Zine review: Meet Me At the Corner of Nihilism and Hope

A zine by Crystal. $2, 20pgs.

2231 Ashby Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705


“The eternity in each discarded moment haunts me. / I understand why so many cling to faith. That is why I cannot.”

This is the latest contribution by Crystal (aka astrogirl of the Distress zine, and sometime Slingshot collective member). *Nihilism and Hope* is a combination of short form poetry, manifestos, tonic lists for managing mental health crises, existential reflections, a eulogy and a love letter. Since writing Distress # 2, Crystal, who is self described as “a student, a counselor, a friend, a dork, a radical, and a goddamned fool” has also become a mama and many of her pieces reflect how this changed reality has affected her. As the title suggests, the whole work is held together by the tension between defiant hope aroused in moments of connection and beauty and the despair that comes from facing a deeply wounded world. Themes of addiction and radical mental heath are present but part of a larger whole including communication, authenticity, motherhood and struggling toward presence. A powerful poem is “Put the Coffee on, The Killers are Here” which speaks to the disconnect between the atrocities of war and the mundane morning rituals of someone apart from, yet indelibly tied to them. Not for the light of heart; all of the pieces are touched by melancholy and at once resigned and defiant. Doris Delirium contributed beautiful screen printed art for the cover and several interior pages.

Organizer 2009!

Thanks to everyone who bought a 2008 Slingshot Organizer — their sale pays to print this paper and for other radical media projects. Sadly, we ran out of organizers in November — about two months before we’re usually out — and as a result, some bookstores and projects couldn’t get organizers they ordered. We’re currently getting some copies returned from stores that ordered too many. If you didn’t get an organizer and you want one, check our website for distributors that have organizers in stock. We’ll print more copies next year so this doesn’t happen in again. (If you are a bookstore and you have returns, please send them now.) We also have a few seconds available (damaged or slightly defective copies) — let us know if you would like to order some of those at a discounted price.

We’re already thinking about publishing the 2009 Organizer. If you have ideas about things that we should include, contact us now. We’re in search of radical historical dates, radical contact listings, feature ideas, articles, doodles and graphics for the calendar, etc. In particular, we are seeking cover artwork — every year it is a huge, (often last minute) struggle to find cover art. If you think you could draw better cover art than we have, you may be right — stop talking and start drawing!

Many people contact us because they notice that we didn’t include a particular historical date on a particular day that they think should have been included. Keep in mind that we have a huge list of historical dates for each day – about 10-30 per day. We thus don’t have room to print each date each year. We like to print different dates (and informational features) each year so the organizer isn’t precisely the same each year. So, if we missed a date in a particular edition, the chances are we printed it the previous year or the year before that. Or maybe we don’t know about it and you should send us the info.

We’ll start work on the 2009 organizer in June, with most of the work happening the first two weeks in August. The deadline for radical historical dates is June 1. The deadline for art for the inside of the calendar is July 1. The deadline for cover art, features, radical contact listings and all other submissions is July 31.

If you are in the bay area during the first two weeks in August and want to work on the organizer — even if you have no publications experience — join us for the fun! Contact us — many hands make light work and we like to incorporate new energy into the project. We’ll have the organizer back from the binder on October 1, 2008.

New DIY zine making space

We’ve created a little zine making space in the loft where we make Slingshot. If you’re looking for a place to make your zine in the Bay Area, the Slingshot zine loft has everything you need for (non-computerized) cut and paste layout and design. We have a typewriter, copy machine, box of graphics, paper, saddle stapler, pens, scissors, light table, and razor blades. (The copy machine is for making graphics — once you make your original in the loft, you need to take it to a copy shop to make copies of your zine. Then you can staple it in the loft.)

The loft is open during Infoshop hours Monday – Thursday 6-9, Saturday 3-6 and Sunday 3-11 at Long Haul: 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley — just 2 blocks from the Ashby BART station. We’re going to have a zine-making workshop on February 23rd at 2:00 PM. Drop by to learn everything Slingshot knows about making a zine, i.e. the workshop will only last about an hour! We’re also willing to schedule a zine-making workshop for your organization or for schools, youth groups, etc. — contact us.

Liberated acres – infoshops & radical community spaces

Here are some listings of new infoshops or radical community spaces that we’ve learned about since we published the radical contact list in the 2008 Slingshot organizer, along with some corrections. Radical community spaces can play an important role in building the radical scene, making space for meetings, workshops and events, and hosting groups, do-it-yourself projects like bike kitchens, Food Not Bombs and alternative media. Each of these radical spaces is the culmination of vibrant community and people doing the hard work to transform our dreams of how a post-capitalist world could be — guided by cooperation, freedom and enjoyment — into reality. Plug into and support your local community space or start your own!

Indigenous Youth Media Arts Center & Infoshop – Flagstaff, AZ

Ivan tells us that this organization has existed for a few years, but that they just opened a new space. It hosts Out of Your Backpack Media, which empowers native youth in media through trainings, production, and screening. There is also a small library with hard-to-find books, zines, and movies on native rights, gender, sexuality, race and art. They also have a storefront selling books, zines, Zapatista coffee, and the work of local artists. Their action statement says: “We are an Indigenous-established volunteer-run collective dedicated to creatively confronting and overcoming social and environmental injustices in Flagstaff and surrounding areas. We are restoring and redefining knowledge and information in ways that will be meaningful to our communities. We offer access to independent media, the arts, and alternative education, with the goal of self-development as well as empowerment for youth and the greater community into action in favor of a more just and sustainable world.” Hell yeah! Visit them at 1926 N. 4th Street, #7B, Flagstaff, AZ, 928-213-9063, info@indigenousaction.org, indigenousaction.org.

Firefly Lending Library – Miami, FL

They are a radical lending library housing over 500 books and zines. The space is open for community group meetings, film nights, art shows and other events. Visit Tuesdays and Thursdays 4-7 pm and Saturdays 2-6 pm at 219 NE 20th St. Miami FL, 33137, 305-572-0064, us@thefirerfly.info, www.thefirefly.info

Grand Ole Co-opry – Evansville, IN

They are a collective and co-housing project consisting of 2 houses in Evansville and one sister house in southern Indiana. They have a house library, bike library and project house. Visit at 1405 S. Grand Ave. Evansville, IN 47713 615-275-5161.

Community Cycles – Boulder, CO

They are a non-profit bike shop that provides re-cycled bikes and a welcoming space to learn about bicycle repair, maintenance and operation through outreach and advocacy activities. 2805 Wilderness place, Ste 1000, Boulder, CO 80301, 720-565-6019

Firehouse Artspace – Phoenix, AZ

They are an artists’ live/work collective with a gallery and a performance stage that hosts events and displays art. 1015 N. 1st St Phoenix, AZ 85006 www.strivedreams.com

City Heights Free Skool – San Diego

They have a free skool, infoshop, bike kitchen and community garden with a lending library, workshops and classes and a computer lab. 4246 Wightman St. San Diego CA 92105 619-528 8060

Bloom Collective – Grand Rapids, MI

They have an infoshop and lending library with books, zines and videos, and a bulletin board. Open Mon, Wed, Thurs 3-7 and Fri/Sat 1-5. 1134 Wealthy St SE Grand Rapids, MI 49506.

Taos Peace House and Infoshop – Taos,NM

They have literature, DVDs, bumper stickers, t-shirts, workshops and educational events. Open Monday – Saturday 11:00 to 6:00 at 801 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM 87571, 575-776-3880.

Santa Barbara Infoshop – California

They’re set to open the day Slingshot goes to the printing press! They have a lending library with books and zines, computer access, a tool library, meeting space and free box. They’ll host events and classes. Visit 421 N Alisos St. #A CA 93103, sbinfoshop@ gmail.com www.sbinfoshop.org

Wrench in the Works – Willimantic, CT

A member-run coffeehouse and social justice center with a lending library, space for workshops, meetings, performances, or just hanging out with a cup of fair-trade coffee or tea and browsing a small collection of radical books, ‘zines and other media. Open Mon, Wed- Fri. 3-7 and for events. 866 Main St, Willimantic, CT 06226. (mailing address: PO Box 254 Willimantic, CT 06226) www.wrenchintheworks.org

Unity infoshop – Denver, CO

They have a zine library, weekly copwatch trainings, monthly art shows (first Friday) and other community stuff. 1145 Santa Fe Drive, Denver CO 80204, 303 279-6348

Dirty Dove Infoshop – San Francisco, CA

They have a lending library, free box, sewing machines, workshops, movie nights, benefit concerts, cafes, language exchanges, discussions, skillshares, zines, a lounge space and internet. Open Wed 4-8 pm. Located at station 40 at 3030b 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94103. www.dirtydove.org/

Intertribal Frienship House – Oakland, CA

This is the oldest Native American community center in the nation. They recently fought off a threat from developers and a $30,000 tax debt. The two large halls, kitchen, office space and playground are dedicated to promoting cultural education and social justice. They have daily activities including bead classes, drumming, pow wows, movies, dinners and fundraisers. 523 International Blvd. Oakland CA 94606. 510-533-3204

Niebyl Proctor Marxist Library – Oakland, CA

This extensive socialist / labor / racial justice radical reading room / library has existed under Slingshot’s nose for a long time but somehow didn’t make it into the organizer. In 1996 they moved five blocks from our office at the Long Haul and have been hosting weekly speakers and meetings. Open Tuesday – Friday 10-4 pm. 6501 Telegraph Ave Oakland, CA 94609-1113 510-595-7417 www.marxistlibr.org

Camas Infoshop – Victoria, BC, Canada

They sell books, shirts and zines and have a kid’s space. They show films and have events. 2590 Quadra, Victoria BC V8T 4E2, 250-381-0585, camas.ca.

Lost Generation – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This residential bungalow was transformed into a community art space in 2004. They have art shows, performances, festivals, music shows, teach-ins and provide space for making art, video, silkscreening, banner making and information on local issues and events. No.11, Lorong Permai, Off Jin Syed Putra, Robson Heights, 50460 K.L. Malayasia 019-6838397

Centro De Cultura Libertaria – Bogota, Colombia

If you’re in Colombia, South America, check out this anarchist community space that hosts collectives, movies, discussion groups, dinners, meetings and a variety of DIY space-sustaining projects such as : estampando conciencia (silk screen workshop), ensalladero rojinegro (band practice room), malas pulgas (distro/store with independent music, organic cooperative raised/prepared foods and clothes and patches made by different local folks & collectives) and literature and video library. They are open Monday-Saturday 1pm-9pm at Cra 17 No. 61-28, Chapinero, Bogota, Colombia, culturalibertaria@gmail.com, www.anarcol.tk, 310-0810

Corrections to 2008 organizer

• The number for the Bookstore in a Barn in Liberty, TN is wrong: it should be 615-536-5022. Also, judy call it just “the barn” or “Fifth Estate Books.”

• The Velocipede Infoshop in Iowa City, IA has lost their space. They may re-organize and re-open, so watch this space . . .

• The address listed for the Third Space Infoshop is listed WRONG in the organizer: the real address is: 214 W. Eufaula St., Norman, OK 73069. (405) 310-2596

• The Rochester, New York Infoshop is closed.

• Mad Ratz Infoshop in Atlanta, GA has closed.

• The People’s Free Space in Maine moved an
d changed its name. It is now the Meg Perry Center at 644 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101 207-772-0680.

• Circle @ Infoshop in Barcelona is gone – in fact, we knew this when we published the 2008 organizer but we forgot to type it in during all the last minute madness. Sorry!!!

A new dawn for Long Haul

Long Haul — a radical community center in Berkeley that hosts an infoshop — is in the midst of big changes. After 10 years of being open only limited hours because of the security needs of a previous tenant, Long Haul has the opportunity to extend its hours and expand the scope of its activities. Long Haul is reaching out to the community for new energy and new ideas about what to do with the space. There are also two low-cost office spaces open for non-profit projects.

A dream scenario would be to massively expand hours with a ton of new projects, events and energy. Right now Long Haul is open 6 days a week but only a few hours a day. Picture being open 20 hours a day 7 days a week. For example, Long Haul could open at 6 a.m. for morning yoga, meditation and calisthenics, serve punk breakfast from 7-9 am (oops – that would actually be at 3 pm – ed.), then host theme hours and workshops all damn day. Now is the perfect time to let your mind run wild and imagine a gazillion possible uses for the space and time: activist support groups, art classes, author readings, beer brewing workshops, beginning mushroom identification, bike repair zone, book group discussions, bread-making workshop, button making hour, critical mass after-party, disco dance party, economics classes, fiddle lessons, garden seed swaps, group process workshops, herbalism workshops, kids’ story time, meetings, midnight cabaret, mobile free store, movie nights, needle exchange, out-loud James Joyce reading hour, Pilates, poetry readings, political discussions, potluck lunch, pre-protest sign making party, quiet study hall, sign language hour, silkscreening classes, song trading circle, Spanish immersion hour, Stencil cutting, traveling variety shows, website design classes, women’s self defense classes, working on Slingshot, zine making workshops — Hell yeah!

All that it takes to turn dreams to reality is for people to plug in, host the events, staff the shifts, make fliers, and participate. Creating community takes many forms. In the past, people built community in unions, churches, farmers co-ops and with neighbors. In modern society, many opportunities for community have been obliterated by capitalism — more and more things people used to do for themselves are now done by huge corporations — media replacing social interaction, McDonalds instead of shared meals, isolated commuters on freeways displacing people passing each other and chatting on the street.

Infoshops like Long Haul seek to rebuild community that has been lost, and go beyond the oppressive social rules of small towns by welcoming diversity and opening space for grassroots, anti-authoritarian action.

This is a call for new energy, new volunteers, and new visions. If you’re in the East Bay and have three hours a week to make something happen, let us know. Long Haul is just 2 blocks from BART on a vibrant radical block across from La Peña and the Starry Plough. There are available hours during the day if you have a project that needs a place to operate. Contact Long Haul at 510 540-0751 / 3124 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley.

Many hands for peace – San Jose Peace Center commemorates 50 years

On November 15, 2007, generations of peace activists met at the San Jose Public Library to commemorate the fifty years of the San Jose Peace Center. Founding members Alice Cox, Barby Ulmer, and former director Kathy Lynch gave presentations about their involvement with the Peace Center.

, The cold war, fallout from nuclear tests, and Mutually Assured Destruction gave little comfort to the pacifist George Collins. He started distributing flyers calling for nuclear disarmament in downtown San Jose. A group meeting at his house decided to make efforts to end war and educate the public by opening a Peace Center and starting publication of a newsletter, the Peace Times. The San Jose Peace Center opened its doors in 1957.

The fifty years of the Peace Center saw rapid changes in San Jose and rural Santa Clara County. One man remembered riding his bike around downtown and being yelled at by yokels coming into town on the weekends from the surrounding farms and orchards looking for trouble. These days he rides his bike unaccosted by tan musclebound hayseeds. The aerospace industries and electronics industries at the core of the military industrial complex planted themselves in Santa Clara County in the 1960s and orchards were bulldozed to make way for suburban tract housing. The Peace Center moved through many different rented offices as well before finding a permanent home.

Alice Cox, one of the founding members of the Peace Center, was first involved in protesting the hydrogen bomb detonations at the Nevada Test Site and the development of nuclear weapons at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. These tests spread radioactive fallout across the Southwest. She participated in the drive to collect children’s teeth for radioactive isotope Strontium-90, proving mothers’ milk in the West had been affected by fallout from the tests. Many members remembered contributing their babys’ teeth to the drive. The Peace Times published Dr. Spock’s concerns about the effects of fallout on infants. Her husband Bill Cox opened a print shop in San Jose and printed the Peace Times as well as the thousands of leaflets and posters for social causes.

As a young woman in Nuremburg, Germany, the importance of disobeying illegal orders was drilled into Lisa Kalvelage by the American Consul during her immigration interview. In the United States, she found herself in a country committing criminal acts of aggression. She committed her energies to the peace movement. With three other housewives she blockaded a forklift loaded with napalm bound for Vietnam on May 25th, 1966. During her trial for trespassing, Kalvelage argued that the Kellog-Briand Act’s ban on chemical weapons rendered the use of napalm illegal. Her statement against the war was immortalized in the Pete Seeger song “I am Lisa Kalvelage.”

Many Peace Center members remembered participating at the die-in at San Jose State when Dow Chemical brought its recruiters to the university in the winter of 1967. Police panicked and rioted when the demonstrators tossed fake blood at the administration building, bashing heads and spilling the real blood of the crowd.

A spurt of reactionary terrorism in the South Bay struck at the Peace Center offices in 1969. A small pipe bomb smashed the window of their storefront on February 11 and exploded, doing little damage and causing no injuries.

The Peace Center served as a distribution point for over 15,000 flyers for the November1969 Vietnam Moratorium demonstration in San Francisco. The activists distributed flyers at train stations, college campuses, and at factory gates, building a broad resistance to the war.

Founding Peace Center member Barby Ulmer trained with the Central Committee of Conscientious Objectors and converted the Peace Center into a draft counseling center as the war escalated in Vietnam. The hotlines provided many thousands of worried young men with information about resisting the draft.

In the 1980s Peace Center activists worked in solidarity with Nicaraguan Sandinistas and South Africa’s African National Congress. Kathy Lynch, director of the Peace Center from 1980 to 1986, found time to raise her kids in between the consensus meetings dragging on into the night, the non-violent demonstrations, and the day-to-day work of keeping the center open. She organized trips to Nicaragua to witness the destruction caused by the covertly funded contras and the progressive policies of the democratically elected Sandinistas.

The growing tide of the worldwide anti-nuclear movement swept across California in the early 1980s. Many members reminisced about arrests at the Lockheed plant and Lawrence Livermore Labs. Lynch recalled the effort to stop construction of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power reactor. 20,000 people assembled at the construction site of the reactor and 1,960 people were arrested on the grounds in 1981, the largest anti-nuclear demonstration in the U.S.. Lynch was a part of the affinity group San Jose Medflies that landed a small boat on the coast and hiked for two days to get to the construction site..

In 1984 the embarrassed Los Angeles District attorney returned a stolen copy of the Peace Center’s membership lists, a mild reminder of the constant threat of harassment and surveillance. How the L.A.P.D. obtained the membership list was never explained.

In June 1986 the Peace Center purchased a dilapidated former frat house with a leaky roof, finally finding a permanent home after thirty years. Members pitched in to renovate the structure and struggled to pay off the mortgage.While Reagan waged covert wars in Afghanistan and Nicaragua, Richard Ramirez battled the Rambo worshipping political climate with a wave of bilingual counter-recruiting presentations at local high schools. Peace Center members burned their mortgage at a party in 1991.

The Peace Center recognizes the need for social change to permanently end war. The Peace Center served as a meeting space and incubator to many organizations, including the San Jose Green Party, Big Mountain Support Group, the urban youth magazine DEBUG, and the Impeachment Center. Many of the women involved in the Peace Center are members of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom. South Bay Mobilization currently organizes protests against the Iraq war and meets at the Peace Center.

Peace Center members opposed U.S. involvement in the 1991 Gulf war and protested the sanctions depriving Iraqis of food and medicine. In 2001 Peace Center members met to begin opposition to the War On Terror as the bombs fell. The invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, the unlawful detentions at Guantanamo, and the looming threat of invading Iran demanded renewed energy. Many demonstrators have been appearing at weekly vigils held at the corner of Second and San Carlos since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. A 2007 article in the New York Times revealed the Boeing subsidiary Jeppeson was booking flights for the CIA’s kidnappings of suspected terrorists. Protests have targeted this company acting as the travel agent for torture flights.

Alice Cox deplored the persistence of the problems that motivated her protest: nuclear proliferation, wars of aggression, and social inequality. Although the anti-war movement left a definite mark on American culture, military buildup and war planning continues in much the same vein as in 1957. Alice Cox died on her way to a Peace Fair in December 2007.

Seeking nominations for 2008 Wingnut Awards

Slingshot will award its third annual Wingnut Award for Lifetime Achievement at its 20th birthday party on Friday, March 7 at 3124 Shattuck in Berkeley (8 pm). This year, Slingshot will award two prizes: the “East Bay is pig Latin for Beast” East Bay prize, and the Intergalactic Wingnut Citation. Both winners will have their biographies featured in our next issue, and will receive a wingnut trophy and wingnut super-hero outfit. Slingshot created the Wingnut prize to recognize direct action radicals who have dedicated their lives to the struggle for alternatives to the current rotten system. Wingnut is the term some of us use to refer to folks who walk on the wild side of reality — rejecting social, political and economic norms while fighting for a different world. A wingnut is more than just another boring radical, and more than just a nutcase — he or she is a blend of the best parts of both.

We’re looking for nominations for both the East Bay and the Intergalactic prize. An individual has to be currently alive and must have at least 25 years of adult “service” to get the award, so recipients have to be at least 43 years old. Recipients of the East Bay prize have to exist in the East Bay while Intergalactic nominees must exist somewhere in the universe.

Please send your nominations by 5 p.m. on March 1 along with why a particular person should be awarded the wingnut title for 2008 to 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705 or slingshot@tao.ca. By the way, we’re serious about this — write to us!

Power to the people… then and now – a small victory for the SF8!

There’s recently been a victory for the San Francisco 8 — a group of former Black Panthers who are being framed for the 1971 killing of San Francisco police Sergeant John Young as well as participating in a conspiracy to “kill police” which allegedly occurred between 1969 and 1973. The conspiracy charges against five of the eight defendants have been dropped, meaning that one of the 8 now faces no charges, while the others still face murder charges.

The same murder case was originally dismissed in 1975 because the only evidence was based on the “confessions” of three men — two of whom are being re-charged now — which were extracted through severe and extensive torture. The defendants from the 1975 case produced the video “Legacy of Torture” which describes their case including their torture by the New Orleans police using cattleprods, slapjacks, beatings, and various forms of water torture.

In the 1970s — and still today in 2008 — the SF8 are being targeted because of their involvement with the Black Panthers, which the government has always sought to destroy. The post 9-11 War on Terror has ushered in a new excuse to continue the COINTELPRO tactics of yesteryear, which used warrantless surveillance, harassment, intimidation, assassinations and keeping organizations swamped in court cases based on manufactured evidence, coerced testimony, and perjury to neutralize radical groups. Sound familiar? The SF8 include Herman Bell, Jalil Muntaqim (formerly Anthony Bottom), Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Henry Watson Jones, Richard O’Neal, Harold Taylor, and Francisco Torres.

In another development, while SF 8 member Harold Taylor was back home in Florida, he was arrested as part of a cocaine drug sweep. Harold was accused of attempting to buy cocaine and the prosecution in the Bay Area immediately demanded that Harold Taylor’s bail be revoked. The charge was bogus and just an excuse to persecute the former Panther. Harold had no money in his possession at the time of his arrest (when he was supposedly on his way to buy drugs?) and has never used cocaine. This is the only time that this writer can think of when it paid to be broke. The DA’s motion to have Harold incarcerated failed.

There has been a huge outpouring of community support for the SF8. It is simply a matter of time before all of these charges will be dismissed or the SF8 will be acquitted. What you do matters! Please do anything you can to help these brothers. For more information, contact the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights at www.freethesf8.org

How to live with a psycho governor

Governor Schwarzenegger’s recent budget proposal upsets most Californians and will hopefully be trashed by the time Slingshot goes to press. He currently proposes closing 48 state parks and cutting Medi-Cal, among other cuts to the General Fund.

Strangely enough, delayed plans to spend $350 million on a new death row chamber at San Quentin are going ahead full steam. The whole world is horrified by California’s expansive abuse of the death penalty. Schwarzenegger’s own home town of Gratz, Austria, cut its ties to the Governor in 2005, removing his name from their soccer stadium and forcing him to return the town’s ring of honor after he ignored their protests and executed Stanley “Tookie” Williams. What is the sense on spending lavishly on death and cutting off services to the living?

All Schwarzenegger’s talk about Universal Health Care -“California is going to lead the nation in breaking new ground to meet the health care needs of its people”- proved to be no more than hot air. Instead, he insulted Californians receiving SSI, calling us “unproductives… who deserve nothing from the state.” He added injury to insult by vetoing the annual cost of living increase for SSI recipients in May and draining $300 million from Medi-Cal funds in August 2007. Depleting Medi-Cal left a lot of people stranded in the emergency room after clinics lost funding. The flooded emergency rooms of public hospitals were awash in blood after Schwarzenegger’s decision. I sat with a woman for over eight hours seeking treatment for a miscarriage until she eventually gave up and went home. This was only one incident among the sea of malpractice caused by the state’s policies, and the new budget includes more cuts to Medi-Cal.

How do we live with this nutcase? Unproductive and dishonest, he deserves nothing from this state but vigilant protests wherever he goes.

Eric McDavid: entrapped in the injustice system

Eric McDavid — framed by an undercover agent provocateur on conspiracy charges for an alleged “eco-arson” action that never happened — was convicted by a Sacramento jury September 27. Eric, Lauren Weiner, and Zachary Jenson were arrested January 13, 2006 and charged with conspiracy to destroy property. Although the group never carried out any action, Eric now faces up to 20 years in prison. Weiner and Jenson took plea deals and testified against Eric. He is currently in jail and scheduled for sentencing on February 21 (although his sentencing date has been moved back several times — if you want to attend sentencing, check the date first.)

Eric’s trial was seriously flawed. As Slingshot goes to press, his motion for a new trial is being heard. If it is denied, he will likely appeal based on all of the errors at trial. Eric is an innocent person framed because of his involvement in an activist scene that is struggling to alter the disastrous course of the current corporate/industrial society. Eric needs political, financial, and prison support. We are in solidarity with Eric because we’re all working together for a new social order based on cooperation, mutual aid, justice, and environmental sustainability. Together, we reject a life based on consumerism, greed and meaninglessness that is killing the earth.

The Verdict

Eric’s defense depended on convincing the jury that he had been entrapped by Anna, an undercover agent working for the FBI to engineer the supposed “conspiracy” by providing the plans, the inspiration, the funding, the housing and the transportation for her victims, while using the lure of romantic involvement between her and Eric to keep him interested.

After the trial, when the case went to the jury, the jury had been deliberating for two days and were asking questions that seemed to point to a positive outcome for Eric. One of these questions, and the judge’s subsequent answer, radically altered the outcome of Eric’s trial. Before deliberating, the jurors received the following instructions on entrapment:

“The government has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not entrapped. The government must prove the following:

1. the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime before being contacted by government agents, or

2. the defendant was not induced by the government agents to commit the crime.

Where a person, independent of and before government contact, is predisposed to commit the crime, it is not entrapment if government agents merely provide an opportunity to commit the crime.”

After deliberating for a while the jury asked judge England when was the “first contact” between FBI agent Anna and Eric. The jury asked this in order to find the relevant time period for determining whether or not Eric was predisposed to commit the crime. The government argued that “first contact” was June of 2005 when they allege the conspiracy began. Eric’s defense attorney Mark Reichel argued that “first contact” was in August of 2004 when Eric first had contact with Anna while she was working as a confidential informant investigating the CrimethInc convergence in Des Moines for the FBI. Judge England told the jury that “first contact is the first time that the defendant and the informant discuss the crime that the defendant is on trial for.” This instruction blatantly contradicts established caselaw which says: “Quite obviously, by the time a defendant actually commits the crime, he will have become disposed to do so. However, the relevant time frame for assessing a defendant’s disposition comes before he has any contact with government agents, which is doubtlessly why it is called predisposition.” (US vs. Poehlman)

When Anna met Eric in August of 2004 she sent a report to the FBI saying that he was not a person of interest, meaning in her eyes he was not predisposed at the time. It was only later, in the summer of 2005, that she suggests he was predisposed to commit the crime — after he had been under the influence of Anna for almost a year.

After the jury issued their verdict, Eric’s attorney conducted informal jury interviews and it became clear how pivotal these instructions were in the jury’s decision to convict. All twelve jurors told Mark they would have acquitted Eric if they had been instructed that “first contact” meant August of 2004, when Eric and Anna first met. The jurors told Mark very openly and clearly that there was a lot of crying in the jury room because they did not want to convict Eric, but that they felt totally obligated to do so once they were instructed that the only relevant time period for evidence was after Eric agreed to the conspiracy with Anna. When Mark told them what his view of the law was, they all agreed they would have acquitted in an hour after the deliberations had begun on Tuesday. One of the jurors was so emotional she could not stay and talk, but when leaving, went right up to the TV News 10 cameraman and gave an on air live interview (which was shown repeatedly on TV) where she stated that the FBI should be embarrassed of themselves for what they did in this case, that they should be ashamed, but they had found that Eric was predisposed based upon the law they received.

Eric has taught us all so much. Most of all, he’s taught us what it means to choose life – to keep pushing forward and doing what’s right — despite tremendous obstacles — and to infuse every moment with joy and love. After the jury delivered their verdict, as Eric was leaving the courtroom he turned to all of us sitting behind him, a look of concern on his face, and reminded us all: “Breathe…..”

Let’s all keep breathing…and keep fighting.

How You Can Help

You can write letters to Eric until he is sentenced at Eric McDavid X-2972521 4E231A Sacramento County Main Jail 651 “I” St Sacramento, CA 95814. After sentencing, he’ll be moved to a federal prison — check the website for a new address. His appeal will be very expensive — any fundraising you can do is appreciated. For more info, check www.supporteric.org