Another victory of people's park?

People’s Park in Berkeley, California, is successfully protected, at least for now, because of a large turnout of concerned people at the last “Advisory Board” meeting. The Park has been a 37 year struggle to create and protect a small zone of common land. The University of California, who mis-used eminent domain to destroy a hippie neighborhood where the Park now sits in the late sixties, is still trying to claim the land. Fortunately the Park has a rich history of blood, sweat and tears and dedicated “denizens” to protect it. The latest gentrification attempt by UC was a bad plan to “bulldoze the berms”, the raised edges of the People’s Park Community Garden. These mounds, the actual piles of asphalt from when the parking lot was torn up in 1979, are currently covered with fruit and oak trees, roses and manzanitas and grassy areas. They make a pleasant separation for the Park from the street. The reason for the proposed removal was to allow the police easy sight lines into the Park from their vehicles on the street.

In a packed room many spoke out about the folly of the berm removal proposal. The most graphic presentation used an ironing board, two cauliflower heads, a frying pan and a hammer to dramatically demonstrate how plans aimed at hard drug users negatively affect everyone. (Maybe you had to be there).

At the meeting the University stated that they “have no plans to bulldoze the berms at this time”. The large outpouring of people indicated that People’s Park is still an important issue to many. Some of those who attended were neighbors of the Park concerned about safety. Discussions in the hallway and since the meeting have opened up a dialogue about positive ways to approach these concerns.

The dynamic struggle that is People’s Park continues. The University and the Advisory Board (handpicked by the University with no community participation) are in the process of hiring a firm to “do a needs assessment” presumably as a preliminary to redesigning the Park. This of course, violates the spirit of how the Park was created and has been maintained through bottom up “user development”. In an ominous move, the advisory board just decided to hold a closed session with only a few members of the board deciding which architectural firm will be chosen. This narrowing of participation does not bode well and the Advisory Board is sincere in trying to gather broad community input. We will need to be vigilant and participatory to keep an eye on these proceedings. Advisory Board meetings are on the first Mondays of the month at 7pm at 2362 Bancroft in Berkeley.

In the meantime, the Park remains a unique and special place to spend a little time and experience the random human connections that it so often offers. One can get involved by gardening on Sunday afternoons, or volunteering with Food Not Bombs, or planning a concert, or playing chess or basketball or bringing free clothes or just talking with someone new. Viva El Parque de la Gente!


The last four activists accused in federal court in Eugene, Oregon of involvement with a number of Earth Liberation Front-claimed arsons against eco-destroying targets — victims of Operation Backfire and the so-called greenscare — accepted plea bargain deals on November 9, 2006. Daniel McGowan, Jonathan Paul, Joyanna Zacher, and Nathan Block took the plea deals but refused to cooperate with the government investigation and won’t have to snitch on any fellow activists in exchange for their plea deals. These brave activists who held out for reasonable deals face sentencing in April and need your support.

This means that only Briana Waters is still facing a May 7 trial in Washington for alleged involvement with an arson attack on the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001 that was claimed by the Earth Liberation Front. She faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years in prison if convicted. A number of the defendants who agreed to cooperate with the government are expected to testify against her. Briana — a mom and violin teacher — maintains her innocence and needs powerful support from the environmental community.

April Sentencing

In April, 10 defendants will face sentencing for a variety of arsons claimed by the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. Under plea deals, the government and each defendant agreed on a recommended sentence of eight years, except for Jonathan Paul who got a five year recommended sentence.

However, despite the fact than none of the defendants in the case were ever charged with the crime of terrorism, federal prosecutors have announced that they will seek terrorism sentence enhancements of up to an additional 20 years in prison against the defendants. No human being was injured in any of the ALF/ELF arsons and in fact there is evidence that great efforts were made to avoid human injuries in all of the arsons Labeling these acts as “terrorism” shows the government’s willingness to use fear generated by 9-11 against domestic political radicals.

It appears that the defendants will challenge the constitutionality of the terrorism sentence enhancement, as it applies to all defendants, before Stanislas Meyerhoff’s sentencing hearing on April 10. (This date could be changed at a March 2 status hearing.) Meyerhoff was the first of the defendants to agree to cooperate with the government and testify against his friends. Depending on the result of the hearing, the sentencing dates set for other defendants may be changed. As Slingshot goes to press, the sentencing dates are: Kevin Tubbs, April 17; Chelsea Gerlach, April 18; Darren Thurston, April 19; Suzanne Savoie and Kendall Tankersley, April 20; Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher, April 25; Daniel McGowan, April 26; and Jonathan Paul, April 30.

The judge will have discretion at the sentencing hearings to give more or less jail time to the non-cooperating defendants. They are thus seeking letters of support from those who know them.

Support Information

Briana needs help raising funds for her May 7, 2007 trial as well as statements of support from those who know her. She is free on bail. Contact for more information.

Joyanna Zacher, and Nathan Block have remained in jail since their arrest and need support. You can write to them at the address below or contact their support committee:

• Nathan Block #1663667, Lane County Jail, 101 W 5th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401

• Joyanna Zacher #1662550, Lane County Jail, 101 W 5th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401

Daniel and Jonathan are out on bail. Direct support to them at:, Friends of Jonathan Paul, PMB 267, 2305 Ashland Street, Ste. C, Ashland, OR 97520,

For more information about the greenscare, check out, or

Liberating Dissent – resisting crackdown on eco-activists

The IWW union hall in North Portland was filled to capacity at the Liberating Dissent Anti-Green Scare event on December 9, 2006 as Grand Jury resister Jeff Hogg shared his six month ordeal as a Green Scare political prisoner.

Until his release from the Josephine County Jail on November 11, 2006, Jeff was caught in the snare of the government war on dissent. His speaking presentation occurred as part of an international call to mark the weekend of December 7 as a display of unity and opposition to government repression. It was on December 7, 2005, that the FBI’s “Operation Backfire” began with its broad sweep of harassment, intimidation and persecution of eco and animal rights activists. The ensuing investigation with grand jury subpoenas and arrests has come to be known as the Green Scare.

Targeted because of prior eco-activism and work with the Earth First! Journal, Hogg was served with a subpoena in May of this year to testify before the grand jury in regard to a supposed Earth Liberation Front arson that caused property damage. His experience was one of intimidation from the beginning.

“Obviously, The Grand Jury System Does Not Work”

Hogg began his presentation with an overview of the grand jury system and its unlimited and unchecked misuse of investigative power. He began by offering statistics regarding the federal government’s misguided crime fighting priorities.

“A couple of years ago the FBI announced that Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front were the number one terrorist threats in the country. They received funding to go out to harass and intimidate the activist communities. They are not really interested in going out to fight violent crime that terrorizes human beings. Their own statistics state that in 2003 there were 7,400 hate crimes committed that were motivated [to attack] one’s race, ethnicity, religion or gender. That year there were also 450 crimes against the environment committed by corporate industries that violated the clean air and water acts and practiced illegal waste dumping. Their [FBI] priorities are somewhat eschewed. They are using the word ‘terrorism’ to play on our fear.”

He went on to explain how the grand jury power of subpoena is used to gather information while counting on an individual’s lack of knowledge about their constitutional rights. Many who have been subpoenaed have gone on to testify, feeling protected by the fact that they have no information and therefore have nothing to disclose. What Hogg wants people to know is that Grand Jury subpoenas are used broadly as major fishing expeditions and that even the most seemingly insignificant information can and will be distorted and used against the radical community. With this information, the decision is made as to what activity calls for surveillance, illegal wiretapping and where and when it is best to plant provocateurs. This kind of extra legal activity was widely used to derail the social justice movements of the sixties and seventies and history is repeating itself with Operation Backfire.

Hogg stated that 60 to 100 people have been subpoenaed as part of the Green Scare since 2000. The vast majority were law abiding citizens called in to talk about co-workers, friends and neighbors in violation of the 1st Amendment right to free speech and association. Grand juries are not entitled to ask for records of group membership, how money in organizations is used, who attends meetings, who your friends are or with whom one associates. One does not have to offer that information to the grand jury.

One is also not given the right to remain silent before a grand jury. Those subpoenaed can still be compelled to testify. The government gets around this by giving one immunity. This means that one is guaranteed that their testimony will not be used against them and therefore one no longer has any legal ground to remain silent. Grand juries are secretive and controlled by government prosecutors with no judge present. Jurors only look at evidence that the government chooses to present. Grand juries are manipulated in this way.

“The purpose of the Grand Jury as stated in the Constitution is to protect people from prosecution that runs rampant and to keep the misuse of government power in check,” said Hogg. “You have no right to an attorney in the Grand Jury room. Obviously, the Grand Jury system does not work.”

Suspension Of Constitutional Rights

It was last May that Hogg was approached by an FBI agent and Eugene police officer as he was leaving his nursing school class.

“They told me that I was not in trouble, that they had questions and wanted me to testify against an arsonist. They implied that if I did not cooperate, I might be charged with something. ‘We’d hate to see you behind the defendant’s desk’ they said. I told them that I wasn’t going to say anything until I got a lawyer.”

In his search for legal representation, Hogg learned that the public defenders in Lane County were already tied up with Green Scare clients. His search led him to Portland attorney Paul Loney. One week after being asked to testify, Hogg was served with a subpoena. He refused to cooperate at the hearing by pleading the 5th.

“They walked me over to the court room. There a judge granted me immunity and said that now I had to testify. I was taken back before the Grand Jury and said I wouldn’t testify and that this whole prosecution was in violation of my 1st, 5th and 6th Amendment rights. They walked me back to the court room where I was charged with civil contempt. Then I was taken to a chamber below the court room and was told, ‘Well, you have a few hours to reconsider your decision.'” He reconsidered nothing and was taken to jail in chains. He served 6 months in the Josephine County Jail in Grants Pass. This meant that his partner CiCi had a 5 hour round trip to travel for visits. His attorney had an eight hour drive to consult with his client.

“This was challenging, especially not knowing how long the Grand Jury would be in session. The Jury is usually impaneled for 18 months, this one only had about five months left. They decided to extend it for another six months. They told my attorney that they still wanted me to testify. It was really depressing thinking that I would not get out until March sometime. And then, I was suddenly released a week later,” said Jeff.

By this time, Jeff had lost his job and his spot in nursing school. His grandfather also died and he was not able to attend the funeral.

“I want to thank everyone for their support. I don’t think I could have gotten through this without it. The support was amazing. People from around the country wrote me letters; I had free legal representation, my friends and supporters did fundraisers, gave firewood, let my partner borrow their car when ours broke down, people came and did yard work, people came together in solidarity. That is something that you should all be proud of. I don’t know if I could have done that [jail time] without all of that support. I see it as a statement from the radical community saying ‘Fuck you! Your campaign of harassment and intimidation is not dividing this community.’ Thanks for even the smallest role of support. It was important not only for me but for everyone to make that statement, not just to lift my spirits, but so that we can all experience that solidarity. Not only to help my partner pay our bills but for everyones own faith and strength in the face of government repression. So that you know that if you are in my shoes, we have your back. Perhaps it was the lack of faith in support that that contributed to the breaking [of activists] under the threat of life sentences to become informants. It’s really sad, because the support is there,” said Jeff.

Prisoner Support

Before leaving the microphone, Jeff touched on the dire importance of prisoner support. He stated that before he went to jail, he didn’t write much to prisoners because he did not feel th
at he had anything interesting to say.

“Now, I have to say: when you’re in jail anything is interesting.” This brought great laughter from the event attendees. He went on to encourage folks to be creative and write about a hike you took, a work project, something of great beauty that you might have seen.

“Anything is always interesting when you’re in a concrete box. So… please, continue to write to prisoners, keep up the solidarity. And, thanks.” With this, this slight, soft spoken young man went back to tabling at the Free Daniel McGowan table.

I caught up with Jeff a little later to ask if there was anything else that he felt was important to include in this article. He obviously has not had an easy time and with the attack on the right to dissent, he might have more hardship to endure. Did he have anything to say to activists who may feel the need to walk away from movement organizing out of fear of government retaliation?

He paused for a moment and then said, “I would say, just stay strong and have faith in your community. Keep working on building that community. And support our prisoners.”

Donations to Jeff Hogg may be sent to: Friends of Jeff Hogg / PO Box 12271 / Eugene OR 97440

UC Berkeley's sordid history of expansion

In light of the University of California Berkeley’s latest push to bulldoze the Oaks at Memorial Stadium, now is a good time to look back at the history of UC as land grabber. Since the inception of UC Berkeley, over 100 years ago, the university has continued to follow its demented dream of manifest destiny despite the concerns and protests of local residents and the common good.

Using its tax exempt status and its tireless need for continued growth, it continues to take over more land and impinge on the health of the city. As a state institution, rather than part of the city it is also exempt from city laws including the moratorium on cutting down mature live oaks, and other city environmental laws concerned with building more livable cities. This exemption also applies to off-campus buildings owned by the University.

While encouraging car use and allowing the natural landscape to disappear, UC still has not taken any steps to show responsibility for the effects it has on the environment.

This is especially clear in UC’s latest plan to destroy the oak grove located below Memorial Stadium in order to expand its sports complex. Never mind that it sits on the volatile Hayward earthquake fault and diminishes the Strawberry Creek watershed in which it sits, once the area’s major water source and the former site of beautiful waterfalls. Mere groves of trees won’t stop an entity responsible for the development of the H Bomb.

Looking at the history of UC, nothing much has changed among the decision makers and power holders. Throughout the 20th century, their hope was to be at the forefront of nuclear research, the heart of science experimentation, an “Athens of the West” and the most prestigious and honored campus of learning around no matter what stood in their way. Luckily UC has seen a history of protest among students and residents alongside its history of growth. This manifested in the creation of an Ethnic Studies department, forced divestment out of apartheid South Africa, created the free speech movement and a continued culture of resistance.

Originally built to hold 5,000 students, UCB has grown to over 30,000 in a town with little undeveloped land left. Funny that Frederick Law Olmstead, the University’s original landscape designer proposed a college that would be an integral part of the surrounding environment of rolling grassland and tree lined creeks, a beautiful part of the “country” they had sought outside urban San Francisco.

One of the largest expansions of campus happened in the 1960’s when UC decided to take over a whole block of Telegraph Ave to build Sproul Plaza and Zellerbach Hall and then flatten several more blocks to make way for twelve high rise dorms and parking structures. Although there had been complaints voiced by neighbors in the past, this large wave of construction really fired up residents who were witnessing the destruction of their neighborhoods and fueled the creation of People’s Park in a flattened, muddy lot abandoned as a dorm site.

UC has continued its growth spurt with construction of over 40 new buildings built since 1980, including the heavily funded Animal Research Lab which carries out vivisection and extensive testing on animals. In the 1990’s a Human Genome Center and hazardous waste storage facilities were constructed in environmentally sensitive Strawberry Canyon. Soon after, a six-story nanotechnology research facility followed with few in Berkeley even aware of the project. The most recent long range development plan (LRDP) projected to 2020 threatens to devour downtown and what makes Berkeley such an interesting and unique place.

Mayor Tom Bates described the LRDP as giving UC Berkeley “a blank check” to begin a building boom the equivalent of constructing 23 new structures the size of the city’s six-story Civic Center building. Currently, UC owns 35 percent of Berkeley property making it the city’s largest landholder and the fact that it is exempt from paying taxes has been the source of increased friction with its neighbors. Due to their exemption the city is often left to deal with the pollution and congestion that continued development entails and the city must pay the bill for the UC’s sewer and fire department usage.

Thanks to the actions of community activists and four pending lawsuits, UC may not get away with its latest plan to raze a grove of oaks and redwoods. The struggle is only a small part of stopping the behemoth from spreading its tentacles to what is left of our city.

All-ages volunteer-run club turns twenty


By eggplant

As the night’s most anticipated draw was taking the stage, I went from hanging in a nearby creek clandestinely drinking with the club’s star staffer and a stranger who was holding the devil’s weed (Berkeley’s “lowest priority bust”), to hiding from the flashlights of a pig hungry to fill the city’s coffers with another citation fee. The club was in the heat of celebrating twenty years of being in one place. Its long survival had been predicated on keeping alcohol off its premises — so much so that one of its spawns, the band Isocracy, rattled on their debut vinyl, “Go Four Blocks Away,” mimicking the procedure staff ran on defiant punks (and advice we were currently following). The punks had let that procedure color their perception of the club; they ignored and scorned the place not only for its remote location, limited engagements, and narrow minded bookings, but for this absurd complicity to the man.

I first went to Gilman St. in March of 1987, three months after its opening and not long after I had transitioned to punk from metal and rap. Over the years I would find this to be a common hopping of subcultures among America’s wanton youth. While I was ducking the Police flashlights, my 15-year old nephew (who previously had shown little interest in music) was in the club enjoying the show, or rather the dance space the punks call the Pit.

It’s not common that volunteer-run alternative spaces can be functional, much less functionally operate for twenty years. What definitely wasn’t common was Gilman’s first year and what preceded it. Individuals scouted the industrial area of West Berkeley for a space that would become a new venue. The owner of one building seemed laid back and nonplussed as to what was being visualized. In fact, he’s been OK with it ever since — part of the club’s secret of survival. Considering the fact that folks identifying under the punk banner can often barely maintain and operate a house, getting a club started seemed an endless and futile process. The building sat empty half a year before having its first show. Building the bathrooms and the stage and making repairs necessary to put the building up to code — often by people without any prior building experience — took plenty of time.

Unfortunately, working with the city wasn’t so easy. Often notorious for being bureaucratic, Berkeley government made the Gilman people get prepared. So they offered the city a whole slew of self imposed rules to ensure that this space would stand out from other nightclubs, such as being a members-only space, having a no-advertising policy, and booking shows only on Friday and Saturday. These agreements would prove to be short-lived — yet what was essential was that the club would not allow violence, graffiti, or use of illicit substances/alcohol.

The early punk culture was hostile to its bigger brothers and sisters in the hippie movement. This played itself out in the mid 80’s when the music got as fast and hard as it could. The mainstream first viewed punks as nihilist, negative, criminal and self-destructive — then simply ignored them. By the time Gilman came onto the scene a shift was happening. For the outsider culture drawn to the music scene there was less thrill in being easily defined. But there was its shadow, namely that the American terrain was being transformed by the creation of a population mainly passive and consumer driven.

The club today exists as a sort of paradox: living off the prestige of being a cultural icon, yet having trouble making rent. The neighborhood around the club has increasingly been invaded by strip mall America. But that neglects another problem, that is, getting the people who enter the building to participate. Often the shows seem catered to drawing audiences from the suburbs — which means no one to work the door that night. Indeed an enormous plus of the space is the potential of when worlds collide. There’s the chance that consumer mainstream types will mix it up with people who exist in the counter culture.

Currently there is a steady flow of core members leaving the club. In my theory this is due in no small part to too much responsibility on the shoulders of too few people, and that’s all they do without variation. Once people burn out they’re off to greener pastures. I often notice that the longer a shitworker works the club the more they seem to hate the music. This may be because the club has stopped seeking innovative acts and because they give carte blanche to that which conforms to conventional definitions of “PUNK”. What best illustrates this is the many nights of sounds imitating the work of the early to late 1980’s.

Some old members stick around, but usually remain on the periphery. Observe one of the original staffers Brian Edge, at the anniversary as he wails, “The article said our security would bounce trouble makers out with our bellies,” referring to an excerpt of the former Gilman band Green Day’s biography in the S.F.. Chronicle. It was a gross exaggeration. “The only people they talk to about the history of the club is people in bands. Jesse (who stands on the corpse of Operation Ivy) said we were just a bunch of socialists.” This illustrates an old tension between the shitworker and the bands. One idea from back in the day was getting the bands to work the shows they play, or one of those pesky friends eager to get on the guest list.

Another paradox is the age restriction: There isn’t any . But local people over 21 often stop going to the club, favoring secure drinking holes. They bemoan feeling so old around the youngsters. On the night of the big anniversary show a young woman who was a teenager in 96/97 told this same thing to me. But I must have experienced a different side of the show — mostly I saw people in their early 40’s there to partake in the reunion band (a common trend these days, replacing innovation).

People tell me they felt bad about missing the anniversary but in some ways I feel it was just another show. Of course it was much more than that. Mainly it was the spectacle of all the faces that came out and crowded together, the proverbial 1,000 punks in the street. What interested me was the anniversary events that were not shows and which ended up being sparsely attended, yet quite fulfilling. One night there was a punk panel about the club’s history and operation. It was a little less interesting than this article. I’m into public discourse and lectures, but I don’t disagree with the people I knew who walked out on it saying it was boring. Some of them work the club on occasion and care about punk, but either they can’t sit still or the panel didn’t work.

One local stormed out, “You’re all a bunch of Nazis”, later saying she had lots to add during the panel’s discussion but that Gilman has a bad reputation with the homeless kids known as Crusties. “I had comments on just about everything they said but they never want to hear it from us.” I agree — the panel didn’t make an effort to get input from strangers. I was more impressed that they had us sitting in a circle instead of us gawking at them on the stage. But this begs the question: does the club value those who can pay over those who can’t? A lot of the (mostly former) Gilman staff on the panel have moved on to careers and spend little time thinking about living outside the system.

Other non-show anniversary events were a play on X-mas Eve and an open house on New Year’s Eve with various tiny events going on; there was a record swap, film screenings, basketball, coffee and snacks. There I saw a rare potential. At one point it seemed that in every corner there was some activity; video shooting, goofy karoke, a mob playing basketball. There wasn’t one point of focus like you get with the stage, and people could plug in where they saw fit. My nephew was there again, grabbing for the ball amidst the confusion — not playing on any team.

Though I still like the mu
sic at Gilman, I desire more out of a space that is meant to be an alternative. And I’m curious what my nephew’s generation will create out of the space that can hold sounds, styles, thought, friendship and dance. The first time in the pit is essential in rattling the foundation of reality that is keeping everybody in their place. But it should be a part of the series of experiences that set us outside our roles of bread earners. Concert-going is fine but it should not be disconnected from other aspects of our radical milieu. That is, it should lead to the first protest, the first meeting. It is in such experiences that we find the root of community — by putting yourself in the hands of the people around you.

Leap Day 2008: up the ante of absurdity

It’s only a year until Leap Day Action Night 2008 — Friday, February 29, 2008 — and discussions are already underway aimed at organizing the largest coordinated global leap day uprising yet. Leap day is an extra day — a blank slate waiting to be transformed into a spontaneous, inspirational rebellion against dreary business as usual. Every other day, the wheels of global industrial capitalism spin around, running over our freedom and the earth in the process. Leap day offers an opportunity to go beyond protest — merely decrying what we’re against — and focus on living life in a positive, creative, loving, cooperative, sustainable fashion without domination of others or the earth.

The Roots of Leap Day

The first Leap Day Action Night was in Berkeley in 2000, just after thousands of people shut down the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in November, 1999. It was raucous — a mob of finger puppet-armed radicals with a bicycle sound system re-enacted the Seattle WTO protest by shutting down local banks and chain stores, smashing TVs, and simulating sex acts on dumpstered mattresses in the street. The police were too confused to control the mayhem!

In 2004, Leap Day went global with actions in several US cities and in England. In Newcastle, UK, radicals played leapfrog in a shopping mall, had a free market and posted official looking signs saying buses were free if you chatted with other people at the bus stop. In Houston, TX, guerrilla gardeners planted a garden of veggies and flowers in a public park, served free food and had a party with arts and crafts. In New York City, 50 pirates took over the streets and marched through the lower east side chanting “What do we want? Booty! When do we want it? Now!” and “Hey hey, ho ho, The royal navy has got to go!”

In Berkeley, folks marched through the streets throwing foam “bricks” at plate glass windows of chain stores and banks and running in to sprinkle glitter and popcorn. The doors of a Starbucks were barricaded with tables and chairs and tied shut with a big pretty red bow. The action was everything that big, ritualized ANSWER-type protests are not. It took no resources, no preparation, no bureaucratic structure, no airline tickets or road trips and no mysterious movement superstars with financial backing. There was exactly one meeting of 6 people to brainstorm some ideas, a few hours gathering props, a few email messages and a tiny number of flyers (not glossy postcards). At the event, no one was in charge — there were no communications and no plan. It was amazing to see tactics more in line with our goals working so well — Small, decentralized and local was beautiful.

Scheming for 2008!

Leap Day is a totally arbitrary day, and thus it puts the onus on radicals to think about what we want, and figure out how to communicate and promote our goals. The slogan of the two previous Leap Day Action Nights were “Use your extra day to smash capitalism, patriarchy and the state.”

This is a call to action to begin figuring out the goals, slogans, activities and tactics for 2008. Should climate change or other themes be more prominent for 2008? What new communities could plug into the loose parameters of a global day of action that goes beyond single issue politics? Leap Day actions happened in a handful of places in 2004 — how about dozens or hundreds in 2008?

Leap day participants from the UK emailed that “our group here were talking about Leap day last week . . . What we talked about doing was a Zap style ‘consultation’ with groups we know in the UK to see what they think. Then started promoting it big style [in 2007]. Let’s keep in touch about Leap day plans.”

Berkeley Leap-istas hope to publish a leap day 2008 (LD8) poster and stickers — send your address to LD8, 3124 Shattuck, Berkeley, CA 94705 if you want some. Or, check out for more information as things develop.

Leap for it!

Sweeping away blood in Oaxaca – state terror tactics temporarily disband grassroots movement

November 26th, in Oaxaca’s city center, the sun rose after a long night of clashing protestors and police. In front of the cathedral Santo Domingo, state governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz held a broom, smiling in front of the cameras as he passed it back and forth a few times across the pavement. Until last night this spot had been the headquarters for thousands of protesters that make up the Peoples Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO). Around Ulises stood important figures of the state government, smiling approvingly and trying to suppress their coughs from the remnants of tear gas in the air. PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) and Ulises Ruiz` political party supporters joined in on the opportunity for good publicity and swept their brooms back and forth in front of the press. City employees had worked all morning to clear the glass, rocks, bullet shells, and blood from the streets. The fire department finally put out the smoldering remains of the Supreme Court and the Secretary of Tourism. The city centers` walls remain an odd mess of white paint blotches that attempt to hide the thousands of messages that have been scrawled during the last six months, which reveal the true feelings many Oaxacans harbor towards their governor and government. Helicopters and federal police patrolled the area, arresting those who got too close, to ensure that nothing interfered with Ulise’s public statement that Oaxaca had “returned to normal”.

Meanwhile, porros (thugs hired by the government) freely roam the streets in pickup trucks armed with Uzis and AK-47s, hunting down those who have been active in the APPO, sympathizers, and, in many cases, anyone who seems slightly suspicious. The illegal PRI radio station, self-proclaimed “La Ciudadana” (The Citizen), calls for “the real” Oaxacans to burn the homes of APPO activists, the offices of Non-Governmental Organizations and newspapers, and to turn in sympathizing neighbors.

3,000 more Federal Preventative Police (PFP) had arrived in the city to supplement the 4,000 already stationed in Oaxaca. Thousands had gone into hiding, afraid to leave and afraid to stay. People are wary of one another, as the evidence of infiltration leaks everywhere. Many have been bribed by the government to betray the movement. The number of detained is around 200 and rises every day. Many of the detained have been sent to a high security prison outside the state of Oaxaca without any means of communication.

Oaxaca has escalated into an extreme state of terror and violence from what started out as a peaceful teachers protest. Every year, the Oaxacan teachers union goes on strike for better wages and better government funding for schools. Many southern Mexican schools (especially in rural, indigenous areas) have become privatized due to lack of government funding. These schools, now owned by companies like Ford or Coca-Cola, are argued to be maleficent and function as training facilities for future employees.

This year, Ulises refused to negotiate with the union, and as a response, on May 22nd, 70,000 teachers occupied the city square. On June 14th, 2006, the state government of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz sent in thousands of police, armed with clubs, rubber bullets, dogs and tear gas to violently displace the peacefully protesting Oaxacan teachers. Bertha Elena Muñoz, a prominent voice of Radio Universidad (APPO’s main source of communication with the people) emphasizes the degree of corruption in the government: “From the moment Ulises Ruiz took office, there were political assassinations, political prisoners and blatant robbery of public resources- practically in front of our faces.”

Oaxaca is the second poorest state of Mexico with almost two thirds of the population (largely indigenous) living under the poverty line. Oaxacans have a long history of exploitation, poverty and a future full of the same with the implementation of neoliberal free trade policies (such as Plan Puebla Panama). These free trade policies often result in the displacement of communities from their land in order to exploit the rich natural resources from their land as well as abuse a cheap and unprotected labor force. The inability for the majority of Mexicans (as well as many Central and South Americans) to earn a living wage due to such free trade policies has resulted in massive immigration to the United States.

The Mexican government has been quite consistent in its brutal, repressive responses to social movements that complicate the implementation of these free trade policies and seek to remove their often corrupt and fraudulently elected leaders. It is no surprise that Oaxaca ranks number one in Mexico for human rights violations. Muñoz adds, “The breaking point was when Ulises violently displaced the protesting teachers from the Zûcalo (the city square). That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The violent repression of the striking teachers served as a wakeup call for many Oaxacans who decided now was the time to organize themselves for the creation of a just, democratic and peaceful future. A few days after June 14th, the APPO was formed, whose main demands today include the removal of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and the PFP from the state of Oaxaca, the release of all political prisoners and answers for the hundreds disappeared. More importantly, the APPO recognizes that Mexicans can no longer survive under the current political system that has shown them no end to corruption and repression. Thus, the APPO works to establish a new social pact moving towards popular self-governance, the creation of a new constitution and to unite struggles against corporate globalization and social injustice.

Until the month of November, the city protected itself from common and state violence with a network of all night neighborhood watches and the establishment of over 2,000 barricades around the city. Ulises Ruiz and fellow PRIistas responded by committing endless acts of strategic violence, such as bombings in the guise of APPO to encourage the entrance of military force. Oaxaca became a mess of porros, paramilitaries and corrupt police in civilian clothing terrorizing the city. These groups are believed to be responsible for numerous murders. Indigenous elementary school teacher, Panfilo Hernandez, for example, was shot and murdered by men in an unmarked car as he left a neighborhood APPO meeting.

Since the events of October 27th, 2006, Oaxaca has moved rapidly into the spotlight. On this day, the APPO called for a statewide strike and the day ended in four murders. One of those murdered was United States Indymedia journalist Brad Will, who had been filming a documentary about the APPO and the teachers strike. Two Oaxacan municipal police who were filmed shooting at the place and time of the victims’ murders were arrested for the crime, but were released due to the protection they receive from the government.

The international attention Will’s death received influenced the decision of Vicente Fox to send in 4,000 PFP troops he had stationed around Oaxaca. Since the arrival of the PFP troops, arrests, disappearances, abductions, shootings and street battles have become commonplace. Human rights organizations have released reports of the brutal torture occurring against detainees. Over 600 arrest warrants have been issued and many who have participated in the movement do not sleep in the same bed two nights in a row. Numerous tear gas and blood drenched street battles have taken place since the arrival of the PFP.

On November 2nd, the religious holiday Day of the Dead, the PFP attacked the city’s most important barricade, Cinco Señores which defends Radio Universidad. However, the people managed to repel the troops after seven long hours, establishing a significant victory of hope for the people. The most recent and significant battle took place November 25th. It started with a mega march of hundreds of thousands of people (the seventh of its kind) making their way into the center of the city planning to form
a peaceful human chain around the PFP in the city square and hold it for 48 hours. However this quickly took a wrong turn as rocks started flying from the side of the APPO. The PFP responded with a storm of tear gas then quickly upgraded to 9mm gunfire. Soon the PFP had the APPO surrounded on three sides, grabbing and beating those they could reach. Chaos broke loose, and numerous cars, buildings and houses were set on fire. While some of the destruction was carried out by members of the APPO, a significant part is suspected to have been perpetrated by infiltrators and porros. According to several resources, police waited at hospitals, dressed as paramedics, and arrested several wounded as they were brought in. All night the government worked with determination to completely erase and destroy the movement, including chasing, beating and arresting all of those who had been present on the streets.

The next day, the entire city was occupied by police, the street-based headquarters of the APPO cleared, and the dozens of elaborate murals and street art that had once painted the streets were covered with ghostly layers of white paint. PRI supporters and police are now free to roam the streets committing arrests, shootings, beatings, fire bombings and other attacks. The offices of APPO spokesman, Flavio Sosa, were burned and he was later detained in Mexico City. Another two APPO spokesmen, Cesar Mateos and Jorge Sosa Campos, were seen abducted by men in a car without license plates. Human rights workers are now facing arrest warrants for vague offenses. The thousands of barricades once seen throughout the city have been removed and Radio Universidad has been silenced. The Mexican government has made itself clear in its unwavering determination to silence Oaxaca and the rest of Mexico. The tactics the government uses in Oaxaca, (reminiscent of the 1968 repression of a massive student protest) have again proven successful with the majority of the APPO either in hiding or behind bars. International corporate media reports stories of youth in Oaxaca rioting and destroying the city but nothing more, thus twisting perspectives in Fox’s and Ruiz’s favor.

Oaxaca and the APPO represent the failure of the United States implemented neoliberal development model carried out in Mexico. In light of this, caravans from all over Mexico had arrived in Oaxaca to join the struggle against an obsolete, oppressive government. The EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Army), who struggle against corporate globalization and for indigenous rights, blocked off streets in Chiapas in solidarity. Since the formation of the APPO in Oaxaca, very similar organizations have formed in seven other Mexican states as well as in the United States. The struggle of Oaxaca, has proven the potential for an alternative to the growing dominance of neoliberal policies. It achieves this through active citizen participation in the formation of concrete proposals regarding land, natural resources, education, state reform and cultural heritage.

On December 1st, fraudulently elected Felipe Calderon was inaugurated as Mexico’s new president. At the same time, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Calderon’s opponent, announced himself “legitimate” president in Mexico City’s Zocalo, in front of millions of supporters. The country erupted into massive demonstrations and politicians broke out in fistfights at Congress. As Ulises Ruiz and the federal government evade serious negotiations or dialogue with the APPO, Calderon similarly evades adressing Obrador or his supporters. State brutality remains as the preferred solution to conflict.

While the brutal repressive violence of the federal government temporarily disbanded the APPO and keeps many of its members behind bars (along with a large population of indigenous workers who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time) or in hiding, Oaxacans hold strong in the struggle and are unafraid to take to the streets with their demands. The city remains occupied by police and the Zocalo has become an eerie holiday display of red poinsettias wielding thank you notes to the PFP and Ulises Ruiz Ortiz for reinstating “peace” to Oaxaca.

December 22nd saw a worldwide day of action (called by the EZLN) with Oaxaca where around 40 different countries took to the streets in solidarity. Calderon faces a continuous massive resistance of the people which is thoroughly ignored as he makes even more cuts to the dwindling education and culture budgets.

Mexico faces a serious political and economic division. With the government avoiding negotiation, collapse looms in the future.

Oaxaca unites with southern Mexico as an example of hope and promise in the global struggle against oppressive free trade policies and corrupt illegitimate government regimes; it also shows us that these regimes will not hesitate to use whatever violent means necessary to silence those that stand in their way.

For more info check out Centro de Medios Libres,, Centro de Medios Independientes de Oaxaca,, Oaxaca Libre,, APPO,, Narco News,, Radio Zapote Mexico D.F.,, Radio Pacheco,, El enemigo comun,

Bradley R. Will 1970 – 2006

We called him Brad from Indymedia or Brad from New York or Badger when he did forest defense. He always had a big smile and a bigger hug for anyone he came across. “It’s all good bro,” he’d say, whether police were surrounding us or if he was inviting me to sleep on someone else’s floor. He was positive and encouraging and took an honest interest in everyone around him without criticism. He loved to help others, to tell stories, to sing and play the guitar. He was an anarchist who touched the lives of all sorts of people. As a catalyst he had the energy to kick-start any situation. His lanky, shirtless form filled any empty space, which made him hard to live with but great to pull off events with. He felt at home in any situation and could fit in anywhere, from riots, to playing with kids, to hanging out with people who spoke a different language.

Although from a wealthy background he eventually opened his eyes to injustice, and set about to change things. He took a stand for what he believed in and could see the big picture of how things worked in the world and how people are oppressed by large systems.

In the nineties he was a squatter and community gardener in New York, then a forest defender on the West Coast. When the WTO met in Seattle he worked with the Independent Media Center (IMC/Indymedia) from the beginning. After that he moved back to NY then he went to Europe and participated in some crazy riots. At some point he got a video camera and a new calling at protests. He used it to de-escalate, as a weapon and as a shield and all the while collecting peoples’ histories.

He really appreciated people, wherever they were at. Whether people were extremely militant or total pacifists he was down to work with them. He supported all kinds of events and was genuinely excited about it all. He was one of a rare breed that can appreciate everything. There are always debates among activists over whether we should organize big events or focus on organizing in the local community, record history or make it, educate or take action, defend the forest or work for social justice, smash a window or have a sit in, have a party or hold a meeting. To Brad the answer was, “Yes! Let’s go.” He would grab a ski mask or a sunflower hat, a video camera, a guitar or a bullhorn and get going. He had long hair that he often held back with a black t-shirt sleeve. This easily doubled as a mask.

“Even if one garden falls there are so many more to save.” Brad had a passion for life and found it wherever it flourished. He connected his energizing passion to the passion of others and found the living elements of an ecosystem or a community. He traveled the earth to preserve these beautiful places. He said shit straight up and opposed, “The complete leveling of culture, [the] clearcutting of values.”

For the last five years Brad had been traveling to Latin America. He was excited about the culture, the food, the song, dancing, and the spirit of the people. He wanted to be a part of this spirit until it filled him. He saw that when you are oppressed, a natural reaction is to rebel. He honored that and felt it was necessary. If that’s where all the action was going to be, he was going to be there too. He wanted to be a part of it all, and tell the story.

Brad took on danger but was not reckless. He was willing to take risks and challenge power, because good things can happen when we step out of our comfort zones. Beautiful moments arrive when we reclaim our lives, it’s magic. Some people think his joy invalidates his work, but he accomplished a lot and enjoyed every moment of it. He loved a good riot and a good party. Brad knew everyone and everyone knew him. There are few that have had such an impact on so many activists, on the movement and on the world as Brad surely has had.

A social upheaval began in Oaxaca, Mexico. Brad was 36 years old and he had been a committed activist for a long time. He maintained a calm vibe in crazy situations. People cautioned him not to go to Oaxaca, but he was determined to go anyway. Many of us supported Brad’s decision and knew that if Brad was called to go, then Oaxaca needed him. He was an anarchist and a firm believer in direct democracy. The APPO organization, in Oaxaca, is probably the most democratic organization of its size in the world. Brad found this very inspiring and its militant forms of action exciting. The situation was scary to him as well, since a dozen protesters had been killed at that point. He wasn’t sure if he was up for it, but he knew he had to be. The danger was secondary to documenting and participating in this very human struggle. On October 27th paramilitaries attacked a barricade in the Santa Lucia neighborhood. Brad went to film and didn’t stop even as the bullets flew past him. He ran to the front, bravely sharing the danger with the people of Oaxaca. Then a bullet pierced his stomach and he died before reaching the hospital.

Brad had sent out his last report a week before on October 17th, Death in Oaxaca: “Yesterday I went for a walk with the good people of Oaxaca – in the afternoon they showed me where the bullets hit the wall – they numbered the ones they could reach – it reminded me of the doorway of Amadou Diallo’s home – but here the graffiti was there before the shooting began – one bullet they didn’t number was still in his head – he was 41 years old – Alejandro Garcia Hernandez.” “A young man who wanted to only be called Marco was [there] when the shooting happened – a bullet passed through his shoulder – 19 years old – said he hadn’t told his parents yet – said he had been at the barricade every night – said he was going back as soon as the wound closed – absolutely.”

Now the indomitable spirit of Brad is gone and I think we are left with a question. He died doing what he loved. He died for what he believed in. Maybe he even died for us. We all have to die at some point. So, what are you going to die for? Whatever it is I can see Brad reaching out his long arms, “It’s all good bro,” and giving you a hug. That’s how I remember him.

Change recycling

If you had 25 lbs. of aluminum cans sitting in your house, you’d recycle them so the metal in them could be used again, right? Well, what about that penny jar you’ve been keeping on the shelf all these years? Yup – another tiny way to help the environment is to roll up those pennies and get them out of your house and back into circulation. Our house recently turned in $42 in pennies weighing 25 pounds. It turns out the government minted about 9 billion pennies last year — pennies account for roughly half of all coins made each year — at a cost of more than $100 million dollars. About one-third of this money is used to pay for the zinc that pennies are made out of. In April, 2006, the New York Times reported that because of the increase in the cost of zinc, it was costing 1.4 cents to create each 1 cent penny. So many pennies are made because about half of the pennies made each year disappear from circulation within each year. In 1998, the General Accounting Office estimated that of the roughly 170 billion pennies then in existence, two-thirds had been effectively withdrawn from circulation by people keeping them in penny jars! If people would stop keeping penny jars, thousands of tons of zinc wouldn’t have to be mined each year. Better yet, the penny should be eliminated entirely since it no longer really serves any meaningful purpose. Check out for details.

Libraries! Infoshops! Eco-communes! Ect.! – a space update

People all over keep sending Slingshot word of radical communtity spaces, both already in existence or recently opened. Each of these spaces is the culmination of a massive community building effort, and once open, radical spaces can be a foundation for organizing and liberation. Here are some places that have cropped up since we published the 2007 organizer, which went to press in August, 2006, plus other contact info for spaces around the globe.

Collective for Arts, Freedom, and Ecology (C.A.F.E.) – Fresno, CA

C.A.F.E has a community center with a weekly radical movie night, lectures, a womyn’s discussion group, Food Not Bombs, Critical Mass, a weekly food distro, and a community garden. Groups sharing the space include: the Native Women’s Council, Sierra Nevada Earth First!, Food Not Bombs, and Fresno Voices for Animals. They are the center of lots of activity in Fresno! Check them out at 935 F Street Fresno, CA 93706,

Wildcat Infoshop – Lexington, KY

This space has zines and books and also hosts shows and potlucks. Every Sunday at 6 p.m. is “Letters to Prisoners” night. Open Friday thru Sunday, 3 pm-7 pm, and for events. Visit at 832 Porter Place Lexington, KY 40508

Mathilde Anneke Infoshop – Milwaukee, WI

The infoshop is part of a coalition of groups that use this space. It has a bookstore, lending library, archive and community space for meetings, films and workshops. The space has an art gallery and resource center, a free skool, a printmaking collective and space for bike repair and Food Not Bombs. Open: Monday to Friday 3 pm – 7 pm; Saturday 1 pm – 7 pm; Sunday 10 am – 7 pm. By the way, who was Mathilde Anneke? Anneke, born in 1817 in Germany, participated in 1848-49 revolutionary activities and founded the first German feminist newspaper while her husband was a political prisoner. After the insurrection was crushed, the couple fled to Milwaukee, where Anneke became a leading feminist and active abolitionist working with the likes of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. While Anneke supported herself as a writer and wrote numerous essays, stories and articles in Europe and the USA, she also founded the first American feminist newpaper as well as a women’s academy in Milwaukee. The infoshop is at 732 E. Clark St, Milwaukee WI 53212,

Black Bear Bakery – St. Louis, MO

This 8 year old, worker-run collective bakery has just moved into a new space where they now have a cafe, newsstand and a library. 2639 Cherokee St. St. Louis, MO 63118, 314-771-2236,

Mad Ratz infoshop – Atlanta, GA

After 2 years, Mad Ratz finally got a space in October. They have a reading/lending library, bookshop, meeting space and workshop. Check them out Thursday – Saturday noon – 8 at 840 Dekalb Ave Suite C, Atlanta GA 30307, 404 992 7218,

Velocipede Infoshop – Iowa City, IA

This recently-opened infoshop/radical library is also the homebase for a volunteer run, non-profit bike courier service. The Infoshop features cheap fruit, a copy machine and scanner, a play place and a bike shop. 114 1/2 College St. #10 Iowa City, IA 52240, (319)321-5494,

Aprovecho Research Center – Cottage Grove, OR

For many years, this center has been studying and teaching sustainable living practices and appropriate technology, including such services as their 3 month intensive course in Organic Farming, Appropriate Technology, and Sustainable Forestry. The rural Aprovecho site is a living example of a sustainable eco-commune featuring passive solar and solar electricity, wood burning cook stoves and ovens, pedal powered flour mills and washing machines, an organic farm and orchard with chickens and goats, etc. They also have a small library! Aprovecho’s goal is complete autonomy from the system, and they hope to set a precedent for people worldwide who wish to be self-determined. There is an open house with tours every Sunday. Check them out at 80574 Hazelton Rd, Cottage Grove, OR 97424, (541) 942-8198,

Fuori Controllo – Savona, Italy

A new infoshop in a smaller town – via chiavella 3r – savona c.p. 573 – 17100 savona cpo

Centro Cultural de Playancha – Chile

Community center at Pedro León Gallo 4040, Playancha/Valparaíso, Chile, 56 (32) 2349571,

Gatazka infoshop – Bilbao, Basque Country (Spain)

Gatazka (which means “conflict” in Basque) have a 15 year old infoshop at Ronda Street, 12 48005 Bilbao, Spain. Also, check out radical publication Ekintza Zuzena (“direct action”) at

Places to visit

These may not necessarily all be infoshops, but these small businesses, co-ops, and community spaces are good spots to stop by if you’re traveling through.

Fargo, North Dakota

• Tochi Products

1111 2nd Ave N, Fargo ND 701-232-7700

• The Red Raven Espresso Parlor, 14 Roberts street in the basement, Fargo, ND 58102.701-478-7337.

• Amazing Grains Cooperative, 214 DeMers Ave, Grand Forks ND 701-775-4542

• Mill Town Herbs, 2400 Highway 281 S, Jamestown ND 701-252-2284

Atlanta, Georgia

• Charis Books – the oldest feminist bookstore in the south with a non-profit arm – 1189 Euclid Ave, Atlanta, GA 30307, 404 524-0304

• Sevananda – featuring teach-ins & events – 467 Moreland Avenue NE Atlanta, GA 30307 404 681-2831

• Five Spot – 1123 Euclid Ave Atlanta, GA 30307, 404 223-1100

• Little Five Points community center – lots of events and home of Radio Free Georgia – 1083 Austin Ave. Atlanta, GA 30307 404-522-2926

• SoPo Bikes – bike coop – 465-C Flat Shoals Ave. Atlanta, GA 30316,

Syracuse, New York

• Second Story Books – bookstore with coffee shop, art gallery, film showings and readings – 550 Westcott St. Syracuse, NY

• Lavender Inkwell Bookshoppe – focusing on LGBT literature – 304 McBride St. Syracuse, NY,

Missoula, Montana

• Shakespeare & Co. books – 103 S. 3rd St., W. Missoula, MT 59801, 406-541-6222.

Greensboro, North Carolina

• Greenleaf coop – student run coop cafe – 17708 Founders Hall 5800 W. Friendly Ave. Greensboro, NC 27410

San Diego, California

• Rubber Rose – feminist sex and art shop – 3812 Ray St., San Diego, CA 92104 619-865-6930.

Madison, Wisconsin

• A Room of One’s Own Feminist Bookstore. Ahhh, so many places in Madison to visit . . . 307 W. Johnson St., Madison, WI 53703, 608-257-7888

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

• Bike Pirates – coop bikeshop and anti-car infoshop – 457 Bathurst St, Toronto Canada

• Community Bicycle Network Bike Share – bike lending program plus library of bike material – 761 Queen Street West, Toronto

Corrections to the 2007 Organizer

• Oops – we didn’t list the Acre Infoshop in Raleigh, NC. They’re at 824 Chamberlain St. Raleigh, NC 27607, 919-341-8263.

• We also didn’t list the Ironweed coop at 98 Grand St. Albany, NY 12202 518-429-8233, This used to be an infoshop and is now a house that hosts shows and other events.

• Papercut zine library in Cambridge, MA has a new phone #: 617-492-2600.

• To send mail to the Dry River Infoshop, send it c/o Joleen S, 48 W 4th Street, Tucson, AZ 85705

Places that are gone (or not?)

• We got mail returned from the 908 Collective in Ft. Collins, CO – not sure if they are gone or if it was postal mistake.

• We got mail returned from the Green Lantern Cab
aret in Winona – their website appears to say they are closed now,. but it is darn confusing.

• We have a report that Uprisings in Toronto Canada is gone – if anyone knows, let us know.

• We got mail back from Hodgepodge books – we called but they didn’t call us back – let us know if they still exist.

• We got a letter returned from New World infoshop in Ottawa, Canada (and they owe us $$) we think they’re gone.

• Paper Matches in Indianapolis (listed in the 2006 organizer) is sadly confirmed to be out of business.