People’s Monday: A weekly celebration of the lives of people murdered by police

By Crow

In February of this year, Black Lives Matter activists in NYC marked the third anniversary of weekly march called the People’s Monday. It is organized by a multiracial POC-led group called NYC Shut It Down. Formed out of a desire to maintain movement energy generated by the 2014 unrest following the police murder of Eric Garner, each march memorializes a different victim of police murder. The first one was held on February 9th, 2015, and I’m told there has been one every single Monday ever since, without fail, no matter the weather. Initially, every People’s Monday march began at Grand Central Station, but over time organizers chose to start holding it in different parts of the city. Sometimes they will go to Brooklyn, Harlem, Queens, etc… and bring street demos with a militant vibe to neighborhoods where protests are rarely held. Part of the thinking behind this is to bring people from the neighborhood into the streets, which apparently has been successful.

I visited NYC last winter, and attended the People’s Monday march on March 13th, 2017. At 7 p.m. A group of around 30 people gathered in Washington Square park in the middle of Manhattan. The march was unpermitted and the route was not pre-announced, but that didn’t stop the group from immediately seizing the busy streets. Throughout the march, NYC Shut It Down showed their courage and confidence in their own power by not only disobeying police orders, but also antagonizing the police by yelling insults at them from close range. Keep in mind there wasn’t a large crowd to melt back into if a juiced-up pig started ‘roid-raging. These folks know the power of the people, and how to assert it.

The real reason that I’m taking the time to write this reportback, though, is because this group did something that I haven’t participated in before, which I think could be a useful tactic in many instances. The group invaded first a bar, then a fancy restaurant, then a Whole Foods grocery store with a huge check-out line.

The purpose of going into these places was to force a captive audience to listen to a political message. For this, they used the Occupy Mic-Check tactic. One spokesperson would speak at the top of their voice, and then everyone else would repeat their words as loudly as possible. In this case, the message was as follows (almost verbatim):

“We are here today because Black Lives Matter! We are here today because Black Women Matter! We are here today to remember Denise Hawkins, murdered by police!

Fact 1: Denise Hawkins was an 18-year old black woman from Rochester, New York. Her high school principal said “they never saw her not smiling.” Denise had an 18-month son with her husband, Lewis Hawkins, at the time of her murder.

Fact 2: Her father forced Denise to marry Lewis after she became pregnant. Lewis was abusive and she tried to leave Lewis three times before she was killed. Police had been called before, but they never helped Denise.

Fact 3: On November 11, 1975, Denise and her family were at her cousin’s house for dinner when she and Lewis started arguing. Her cousin called the police.

Fact 4: Denise was holding a knife when Lewis chased her out of the apartment with a chair, threatening to kill her. Seconds after she fled the apartment Officer Michael Leach, who was standing outside, shot her in the chest, killing her.

Fact 5: Officer Leach claimed he was trapped in a corner unable to move away from Denise and feared for his life, a story disproven by forensic evidence. Officer Leach made a similar claim in 2012 when he murdered his own son. No officer was charged with any crime in the murder of Denise Hawkins.

This is not an isolated incident. In the past 15 years, the NYPD has murdered over 300 people. Of these, over 80% has been black or brown. Of these murders, there have been four indictments, resulting in a total of two convictions, with an end result of ZERO JAIL TIME. If you believe that BLACK LIVES MATTER, we ask that you raise your fist in solidarity.”

In each location, quite a few people present did raise their fists, and the protesters exited the premises, chanting, in one case to applause. It felt validating for more than one reason – on one hand, it felt nice to be supported by members of the public, and on the other hand, it felt good to get in the faces of people who aren’t sympathizers… to force them to listen. In the age of the echo chamber, where social media algorithms allow people to insulate themselves within bubbles filled with like-minded voices, we gotta find creative ways of rupturing them bubbles. Nowadays, when it feels like many liberals believe that the media portrayal of reality is more important than reality itself, it was intensely satisfying to participate in something where the desired result did not happen in the digital landscape but on a human level.

So mad respect to the People’s Monday organizers NYC Shut It Down, for showing me what consistency looks like. And let’s be real, if we can’t be consistent, what can we hope to accomplish?Since 2014, every single Monday, rain or shine, they’ve been holding it the fuck down. What can we learn from them? Be bold. Be defiant. Have a specific message. Be loud. Be proud. Have fun. Say it like you mean it. And make it social – after People’s Monday, comrades gather to socialize in a neighborhood restaurant.

I’m told that in the past, the People’s Monday march has occasionally led to clashes with police, but apparently property destruction is not part of the culture. Perhaps smashing windows and slashing tires is viewed as counterproductive, because I’m sure that’s it neither due to moral objection or lack of courage. If the point of militant protest is to deliver a message in a way that can’t and won’t be ignored, they achieve that in their own way.

The People’s March does very much have a ritualistic element to it… which I mean in a good way. As such, every march ends with Assata’s prayer, with all participants joining hands and chanting together: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

I think a weekly ritual could serve the purpose of movement-building well. Public events give people an opportunity to meet each other, but we all know that activists are slow to bestow trust. People need to get familiar with each other before they can work together. A smaller group makes it easier for folks to get to know each other.

Also, I really like actions that are demanding justice on autonomous terms rather than reacting to an injustice. I think it’s a mistake to view outlying incidents such as police murders as the actual problem, rather than symptomatic of a more deeply oppressive normalcy (i.e. self-policing, surveillance, prison slavery, wage slavery, patriarchy, and the list goes on). Rage at the abuse of power can conceal the heart’s true rage, the rage born of the heart’s desire for freedom – the rage against oppressive power itself.

So, whether you live in New York City or whether you just happen to find yourself there on a Monday, I encourage you to check the People’s Monday march. Folks are friendly and you don’t have to conceal your politics. Maybe you’ll make some new friends.

And if you live in place where there is enough of a movement to turn out 15-30 people on a weekly basis, maybe this is an tactic that could be adopted into the protest culture of your town or city. Maybe a weekly anti-gentrification march makes sense in your city. Think about it. Or why not a weekly Anti-fascist demo? The thoughts start coming quick, don’t they?

Slingshot issue #127 Introduction

Slingshot is an independent radical newspaper published in Berkeley since 1988.

On March 9, Slingshot turned 30 years old. One of our members dropped a tab of acid to celebrate and then was riding on BART and noticed everyone was on their cellphones — and that BART is fucking weird while you’re on acid — so they decided to blend in by looking at their phone. The first thing they saw was an email from Eggplant who said, “Today I imagined a Slingshot box that would joke about not trusting it because it’s over 30 — realizing how tiresome that joke is now in some way.” But some of us who put the issue together had never heard that joke, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” a joke from the Yippie movement of the 1960s. Some of our collective members weren’t even born 30 years ago! Some of our members are straightedge, so they don’t do any drugs of any form, so they made weird faces as the story was told. It was really nice acid, though — it was super visual but didn’t make them anxious or paranoid.

As we were laying out the paper on Saturday, the anti-birthers and breeder-sympathizers had a debate over whether it’s irresponsible for activists to have children. Should we boycott reproducing and devote all our energy to rescuing the planet? The next day, a group of children between the ages of 5 and 7 took over our building and declared it an “adult-free zone.” As part of their communiqué, they declared that any child who allows an adult to come in will be put on a rocket and sent to the moon. But then there was a lot of confusion over who the adults actually were…. So the kids settled down and painted watercolor pictures next to us while we finished up layout, which was pretty fun for everyone.

We are really excited that in this issue of Slingshot we got separate articles on sex positivity, sexual labor relations, and building consent-based communities, along with articles on and fights for racial equality, the ecology, and worker’s rights. This issue of Slingshot truly is an attack on reality from every angle. We even included an article that explicitly attacks reality.

If the number and quality of the articles we received at the deadline is any kind of barometer, it’s going to be a long hot summer. Perhaps we’re finally shaking off recent jarring events. Like after a big bomb goes off everyone’s ears are ringing and you’re momentarily paralyzed, but then the smoke clears and it’s time to jump up and run forward again.

Some collective members are eager to tear it all down. Others are eager to see people’s attention directed towards those who are most vulnerable. Perhaps these two stances can swirl together into a perfect storm, as we reconfigure our social relations from the ground up and create a human modality that isn’t constantly at war with itself and the environment.

Slingshot is always looking for new writers, artists, editors, photographers, translators, distributors, etc. to make this paper. If you send an article, please be open to editing.

We’re a collective but not all the articles reflect the opinions of all collective members. We welcome debate and constructive criticism.

Thanks to the people who made this: Adam, Caylly, Daniel, Eggking, Erica, Fern, Gerald, Hannah, H-Cat, Indiana Joe, Isabel, Jesse, Joey B., Kristi, Korvin, Lew, Mirocat, Talia, Starpuncher Kai, and all the authors and artists! Cover art by Elayne Ryder.

Slingshot New Volunteer Meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can come to the new volunteer meeting on Sunday, August 26, 2018 at 7 pm at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline & Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 128 by September 22, 2018 at 3 pm.

Volume 1, Number 127, Circulation 22,000

Printed April 27, 2018

Slingshot Newspaper

A publication of Long Haul

Office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley CA 94705

Mailing: PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

510-540-0751 • twitter @slingshotnews

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We are all West Virginia

By Dana Blanchard

If people had told me a year ago that I would be driving back for the second time in a month to West Virginia — the state that voted more lopsidedly for Donald Trump in 2016 than any other — to talk with people about union organizing and socialist politics, I would have thought the idea was absurd.

But here we are — my partner came along for the second trip — driving along a mist-filled mountain highway in a cold rain to visit a group of people who have quickly turned everything the media has told us about “red states” on its head.

Looking back on the caricature that the media and sensationally awful books like Hillbilly Elegy have created of the poor, white, backward Trump voters in this part of the country, it’s obvious that they didn’t do any real research on working-class people in West Virginia.

They talk about working-class people, especially those who voted for Trump, like they’re an alien species, rather than a group of people who are frankly just sick and tired of being sick and tired — like the rest of us.

Yes, this is a state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump. But it’s also a state that went for Bernie Sanders, an open socialist, in the Democratic primaries.

There are good reasons that many voters who typically vote Democrat didn’t support Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. West Virginia was essentially run by the Democratic Party for almost the entirety of the last century, so the Democrats are responsible in large part for the economic and social conditions people live under today.

Out of all the 121 terms of statewide office that have been regularly elected since 1932, all but seven were won by a Democrat. From 1930 to 2014, Democrats held majorities in both chambers of the West Virginia legislature.

West Virginia has had a Democratic governor for 64 of the last 85 years–including the current governor, Jim Justice, who was elected as a Democrat before switching back to a Republican in 2017.

Many West Virginians thought they could get change through voting for a different party. But some are starting to realize that they have to be the changemakers. That sentiment is what led to the teachers’ revolt.

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It’s clear from talking to people that they are looking for politics beyond what is offered through the ballot box.

West Virginia is much more than just a story about two-party political jockeying at the top of the state. It’s a state that broke away from Virginia during the Civil War over the issue of slavery — the people were opposed to slavery, and Virginia remained in the Confederacy.

It’s a state that saw militant, violent battles between Black, white and immigrant miners on one side and company coal bosses on the other. These workers battled for decades in the early 1900s to win basic union rights and freedom from control of the mining corporations in all aspects of their lives.

Striking miners and their families lived in tents when they were evicted from company housing in the dead of winter, rather than give in and go back to work.

In 1990, teachers went on strike for 11 days and mounted militant pickets at schools and bus yards across the state to win a raise. This history of struggle and radical politics has shaped generations of workers in West Virginia, and most certainly had an impact on the teachers’ strike of 2018.

While workers in West Virginia are shaped by the struggles of the past, they have also been impacted in an immediate way by the current teachers’ strike. Just like people talk reverently of family members who held the line against Big Coal, the striking teachers have inspired ordinary people across the state.

Walking around Charleston in the days after the strike victory, everyone was talking about how proud they were of the teachers and education workers.

“They deserve it” and “I’m glad they stood up for what is right” were common phrases in the coffee shop and hotel. It was like people felt that they had finally gained some ground on the crooks in the statehouse and won something for regular people who have been getting stepped on for far too long.

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In talking to some of the teachers who helped lead the strike, they were simultaneously energized and a little exhausted by the struggle, but also very cognizant that they still have major battles ahead.

The teachers we met with were proud of the way ordinary people came together across 55 counties to stand up and demand more. They were excited when teachers stood in solidarity with other state workers and refused to take a tiered wage increase.

These same teachers also said that until the billionaire oil and gas barons, many of whom hold positions in the state government, begin to pay their fair share, the fight for public services and well-funded classrooms must continue.

The ongoing struggle for funding public employee health care is just beginning in West Virginia. The state has created a task force and will be holding meetings across the state about the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) and how to fund it moving forward. This will most certainly be another space for struggle in the months to come.

For those of us who have worked in public schools, the politicians are raising a familiar narrative about the PEIA: “We have no money, how can we fund it?” They tell teachers and state workers that there’s no money for raises, health care or pensions while continuing to cut corporate taxes and give tax breaks to the very wealthy.

West Virginia is the very heart of the extraction industry — driving across the state, one sees not only coal tipples, but also fields of oil derricks, natural gas pipelines and chemical processing plants. Yet instead of raising taxes on the extraction industry, state legislators voted in 2016 to cut the oil and gas severance tax from an already meager 5 percent down to 3 percent by 2019.

This is one of the fights teachers and state workers are gearing up for next: Making those who profit off the state’s resources pay more to help fund social services and make up for the environmental degradation these industries continue to inflict.

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It’s also inspiring that most of the strikers who were on the front lines in West Virginia were women. In the era of #MeToo, this shows another layer to the struggle against sexism — that women deserve decent, well-paying jobs in addition to workplaces free from harassment.

As the coal jobs dried up in the last decade in West Virginia, women workers often became the sole wage earner in households across the state. Women workers aren’t exempt from raising families and being primary caregivers just because they work one or even two jobs outside the house.

The stories of mothers who made tremendous sacrifices to find childcare for their own kids in order to drive hours to the capital to stand up for the children in their classrooms as well showed the tremendous tenacity of the women strikers.

The women we met in West Virginia are leaders, union militants and organizers, and many of them are also mothers and wives. They refuse to be typecast. They are juggling all the things that capitalism throws at working families while managing to be part of the most exciting act of workers’ resistance in decades.

Perhaps the biggest lesson from my visit to West Virginia is that while we may live in different states and have different life experiences, we have so much in common in our struggle as workers.

One of the teachers we met with spoke candidly of having to choose between paying for a medical procedure for their infant son and buying food and diapers that month.

They spoke of generational poverty and what it’s like to inherit nothing but debt and live paycheck to paycheck despite having advanced degrees and working for nearly a decade in education.

They talked about how some of their students live in housing conditions like those in the shantytowns of apartheid South Africa, and how it’s understandable in these conditions that schools have become places not just for teaching skills, but for building communities of support that provide meals and comprehensive social services for people who have no other options.

Pictures of broken chairs, tattered textbooks, mold and pest infestations in classrooms, stories of working multiple jobs to make ends meet — this is the narrative playing out on people’s Facebook feeds and in the stories from teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona.

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It’s horrifying, but it’s not completely unfamiliar. In some ways, what we are beginning to see is that we are all West Virginia. For decades, education workers have existed in conditions that continue to deteriorate due to long-term neglect.

Whether it’s no heat in schools in Baltimore or lead in the water in Detroit and Flint public schools, teachers have been trying to make it work and doing their best in situations that are completely unacceptable.

However, education workers are also beginning to take a page from West Virginia in other ways, too. We are starting to believe we’re worthy of better — that we deserve more, that the children we teach deserve better, and to get it, we have to be willing to fight for it. And if we fight for it together, we can win.

Driving home from West Virginia to Chicago, past the signs for Cabin Creek and Paint Creek, sites of the infamous mine wars from decades past, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful.

Not the kind of blind hopefulness that means putting faith in politicians to do something for us, but hope in what West Virginia teachers showed us–that we can do it for ourselves.

I am grateful to have been able to spend a few days talking to people who are now both my heroes and friends — to be able to learn from them and be a small part of knitting together this rich narrative of worker resistance that is, hopefully, just a beginning of larger fightback for the schools and working conditions we know we deserve.

Anthony Cappetta contributed to this article.

Frontlines in the Forest

By Olea

My boots sink a few inches into soft snow with each step as I make my way along a narrow path behind my comrade. We try to avoid leaving prints by walking on the bare patches of soil, but in this spot, the snow has blanketed the ground. On our left the hillside falls steeply beneath towering old growth Douglas fir, tanoak, madrone, and bay trees. The forest floor is cloaked in moss and ferns and dotted with fallen branches and logs. Above us is a gravel road, and on either side there are rows of close-planted tree farm fir. Suddenly, my comrade whips around, motioning to me silently and pointing up the hill. A truck is passing just 20 feet above us on the road. We freeze, silent until it passes, exchanging sighs of relief that we were not spotted. We are deep in timberlands owned by Humboldt Redwood Company on Northern California’s lost coast – behind enemy lines in a battle that many thought ended years ago.

I had come to Humboldt county with only a pedestrian grasp of the history of California’s timber wars. I had, completely on accident, walked into a meeting of activists defending old growth forest in the Mattole watershed. I had always assumed direct action campaigns were completely underground affairs carried out by experienced activists in tight knit affinity groups. But they needed hands in the woods, and I just happened to be there. That’s how I found myself in the backseat of a sedan rushing south on Highway 101 with tinny Grateful Dead in my ears and pot smoke wafting past my nose.

We were dropped off and began the several-hours-long hike up logging roads to reach our destination: Rainbow Ridge, the 3000-foot spine separating the Bear River watershed to the northeast from the Mattole River watershed to the southwest. Beyond the Mattole’s verdant ravines, only the forested King Range lay between us and the Pacific ocean, 10 miles west as the crow flies. That first night, trekking in the darkness up a steep gravel road, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d make it. After a month of hiking Rainbow Ridge, though, I came to know each turn and landmark. I felt the comfort of homecoming when I reached the familiar meadow marking the summit of the hike. I called out to the cows grazing in the ranchers’ meadows; I imagined that their responding moos were proclamations of solidarity with our forest defense efforts. I could look across the valley and distinguish the uniform green blocks of planted Doug fir from the old-growth mixed stands with their rich, heterogenous colors and textures.

The history of forest defense in Humboldt County is long and rich. The seeds were planted in the late 70s when activists first used non violent direct action tactics to resist logging near the Sinkyone wilderness, but forest defense efforts didn’t garner widespread attention until the late 80s. In 1985, Texan venture capitalist Charles Hurwitz orchestrated a hostile takeover of the Humboldt county timber company Pacific Lumber (PL) and began liquidating their assets – clearcutting at a breakneck speed forests that PL had been cutting slowly for over a century. Resistance mounted all over the county against the timber harvest plans of PL and other logging companies. One campaign coalesced around the headwaters of the Elk River, a 20,000-acre forest southeast of Eureka owned by PL that included several pristine groves of old growth mixed forest.

The battle over the Headwaters wore on for over a decade – in the forest with blockades and tree sits, in the community with demonstrations and public actions, and in the courts with suits over PL’s destruction of endangered species habitat and blatant disregard for forestry regulations. In 1999, the Headwaters Deal was signed, in which 7500 acres of timberland in the Elk River watershed, including 3000 acres of old growth, were bought out from PL in exchange for $480 million in taxpayer money and the green light to log other PL holdings.

The Mattole is often referred to as the orphan of the Headwaters Deal because activists proposed that protections for the Mattole be included in the Deal, but none were granted, leaving the area vulnerable to continued logging. In 2007 PL declared bankruptcy, an inevitable conclusion after two decades of mismanagement which prioritized immediate gains over environmental and fiscal sustainability. PL’s assets, including over 200,000 acres of timberlands and the company mill in Scotia, were reorganized into Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) with general support from the community, largely because HRC promised not to log old growth. The majority shareholders in HRC and its sister company, Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC), are the Fisher family, San Francisco real estate giants and owners of the Gap clothing brand and the Oakland A’s. Between HRC and MRC, the Fishers possess 440,000 acres of forest, which makes them the single largest landholder of coastal Redwood forest. If you suspect that the 1% have their nasty fingers in literally everything evil, and then wonder if thinking that makes you a conspiracy theorist, you’re not tripping – it’s fucking real!

The Headwaters Reserve and most of the other former timberlands that have been granted protection as a result of the timber wars are low elevation, mixed forest dominated by coast Redwood. 97% of California’s old growth coast Redwood forest were logged, and most of the remaining groves are now protected. The Mattole is unique in that it is dominated by Douglas fir and tanoak rather than Redwood. Coast Redwoods only grow up to about 2,000 ft above sea level, and being at about 3,000 ft, Rainbow Ridge’s only Redwood trees are a short row of young saplings planted as an experiment by the company.

Douglas fir is the only “marketable” species on the ridge, and HRC has been intent on converting the diverse mixed forest into a monocropped Doug fir plantation for maximum board foot output. To this end, HRC and MRC both employ a barbaric herbicide technique known as “hack and squirt” to kill “unmarketable” hardwood trees (which on Rainbow includes tanoak, live oak, madrone, and bay laurel), which they have the audacity to call restoration. Notches are cut into the trunks of the hardwoods, and then injected with Imazapyr, an herbicide that is an ingredient in Roundup and that is water soluble and can travel to parts of the landscape where it wasn’t sprayed. We walked through a unit on Rainbow Ridge that had been treated with herbicides, and it gave me the chills. The hardwoods are left standing dead, and the remaining forests feel like spooky, dry brown graveyards with lonely surviving Doug fir mingled throughout. There is a severe fire risk posed by forests filled with standing dead fuel, and in 2016 Mendocino county voters passed a measure, aimed specifically at MRC, to limit hack and squirt on the basis of fire safety. But enforcement has been lax, and MRC continues to herbicide hardwoods. HRC faces no such limitations.

There was frequent resistance to PL timber operations in the Mattole prior to HRC’s acquisition of the land. In 1997 Mattole valley residents sued PL over destruction of habitat for endangered coho salmon and staged demonstrations. In 2001 forest defenders blockaded a narrow section of road just above the Upper North Fork of the Mattole River. The spot they chose is strategic — blockading this single point prevents access to 18,000 acres of forest. This gravelly section of road has seen a lot of action since then. In 2014 HRC filed 2 timber harvest plans (THPs) for Rainbow Ridge and activists responded with a four month blockade, which halted logging on that side of the ridge.

In 2016, in response to community pressure, HRC cancelled their plans for helicopter logging on Rainbow, but retained 2 cable yarding THPs. In 2017 company officials told the community they wouldn’t log until summertime, but activists discovered company contractors had herbicided over 180 acres in the spring. Again, a blockade was set up, and HRC was unable to log all season. HRC renewed their two active THPs in the area in September of 2017, claiming there were no significant changes in the units. In fact, a massive landslide had occurred directly adjacent to a unit, a clear indication of the instability of the steep, rocky hillsides that characterize the ridge — and a certainly a reason not to risk additional logging the area. Activists dismantled the blockade at the end of the logging season in the fall but have maintained a close eye on HRC’s movements on the ridge over the winter.

The newest development is that HRC has filed a road proposal for a completely redundant road which would serve the sole purpose of circumventing the bottleneck spot that activists have successfully blockaded for nearly 2 decades. Constructing the road would require destroying a sensitive marsh area, removing a beautiful grove of old growth bay laurel trees, and quarrying a huge rock outcrop. California Department of Forestry (CDF), the regulatory body responsible for the final stamp of approval, is notorious for approving virtually every timber company scheme that lands on their desks, but this road proposal has faced half a dozen delays as HRC struggles to comply with CDF’s meager requirements for new logging roads. Forest defenders are poised and ready to make sure this pointless and destructive road is not built. At the same time, the logging season is upon us, and with two active THPs on the ridge HRC could start work in the units any day. There is also a second road proposal, already approved, farther down the ridge that would open up access to unentered old growth.

Nonviolent direct action tactics like blockades and tree sits cannot protect the forest forever, but in the past 35 years they have proven to be a crucial stalling technique, slowing or stopping logging during the long months or years it takes for aboveground routes to be navigated – which often ultimately looks like buying the land and designating it a preserve, but can include legal strategies such as suing the timber companies over noncompliance and legislating tighter restrictions on timber operations. Forest defenders hope for full protection in perpetuity for the remaining 1,100 acres of unentered old growth on Rainbow Ridge.

There are a multitude of tangible, locally relevant reasons to oppose logging in this region – protecting habitat for native endangered species, including salmon; preserving wildlands for the next generation to enjoy; and preventing direct impacts on local residents, such as exposure to toxic herbicides, or the landslides and floods that come after heavy logging, just to name a few.

But what makes the Mattole worth fighting for if these issues don’t affect you personally? The temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest is actually the most efficient carbon sink of any ecosystem on Spaceship Earth – more effective at sequestering carbon per acre than the Amazon. With climate change quickly surpassing conservative estimates, the importance of the carbon sequestration value of forests, as well as their role as climactic regulators in the water cycle, increases every day. Scientists are scrambling to design carbon sinks – it is ludicrous to destroy the natural carbon sinks Earth herself has gifted us with. Forests the world over will go through major changes in the coming centuries as climate change progresses. Karen Coulter of the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project says that it is imperative that we create protected areas where ecosystems can have the freedom to adapt to climate change without human intervention. We must realize that examples of ecocide such as the logging and herbiciding of Rainbow Ridge are not merely little individual tragedies. They are appendages, small in appearance, but connected to a many-limbed beast of industrial destruction that is fueled by consumption and piloted by the cold logic of capital. To resist this, our struggles for ecology cannot manifest as isolated efforts to address a single issue. Our campaigns must be rooted in a broad intention to address ecological devastation on all fronts across the globe.

The forest defense movement is wide-ranging and is made up of people of many walks of life participating in different ways. There are lawyers and nonprofit directors who work behind the scenes to file suits and get the land permanently protected. There are rascals on the ground building blockades and climbing trees. And there are a multitude of things to be done to support a forest defense campaign – supplies to be hiked in, food to be dumpstered, calls to be made, big trees to be measured, articles to be written, benefit shows to be played, collective dysfunctions to be addressed. This work is never easy, but it is unequivocally important, and deeply meaningful.

Climate chaos is fully upon us now, and working to address it and adapt to it requires all of our attention and focus. We can no longer afford to carry on focusing on jobs, school, or family as if things are as they’ve always been. We are facing something unprecedented, and protecting forests is crucial in mitigating ecological collapse.

All my respect and love goes out to those engaged in eco-defense around the world. I call on those who are not engaged yet to reach out to your local campaigns against ecological devastation. Organize in your community, or come to Humboldt County and join us here. The forest is waiting for you to call it home.

Upcoming action camp will be held May 24th – May 27th near the Mattole River watershed in Southern Humboldt county. Trainings and hands on workshops will be held on nonviolent direct action, tripod blockade rigging, tree climbing, herbal first aid, backwoods medic skills, logging monitoring, groundtruthing and more! Come prepared and self-sufficient for all weather conditions, and for those interested, come ready to play in the woods after camp! For further details and directions contact or 707-336-2231

Sex work is not human trafficking

By Mistress Liv

SESTA and FOSTA are both bills signed in recently by Trump as well as the Senate and the House that allow the federal government to prosecute anyone who helps sex workers advertise. These bills equate creating a platform in which to find and screen prospective Johns with pimping. This is hugely problematic for sex workers for many, many reasons. First, if we cannot advertise, we starve. Second, if we cannot find clients online, we may need to turn to the streets. Third, when we turn to the streets, we die.

For the past year and a half, I have worked as a professional dominatrix. During this time, I have met some of the smartest, most emotionally aware and hard-working people I have in my entire life. Many people think that being a dominatrix is easy: we just get to kick rich dudes in the balls all day, right? It is not. It is, in fact, incredibly difficult work. The work of all those that sell sex, be it “sex,” or be it an erotic experience, is primarily empathic. There is also a lot of skill involved. Many that see pro-dommes do so because they want to experience something different with someone that knows what they are doing. Would you really want some random person to stick needles in you, or whip you, or insert a large metal rod in your urethra? Or would you want someone you met at the bar to call you racial slurs, pretend to be your mother, or turn you into the perfect pet? Of course not.

We make ourselves adept at understanding these taboo desires, at knowing how to practice them safely. We intuit the needs of others, smile a sexy smile even when we have a cold, take care of one another and spend hours working our own hustle, unpaid. We answer emails, vet if someone is a “wanker” or not, answer questions, and tell people that it is okay to have such desires a thousand times all in effort of getting some cash. We front our own costs, take on our own risks and make difficult decisions every day. We get death threats from deluded clients. We come into contact with bio-hazardous fluids. We hear every racist, sexist entitled thing you might imagine. And we smile.

I don’t even have to let the Johns touch me, but for the majority of my fellow sex workers— they do. I have tried full service before and shied away when an aging leftist I met over Seeking Arrangements bragged to me that he was “more radical” than I was because he personally knew members of the original Black Panther Party and did some shit back in the day. Evidently his analysis fell short, or was put on pause by his boner, when given the possibility that he might get to fuck a much younger anarchist for a few hundred in cash and insult her politics in the process. Despite my brief foray into full-service, I am part of a privileged subset of sex workers. I am white, cis-, educated and have enough means to front my own costs (photos, shoes, lingerie, make-up, etc.), making it possible for me to be a dominatrix. The bills that I am about to talk about will likely affect me less than many other sex workers. The majority of these other sex workers in the United States are women of color, trans, and/or of a less privileged background.

After was shut down by the federal government, St. James’ Infirmary reported an increase of around 400% in street walkers. After craigslist’s erotic services was banned, Baltimore reported a significant increase in femicide. Closing down methods of advertisement does nothing to decrease prostitution — it simply makes it more dangerous, potentially deadly.

So why are so many people signing off on these bills, or nodding their heads in agreement? The language of these bills always revolves around “human trafficking,” or “sex trafficking.” These are ominous sounding, to be sure. But if the problem is coercive labor relations and human traffic, why shut down an entire industry? When thirty-some illegal immigrants died due to unsafe work conditions in a fishery, did we talk about shutting down the seafood industry? Why shut down the entire sex industry, making it harder and more dangerous for the most vulnerable workers in it?

There are currently four distinct political levels of legalization of sex work, with distinct implications and results:

— First, full criminalization (the John, the purveyor and the worker) leads to a situation in which the worker has absolutely nowhere to turn to if met with violence, they cannot advertise and the John is ultra-wary of entering into any kind of deal.

— Partial criminalization can mean that while we can advertise our services, we are met with many of the same problems. Maybe we aren’t on the streets, but there is no real way to protect ourselves. Why call the cops when they will probably rape you?

— Full legalization allows for a few privileged people to be able to jump through the legal loopholes, medical checks and tax forms needed to make it on the up-and-up, like in Amsterdam or Nevada. This does absolutely nothing to help those who need help most— the poor, marginalized sex worker. This is why legalization is often referred to as “backdoor criminalization,” since most sex workers will still practice in a way that is considered illegal, and be met with all the same problems as full criminalization.

— The only country that has completely decriminalized prostitution is New Zealand. It is not illegal or legal there, much in the way that it is not legal or illegal to eat a sandwich in the United States. There has been no significant increase in prostitution since decriminalization. There has been much less violence. When you talk to sex workers, this is what most of us will tell you we want.

Perhaps a new level—currently waiting to go up for Senate vote here in California, SB 2014—we could call “ultra criminalization.” If this bill passes, it will make things like handing out condoms to sex workers or housing them if they are homeless, prosecutable as pimping and pandering. Most sex workers are poor, precarious and need access to services like health care and safe sex supplies. Maybe this bill sounds like an effort to prosecute pimping more harshly rather than the sex workers, but that is not actually what it would be in effect. It will be a crisis.

Decriminalization is perhaps a long way off for sex workers in the rest of the world, but further criminalizing it in the US will only make things worse, for many that you might not expect. Many of my fellow sex workers are very closetted about their “side gig.” We are nannies, preschool teachers, artists, baristas, bakers, students and hairdressers. Many of us are in the service industry. We are adept at serving the needs of others, intuiting them, making fantasies come true. It is why we are here. Our work is not valued. It is not even considered work by many.

It is my conclusion that this is no coincidence. Women (as well queers and the occasional man), have been doing this type of work for a very long time. We did it as slaves and serfs. Now, rather than allow us to find some form of empowerment from it by actually getting paid a living wage, we are being further marginalized and oppressed. Some 30% of men in the US report seeing a sex worker at some point in their lives. And I am certain that they would love to get it for free, or cheaper. These bills were signed by a President involved in a legal dispute with a sex worker, Stormy Daniels, after all— a man known for his sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.

To be fair, Bernie voted for FOSTA too, which might go to show you how broad sweeping and multi-faceted the oppression of sex work is in this country. Many people see sex work as demeaning. I will not lie— it can be. But it is absolutely no less demeaning than any other kind of work. At times, it actually feels like a blissful, empowered escape from the exchange of money for labor. I have worked many other types of service industry jobs and I can honestly say that for the first time in my life, I feel truly happy to work. When it is bad, it is terrible. When it is good… I know that I have given someone a memory that they will take to the grave. The money feels like an afterthought and I love that.

For me, my work is primarily about the emotional and psychological exchange. But I do need to eat and pay rent. It is ironic that something so transactional can feel so much more empowering than getting paid minimum wage at a chain coffee shop. I am not ready to have this way of life taken from me yet. I do not want to see so many of my friends thrust into peril. I do not want to read about another one of us dying. The vast majority of us are not being trafficked, we are not being pimped… We are just trying to have safe, dignified work. Until sex work is fully decriminalized, I fear that these problems will persist and we will continue to be raped, killed and tossed aside.


Updated: July 19, 2023

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