely and creatively makes music on a guitar or drums nearly every day.

People you admire: My nieces (Keetin and Zia), young queer kids who survive high school, people who make thesauruses, Joan Armatrading, and David Sedaris.

Superpower you would most like to possess: Whatever it takes to get one of those really awesome costumes with gadgets that hook on buildings, flame-powered boots, and a really nice belt.

http://www.girlsnotchicks.com/


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Your genderific colouring books, (in collaboration with Irit & Julie), ‘Girls are not chicks’ and ‘Girls will be boys will be girls’ feature your original illustrations in a clip-art /traditional colouring book style, subverted & deconstructed with slogans such as ‘don’t let gender box you in’ and ‘sometimes the princess is saved by the girl next door’. How did you first develop these specific art/illustrating skills? What is your artistic background?

It all started very early. My dad was the only art teacher I ever really had, with the exception of one semester in college. And I only took that class because the professor was one of only 2 out lesbians at my school and I wanted to get to know her. I just always liked to draw and when I was small, I would draw countless pictures of strawberries for the chef at my dad's work. The more berries I drew, the more real berries he would send home from the restaurant. I guess it was some form of early reward system my dad had worked out! I never had any confidence in my actual drawing ability but continued to be artistic/creative throughout my life. Then, when we got a publishing offer from Soft Skull Press for our colouring book and were asked to find artists, it was the fire under my butt I needed to take a stack of illustration books out of the children's library and teach myself some rudimentary skills. In some ways, I owe it to the artists who promised us illustrations and never delivered. I felt the need to fill in the gaps. From there, I ended up making some drawings that I was actually proud of and we decided to put them in the colouring book.

How did these two particular colouring book projects come about?

Girls will be boys will be girls will be... came about because I met this really fascinating person, Irit Reinheimer, and we wanted to find some interesting way to forge a friendship. So we came up with this list of 30 or so free things to do in our town. It included things like: going to the Special Olympics, calling to request songs by women and queers to the college radio station, learning how to fix our cars... Well, needless to say, we only got to one other before we started on the one that stuck out to us the most: making a colouring book about gender. Where we came up with the idea for that one, we may never know. I think it was channelled from the crayon fairies. We set to work on that one and it slowly consumed every free moment of time we had together. Girls are Not Chicks came out of this creative over-drive I was in after I saw how many people were touched by the first one.

Why did you decide to use art and illustration as the medium to convey your genderific messages, as opposed to solely writing your messages? Do you think there is something powerful about using images?

Pictures are so much more accessible to a larger amount of people. Both Irit and I had done our time in the halls of academia and had become tired of all the discourse that could engage only a select few. We wanted to present an issue that is very real and weighty for us but wanted to use humour to communicate our thoughts and ideas. And who doesn't still have a little hankering for crayons now and again, even those of us who have "grown up".

Has using the form of colouring books been useful as a mode of engaging audiences to participate in actively thinking about the issues raised, seen as yr audiences engage with the books personally by filling them in?

Very useful indeed! My favourite times are when we blow up the images from the books into really big posters and host community colouring projects where everyone works together to create these really outrageous, fun works of art. Also, because the books use humour as a teaching tool, I have found myself talking about gender issues with people who were normally really defensive about such things.

What has the feedback been like from audiences?

Really positive! My favourite so far was the thank you card we got from someone who was buying the book for their 4 year old nephew who had worked super hard to convince his parents to buy him a pink "girl's" bathing suit! We get touching letters like this once in a while and they really make my whole life more meaningful! Really!

The colouring books have been described as a ‘subversive and playful way to examine how pervasive stereotypes about gender are in every aspect of out lives’. How important do you think the role of subversion is in your projects?

There isn't much I don't try to subvert at some point or another!

Were the colouring books intended for an audience of children?

Not initially. We originally only made 50 copies of girls will be boys will be girls will be... because we were just going to give it as gifts to friends and then drop it. We never had an audience in mind beyond some friends of ours. When we got those first 50 copies back from the copy shop, we couldn't believe our eyes. It dawned on us that maybe some more folks would find this somewhat rough-looking book interesting. One thing led to another, and we ended up selling 5,000 copies on our very own. Now we try to make the new books accessible for all ages because it has grown far beyond our community! You never know when a child will pick one up and we wanted to be sensitive to that.

How important do you think the role of art is in children’s lives and to what extent do you feel it plays an important part in children’s development?

VERY IMPORTANT! For some children, art is the most life-enhancing aspect of their lives. We are all meant to make art, but creativity gets squashed out of so many of us by judgmental, nay-saying teachers and parents (who all had the same done to them).

In terms of the books being ‘playful’, and as one reviewer stated, ‘get some wising up along with your recreational time’, how important do you think arts’ role as ‘recreation’ is, as many would argue that its role is much greater than that? What do you think of the relationship between playfulness and politics? In your eyes, with reference to your books, is there such thing as a ‘playfulness of politics’?

Yes. It isn't always effective or appropriate to be playfully political. But whenever it is, I think a lot gets accomplished by helping folks dismantle some of their armour with play.

A piece of artwork by Barbara Kruger once famously asked, ‘why are we shown one picture and not another?’ What do you feel the impact of previously being shown only one picture in children’s (and otherwise) literature, in particular of the representation of gender, and sexuality, has had on audiences?

Ugggggghhhhhhhh, I think it is so deep that most of us are numb to the homogeny of gender expression in books, toys, and movies for young people. Now it is time for us to shake the numbness and just start creating alternatives.

Is this part of what your colouring books hope to combat, by showing diverse pictures that reinforce positive gender roles in all communities?

Yes.

Has distributing your zine through independent and radical distributors directed your zine towards a specific audience?

Yes. I'm not sure the mainstream distributors would be all that psyched about our books.

Has your decision to produce ‘Girls will be boys will be girls’ as a more accessible book been made as a conscious decision to extend your ideas out to a larger, perhaps more diverse audience? Or were there more pertinent aims and ideals behind the decision to produce a book than this?

Having the book published really solves the problem for us of having to spend so much time distributing, promoting, and making those you-owe-us-money calls. We can spend more time being creative. And the publisher and distributor will do a much more efficient job at getting the book into the hands of more people who can find a bit of liberation in it.

Did producing a book, rather than a zine alter or change the aims you had with your art?

Not at all.

The provocation of your art in inspiring and challenging your audiences is achieved by a combination of illustration and text. What comes first when producing individual pages, the aesthetic image, the words and statements you use, or the political impetus?

Behind every project is first my political impetus. I want everything I make to be true to my personal politics. From there, I seek out images that ask me, beg me, to make commentary on them. Then, if we need to redraw them, we do. Some found images we leave as is or alter in some way.

Author Mark Andersen once stated, in terms of political activism, that ‘creativity is required to sustain struggle and growth’. What are your thoughts on this statement, with reference to your creative work with these zines?

Yahoo! I say bring on as much creativity as we can all muster.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of producing your artwork?

The personal stories people relate to me about some particular page in the books, how it reminds them of them when they were little or makes them angry because they never felt they were presented with these concepts as a child. Sometimes it's the children who have come up to me over the years and said very simply and plainly, "girls will be boys will be girls." It shakes me out of that place in myself that takes that statement for granted because I've been looking at, typing, saying, writing that god-forsaken beautiful phrase 12 million times over the last several years to the point where I realize, whoa! I never would have known that that was even a possibility to say out loud in 1978!




Teaching Rebellion Reviewed on Upside Down World

Teaching RebellionNew Book Surveys Oaxaca Uprising to Teach Rebellion
By Hans Bennett
Upside Down World

“I am 77-years-old. I have two children, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren…My children are scared for me. It’s just that they love me. Everyone loves the little old granny, the mother hen of all those eggs. They say ‘They’re going to send someone to kill you. They’ll put a bullet through you.’ But I tell them, ‘I don’t care if it’s two bullets.’ I’ve become fearless like that. God gave me life and He will take it away when it is His will. If I get killed, I’ll be remembered as the old lady who fought the good fight, a heroine, even, who worked for peace…Hasta la victoria siempre. That’s what I believe,”says Marinita, a lifetime resident of Oaxaca, Mexico. Marinita was one of the many participants in the 2006 Oaxaca rebellion, whose first-hand account is featured in the new book released by PM Press, titled Teaching Rebellion: Stories from the Grassroots Mobilization in Oaxaca.  

Teaching Rebellion does just that: it teaches us why the 2006 rebellion in Oaxaca, Mexico was so impressive, and is something we can all learn from. Edited by Diana Denham and the CASA Collective, Teaching Rebellion provides an overview of the uprising in Oaxaca. It also gives numerous first-hand interviews from participants, including long-time organizers, teachers, students, housewives, religious leaders, union members, schoolchildren, indigenous community activists, artists and journalists. The diverse interviews allow some of those who led themselves in rebellion to also speak for themselves. Political art is featured throughout the book alongside excellent photographs from the uprising.

The introduction, by Diana Denham, Patrick Lincoln, and Chris Thomas, provides an overview of the rebellion to contextualize the participants’ accounts. The story of the 2006 rebellion begins with a teachers’ strike and sit-in that occupied over fifty blocks in the center of Oaxaca City, initiated on May 22, 2006, by the historically active Section 22 of the National Education Workers Union. When the government failed to respond to the teachers’ demands for more educational resources and better working conditions, thousands took to the streets demanding a trial for the hated State Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), believed to have gained office in 2004 through electoral fraud. Five days later, 120,000-200,000 marched and held a popular trial for Governor Ruiz. Yet, the major rebellion was still to come.

On June 14, the police used teargas, firearms, and helicopters to brutally attack both the teachers’ sit-in at the city’s center and the union’s radio station—destroying their equipment and brutalizing the radio operators. This violent attack, meant to stifle the people’s resistance, backfired when the city rose in defense of the teachers. Transmission was taken up by Radio Universidad (at Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca) and thousands of supporters helped the union retake the city center that day. Two days later, 500,000 people marched through the city demanding that the federal government remove Governor Ruiz from office.

The next day, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) was formed, eventually comprising over 300 unions, social organizations, indigenous communities, collectives, neighborhoods and student groups. The APPO’s autonomous, non-hierarchical approach in Oaxaca was “a new and original approach to political organizing,” Teaching Rebellion explains, but “it also drew from forms of indigenous self-governance, known as usos and costumbres. The APPO, an assembly by name, emphasizes the input of a diverse body of people who discuss issues and make decisions collectively; similarly, in many indigenous communities in Oaxaca, the assembly is the basis for communal governance. The customs of guelaguetza (which actually refers to reciprocity or ‘the gift of giving’) and tequio (collective, unpaid work for the benefit of the community) are the two traditions most deeply engrained in Oaxacan culture that literally fed the movement.”

With the June 14 police attack, the 2006 Oaxaca rebellion had begun. Teaching Rebellion continues:

“[I]n addition to responding to a police attack on striking teachers or a particularly repressive governor, the movement that surfaced in Oaxaca took over and ran an entire city for six months starting in June 2006. Government officials fled, police weren’t present to maintain even the semblance of responding to social harm, and many of the government institutions and services that we depend on daily were shut down. Without relying on centralized organization, neighborhoods managed everything from public safety (crime rates actually went down dramatically during the course of the six months) to food distribution and transportation. People across the state began to question the established line of western thinking that says communities can’t survive, much less thrive, without the intervention of a separate hierarchy caring for its needs. Oaxaca sent a compelling message to the world in 2006: the power we need is in our hands.”

The book’s introduction elaborates that after the June uprising, “no uniformed police were seen for months in the city of Oaxaca, but paramilitary forces terrorized public spaces occupied by protesters. These death squads, including many plainclothes police officers, sped through the city in unmarked vehicles, shooting at neighbors gathered at the barricades,” which were constructed around the city in defense against death squads and state repression. State repression began to escalate while negotiations were taking place between the APPO and the government, which only made the community more distrustful of the government. On October 28, 2006, over 4,500 federal police troops were sent to Oaxaca, attacking the barricades and retaking the historic city center where they set up a military base that was maintained until mid-December.

On November 2, the police attacked the university campus, home to Radio Universidad, but “in what turned into a seven-hour battle, neighbors, parents, students, and other civilians took to the streets to defend the campus with stones and firecrackers, eventually managing to surround the police and force their retreat.” In another major conflict that month, on November 25, “thousands of protesters marched into the city center and formed a ring around the occupying federal police forces. After a well-planned police attack, several hours of chaos and violence ensued, leaving nearly forty buildings ablaze. Hundreds were beaten, tortured, and arrested that day, and many movement activists and sympathizers not arrested were forced underground.”

This final repression essentially ended the community’s occupation and control of Oaxaca City, but,Teaching Rebellion reports that the struggle is not over: “While a Supreme Court Commission has been named to investigate the human rights abuses, Oaxacans have little faith that a real difference will trickle down. Despite the dead-end government redress the air stirs with the force of a familiar slogan: ‘We will never be the same again.’ The city walls seem to share this sentiment, planted in the post-repression graffiti: ‘Esta semilla germinará,’ from this seed we will grow.”

The First-Hand Accounts

The many featured interviews illustrate the spirits of spontaneity, anti-authoritarianism, and self-defense that were fundamental to the uprising. There is Jenny’s account of accompanying the family of slain US independent journalist Brad Will. The family had traveled to Oaxaca to demand justice for Brad and for all victims of government repression. Cuautli recounts his experience working in the community topiles (basically a people’s police force), formed during the occupation of Oaxaca City, as community defense groups protecting people from government repression as well as “common criminals” who preyed upon other poor people.

Tonia, recalls the women’s “Pots and Pans March” of August 1, 2006, which sparked the spontaneous takeover of the Channel 9 television and radio station by thousands of women. “When we got to the Channel 9 offices, the security guard didn’t want to let us in…The women in the front were asking permission for an hour or two to broadcast, but the employees of Channel 9 said it was impossible. Maybe if they would have given us that one hour and cooperated, then it wouldn’t have gone any further. But with them seeing the number of women present, and still saying no, we decided, ‘Okay then, we’ll take over the whole station…’ Everyone was taken by the spontaneity of it all. Since no one had foreseen what would happen and no one was trained in advance, everything was born in the spur of the moment…One thing I liked is that there were no individual leaders. For each task, there was a group of several women in charge.”

In the middle of the night, August 21, 2006, paramilitary forces destroyed the antennas at the occupied Channel 9. The social movement took immediate action in support of the women, fighting off the police and paramilitary attackers at the antennas, and spontaneously deciding to occupy all eleven of the city’s commercial radio stations. Francisco, an engineering student and radio technician who first got involved with the movement when Radio Universidad was vandalized by apparent police infiltrators, describes these actions from the front lines. He was working the night of August 21 at Radio Universidad when word went out that occupied Channel 9’s Radio Cacerola was down, and people were being attacked at the antennas at Fortín Hill. Francisco recounts, “we got up from our seats and left immediately…We grabbed whatever was available: Molotov cocktails, sticks, machetes, fireworks, stones, and other improvised weapons. But what could we do with our ‘arms’ against Ulises Ruiz’s thugs, who carried AK-47s, high caliber pistols, and so much hatred? Still, we had a lot of courage, the group of us, and in that moment the only important thing was getting to the place where our compañeros were under attack…We made it thanks to our skilled but funny-looking driver, Red Beard, who wore round-framed carpenter goggles covering half of his face, a yellow fireman’s helmet, and red beard. In truth, we all looked pretty funny in our protective gear: leather gloves and layered t-shirts. But wasn’t funny at all was the sound of bullets and screams that we heard on the other side of the hill as we continued onward.”

The busload from Radio Universidad arrived on the tail end of the government attack, and when they met up with their compañeros, they were told that police had shot and injured several people and destroyed the antennas. They searched for any injured compañeros who remained, then left to go help elsewhere. After visiting Radio La Ley, which had just been occupied, they were inspired to take over another station themselves and went to Radio ORO: “When we got there, we knocked on the door of the station and announced with a megaphone: ‘This is a peaceful takeover. Open Up. We are occupying this radio because they’ve taken away our last remaining means of free expression. This is a peaceful takeover. Open Up!’ The security guard opened the door and we entered, without anyone being hit, without insults—we just walked in.” Francisco concludes, “after the takeover, I read an article that said that intellectual and material authors of the takeovers of the radios weren’t Oaxacan, that they came from somewhere else, and that they received very specialized support. The article claimed that it would have been impossible for anyone without previous training to operate the radios in such a short amount of time because the equipment is too sophisticated for just anyone to use. They were wrong.”

Another account comes from former political prisoner David Venegas Reyes, who co-found VOCAL (Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty) in February, 2007, for the purposes of challenging the more mainstream and hierarchical elements within the APPO. David, who in October, 2006 was named representative of the barricades to the APPO council, recounts defending the barricades formed after the August 21 radio occupations: “we asked ourselves, ‘how can we defend these takeovers and defend the people inside?’…that’s when my participation, along with the participation of hundreds of thousands of others, began to make a more substantial difference. Because the movement stopped being defined by the announcements of events and calls for support made by the teachers’ union and began to be about the physical, territorial control of communities by those communities, by way of the barricades.”

David recounts that “We originally formed the barricade to protect the antennas of Radio Oro, but the barricade took on a life of its own. You could describe it like a party, a celebration of self-governance where we were starting to make emancipation through self-determination a reality. The barricades were about struggle, confrontation, and organization. We eventually started discussing agreements and decisions made by the APPO Council and the teachers’ union. There were a number of occasions where the barricade chose actions that went against those agreements, which in my view, only strengthened our capacity for organized resistance.”

David says VOCAL “stemmed from an APPO Statewide Assembly when it became evident that there were divergent perspectives with regard to the upcoming elections.” One side felt that the APPO movement “in all its plurality and diversity,” had purposefully excluded “political parties and any corrupt institution,” so getting involved with elections would “attack the unity constructed from diversity of thought and visions that exist within the movement.” The other side wanted to “act pragmatically and participate in the elections with our own candidates.” Those not wanting to participate in elections “that serve to legitimate repressive governments,” and who were distrustful offormed VOCAL. Consequently, VOCAL “turned into a diverse organization where a lot of anti-authoritarian visions and ways of thinking coexist—some rooted in indigenous tradition, like magonísmo, and some more connected to European ideologies. A lot of compañeros who have no particular ideological doctrine are also active in the organization…What we all have in common is our idea of autonomy as a founding principle. We defend the diverse ways of organizing of pueblos and the rights of people to self-govern in all realms of life…Unlike other hegemonic ideologies, we don’t believe that to promote our own line of thought it’s necessary to exclude anyone else’s.” organizations that did,

In April 2007, David was arrested, “with no arrest warrant or explanation. They drove me to an unknown place, where they planted drugs on me, then tried to force me to hold the drugs so that they could take photos. When I refused, they beat me…Finally they presented me with the arrest warrant that accused me of being involved in the social movement and the acts of November 25th. The warrant accused me of sedition, organized crime, and arson. Even as the government fabricated the idea of accusing me of drug possession in an attempt to criminalize and discredit me, they already intended to present the arrest warrant of a political nature once I was in jail.”

On March 5, 2008, after nearly a year in prison, David was released, after he was judged not-guilty by the court on all political charges. However, the CASA Collective’s website reports that since drug charges were still pending, “he was released on bail and forced to report to the court every week for over a year, severely limiting his ability to travel.” On April 21, 2009, Oaxacan judge Amado Chiñas Fuentes found him not guilty on “charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin.” Following this verdict, David said, "This innocent verdict, far from demonstrating the health or rectitude of the Mexican legal system, was pulled off thanks to the strength of the popular movement and with the solidarity of compañeros and compañeras from Mexico and various parts of the world. The legal system in Mexico is corrupt to the core and is a despicable tool used by the authorities to subjugate and repress those who struggle for justice and freedom."

Oaxaca: Three Years Later

Three years since the Oaxaca uprising that was sparked by the June 14, 2006 police assault on the striking teachers, the issues behind the rebellion have not been resolved, Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz is still in office, and Oaxaca is still in the news. A 2007 article, The Lights of Xanica, reported on the continuing struggle of the Zapotec community of Santiago Xanica in the Sierra Sur of Oaxaca. In 2009, a controversial U.S. Military-funded mapping project in Oaxaca has met local resistance this year. In May, El Enemigo Común reported that State and Federal police forcibly evicted “community members who had been blocking the entrance to the mining project Cuzctalán in the municipality of San José del Progreso since March 16.” Recently, Narco News reported on heated negotiations between the government and Section 22 of the National Education Workers Union (initiators of the 2006 strike), as well as a robbery and murder committed by State Agency of Investigation agents at a bus terminal in Oaxaca City.

On June 8, 2009 The Committee in Defense of the Rights of the People (CODEP-APPO) reported the assassination of Sergio Martínez Vásquez, member of the State Council of CODEP, arguing that the“way in which it was done and due to some information gathered, everything points to the fact that the material actors of this assassination were paramilitary groups that Ulises Ruiz has operating in the region.”

On June 14, a march in Oaxaca City commemorated the three year anniversary of the 2006 uprising (read report in English or Spanish), and on June 17, a protest encampment in the Zocalo of Oaxaca City was attacked by paramilitaries (read report in English or Spanish).

The future in Oaxaca is unclear, but it is certain that the people will continue to resist, and international solidarity with help to strengthen the local resistance. Be sure and visit www.casacollective.org for the latest reports and opportunities for international solidarity.

Hans Bennett is an independent multi-media journalist whose website is www.insubordination.blogspot.com.

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