Miss Seattle? Come to D.C.

Thousands of activists will take the streets of Washington D.C., shutting down the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Inspired and enlightened by the victories in Seattle, radicals of all stripes will join in courageous acts of solidarity on April 16 and 17 at the headquarters of these imperialist institutions.

If you regret missing the World Trade Organization meeting festivities last fall, here is your chance to make history as many of us did on November 30.

The D.C. police have estimated that at least 10,000 people will show up and have vowed that the city will not be shut down and the meetings will continue. Activists have vowed to win once again. From the sound of it, the same tensions ignited in Seattle will rock D.C. this spring.

Since November 30, activists around the country and globally have dedicated themselves to studying the dark side of globalization, the rampant poverty and growing income gap created by the free flow of capital across national borders. The WTO, IMF and World Bank, major international institutions created to stabilize global capitalism and spread free-market ideology, are symbols of 21 century imperialism and instruments for the rich to make themselves richer at the expense of impoverished people everywhere.

With amazing force that has united labor, students and radicals from many diverse organizations, the meetings held by these international capitalists have become sites for expressive outrage against the blind force of globalization, a force which moves unannounced, without permission from the people whose lives it transforms and the environment it devastates. A plethora of evidence shows that these international organizations are ineffective and corrupt, causing more damage than “development” (see article inside).

For many, Seattle was a historical moment, a chance to stand up firmly against these injustices. Those most inspired are organizing to keep that spirit alive. Beginning March 31 and continuing until the mass rally on Sunday April 16 and Monday April 17 various public interest groups will hold conferences and teach-ins throughout the DC area. The Ruckus Society, Direct Action Network, Art and Revolution and other action-oriented groups will hold workshops on civil disobedience, media relations, police tactics, legal observing, jail solidarity, street performance and prop-building. Affinity groups will meet and organize at the convergence space in town to plan their specific actions.

The cops are getting ready. In the last days of the havoc in Seattle, D.C. cops were flown in to “observe and learn.” Executive Assistant Chief Terrance W. Gainer has said that protesters can exercise their “First Amendment rights” but for those who become “violent” the arrests will be “quick, swift and certain.” According to Gainer, D.C. cops will not “be caught sleeping.” The Metropolitan Police Department is re-equipping and training 1,400 officers for crowd control, stocking up on “less-than-lethal” weapons like tear gas and rubber bullets, and setting up locations to send suspects if officers conduct mass arrests.

The D.C. National Guard will assist the department, but there is no plan for soldiers to help with crowd control. Several federal agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Park Police, U.S. Capitol Police, the Secret Service and U.S. Marshals Service will lend support to the city cops. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will assist city police with about 65 agents who specialize in bomb detection and detonation. FBI officials do not believe domestic terrorism is a concern at this point.

The DC police chief said he wants to meet with organizers to “lay down the ground rules” and set up “designated protest areas and March routes.” It was talk like this and the cooperation with police of less radical organizations, who decided they could speak for the 30 thousand people in Seattle that caused rifts among the left last fall. The day before November 30 radical activists split off from main organizing centers. Graffiti around town encouraged independent activists to “Subvert D.A.N.” (Direct Action Network, responsible for much of the central organizing in Seattle) and to generally “Fuck Shit Up.”

“Peace Police” and other aggressive “non-violent” protestors physically attacked black-bloc activists who systematically destroyed the property of leading transnational corporations like Nike and McDonalds in downtown Seattle. Since then, the dialog on street tactics has been tense at best. Liberal NGOs such as Global Exchange dismissed many of these independent activists as a minority of “Anarchists from Oregon”. The tension will most likely carry on in D.C.

Nevertheless, history will continue to be made by people who are willing to risk their lives on the streets. Whether it is by locking down and linking arms or destroying property and taking over buildings, we will shut down these meetings. The Midnight Special Law Collective, an off-shoot of the DAN legal team which represented the 570 protestors arrested in Seattle, will be available to represent activists arrested in D.C. They are asking interested affinity groups and clusters to contact them before April 16 at (206) 632-9482.

If you are interested in hooking up with major organizers in the Bay Area planning activities in D.C. you can call (415) 496-6000 x105 or (415) 421-6443 x13. You can also visit www.a16.org. There will be a caravan leaving San Francisco on March 26, conducting teach-ins in Chicago, Antioch and Columbus on their way to D.C. You can e-mail the caravan crew at globalunity@home.com. Activists interested in more militant and independent activities should keep their eyes and ears open in D.C.

Transgender Revolution: Radical Trannies Trash Gender Norms

Transgender Revolution

By Sarik Mustard

Radical trannies are wreaking havok with gender noems as gender morphs from a rigid behavioral code to an optional outlet for self expression. Gender is one way of voicing our truest sense of self, and thus should be self-determined, not imposed by society at birth. Unfortunately, the current gender system has the economic, social and family structures, and legal systems in a bi-polar straitjacket, essentially dictating all huamn interactions.

However, because gender is a cultural system, not an inherent part of the human body, there are people in every culture who break gender norms. People who change their genders, make their own gender, or live outside of gender challenge the oppressive status quo by their very existence. Ultimately, gender should be a malleable, fluid, optional code for self expression, instead of a rigid set of behaviors imposed at birth.

What is gender?

Most cultures assign at birth the categories of woman and man; some cultures have additional gender categories, or third genders, like the Berdaches in many Native American cultures and Hijiras in India. The meaning of gender categories varies from culture to culture; what it means to be a woman under Taliban rule in Afghanistan is vastly different that the conception of “woman” in the United States.

Even within a culture, there is no set list of characteristics inherent to all women and men. For example, you might think having a penis is a universal experience for a man. But there are people who identify and are perceived as men who don’t have penises: transexual and transgendered men who may or may not be taking testosterone; butch dykes who don’t identify as men but are perceived as such; people socialized as woman after having their penises cut off due to faulty circumcision procedures, who still “feel like men” later in life. In other words, it is impossible to pin an exact definition on cultural gender categories.

Nonetheless, people usually know whether they feel “like a man”, “like a woman”, or like neither or both. Gender is not exact, but it does exist, as an amorphous collection of cultural clues and meanings– what it means if you like certain things and dislike others. It’s a cultural code for expressing who we are, our sense of self. Because gender is so personal, our gender identity and expression should be a matter of choice, not a rigid category assigned at birth and dependent on physiology. We each determine our gender identity, based on cultural ideas that most closely match who we are. We express this gender through clues based on our sense of aesthetics and what makes us feel sexy and hot.

Based on these cultural clues, others attribute a gender to us, which may or may not align with our personal gender identity. We have complete control over our gender identity, but exercise control over gender attribution only insofar as we control our gender expression. A male to female transexual may still be addressed as “he”, for instance, due to her comparatively large frame, an aspect of gender expression we cannot modify (although around which we can work). In our rigidly-gendered culture, folks fixate on certain aspects of gender expression and disregard other, possibly conflicting, characteristics.

New genders

As we shape our gender, we are not limited to woman and man, feminine and masculine– although because this binary system is so deeply ingrained in our language, it can be hard to think beyond the feminine and masculine. There is a growing arsenal of creative words and phrases people use to describe their gender identity: transexual, transgender, boy-girl, girl/boy, drag king, drag queen, femme, butch, genderqueer, fagdyke, trannyfag, cross-dresser, transvestite, sissy, macha, girl, boy, woman, man, transfreak, gendertrash, and others…

Because these new words label extremely personal identities, defining the words is a delicate matter. For example, the relatively new term transgender initially referred to people who changed their gender identity but chose not to modify their bodies with surgery. More recently people have used the term to refer to the entire community of people who modify their gender or express their gender outside the traditional categories.

However, some transexuals object to using transgender as an umbrella term, feeling that it erases the important fact that they changed their bodies through surgery. Other post-operative transexuals do not identify as transgendered at all, identifying as either a woman or a man. Defining transexual, which refers to people who change their sex, is also somewhat tricky, as it becomes more common for people to modify their endocrinal sex characteristics through hormone use, but not surgically modify their genitalia.

Gender police

There is an unfortunate tendency for people to set up hierarchies of gender and gender modification. Clearly a gender hierarchy has existed for quite some time, with men on top, women in the middle, and people of ambiguous or third gender at the bottom. This traditional hierarchy is replicated and mutated within the trans community. Some folks, including some transexuals and some members of the medical community, feel it is more “extreme” to have surgery than to be “just a weekend cross-dresser.” On the other hand, some cross-dressers attempt to remove themselves from the trans community and its association with the queer community.

Furthermore, transpeople who pass as non-transpeople are often accorded privilege from both within and without the trans community. The idea of passing itself emphasizes the normalization of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ as standards against which all other genders are compared. However, the extreme importance of passing for both safety and personal fulfillment cannot be discounted.

Gender hierarchies are ridiculous and revolting: Our culture is harsh on all gender deviants. The notion of a gender continuum, with cross-dressers and transvestites at one end, transgendered people in the middle, and transexuals at the furthest extremity, obfuscates the fact that each of these people, and many others, are transgressing gender norms in a valiant effort to be true to their sense of self.

Body modification

The link between a person’s body and their gender should be self-determined. There is no specific correlation between sex characteristics and gender identity. A person with a clit and vagina can be a woman or a man, as proven by both 70’s feminists and contemporary trans people with the “biology is not destiny” argument. To quote Simone de Beauvior, “One is not born a woman, but becomes one,” through gender self-expression.

While changing a body is not necessary to change gender, body modification may be a personal requirement for mental health and happiness. Modifying your body to match your gendered self-image is a highly personal process. Modification options range from surgery and hormones to tattoos and piercing. The decision to obtain any body modification should be personal. Who besides ourselves fully understands our often highly-specific gender conceptions and self-images?

Unfortunately, most of the medical community does not share these ideals of personal freedom and responsibility. The medical community views surgery and hormones as treatment for a disease, “Gender Identity Disorder”, and allows this remedy only after a detailed regime of psychotherapy and “Real Life Experience” has been completed. The goal of the therapy is to judge a transperson’s ‘readiness’ and ‘eligibility’ for hormonal and surgical treatment. The Real Life Experience is an enforced time of living full-time in the ‘gender of preference’ before surgery can be recommended. Both therapy and Real Life Experience are nominally good ideas; the problem lies in the fact that the medical community is unwilling to sanction gender identities and expressions that combine or go beyond the traditional
categories. Transpeople who identify as genders other than woman and man are often forced to placate their therapists with falsehoods to obtain hormones and surgery. It is highly offensive that a medical expert is required to sign off on what is essentially a matter of personal identity and self-expression.

Regrettably, the majority of health plans will not cover the exorbitant costs of surgery and hormones without a Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis. Insurance companies do not understand that a procedure necessary for mental health may be requested by an individual transperson instead of a psychiatrist. To health plans, all that is not recommended by medical personnel is considered ‘elective’ and hence outside their coverage. Transpeople are forced to pathologize their natural desires to be obtain and be reimbursed for surgery and hormones.

Diseased culture

Of course, what is diseased is not the transperson but western culture, as it fails to recognize the possibility of more than two genders. People would not experience so much mental strife regarding gender and sexual identity if our culture were not so rigidly bi-polar. Gender and sex modification is a natural aspect of humanity and has been documented in cultures across time and space.

In western culture, people change their bodies all the time for a variety of reasons. People work out, get nose jobs, become pregnant, have abortions, get boob jobs, take supplements, get breast reductions, wear corsets, get tubes tied and get sterilized. The only reason modifying gender and sexual characteristics seems so outlandish and morally reprehensible is that contemporary western culture is obsessed with sex in an unhealthy, puritanical way.

Survivors of violence

Perhaps it is because transpeople challenge the sacred cultural norms of sex and gender that they are the targets of so much violence. Knowing that somebody is breaking gender norms can trigger intense feelings in people; some folks act out these feelings violently.

Trans-people are the subject of violence in all areas of the country, not just the traditionally conservative Midwest and south. The Bay Area has already seen its first trans murder of 2000: a young transwoman, Alina Marie Barragan was murdered in San Jose in early January after a suitor realized she was trans.

Across the US, approximately 12 trans people are murdered per year, and many more are bashed, harassed by cops, and raped in jail cells. Many trans survivors, especially survivors of police brutality, do not report crimes due to intense fear of retaliation. Police and emergency medical personnel are often extremely transphobic. In Washington, DC, Tyra Hunter died in the hospital after EMS personnel refused to treat her at the site of an accident, instead making jokes about her gender.

Three years ago in Berkeley, three men attacked and harassed Dion Manley outside during a weekday lunchour. The attackers clearly perceived Manley, a female to male transexual, as a man, but repeatedly called him dyke as they brutally beat him. Bystanders gathered around but did not interfere with the bashing. Ludicrously, the police blamed the attack on Manley. Although Manley, current president of FTM International, has testified about the attack and his mistreatment by the police before City Council, Berkeley continues to lag in implementing a hate crimes unit.

In late fall of 1999, a tuberculosis outbreak occurred in the trans community in Baltimore, MD. Maryland state health services took no steps to stop the outbreak. The epidemic spread to New York and Boston trans communities; the federal Center for Disease Control began to put pressure on the Maryland state health department. Only when TB began showing up in straight white men did the state health department become involved in halting the epidemic.

Stopping the oppression

The existence of transpeople, and the bitter cultural objection they face, indicates gender to be a cultural system of control, permeating almost every aspect of our lives. In their personal, political, and medical struggles to realize their gender identity, transpeople change our culture. Kate Bornstein, a contemporary trans author, has likened the function of transpeople to that of tricksters like Brer Rabbit, the Raven, and Coyote: By breaking cultural rules, both tricksters and transpeople spotlight the very existence of the rules. Until people suggest otherwise, the cultural categories of woman and man seem like natural aspects of our bodies.

The solution to this oppression is not, as some trans activists suggest, to get rid of gender. If nothing else, gender plays an important role in our sex lives. Gender should be recognized as an individuals’ performance, with multiple ways of acting and viewing the performance. As transpeople and activists work to change our cultural attitudes towards gender, they will affect larger social change.

South Side Plan Released

‘Public Safety’ Section Slipped in without Public Process

Giuliani-style Tactics Urged for Minor Offenses

Are the police accountable to no one? It often seems that way. But now, according to the newly released Draft Southside Plan, that seems to be official City of Berkeley and University of California policy.

The Draft Southside Plan was unveiled January 18, including a “Public Safety” section that has never before been made public and which completely sidestepped a lengthy public input and review process which formulated the four other main elements of the plan.

The Draft Plan goes to great lengths to tout it’s extensive 1 1/2 year history of community input and discussion of four of the five elements of the plan–land use and housing, transportation and parking, economic development, and community character–which featured the release of issue papers on each subject as early as June, 1998 and separate public workshops on each of the four topics at the end of ‘98.

However, when one turns to the newly released public safety section of the plan, all mention of public participation suddenly vanishes, and we learn in the opening paragraphs that “public policy about crime prevention is established by the City of Berkeley and UC Police Departments.” In other words, the police are in charge of themselves.

According to the city’s planning department, the reason the section appeared so late in the process is because there was a demand for it during the initial period of public input made, most notably, by the Telegraph Area Association, a front group for, area merchants and other special interests.

Apparently public officials in the City and University don’t want the public to be able to even discuss their policing policies, policies which, in Southside, amount to a racial, class, and lifestyle profiling of who the authorities and police deem undesirable elements.

Police target people who’s appearance detracts from the turning of the area into a yuppie shopping zone in which merchants can maximize their profits and the University can ensure a sterile playground in which to breed their next generation of obedient students without fear of them being tainted by the 60’s past, and without any first-hand knowledge of the reality of poverty on the streets of America.

Public Safety for Who?

The main thrust of the public safety section is (surprise, surprise) an embrace of the new higher level of policing that the area has undergone for the last year and a half, and a call for more of the same. However, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of the plan, you find it far more concerned with what it calls the “perception of public safety,” than it is with actual public safety. The definition of public safety it focuses on is primarily on property safety with a complete overemphasis on enforcement of petty ‘quality of life’ crimes, or, as they’re referred to in the plan, “neighborhood health crimes”–in other words, enforcing a kind of Giuliani-ism.

These two aspects of the plan are not unrelated. For when it talks about improving the perception of public safety, what it really means is driving people away from the area who appear to be dangerous, who ‘fit the description’–non-white people, poor people, homeless people, punks, freaks, the mentally ill, etc. The emphasis on enforcing “neighborhood health crimes” (vandalism, liquor law violations, public drunkenness, disturbances of the peace, drug and weapons offenses, and trespassing) then serves as the convenient rationale for targeting those select groupings of people.

The plan even admits that crimes against people, including homicide, rape and aggravated assault are a low percentage of total major crimes in Southside. The so called “public safety” element then, is misnamed, and is really more of a blue-print for the police’s forced relocation program of certain kinds of people out of the area. During the last year and a half, joint UC/City police patrols have increased dramatically with the City now spending roughly 20% of its police department’s total officer hours on Southside, an area comprising only 2.5% of the City’s total land area. We are over-policed.

The New Poor Laws

As Giuliani did in New York, supposedly liberal Berkeley is also spending vast amounts of resources on what amounts to petty harassment of people already down on their luck, those suffering most the ill effects of an inherently unequal and unfair social order.

For example, one major activity of police in Southside is giving $130 tickets to homeless people for drinking in public. If you’re homeless and don’t have a home to go to, how can you not be drinking in public? You are guilty because of your class. And where are you supposed to get the $130 to pay the fine? Many poor people are regularly arrested and spend time in jail because they are financially or mentally unable to cope with the painstakingly slow, demeaning, inhumane, and downright unjust processes of the criminal justice bureaucracy. The Southside Plan wants this to continue.

Another main activity of the police in Southside is busting people for dealing or possessing small amounts of drugs, most notably marijuana. The police in this so-called liberal city, and in Southside in particular, are fighting the War on Drugs to the hilt. The drug war itself is designed to weed and seed out a certain segment of the population and “house” them in all the newly constructed prisons. Furthermore, the Berkeley Police, on a daily basis, willfully violate an explicitly clear City ordinance instructing them not to enforce any marijuana laws.

It is obvious that the public officials and area special interests who’ve drafted the Southside Plan don’t want to give the people of Berkeley an opportunity to review these kinds of police practices. They know they would not get past public scrutiny, and the police would not get away with what they do. That is why the public safety section has been kept out of the public process.

Bad for Business

The public safety section of the plan refers far more often (six times) to the “perception of public safety” than it does to the reality of public safety. Since the main goal of the plan is to gentrify the area and attract more people with more money to come and spend it, it makes sense to be concerned with the perception of public safety.

In order to improve the perception of public safety, the unstated logic of the plan is then to rid the area of those who are perceived to be unsafe. As one can imagine, a such strategy opens the door to gross miscarriages of justice and human rights violations against people based on their appearance and superficial personal habits. This is exactly what the monied interests in the city want.

Follow the police around on Southside and see what kind of people they always stop, cite, and arrest. The University attempt last year to remove the free box in People’s Park was aimed at precisely this objective–removal from the area of people who hang out near the box because they are perceived to be dangerous–apparently for being black and/or homeless.

Who are the Criminals-Gangs in Blue

So the public safety section of the plan is grossly misnamed: public safety is the last thing it is concerned with. The first thing it is concerned with is, as stated above, with the perception of public safety. Next it is concerned with “quality of life crimes” and then property crimes (theft, etc.) which the plan admits is the most common major crime in the Southside area.

If you see quality of life crimes for what they are, petty harassment of certain people designed to lower their quality of life so they’ll leave the area, then these police practices are, in effect, the crime. A large part of what police do on a day to day basis is decrease the public safety of certain populations. The poor are, in effect, c
riminalized by the system.

The police are at best a public nuisance to the poor and often kidnap (through arrest) and rob (through citations that carry a fine, confiscation of personal property, and the levying of bails and bonds). Beatings (assault) usually take place out of public view, and then there is murder (he lunged at the officer and appeared to be grabbing for his gun.)

Public Placebos

Don’t get me wrong, the process of public input for the plan as a whole is a sham. It was mostly drawn up by the big time social engineers at the UC Berkeley planning department and then rubber stamped by City bureaucrats. The architects of the plan solicit input from everyone, but when it comes to writing up the plan, for the most part they use only the input they like, that which comes from their friends and those with the same class interests and social agendas (business owners, homeowners, etc.).

The City devised this trick several years ago. It allows City bureaucrats to present a facade of democracy and public participation while really continuing the same old rule from above. This new process also has the added benefit of allowing wily PR staff to flush out their opponents arguments and then craft the language of their plans to deflect the anticipated critiques. That said, the public safety section of the plan didn’t even go through this phony public participation process.

The process isn’t phony, of course, for Southside’s “stakeholders”, as the plan refers to them. The stakeholders are groups who wield money and power and are listed in the plan as having special sway in the Southside plan decision-making process, above and beyond those of the measly general public.

Stakeholder groups in the Southside are groups like the merchants, who basically own the Berkeley Police in the Southside area, and use them as their private security firm to drive away people who stand as an obstacle to gentrification of the area. Another stakeholder is the University of California administration for whom the plan is a vehicle to help realize their long-term goal of expanding their influence in the Southside, as many of the plans key features provide.


Saying that the police themselves should determine police policy would be like giving the public works department complete control over transportation policy, or giving the U.S. military the power to go to war if and when it wanted to.

The police are public employees just like any other city employee. The policies that steer their work should be matter of public discussion and debate, and ultimately public jurisdiction, just as are the policies that chart the course of any other city department. What makes the police any different. Do we live in a police state, that there is no power greater than the power of the police? At least some members of the Berkeley Planning Department seem to think so.

But such is the nature and purpose of the police–to carry out the will of the monied interest in society, of the owners of capital, by patrolling and enforcing a social order that is favorable to their terms. In the same way that the U.S. military and government serve as functionaries of the big corporations, and collectively the owners of capital on a national stage, so do the police within the City of Berkeley serve to “protect and serve” the interests of local managers of capital, the local bourgeoisie. The most disenfranchised in society–the homeless, or propertyless–have little or no social power via the role of the police and thus are swept away, legislated out of existence, arrested, and put in cages. This is class war.

Seattilite Says FUCK YOU Slingshot

I know you probably will not print this, but someone needs to tell it like it was. Don’t just write this article off because it’s a response to one of your friend’s stories..

This is a response to an article in the WTO extra edition, by Ronnie Burk. The first thing I should say is that I am from the Seattle area, unlike many who came into town for the WTO. Months were spent planning and organizing, and it all paid off before the black blocs even got out of bed.

Let’s take this moronic article one thing at a time, shall we. First off 500 kids didn’t rock the WTO. 50,000 hard working activists did. After several months of work, and planning we had the Wto delegates locked out of the building several hours before the “black hooded anarachists and animal rights activists” as you so eloquently mislabeled them started breaking shit.

Second, the media started a 12-hour live showing of the event starting at 9:00am on Tuesday morning, not after the property destruction began. The media across the country lost the message of fat Tuesday in the stupidity of a few people who don’t know the difference between revolution and petty vandalism.

Third, the idea of calling these people anarchists is a fuckin joke. Where I come from anarchists are supposed to be accountable for their actions, and have a responsibility to inform themselves as to what the best tactic is. Let’s just get one thing straight, I’m not one of your “knee jerk lefties” and don’t have any problem with sabotage or property destruction, if it does not endanger life.

People from the Cascadia Defense Network, Seattle, and Olympia Earth First were locked down in the intersection of 6th and Pike, oh, since you probably don’t know where that is, it is between the Sheraton hotel, and the Nike town. These brave souls held that intersection through police push and tear gas. When the windows at Nike town started to break, I was there. The first people breaking the windows weren’t even activists, they were local kids stealing clothes. The “anarchists” showed up later, to take credit.

Escalating the tension in the same area that people are involved in civil disobedience is not only stupid, but shows that you, and your friends have no interest in Revolution, but only in having fun. Sabotage is used in the fight to scare companies and slow the destruction of our social and environmental standards, not to show other activists how “hardcore you are”.

Sweet Goddess, with activists like you who needs agent provocateurs!!!

I also noticed that any time the police showed up the “black hooded anarchists” were the first to leave. To talk of revolt and then run away when the cops show up is exactly what I’m talking about. The real anarchists stayed and held their ground until they were beaten back. As a person who has been in a real riot situation, in Tompkins Square, NYC, I can say you folks would have probably shit yourselves the first time a cop put down the tear gas and split your friends skull with a fuckin club.

Don’t get me wrong if there were no C.D. going on I would have supported and helped, but you people endangered strong activist lives, and that is unacceptable. This bandwagon effect that is going on is only because we won. If one of those people got hurt because of these idiotic actions, taken by a select few, there would have been nothing that would have stopped me from kicking your fuckin ass and loving every minute of it.

Fuck you,

Scott from Washington

P.S. Please don’t edit this article: it needs to go out just as it is written!!!!!

Zerzan Speaks


Yo, Slingshot–

Disappointed to see nothing in the Autumn issue about Rob Los Ricos (aka Robert Thaxton), who will be sentenced October 13th. At your request I called last month and gave a lengthy run-down– can’t recall name of who I spoke with.

More basically– except for the intriguing cover– Slingshot seems still stuck in its liberal-left rut. You need to get with the new movement, which has a far deeper analysis and radical politics.

The WTO piece was especially weak, like an AFL-CIO hand-out! Appeals to vote, too!? Weak shit all around! News, but no vision, no break with the basics.

Disappointed, John Z.



I at first missed the piece on Rob Thaxton — sorry to have, erroneously, faulted you for ignoring him!

John Z.

WTO Legal Update

As prosecutors scramble to try the last few misdemeanor cases involving WTO protestors, the Direct Action Network Legal Team is claiming victory for jail solidarity and the 570 people arrested on December 1 of last year.

Most of the misdemeaner cases accusing protestors of “failure to disperse,” and “obstruction of justice” were dropped in January. DAN attorneys credit jail solidarity for the sucesses in court. By refusing to give personal information such as names and addresses, refusing to waive rights to a speedy trial and a trial by jury and by failing to cooperate with the police and jail guards in any way possible, arrestees were able to jam the cells and courts long enough to leave the prosecution on its knees.

The five or six cases still pending must be tried by the first week of March or they too will be dropped. Once the misdemeaner cases come to a close, its on to the felonies.

The prosecution just lost the case it was most hopeful about. The city had accused

Seattle resident Eric Larson of assaulting an officer. The police claimed that he didn’t react to the teargas, concluding that he must have been on drugs. A videotape showed no trace of Larson touching a cop, but according to DAN attorneys there is a “nice shot of a cop grabbing him by the testicles.” The court aquitted him, devastating the prosecution.

Meanwhile DAN, the Lawyers Guild, the ACLU and a few private firms are busy filing class-action law suits. The ACLU is focusing on the unconstitutionality of the “No-Protest Zone” which spanned 50 city blocks. The suit claims that the protestors right to speech was violated by Seattle Mayor Paul Shelly who declared martial law on November 30. Several private attorneys are taking individual cases of excessive force, brutality and rubber bullet use. DAN is also working on class action suits aimed at getting compensation for arrested and non-arrested people who were gassed and shot throughout the week of the meetings.

Berkeley Bicycle Boulevard Plan

Set to GO Into Effect in April

As our streets become increasingly dangerous, overflowing with a never-ceasing barrage of four-wheeled beasts (cars), Berkeley is taking a step in the right direction and responding with a network of Bicycle Boulevards—streets which will be specially engineered to make biking safer, faster and more attractive to residents! (See Map.) The Bike Boulevard network will help get ordinary people, out of their cars and on to their bikes. Safety concerns are a principle reason more people don’t bike. The City Council is expected to approve the Bike Boulevard Plan in April and implementation will start soon after.

Bicycle Boulevards are the premier part of Berkeley’s Bicycle Plan, and when implemented will be the first such network in the country. Last fall over 200 residents and cyclists attended a series of public workshops to define how Berkeley’s Bicycle Boulevards will be built. After pouring over packets of sketches, viewing slides of designs implemented in other cities, and much discussion—public input was compiled to form the Bicycle Boulevard Tools and Guidelines Report.

In the report, a slew of traffic-calming ideas are referred to as “tools” in the Bike Boulevard toolbox. Each Bicycle Boulevard will be developed gradually over the next dozen years using a variety of the “tools” appropriate to each particular street.

Stop signs at some Bike Boulevard intersections will be removed and replaced by traffic circles (like the one at Woolsey and Regent and the new circles along Parker and Ellsworth) which slow car traffic, but permit bicyclists to glide along with ease. Stop signs will only be removed after neighborhood input, and when a more-effective traffic-calming device is put in their place, to prevent speedways for motorists. Where the Boulevards cross major arterial roads, special bike sensing traffic lights and/or median refuge sections will be installed.

Another tool is red colored pavement along the lengths of the Bicycle Boulevards. This visually striking design will be used in order to distinguish the Bike Boulevards from other streets, conveying the message to all users that these streets are different. Signage and stenciling will also be utilized along the Boulevards in order to alert users that these are bicycle-priority streets.

Berkeley dedicates $170,000 each year to implementing the Bike Plan, and for several years city staff has saved much of the funding to use it to implement the Bicycle Boulevards. Contact Sarah Syed, Bicycle Boulevard Coordinator of the Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coalition at (510) 549-RIDE to get involved in the Bike Boulevard process!

International Day Against Police Brutality

This International day of protest and solidarity has been taking place for three years. It first began in 1997 as an initiative of the Black Flag in Switzerland along with the help of COBP (French acronym for Citizens Opposed to Police Brutality) in Montreal, Canada. Since its first year, the International Day Against Police Brutality (IDAPB) has been a success, with more than 50 groups within 14 countries participating in 1997.

This day of denouncing police brutality is also an opportunity to form and strengthen ties between groups that work directly or indirectly against this State brutality throughout the world. It helps to create an indispensable international solidarity that opposes police forces that collaborate worldwide and are extremely well organized.

The police spy, harass, imprison, torture, and kill. Their primary victims are the “undesirables” of society: the poor, the homeless, the marginalized, immigrants, people of color, sex workers, activists, student activists, and unionized workers.

In response to the general deterioration of living conditions and the ever-increasing rise of poverty, governments invest in police forces in an attempt to maintain order and social peace by any means necessary. In opposition to this fascistic society, we urge you to participate in IDAPB.

Our struggle has no borders. Join us in getting rid of them, once and for all.

For more info contact COBP by email: seahorse@odyssee.net or cobp@hotmail.com

Or write:


c/o Alternative Bookshop

2035 St-Laurent 2ieme etage.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Communique From Destroyers of GE Strawberries

In certain traditions, eclipses were seen as ill omens and portents of tragic events: of crop failures and famines, of civil unrest and injustice, of slaughter and foreign occupation. We’re not so sure about last night’s eclipse, but we’re sure that the U.S. Senate’s resolution 200 which declared this month “National Biotechnology Month” is a sign of some perilous times on the horizon. We, the Fragaria Freedom Farmers, will only stoop low enough in observance of this heinous resolution to pull up the genetically mutilated organisms celebrated by the U.S. Senate. In the wee hours of a moon-lit morning, we made a visit upon Plant Sciences, Inc., a Watsonville, CA based biotechnology research facility. By pulling, digging and chopping, we destroyed a small research field of GE Strawberries at the company’s headquarters. We also left behind a variety of organic seeds to see to it that not only is GE material destroyed, but sustainable agriculture is left in its destructive wake. Through their website ( www.plantsciences.com), Plant Sciences makes it obvious that their research contributes to the proliferation of biotechnology and genetic mutilation. The City of Watsonville prides itself on its strawberries, but there is nothing to be proud of with genetic engineering research. Across the street from Plant Sciences is Amesti Elementary School, whose students and staff have already suffered from the greed of the local strawberry industry due to the nearby spraying of methyl bromide. Thankfully, restrictions on methyl bromide applications are growing and the toxic fumagant is scheduled for complete phase-out by 2005. Unfortunately, Plant Sciences, Inc. undoubtedly hopes to replace the chemical pollution of the environment with its own genetic pollutants. Still more unfortunately, unlike the effects of methyl bromide which dissipate after some time, the spread (through cross-pollination) of mutant genes to wild and conventional species will last an eternity. Even if the certified organic crops adjacent to Plant Sciences are never affected directly, the actions of genetic research such as that performed by Plant Sciences! will undermine organic certification generally.

There is an interesting belief in certain cultures that the strawberry is the fruit of the devil because one must stoop so low in order to pick them. To be sure this designation is well deserved here on California’s Central Coast where so many are being forced to stoop so low to provide so much wealth and profit to so few. By depending upon genetically engineered crops, large strawberry growers, processors and distributors hope to further increase those profits (at further expense to their workers), failing to recognize the dangerous and unintended effects inherent in this artificial and imprecise technology. We are convinced, by the recent surge in runaway industrial biotechnology, that the drive for colonization has moved to the genetic level. While the biological warfare of the conquistadors was incidental–a function of different immune systems that made the common cold and other common ailments the most effective technology of massive genocide–we are convinced that the technology now being produced deliberately by companies such as Plant Sciences (with their strawberries spliced with e. coli) will have similar unintended impacts, as GE plant pollens invade and ravage the autonomy of the untampered species.

We take it as our duty to defend that autonomy through strategic economic sabotage.

Monsanto's Tentacles Creep Further

After more than 2 years of protests by farmers and environmentalists, Monsanto announced last fall that they would not persue commercialization of “terminator” technology, which would prevent harvested seeds from germinating and thus prevent farmers from saving seeds for next year’s planting.

However, biotech companies continue to pursue genetic seed sterilization; over three dozen patents involving seed sterilization are pending in more than 80 nations. Among the businesses seeking patents are Novarits, AstraZeneca, Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Rhone Poulenc and DuPont. These companies are developing “suicide” seeds whose genetic traits can be turned on and off by an external chemical “inducer” mixed with the company’s patented agrochemicals.

Genetic seed sterilization seeds are only the beginning. Monsanto and New Zealand’s Forest Research Agency hope to engineer “terminator” trees, which will secrete toxic chemicals through their leaves to kill caterpillars and other leaf-eating insects. The trees will resist herbicides, allowing ground flora to be eliminated easily, and will be engineered to never flower. Environmental groups believe these trees will usher in a second “silent spring.” The first, Rachel Carson’s, was brought on by DDT.

Companies like Shell and Monsanto say these trees will grow faster, or produce ligin-free timber to reduce the use of chemicals and energy used in paper-making. This will increase the world’s paper yields with no pressure on native forests. A Friends of the Earth spokesperson said, “The idea that intensively-managed plantations take pressure off natural forests is a myth. What is happening is that natural forest is being cleared to make way for intensive plantations. GM trees will accelerate that process.” Len Yull, chairman of the Timber Growers’ Asso. said, “I have yet to see anyone put a convincing case that GM technology would create a sufficiently superior product to achieve a real market advantage, and these things are market and profit driven.”

Monsanto also hopes to expand its monopoly from seed to water in arid countries of the world. Monsanto not only bought seed companies (such as Agracetus, Calagene, Holden, Cargills, Delta & Pine, Unilever, Mahyco, Maharashtra, EID Parry, Rallis) but hopes to use Mahyco to corner the water business. The crisis of pollution and depletion of water resources in countries such as India and Mexico are viewed by Monsanto only as a business opportunity. Monsanto estimates that providing safe water is a several billion dollar market. Instead of public money for a public supply of water, Monsanto wants to establish its monopoly in supplying this vital component of life. Aquaculture is also in Monsanto’s sights. Thes two businesses are aimed at controlling vital resources necessary for survival, converting them into a market and using public finances (i.e., the World Bank) to underwrite the investments. The right to water is the right to life. Turning water into a business like this is a threat to the right to life. Water is a commons and must be managed as a commons.