Shut the Valve


turning off tar sands pipelines is easier than we thought

By Anonymous

Enbridge’s Line 9 has been a critical battleground in the war against the tar sands for over three years. This old pipeline would allow the expansion of the tar sands by providing an export market, puts the drinking water of millions at risk, and exacerbates the slow industrial genocide known as Chemical Valley, a hub of refineries that surrounds Aamjiwnaang First Nation, the most polluted place in so-called Canada.

After a years-long, hard-fought campaign against Line 9, which employed a diversity of tactics, from lobbying to legal battles to direct action, Line 9 transported crude to a refinery in Montreal on December 3, 2015.

On December 7, we shut it down. Literally. Most media reported that Enbridge shut down Line 9 as a “precautionary measure”, but we know better. We closed the valve manually. This is historic: to our knowledge, this is the first time that activists have manually shut down a pipeline. Who would have thought that it could be so simple?

The day of the action, Enbridge stock plunged 8 percent. For a company worth almost 60 Billion dollars, that’s about 4.8 Billion dollars. Take that, ya malignant scum!

There is a definite sense of exuberance following this action. One of the notable successes is how this action, which many people would consider radical, enjoyed broad support. This lockdown was organized by anarchists, but was publicly supported by citizens’ groups, including the ex-mayor of the town where it took place.

This whole action was a test of Canada’s new anti-terrorism law C-51, which expands the definition of terrorism to include tampering with critical infrastructure, specifically naming pipelines. Our line of thinking was this: If they charged us with terrorism, what they’d be saying is that a large segment of the population supports terrorism, and the state would lose the usefulness of the terrorism label to demonize an isolated political element. It wouldn’t be in their interests, but it would be good for our movement, since in all likelihood, once C-51 is tested in court it will (eventually) get thrown out as unconstitutional. And the sooner that happens, the better.

There is a general sense that this action has breathed new life into the anti-Line 9 campaign, which NGOs long ago abandoned as unwinnable. For the first time in a long while, activists are expressing optimism that Line 9 can be shut down before it spills. We’ve arrived at a critical juncture, and the time for bold direct action has come.

In the aim of spreading accurate, in-depth information about this action, we present to dkdkdkdkd


you the most detailed account of events yet available. It is our hope that this inspires you beloved outlaws out there to start plotting.

Timeline of action

6:15 a.m. First affinity group arrives at site. They unload supplies from vehicles and move them off-site.

6:45 a.m. Jean Leger calls Enbridge emergency number and tells them that he is closing the valve. This is filmed by a journalist co-conspirator. The whole valve and the ground starts vibrating. To avoid a potential explosion, the valve is opened slightly. The ground continues to vibrate, and the sound of pressurized flow is audible.

7:30 – Patricia Domingos, ex-mayor of Sainte-Justine-de-Newton shows up on scene. She has been very active in the fight against Enbridge for over three years, and she is completely delighted about what is happening. For the rest of the day, she acts as spokesperson. Because Enbridge has still not showed up, she calls the Enbridge emergency number a second time. Incredibly, she can’t reach someone who speaks French. Enbridge takes her name and number and tells her they’ll call her back.

8:24 Ontario Provincial Police show up on scene. Hilariously, they have no idea what is going on, they were just showing up to tell someone to move their car, which was parked in a church parking lot. When they figure out what’s going on, they express their gladness that the valve is on the Quebec side of the border, hence not their problem. They leave the scene.

Approx. 8:30 – Second affinity group (larger than the first) shows up on scene and begins setting up tents, hanging banners, filming, tweeting, and being an awesome support team.

Approx. 8:45 – A francophone Enbridge employee calls Mme. Domingos and finally, they get the message. They tell her that the pipeline isn’t closed, that everything’s showing up as normal on their monitoring system. Take a second to think about that — what does that say about their much-hyped high-tech security measures?

Approx. 9:00 – Activists unlock and the valve is firmly closed. The vibration reaches a fever pitch, but once the valve is wrenched as far as humanly possible to the right, the vibration stops altogether.

Activists lock back onto the valve.

9:17 – Súreté du Québec (Quebec Safety Police) (SQ) arrives on scene.

10:02 – Enbridge employees arrive on scene.

11:20 – Enbridge employee, flanked by SQ officers, reads a statement in French ordering activists to leave scene.

13:53 – “Specialist” team arrives on scene. Whatever they’re specialists in, it sure as fuck ain’t cutting locks. The next few hours are a comedy doing nothing to disprove stereotypes about the intelligence of cops (or lack thereof).

14:22 – SQ establishes perimeter, tells media to go to the road. Media leave initially, but are back minutes later, and continue to film at close distance for the rest of the day. The crowd of supporters also remains close at hand, maintaining an unruly and bold presence throughout the action. No supporters were arrested.

Around this same time, the two activists locked to the valve super-glue their locks shut. From this moment on, they no longer have any ability to unlock themselves. People begin to sing, and the sun comes out.

The activist locked to the fence is arrested, to raucous cheering, singing, and chanting. He is taken into custody and released about an hour and a half later.

When attempting to handcuff one of the activists locked to the valve, another valve that is part of the infrastructure sprays oil all over the place. All hell breaks loose at this point. One woman rushes towards the cage and is knocked down by cops. The intensity of the crowd reaches a fever pitch. The cops seem genuinely scared at this point, as they suddenly realize that they’re in a potentially explosive situation.

The crowd begins chanting for paramedics and firefighters to be brought to the scene, taunting the police for their incompetence. Police stop trying to extract the two people still locked down, and the jubilant crowd breaks into song, which continues for a long time. This is the energetic high point of an already awesome day.

Approx. 16:00 or 16:30 – Firefighters arrive with a whole bunch of heavy-duty equipment and break the valve, hauling the two remaining activists away with reinforced U-locks still on their necks.

17:00 or 17:30 p.m – Enbridge employees move in and immediately open the valve.

Post-Script – One of the activist who locked down refused to sign off on non-association conditions, but when he was brought to jail, he was refused entry because he had a lock around his neck! He spent the night at the cop shop and was released the following day, with no non-association conditions. Good to know, eh?

Speaking as a participant, this action was definitely a high point in my activism career. The support was absolutely incredible, the solidarity expressed through song and action was beyond beautiful, and everything about the entire day seemed to unroll according to the benevolent whims of some trickster god.

So there you have it: Enbridge’s secret is out. Shutting down pipelines is easy, and their security is woefully inadequate to prevent either direct action or disastrous spills.

For that reason, it’s appropriate here to temper this glee with a sober dose of reality: Enbridge’s Line 9 is currently active, and recent actions have shown that we have even more cause than before to be concerned about the very real prospect of an imminent spill. We can also be damn sure that any spill that does occur will be poorly managed. All the more reason to intensify our organizing.

Also, we can expect that industry pigs, their political boot-lickers, and their police peons are now having emergency meetings about how to neutralize our movement. It would be wise to prepare for a wave of repression and infiltration, though it’s hard to imagine them slowing the momentum of our movement at this point.

Lastly, the three activists who were arrested were charged with mischief, trespassing (breaking and entering), and obstruction. They plan to aggressively fight the charges, and given the staggering amount of witnesses and evidence, it could be a long time before they get to trial. They’ll have to raise funds because one of them, the C-51-defying, tactic-pioneering badass Jean Leger, isn’t eligible for legal aid. All this to say: don’t forget about your comrades!

And may the words that were chanted throughout the day resonate with you, dear reader, as they will resonate in my heart for the rest of my days.Those words: ON LACHE RIEN! (translation: WE’RE NOT GIVING UP!)

P.S. Two weeks after the action that this article describes, three people shut down Line 9 a second time right outside Chemical Valley. One of those who arrested was Vanessa Gray, an Anishnaabe woman who’s been a major voice in the campaign against Line 9. Then shortly after that, there was the first publicly-announced instance of clandestine sabotage. Anarchists visited a valve (this time on Enbridge’s Line 7) by cover of night, closed it, and locked it shut. Every action like this costs Enbridge a shit-ton of money, and the vast network of pipelines criss-crossing Turtle Island is far far far too large to be effectively surveilled. I think the saboteurs on Line 7 were sending a message – even if you don’t live close to Line 9, there’s for sure a pipeline near you that you could easily close. Stay safe, be bold, and remember that every raindrop contains the essence of the ocean.

The Kurdish and the State

By Wolverine de Cleyre

If you´ve seen any news about the Middle East lately, you´ve probably seen something about the Kurds, the courageous folks fighting ISIS on the ground in Syria. You may have seen pictures of their all-women battalions, who fascinate western journalists by how much they clash with the stereotype of the passive, victimized Muslim woman. You may have seen something of their daring rescue of the Yazidis, tens of thousands of whom were starving in the mountains, hiding from ISIS until the YPG, the People´s Protection Units, allowed them to escape north.

But who are the Kurds? Where did this freedom-fighting militia come from? Kurds are almost entirely Muslims, but a distinct ethnic group, with a different culture than those around them. They have their own language, which is unrelated to either Arabic or Turkish. They have lived in the mountainous region at the borders of what is now Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran for well over a thousand years. The Kurds have had it especially rough the past few decades because of these borders and the conflicts that come with them.

In order to understand what´s going on, we need to back up and take a longer view than we’re used to. We take the way governments operate now, the internally homogenous nation-state and it´s borders, pretty much for granted. You´re in the U.S., you pass through a checkpoint, and then you´re in Canada, under the control of the Canadian government, and the people there are either Canadians or foreigners. Or you cross the border to Mexico, and then you´re under the laws there. Any region within a national boundary has only as much power as the federal government allows. Anything else is treated as a failed state, a government that has collapsed and is unable to govern its territory.

But just a hundred and fifty years ago, this wasn’t the case. There used to be different kinds of governments, some big and small, and some would overlap — there were more grey areas. There were empires, semi-autonomous regions, and there were borderlands where no empire held sway.

A few hundred years ago, there was a huge empire, called the Ottoman Empire. It stretched from just east of Vienna in Southern Europe, to Algiers, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. The Ottoman government didn´t try to control all the territory to the same degree. Some of the regions were autonomous and mostly governed themselves, just sending the government in Istanbul taxes and boys to be made into soldiers. Some of them were more directly controlled by the empire, usually the regions that had more important resources. Even within the capital city, Istanbul, the different ethnicities were not treated equally under the law.

The Kurds were part of this empire, but their territory was pretty mountainous and most of them were herders or did just enough agriculture to feed themselves. It wasn´t worth it to the Ottomans to interfere with them, so they mostly left the Kurds alone. The Kurds maintained their language, culture and their own systems of self-governance.

The Ottoman Empire collapsed, from both internal problems and pressure from Europe. During the late 1800´s, the Western half broke away, with Greece and the Balkan countries separating into different countries, one for each ethnic group. This was based on the European model, where you had France for the French-speakers, Germany for the Germans, etc. But while the Western European countries were created by smaller regions joining together (occasionally by consent but mostly conquest), these nation-states were created by breaking apart, and millions of people had to move to create ethnically homogenous nation-states in places that had been mixed.

After WWI, the winning European powers cut the rest of the Ottoman Empire into pieces. The Middle East was divided according to the convenience of Europe, rather than the interests of the people living there. England got control of the newly created nation-states of Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq, while France got Lebanon and Syria.

What is now Turkey was going to be cut up too, but one of the Ottoman military officers rounded up the last of the military, drove the Europeans out, and force-modernized the country super quick. They felt like the only way to save the country from Europe was to make it into a nation like Europe, to force everyone to speak the same language and obey the central government.

So the Kurds didn´t get their own country. They were divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The new borders made it impossible for herders to move their animals with the seasons. Worse, it set them up for all kinds of conflicts with the nations they were forced to be a part of. They maintained a strong Kurdish identity, aided by their land. As the state motto of West Virginia puts it, “Mountaineers are always free.” That will to autonomy threatened those nascent governments.

In Iraq, they found oil under Kurdish territory and proceeded to take it. Saddam subdued the Kurds with poison gas when they tried to protest.

Iraq and Iran, always in conflict, would often send weapons to each other´s Kurds rather than engage each other directly, their own version of the Cold War. In Turkey, Kurds were forbidden from speaking their own language for decades, and mere possession of a newspaper written in Kurdish could land one in prison. The Turkish government combined incentives and programs to encourage assimilation with direct genocide of Kurdish people who refused.

In response, some Kurdish students in Turkey formed the Kurdish Workers´ Party (PKK) 1978, a Libertarian Socialist (more rules than anarchism, less hierarchy than communism) group dedicated to creating an independent Kurdistan. Since Turkey is a U.S. government ally, the PKK is officially designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department.

In contrast, the Kurdish militia in Syria, the People’s Defense Units (YPG), has been portrayed as heroes by western media, since they’re fighting ISIS, an enemy of the western world. But the YPG is much more than a reaction to ISIS. They´re the armed section of the Kurdish Supreme Committee, which has been governing Rojava, the Kurdish part of Syria, since the regime of Syrian president Assad lost control in 2012. Their ideology and struggle for Kurdish self-determination is the same as that of the PKK over in Turkey.

They have a sort of self-governing communism, both based on local organizational principles that have been in practice for generations, and recent influence from foreign socialist and anarchist ideas. In particular, writer Murray Bookchin´s concept of Libertarian Municipalism, which is even more boring than it sounds but seems to be working well for them.

One of the reasons Western nations haven´t been providing military aid to the best-organized folks fighting ISIS on the ground is that they’re worried strengthening the Kurdish militia in Syria will strengthen Kurdish autonomy all over the Middle East. This is only a problem because of the way the nation-state system is set up, more self-organization and power for the Kurds means less stability for Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

The Middle East isn´t the only place where people don’t want to be part of a nation-state whose boundaries they’re technically within. Mountain peoples in many places often have little in common, culturally or economically, with the lowlands around them. The case of Kurdistan is echoed by the Basques within Spain and France, and the Tibetans within China, who have fought for autonomy against a central government struggling to maintain the state´s integrity.

Aside from these deliberate refusers, what happens when a state collapses, as is the case now in Syria, leaving millions stateless against their will?

Mainstream political discourse always characterizes the stateless person as the problem.

The language of the political Right is often openly hateful and xenophobic. The political Right characterizes people without a state as criminals to be expelled, destroyed, and dealt with as quickly and forcefully as possible. They often use xenophobia and hysteria over immigrants to distract from other problems like income inequality, lack of healthcare, and environmental destruction.

The language of the Left is kinder, but it still sees the stateless people themselves as the problem, albeit as a humanitarian rather than a criminal crisis. At best, the dearly departed state´s orphans will be classified as refugees, and seen as a public health problem to solve with aid programs. Of course the only real solution is to extend some charity to the poor souls by giving them a new citizenship and integrating them into the new state.

This position seems more humane, but what happens when a group of people don´t want to integrate into another country´s government? When they want to maintain their own culture and live by their own laws, as is the case with Kurds living in Turkey? There are currently a million refugees in Germany, what will happen if those people don’t want to assimilate fully, if they don’t want to live exactly as Germans do now?

The situation of people who are not part of an officially recognized state is often very desperate, not due to any fault in themselves, but because under the nation-state system, all rights come through the fact of citizenship, whether one is actually in the home country or not. For example, if I go to France or Mexico, I am recognized and treated by the government not as an individual, but according to my status as a U.S. citizen. Nation-states are incapable of dealing with anyone who isn’t part of one. People who are stateless cannot be recognized as humans by this system of government.

The individual humans and entire human cultures who happen to not have their own state are not the problem. These people and cultures existed before the states, the states and their borders were created around them, cutting them apart or putting them under the control of others with whom they have no affinity.

What is a nation? I can’t hold the United States in my hand. I can pick up a handful of dirt, but the land existed long before the Declaration of Independence was signed.

A nation, like a corporation, is an abstraction, an idea that organizes human behavior. When a corporation goes bankrupt, its buildings don’t explode, the people who worked for it don’t suddenly drop dead.

These ideas are so large that they seem like physical facts about the world, like the law of gravity or thermodynamics. But they aren’t. There are many other such ideas that have been picked up and put down through written history. Governments in Europe used to be based on the Divine Right of Kings, and for hundreds of years no other basis for social organization was thought possible.

The Nation-state is just one more organizing idea made by human beings, and we can unmake it if we so choose. The fate of living, breathing humanity depends on its destruction.


"No justice, no peace! No Racist Police!" Baltimore responds—the power of a protest

By Daniele Spagnolo

I live in the 21217 area of Baltimore City, Maryland, right next to West Baltimore, where police murdered Freddie Gray, an unarmed, innocent black man. The six officers responsible for Freddie Gray’s death unlawfully and violently arrested Freddie after he made eye contact with an officer and instinctively ran. The officers refused to provide medical treatment for Freddie after brutally injuring his spine, and a murderous rough police van ride lasted hours before their arrival at the police station. Gray, 25, died in a hospital a few days later. On December 16, 2015 I went to a large community response from Baltimore residents and local chapters of the Black Lives Matter movement to the declared mistrial for Officer William Porter, the first to face court.

The gathering in Baltimore was one of hundreds of recent protests against police killings of black people. These public actions have ranged from marches to school walkouts to blockades of freeways and airports. For example, activists with Black*Seed blockaded the San Francisco Bay Bridge on MLK day, and activists protested at the Minneapolis Airport and the Mall of America near peak holiday-shopping season last December. The BLM movement is national yet decentralized. Many actions have been meticulously planned to build people power that is unique to their community.

I heard rumors that the police had put a major protest leader on temporary probation earlier that morning to stop him from protest organizing. I feared the police’s attempt to cut off a valued organizer would affect the outcome of the protest. I arrived at Baltimore City’s courthouse to witness a swarm of news media and about seven activists holding picket signs. Initially, I was afraid these few activists held the entirety of the protest; my heart dropped, there had to be more. A few minutes later, from the South side of Calvert Street, I started to hear a low echo of, “No Justice, No Peace, No Racist Police!” The volume grew as the protestors multiplied. There must have been hundreds of people. I felt a rush of energy, the kind of energy one can only find at protests. Completely electric, the fighters of justice roared in the bodies of young, old, black, white, every kind of people.

We marched, shouted until our lungs gave out, stopped traffic, and walked at a pace that called for immediate action. Bystanders seamlessly joined the march and the power of our steps vibrated in the cement as the protestors of Baltimore built a familial bond. Powerful, inspiring, black men and women chanted in a revolutionary tune. Abruptly, our march for justice was forced to reroute because of a predictable police blockade. Side by side, they looked divided. I stared intently at every single officer’s eyes. Some looked afraid, others held back clear hatred, but most were indifferent. They were indifferent as if we were shouting at a volume their eardrums could not pick up on.

We headed toward the courthouse lawn. The media was well equipped with their gear, but they were obviously products of a sloppy two-hour sensitivity training session. The reporters from FOX, NBC, ABC, etc. seemed completely unable to relate to the people they were interviewing, and each crew looked afraid. Some protestors strongly urged all activists to stay away from the corporate news sources, only to talk to local reporters, given the reputation of sensationalist media. Other protestors flocked to the robotic newscasters and held them accountable for portraying Baltimore’s previous protests in April 2015 as a city on fire rather than illuminating a city’s cry for justice.

As the crowd started to dwindle, a few key protest organizers gave us options as the night went on. One, we could watch the filming of the Real News Network’s report on court proceedings. Two, we could follow team leaders to the Juvenile Center, where it was assumed that another protestor, a sixteen year old, was held. This young black teenager, a minor, was forcefully held on the ground and then put in a chokehold by a police officer. I followed the group to stand outside the Juvenile Center. All of the protestors, concerned about the young man’s status, demanded answers from the security guard outside the Juvenile Center. We asked for the minor’s whereabouts and the guard quickly responded with, “They lied to you. He isn’t here.” A couple protestors persisted by calling every kind of police office the city contained, only to be left with no information of the young man’s location or status. Frustrated, yet determined to continue with the protest, we linked arms in front of the Juvenile Center, and exclaimed a more rhythmic chant, “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!” The sound chimed through the chilly air as we swayed together, and the crowd listened carefully as spontaneous testimonies of experiences with racism were spoken into the night.

A seventeen year-old black woman explained the absolute priority the city must make of our children, specifically our black children. She painted a picture of what the sixteen year old must have been going through, and demanded for more people to show up during these demonstrations for the sake of our future. A younger black man told the group about his struggles with growing up in the clutches of homelessness and foster care in addition to living through the oppression every young black man faces in Baltimore. He said he has been through the court system himself, and he motivated his brothers and sisters to continue with their education and tirelessly work for justice. Another young black woman, who cried while chanting earlier, explained that crying is how she lets the world know this system is horrifically sad. Tears fell down her face as she announced to the crowd that not everyone has to cry, but we have to be there, and in our presence we will prove our fight for change.

CNN arrived to tape live. An older black man, who had led much of the motion and emotion of the march, very frankly told the reporter that he would only be allowed to share what happened to the minor as well as the will of our protest. If the reporter did not decide to cooperate with telling the actual story, the surrounding protestors would be instructed to shut it down. About a minute before CNN went on air, the crowd pointed out a young black woman who was encouraged to share her story with reporter. She explained that her husband was shot by a Baltimore police officer. He fit the description of a light-skinned black man with waves in his hair. The police had unlawfully shot her husband, and now he was in jail with a bullet an inch away from his spine, his health slowly deteriorating. If he died, his name would be added to the disgustingly massive list of black men murdered by law enforcement. I was left breathless by her story, and a little sick.

I still feel a relentless sickness, because racism in the United States is clearly not a phenomenon that is contained by the police state and cured through one court ruling. Policing perpetuates a nefarious government and culture that was founded on racist ideals, followed through with white supremacy, and is preserved through a tradition that pleads “not guilty” for violent and racist acts. Baltimore’s demonstration personally gave me chills, and it allowed me to come to an important realization. Scare tactics do not faze the Black Lives Matter movement. This community, much like many across the nation, had a valued community organizer taken away from them, witnessed heinous acts committed against their children, faced a blockade of police officers, and still, the march only grew.

Take more recent events, in Flint, Michigan, where institutional racism permitted lead-tainted drinking water to be sent to black neighborhoods for months, poisoning people with their source of life. The community is fighting back through protest on the foundation of what it means for black lives to matter. Alicia Garza, Black Lives Matter founder, has observed, “When we say Black Lives Matter, we are talking about the ways in which Black people are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity. It is an acknowledgement that Black poverty and genocide is state violence.”

In Flint, San Fransisco, Minneapplis, Baltimore, and anywhere one finds injustice, the march of the movement is dauntlessly growing. Much like a hydra cut by a sword; Black Lives Matter intuitively erupts in courage when society attempts to cut off its resources, and this sentiment sends a powerful message that builds in a protestor’s mind.

The power of a protest lies in tomorrow. What is going to happen tomorrow because of the demonstration we put on today? I will show up to more community meetings, many are using social media to share their stories, and others are more proactively planning further actions. The life of a protest exists in the movement, the amoeba-like being, combining all of our souls, bouncing and moving together. We are following and leading, shouting and sitting in silence, rising up and “shutting it down.” Protesting is the true voice of a community, and Baltimore City has a lot more to say than a repeated clip of a burning CVS. The police, the system, and the traditional culture may not be able to hear us now, but the protest allows us to hear each other, and it encourages us to speak louder, with more strength, until our words can break through a purposeful and ignorant deafness. The revolution starts in these moments, and these moments are here, so get ready.


Introduction to Slingshot issue 120 (the "Slingshot box")

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

This issue got off to a promising start with plenty of people and ideas at the kick-off meeting and plenty of articles turned in by the deadline. But as we read through the articles, a lot of them were off-topic and others just needed a lot of help — we began to joke that the theme of the issue should be “a cry for help.” At the meeting, someone lamented that with too many mediocre articles, the issue would lack inspiration.

But, really, at a certain point maybe the inspiration is the just doing anything these days. Especially when you’re not an expert and maybe you’ve never written an article before. Especially trying to pull a paper together out of scraps that people send our way seemingly almost at random. Working as a collective in the scraps of time after work and in the scraps of space that haven’t been gobbled up by the developers. And yeah maybe it isn’t a very coherent or comprehensive response to the zeitgeist but we got the articles we got and then we ran with them. The authors wrote what inspired them in a way that made sense to them and honoring the work is important. And by the time we finished the issue, a lot of the articles got improved a lot as well.

Whatever it is that we’re doing here, plenty of people keep dropping in to help us do it. Late at night we were wondering if people just came by to be a part of the wild life. Or is it more like a zoo and they want to see the wildlife? But who’s inside the bars and who’s outside?

For the “Slingshot is soooo outdated” file: While doing layout one of us consulted the filing cabinet in the office that’s full of photos, clip art and drawings and found a file labeled “nudism” but not one for “climate change.”

It was a full moon while we were making the issue and late at night the silver light was intense and we took a moment to reflect. People are always dying and being born — not just famous people. Since last issue, we lost long-ago Slingshot author Chris Thompson, who died of a heart attack at 46.

Making this issue we also listened to the music of Native American activist and poet John Trudell who passed on recently. In his song Living in Reality, he describes his arrest during an anti-nuclear protest. While his hands are bound with plastic handcuffs, his mind is free while his jailers are the ones who lack freedom — caught up in their 12-hour shifts and chain of command.

One of the best things about vinyl records is when an album is over — the silence. The sounds then echo in the void.

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.

Editorial decisions are made by the Slingshot 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: A. Iwasa, Cristina, Dane, Dov, Eggplant, Elke, Isabel, Jesse, Joey, Korvin, Magic8Ball, Molly Cat, Xander and all the authors and artists!

Slingshot New Volunteer Meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can come to the new volunteer meeting on March 6, 2016 at 7 pm (new time!) at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline & Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 121 by April 9, 2016 at 3 pm.


Volume 1, Number 120, Circulation 22,000

Printed January 29, 2016


Slingshot Newspaper

A publication of Long Haul

Office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley CA 94705

Mailing: PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

Phone (510) 540-0751 • • twitter @slingshotnews




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Rest in Power Pirate Mike

Pirate Mike / photo by Brooke Porter

by Teresa Smith

Stephen Michael Clift, known as “Pirate Mike,” prolific treesitter of Occupy San Francisco, outspoken member of Veterans for Peace, and a part of the Slingshot Collective, died in the line of duty on Friday, October 30, 2015. He was on a cross-country bike tour that he helped organize in honor of homeless veterans when he was struck and killed by a car in Texas. In his last video post on his blog, Mike spoke fondly about returning to San Francisco so someone could cut his hair, which had just been whipped into a wild mess as he rode through a New Mexico hailstorm. He glared back at his disheveled image in the camera-phone with amused disapproval.

…a Soldier for Peace in the battle to keep our planet alive.

Mike was someone who treated everyone like they mattered, especially the trees. His passion wasn’t that bleeding heart liberal goo, but rather was marbled in wingnutty radicalness — he wasn’t afraid to pound nails into oaks as he worked to save them, building forts with flags and verve. His vest was covered in patches, his body with tattoos, his laptop with stickers. He was a hacker, a pirate, a proud veteran who orated about the need to dismantle the military and also to care for our wounded and homeless vets. He frequently joined groups of folks who needed emergency housing, and together they pitched camps and cracked squats. He always had a good speech in him, and also knew how to pause and listen to what everyone had to say.

I met Mike at the Hayes Valley Farm Treesit in June of 2013. I was joined that day by a student photographer from Mills College, Brooke Porter, and the goal was to write an article about the place, which had just been renamed “Gezi Gardens” in solidarity with the uprising in Turkey. Brooke seemed pretty thrilled about the whole thing, but I felt terror in the pit of my stomach as we walked around the green, sunlit permaculture garden, plagued by post-Occupy-Shutdown PTSD flashbacks. Every time I see something wonderful happening in public, I feel the presence of the police now, as if they are just past the edges of my vision, ready to leap out and start gassing and hurting everyone again. I sat down and grabbed my knees and breathed for a while, and nearly left the treesit, but then Pirate Mike introduced himself. Mike was grinning and ridiculous (yet awesome!) in his patch-covered military fatigues, all big handshakes and serious nods with that glimmer in his eye. If my catholic mom had been there, she might have proclaimed, “this guy’s an authentic saint!” But what I believe is that Pirate Mike was someone who had really learned to love himself, which is pretty much the bravest thing anyone can do, and that’s what gave him the courage to be so present with people, which is probably why he seemed to glow sometimes (ask around, I know I’m not the only one who noticed), and why something that I might call “meaning” seemed to sprout organically from Mike’s simplest gestures.

Mike’s Bag / photo by Brooke Porter

Mike gave us the grand tour of the 2.5-acre farm, which was buzzing with artists and musicians and radicals, and there was even a library and a kitchen, one group was making a music video with a saxophone player, while another group was putting sprouted plants into the ground. One young man was shoveling sod in big bunny slippers. Mike knew everybody’s names, and he also introduced us to the treeforts, taking us to their bases and pointing out all the neat construction hacks he’d used to make them. At one point, I turned away for half a minute to talk to some of the freshly planted vegetables, suddenly I turn back to see Brooke strapped into a harness, flying up into a tree! Mike was holding the rope, hoisting her up—could there be a better way to spend a Tuesday?

Hayes Valley Farm Treesit / photo by Brooke Porter

Yeah, sure, a lot of liberals in San Francisco got really huffy about that occupation—“We promised to give the permaculture farm away to developers, and now these radicals are making us look bad!” But Mike saw himself as a Soldier for Peace in a much bigger battle, the greatest battle known, the battle to keep our planet alive. Mike understood that every time we give up a local, permaculture farm, we are handing our food production over to corporate growers who are killing our oceans by dumping nitrogen on their crops, and pumping CO2 into our atmosphere. Mike understood the importance of holding on to every piece of land where local food might be grown.

Hayes Valley Farm Treesit / photo by Brooke Porter

Two days later, the Department of Homeland Security raided the treesit on behalf of Wall Street real estate corporation AvalonBay (NYSE: AVB). The 100-year-old trees were felled and some 45,000 square feet of farmland was destroyed to make the real estate commodity. A book Mike had written about his life was taken by Homeland Security during the raid, and never returned. Now I really wish I could get a hold of that book. I guess that’s just a grief reaction. I want to see him again. I really want him to emerge from the sidewalk crowd and say “Hey puffinstuff!” and give me some of his weirdly intimate random life advice.

“Veterans from all walks of military life need to step up their duty and reclaim some fresh living. Our hearts may still weep, yet our stories can inspire and our hands can teach.”
~ Pirate Mike

Mike was good to have at urban farming meetings. He didn’t always stay on topic (he tended to veer towards “so when do we start building tree forts?”), but he also had a knack for taking emotional stack, for offering subtle nods of encouragement to the people who seemed to be struggling to speak. As an anarchist, he helped remind us to make space for each other, to hold on to our basic humanity even during the most tyrannical of consensus meetings (like the ones that get taken over by those with the most privilege? Yeah, those ones). Mike would check in with people if he thought their feelings got hurt during a meeting, and would offer these pep talks, like a gentle drill sergeant, about how we have to stay in it for the long haul, sure sometimes it’s good to go cool off, but we can’t stop working for the things we believe, no matter how fucking obnoxious other anarchists can be.

Mike’s Patches / photo by Brooke Porter

In spring of 2015, Mike showed up at a Slingshot meeting with an article, Military Veterans and their Role in Revolution, which we ran on the front page. In the article he wrote: “Veterans from all walks of military life need to step up their duty and reclaim some fresh living. Our hearts may still weep, yet our stories can inspire and our hands can teach. If we can provide some safety; some collective wisdom, learn from what it means to be under constant stress and hungry, and how through team work and dedication we were able to overcome our challenges, we can become an invaluable asset to the “revolution”.”

After Mike was killed, newspapers across the country printed the announcement of his death, a testament to the many, many friends Mike made everywhere he went. He was never just passing through; Mike was always at home. Accounts of his adventures can be found at his blog:

How do we move forward without our friend? How do we honor him, and keep alive all the things he gave us so freely, simply by being himself in public?

Last time I saw Pirate Mike was in early spring of 2015, I was standing in line in front of a bank on Shattuck Ave, trying to figure out my life, when suddenly he was there with his gear-laden bicycle, and we talked for twenty minutes, and he was telling me about all the other places I could easily be: hitchhiking across Europe, tree-sitting in Oakland, anywhere but a place that is boring you! He orated passionately about the necessity to live the most full and authentic life possible, about the lengths one must go to at times to keep their soul alive.

I know I’m not the only one he reached, that so, so many people are feeling this loss right now. How do we move forward without our friend? How do we honor him, and keep alive all the things he gave us so freely, simply by being himself in public?

Urban adventurer. Loving provoker of lost girls and boys. A man ready to grab a stranger by the hand, strap her into a harness, and hoist her into the illegal occupation of a tree. Goddammit Mike, I’m going to miss your silly face, your thoughtful interjections, your inability to follow stack, the light you brought to a community on the edge of darkness. Occupy the afterlife, my friend. If it turns out there’s a heaven, you better be squatting the shit out of it.

Above: Mike’s last video post to his blog.

* * *

Share your memories, stories, and photos of Pirate Mike at the online memorial.  


Slingshot organizer invitation – the Organizer is always on our mind

oops – errors in the 2016 Organizer


Thanks if you purchased a 2016 Slingshot Organizer – they are how we can afford to print and distribute this newspaper for free. We still have copies if you want to order some.

There are 2 errors in the spiral Organizer (only). On page 3 the 2016/2017 calendar showing both years, the headline for 2017 is over the 2016 calendar and the headline for 2016 is over a 2017 calendar. On page 49 the days should read Fri, Sat, Sun. Please fix your copy with your favorite pen and tell your friends to fix theirs. Also in just the spiral Organizer on June 11 the International day of Solidarity with Marius Mason says “Marie” not Marius – sorry about the error.

In both the pocket and spiral organizer there are chemical formulas for human hormones and we’ve been told that these drawings are incorrect. We regret these errors.

If you want to plug into work on the 2017 Organizer, here is a rough schedule:

• We’ll edit the historical dates in May and June. Send us suggestions for dates.

• Between June 26 and July 29 artists will draw the calendar section for 2017. If you want to draw a 4 week section, let us know. We’ll also call and email all the radical contacts to update the list – send us your corrections in July and let us know if you want to help.

• The weekend of July 29-30 and August 5-6 we’ll have art and editing parties to put the Organizer together. If you’re in the Bay Area those weekends and want to help out, it is a fun participatory project – no experience necessary. Email us for information.

No matter where you are, you can send us art to paste here and there, cover submissions, feature essays for the back, the letters A-Z, the numbers 1-31, the names of each month, and the days of the week — we’ll paste it in for you.



We must stop the Fossil Fuel Follies


By Compost

The “Thin Green Line” is a term coined for the grassroots resistance of the Pacific Northwest to stop the massive export of fossil fuels from North America to Asian countries, and in general, to slow the climate-changing burning of fossil fuels. There are a mind boggling number of proposals for export facilities, pipelines and train transport along the west coast, as the fossil fuel industry races the growing human realization that our species is unlikely to survive unless we can stop putting so much carbon into the atmosphere.

From the proposed oil export terminal on the old Oakland Army Base, to the liquid natural gas pipeline proposal through Oregon, to the Unist’ot’en camp on tribal lands that blocks pipelines through central British Colombia, people all up the west coast of North America are active trying to stop fossil fuel export.

One strong stand is being made at Cherry Point, just north of Bellingham, WA on native Lummi tribal lands. There is a proposal there for a large coal export terminal that would that would receive nine mile-and-a-half long trains coming and going daily, carrying coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana. This coal would then be put on large ships that would navigate through the precious Salish Sea and on to Asian markets. The owners of the terminal, SSA Marine (49% owned by Goldman Sachs, and partnering with Peabody Energy) intends to export 54 million metric tons of coal annually.

There is great concern on many fronts to the proposal. First, the terminal expansion plan is on a significant cultural site and an ancestral burial ground of the first nations people of the Lummi tribe. The project also threatens an important Herring fishery and Salmon habitat. The Lummi have petitioned the Army Corp of Engineers to deny the coal terminal permit on treaty grounds that it will interfere with their treaty rights to livelihood.

Also there are the immediate health and environmental concerns of the pollution and dangers from the coal dust, the “surfactants” used to limit the dust, and the diesel exhaust. According to BNSF Railway website, these 15,000-ton trains will lose three percent of their load in transit or 1,780,000 short tons of coal dust spread annually from the Powder River Basin to the terminal. Add on the effects on all the communities of such extensive rail traffic blocking roads and emergency vehicles, noise pollution and loud train whistles, dangers of accidents, property value loss and added costs to municipalities. And furthermore, sending cheap fossil fuels abroad encourages local job loss, lessons our self reliance and incredibly damages the environment through extraction, transport and use.

And importantly the increased marine traffic through the environmentally sensitive Salish Sea would increase chance of accidents, oil spills and pollution that threatens this precious ecosystem and rare Orca whale habitat. Top it all off with the folly of continuing to extract and burn fossil fuels that are causing such dramatic climate changes and you have one hell of a bad idea!

This is a big deal. Activists, tribal members, and concerned folks are our chance at turning this around. And there have been successes. Arch Coal which was trying to put a big coal port in Longview WA, just declared bankruptcy, Obama finally denied the permit for the much protested against XL pipeline, the Northern Gateway pipeline seems to be fading from Enbridge’s plans in British Columbia and Shell stopped their plans to drill for oil in the remote arctic ocean. Just recently “The Delta 5”, five activists who blockaded an oil train near Seattle, have been been allowed to use the necessity defense in a historic climate change civil disobedience trial. “The Thin Green Line” of awakened citizens is what stands between the insane continuation of failed fossil fuel folly and the hopeful turning to alternative ways of being, necessary to protect life on earth. The time is now, before the machines of destruction get further built, to turn this around. It really is a life and death decision this generation must make. We know. Let’s turn it around. www.powerpastcoalorg/

No anarchy at the RNC/DNC – have Black bloc? Please Travel


By P. Wingnut

Every four years, the big mainstream political parties have their slick, corporate-style national conventions to nominate presidential candidates and — like salmon returning to spawn — the riffraff turns up to flip them off, party in the streets and call the whole democracy™ spectacle out for the fraud it is. This year the Democrats will slime Philadelphia July 25-28 at the Wells Fargo Center and the Republicans will be at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio July 18-21.

As of press time, we’re aware of a few protests planned and it is early — surely more will materialize — but it is currently looking like the “anarchist” scene (such as it is) isn’t in a mood to play. There is a “Resist the 2016 Cleveland RNC” facebook page with pictures of black masks, but it doesn’t have contact information and an activist in Cleveland told Slingshot “I am not involved in any organizing around the convention, and am not sure who put up the Facebook page. Honestly, with everything else going on around here [protests of police shootings including that of 12-year-old Tamir Rice] there are other events drawing our attention and capacity.”

In Philadelphia, there is a march sponsored by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and actions planned by anti-fracking groups, but just 6 months before the convention one Philadelphia anarchist wrote “Not sure if there’s anything taking shape yet from more explicitly anarchist organizers.”

Many people over the years have questioned “why should anarchists even dignify these clowns by protesting them — it just wastes our resources, there are so many police we can’t be effective in actually disrupting the event, and everyone either already thinks politicians are illegitimate, or else they’re going to ignore our protests.”

Nonetheless, some of the contention protests I’ve been at over the years have felt worth it because they provided an amazing excuse for a continental anarchist/radical gathering culminating in a riot or attempted riot. We’ve learned real skills and developed important relationships pulling these things together. Disorder in the streets breaks our isolation and powerlessness and helps us link up with others out in society who aren’t part of the “radical scene” but who intuitively understand what it means when thousands of people surge into the streets and create chaos. It isn’t about the Republi-crats — it’s about rejecting their whole system of corporations, hierarchy, greed, centralization, militarization and media distraction.

This year, we’re seeing a large segment of America’s working class react to growing economic insecurity not by rebelling against their bosses, but by falling for clumsy political manipulation — cheering ham-fisted attacks on immigrants, Muslims, and overblown fear of terrorism. There is an opportunity to turn this class-based anger against the corporations and one-percenters.

Meanwhile let’s face it — life in our high-tech, sterile, ultra-specialized world is simultaneously stressful, lonely and boring. Mass shootings, youthful ISIS fighters, and the rise of nationalism worldwide are pathological responses. Radicals, anarchists and DIY free spirits offer real alternatives based on love, human interaction, creativity and mutual aid.

As cities get more dense, expensive and competitive, people become more lonely and impoverished economically and spiritually. The DIY solution to overconsumption and isolated cars, apartments, products, services is a return to community, cooperation and sharing that saves resources and puts meaning and connection back into our lives. Let’s detonate the nuclear family and embrace complex webs of community — multiple partners, shared parenting, and a vast continuum of friendships transcending demographic categories.

Announced Events

July 24: March for a Clean Energy Revolution hosted by Americans Against Fracking et al. Noon downtown Philadelphia. Info: “Philadelphia is poised to become a major energy hub, bearing the brunt of fracked gas exploitation. Pennsylvania fracking emissions contribute to global climate change. To avoid further devastation, we know we need to leave the majority of fossil fuels in the ground. This means reducing subsidies and demand for oil, coal, and gas while supporting economic initiatives to create green energy jobs in both urban and rural communities.”

July 25: March for Our Lives Sponsored by Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. City Hall 1401 JFK Blvd 3pm.

Resist the 2016 Cleveland RNC

Resist the 2016 Cleveland RNC is a peaceful and non-violent coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to resisting the efforts of the Republican National Convention and expressing to them and the world a message of Equality, Liberty and Environmental Responsibility. Many different people from many different movements are rallying around this coalition, join us. Lend your voice to the chorus of change.

Break Free 2016 Climate Direct Action

Blurbed by P. Wingnut

The climate change action group and others are calling for coordinated direct actions and mass arrests designed to disrupt fossil fuel installations and government offices in a dozen countries from May 7-15. They are calling to “keep fossil fuels in the ground and accelerate a just transition to 100% renewable energy and a sustainable future for all.” Specific targets in the United States, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Germany, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Philippines, Indonesia and Israel/Palestine will be announced soon.

Their call to action explains: “After the Climate Summit in Paris we need to redouble efforts to end the use of destructive fossil fuels and choose a clean and just energy future. Imagine: tens of thousands of people around the world rising up to take back control of their own destinies. Walking arm-in-arm into coal fields. Sitting down to block the business of governments and industry that threaten our future. Marching in peaceful defense of our right to clean energy. We are close to a historic, global shift in our energy system. The way we get there is by action that confronts those who are responsible for climate change and takes power back for the people so we can shape the sustainable and just future we need.”

Unlike previous climate protests scheduled to protest international summit meetings or stop particular projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, the May actions are designed to seize the initiative and set the agenda rather than just reacting. Organizers point out that “climate change is with us now and the need to act has never been more urgent. Our actions must reflect the scale and urgency of this crisis in a way that can no longer be ignored.” The May action will focus on civil disobedience actions / mass arrests rather than emphasizing marches and rallies. Folks not wanting to risk arrest can act as support persons to those risking arrest so everyone can participate.

The call to action emphasizes the need to empower local communities and grassroots groups. As Naomi Klein and others have pointed out, solving the climate crisis presents a huge opportunity to broadly reorganize social relations away from centralized, corporate extractive thinking and towards sustainable, cooperative and human-based economics and technology. Avoiding disastrous climate change requires these shifts. As the organizers point out “These mobilizations will … help spread information about crucial new and existing local campaigns to fight fossil fuels, and continue to shift political power away from the fossil fuel industry and towards grassroots groups who are at the frontlines of a great energy and economic transformation.”

The unsustainable corporate system is a dead end not just because it is polluting the earth, but because it has polluted our lives with pointlessness, powerlessness, boredom and isolation. Top down energy and technology pollutes our bodies and our souls.

As gloomy as it can look sometimes, we’re at the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era — but historical eras never collapse on their own, they always need our help. How can you plug in this May?

See the call to action for more information at


The Fifth Estate Magazine at 50


by Dane

“The Fifth Estate, founded in 1965, is an anarchist, anti-capitalist, and anti-authoritarian, anti-profit project published cooperatively by a volunteer collective of friends and comrades. We are committed to non-dogmatic, action-oriented writing and activity to bring about a new world.”

– from the About Us section of the Fifth Estate website


This past fall, the Fifth Estate magazine celebrated its 50th Anniversary. The celebrations were primarily in the form of art gallery exhibits and a staff reunion party. For the whole span of its history, the Fifth Estate (FE) has been an independent, radical publication (the term Fifth Estate represents the alternative to the “Fourth Estate,” a term to signify mainstream media.) The past 40 years of the publication’s run have promoted anarchist/anti-authoritarian ideas and perspectives. With the Slingshot publication in its 27+ years of production, the Fifth Estate has served as either an influence or a model to be looked upon by many of the volunteers who make Slingshot happen each time.*

Started by Harvey Ovshinsky in 1965, FE started as an alternative publication with a focus on arts and culture with it adopting New Left-style politics over the next ten years with an editorial collective developing within this time. By the mid-70s, the FE collective started to adopt the writing of such individuals as Freddy Perlman, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Camatte, the Situationists (Guy Debord and Raoul Vanegeim primarily), and others. Perlman was a significant influence as he and his partner, Lorraine, lived in Detroit where FE has existed for most of its history. Marcus Graham, who published an anarchist magazine titled “Man!” in the 1930s (when Marxism/Stalinism was unfortunately seen as the primary challenger to class society and other capitalist values), got in contact with FE. By the late 70s, John Zerzan started writing for the publication as well. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, FE became well-known for its radical critique of technology and civilization as a whole. This has continued to the present in some aspects, but it is not quite the same focus as it used to be (the FE Summer 2015’s theme was the critique of technology though). This overall critique of civilized ways of living was to counter, or go beyond, the State and Capital as the foundations of authoritarian ideas and systems. Other writers like David Watson (aka George Bradford), Bob Brubaker, and Peter Werbe, helped in the development of these critiques of technology, progress, and civilized thought.

From 2002-2009, FE was removed from its primary base of Detroit (but still published there occasionally) and began to be edited in Tennessee, New York, and Wisconsin. Pumpkin Hollow, a rural commune in eastern Tennessee was the primary site of production. Since 2009, FE has been published in Detroit again with a decentralized editorial collective scattered across North America. The magazine today has a broad, non-dogmatic perspective with writers coming from various tendencies of anarchist thought (anarcho-communist, anarcho-primitivist, queer anarchist, eco-anarchist, anarcha-feminist, anarcho-syndicalist, and anarchists-without-adjectives). This aspect of FE serves as a unique way to analyze how the anarchist philosophy isn’t monolithic with multiple ways of analyzing authoritarian ideas, philosophies, and institutions. This can be seen as a counter to other anti-capitalist philosophies such as Marxism, where Karl Marx is seen as a Messiah-like individual from where all Truth™ is initially or entirely understood (the FE Spring 2015 issue’s theme was “Anti-Marx.”)

Radical and anarchist publications have served as influence on each other and as a broad medium within independent media. Recently, Peter Werbe, who has been with FE since 1966, mentioned Slingshot newspaper as his favorite publication on the radio show “The Final Straw.” While it may be easy for some to get all their news and sources of information from the internet, others may be looking for such ideas in print form. A person in an infoshop, social space, library, or bookstore may first come across these ideas in a print publication rather than a website. For people who want to see further promotion of such anarchist and/or radical ideas and ways of living, it may be important to either support such magazines, newspapers, and other forms of print media to spark conversations along these lines. Also, anybody can submit articles to Fifth Estate for possible publication (especially if it fits in within the overall mindset and/or specific theme of FE), so you could be part of the next generation of individuals who introduce new perspectives, just like the assortment of individuals previously mentioned who changed FE in the 1970s. Either that, or start your own media; after all, the whole DIY (do-it-yourself) direct action aspect is an integral part of taking these radical ideas from abstract theory and putting them into practice and experimentation.


* Note: While the Slingshot newspaper is free based off raising funds from sales of the annual Slingshot organizer, Fifth Estate magazine is currently $4 an issue and survives off mostly subscriptions. Fifth Estate can be found at most infoshops and radical bookstores (there are issues at the Long Haul Infoshop).


For more info on subscribing or learning more about FE, check out:


Fifth Estate

P.O. Box 201016

Ferndale, MI 48220




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