5 – Cops and Klan go hand in hand

By Gerald Smith and Isabel Xochitl

We wish we could have been flies on the wall during the circus at the Capitol building on January 6th. Many liberals called it an insurrection and a coup attempt, but as the inauguration went ahead it became clear to all that it was more of a temper tantrum — a dramatic one, what with all the costumes and photo ops. To antifascists who have been aware of and working to oppose the alt-right for years, the outburst at the Capitol was no surprise — it was yet another iteration of the violent and often deadly fascist activity that has only recently become widely criticized by the mainstream media. 

The Democratic Party and their mouthpieces among the mainstream media and the nonprofits have overused the word insurrection in reference to January 6, 2021 with numbing regularity and potentially grave consequences. The question is not was it an insurrection, but why are different political factions choosing to label it in different ways based on their political agendas — what are the implications of labeling it as such? Whenever your enemy labels a historic event, put your hand over your wallet. We must never forget the naming of events can also be a form of psychological warfare. By drumming into our heads over and over, “Insurrection Bad,” some of us might begin believing it. In fact, where there is no mass revolutionary party, many of us will believe it. 

We should not take leadership from the very party that is attacking us, including their use of words. The ruling class has long showed that they use words to flip ‘em around and confuse people. The fascists with their “Traditionalist Workers Party” — who are in fact the antithesis of a workers’ party; No Child Left Behind — led to the firing of 100,000 Black teachers; “School Reform” — a thinly veiled cover for the privatization of the public schools. The use of the word insurrection is part of a strategic toolkit to further criminalize future revolutionary activity in this country. 

 Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”

― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents 

According to someone from the antifascist news source It’s Going Down: “In the wake of the far-Right storming of the capitol on January 6th, it is incumbent upon autonomous social movements and the Left in general to remind the public that for years the State allowed the fascist Right to grow, while focusing on coming down against the Left. Giving the State more powers to repress even the far-Right, will ultimately be used even harder against movements from below.”

Collusion? Yes. Coup? No.

Whether January 6 can be formally identified as a coup or not, what is clear is the now open, now secret, collusion between the President, member of congress, law enforcement commanders, police officers, and military personnel (active and veteran) who all collaborated before, during and after the January 6 event. Besides the handful of congresspeople including Majorie Taylor Greene (SC) and Lauren Boebert (CO) who have openly spouted Q Anon conspiracy theories, there is Paul Gosar (AZ), who is associated with the Oathkeepers, and Andy Biggs (AZ) and Mo Brooks (AL) who also associate with far right militia groups. It is a sign of the times that these people are being elected to national office, despite the fact that in some cases even their family members have made statements asking voters not to vote for them.

All of these people ran on a platform that Trump was going to win overwhelmingly, but if anyone claims he lost, it must be the work of Lucifer and his avenging angels. Thus, they laid the groundwork for the psychological unrest of their base.

What did this really provide us with? It wasn’t much of a coup, as the Senate was able to complete the vote within three hours. What we can carry away from this is that fascism is rising in the US. It is fragile, it is weak, and it can be easily smashed — and we need to get busy at carrying out this task. For instance, after the battle for Charlottesville, where a large number of fascists assembled and Heather Heyer was murdered, antifascism was re-awoken in America to the point where in Boston 50 fascists arrived at their so called “Free Speech Rally” on August 19, 2017 to find 40,000 antifascist counter-protesters assembled. That’s the odds we like! January 6th was a warning to all antifascists and class conscious workers that fascism in America cannot be ignored, nor should it be grossly exaggerated. American revolutionaries need the truth, not fairy tales and horror stories. 

For instance, every person that attended that march was not aware that they would enter the building — and every person didn’t enter the building. Many of the participants in the march had formerly voted for Democratic candidates — some even voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary (1 in 10 people who voted for Sanders in the primary later voted for Trump). We have to look at this “Stop the Steal” movement like an onion. The middle of the onion is the KKK itself and longtime Nazi/fascist organizations. Then there are the proto-fascists: The Oath Keepers, III Percenters, Patriot Prayer, and The Proud Boys, who all heavily recruit from the police and the military. The next layer consists of alt-right groups that emerged from internet obscurity and had their coming out party in Charlottesville in 2016 — such as Republic of Florida, members of the Facebook group “Alt-Reich”, and the readers of the Daily Stormer and Infowars. These are followed by working folk who hate the Democrats, which is understandable given the Democrats’ performance. These working folk, many of whom do not view themselves as racist, can be won over to defending their own interests against the bosses, the bankers and the landlords. The Left needs to look at this element and split the base from the top.

Fascism is virulently opposed to working class organizations, including unions. Many people in the crowd were probably members of trade unions. Were there Jews in the crowd? These are contradictions. What this points to is working people struggling within this system, grasping for solutions, sometimes find fascist extremism the most attractive or accessible path given that there is no visible alternative. We seek to create and strengthen an alternative. One of our biggest hurdles is the lack of visibility for broad revolutionary movements that already do exist, while fascists are platformed and sensationalized by the mainstream media. The role the media has played has actually strengthened Trump and his followers. Was covering his every tweet really necessary? Trump himself is not a fascist, but a political exploiter of the fascists. While he urged his followers to march to the Capitol, he himself did not march with them.

According to someone from It’s Going Down, “The stance by the press overall towards antifascists and anarchists more broadly has been one largely of contempt. Before Charlottesville, there were literally more editorials written attacking antifascists in mainstream newspapers than there were attacking the Alt-Right. And while the red carpet was rolled out for the far-Right and volumes of explainer pieces were written about the movement, when it came to autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements and struggles, the press was afraid to dive deep and give a platform to those with radical anti-capitalist views — and for good reason. While news of Nazis sells, it also does not upset the owners of corporate media. This dynamic resulted in a reality where the media gave the far-Right a large platform to talk about their ideas, where antifascists, when they were interviewed at all, were forced to defend their tactics.” 

“In short, if working people understood that they could self-organize and take on the far-Right without looking to the State or the police — and what other conclusion could one make under Trump — then what was stopping them from blocking ICE vans, stopping evictions, launching strikes and engaging in other forms of actions that put our own interests ahead of those in power?” 

The Cops and the Klan Go Hand in Hand 

  The breaching of the Capitol was a ball of confusion from the start. The police wound up on both sides — some attempting to carry out their duties and fiercely resisting the mob, while some were openly cooperating with the rioters — taking selfies with them, moving the gates so people could enter the building. Will the real pigs please stand up? Actually, they’re all pigs. The police are far more politically heterogeneous than they would like to admit. We saw that on January 6th. This contradiction was so intense that two officers took their own lives after the incident.

 As participants in the Capitol rally are identified and charges are brought, a large number of those in attendance have been outed as off duty cops. The extensive crossover between law enforcement and white nationalists and fascists is nothing new. In 1972, the FBI opened up an investigation into collaboration between American cops and the KKK. The investigation was abandoned because so much was uncovered, and the only public documents from it are heavily redacted.

 Prosecutors are charging a number of off-duty cops who showed up to the rally, but they will never charge those who made the strategic decisions about law enforcement that day — practically sabotaging any defense of the Capitol. 57 state legislators attended the march — though it is unclear how many went in. This is why the pathetic attempt to hold Trump legally accountable was doomed to fail. The Republican legislators realized that if they brought heat on Trump, they’d incriminate themselves — as they were co-conspirators in this event. They’re stupid, but they ain’t that stupid.

One of the reasons that the cops and the Klan go hand in hand is because there are no consequences for it — there have been none for 100 years. This is why we need the right to self defense. This is why we need to form rifle clubs today. This is why we refuse to call their spectacle an insurrection, as we work towards a real one in the not so distant future. Those in power understand that not only do far right groups reinforce the existing power structure, but these groups may come in handy when the class struggle intensifies and a real insurrection comes around.

The instances of collusion between cops and fascists are so numerous it would take several books to catalogue them. Here are a few of the more significant examples:

Portland, June 3rd, 2018

In Portland, we can only praise the tenacity of the comrades in this city, who organized 100 consecutive days of protests during the Black Lives Matter uprising last summer. This is a necessary ingredient in our fight against fascism — steadfastness, consistency, dedication, sustainable engagement. While there are many incidents revealing that the cops and the Klan go hand in hand in Portland, we will shine the light on just one for now. On June 3rd, 2018, Lt. Jeff Niiya, acting under the rubric of free speech for fascists, actually informed members of Patriot Prayer that the mayor of Portland was demanding that the police carry out an arms search of the fascists — giving them a warning before the search began. All of this was caught on tape and published by The Guardian.

Sacramento, June 26, 2016

Through the defense work for the Sacramento 3, the truth came out in the courtroom — that the highway patrol, and the district attorney, were working in conjunction with the fascists from the beginning. CHP shared information with the Traditionalist Workers Party and helped to get them permits for their rally. CHP officer Donovan Ayres admitted in court that they had been aware at the time that TWP was a fascist organization. According to the Sacramento Bee, the District Attorney had planned to indict 104 antifascists in connection with this particular counter-protest. The police specifically warned antifascists that they could not carry even a sign on a stick — in effect disarming antifascists. As a result, nine antifascists were stabbed. Never again!

One of the survivors of these stabbings, Yvette Felarca, was among the 3 charged by the DA for their participation in the counter-protest, along with Mike Williams and Paz Porfirio — the Sacramento 3, who eventually won their case. All three are organizers — Yvette with By Any Means Necessary and Paz and Mike with the Brown Berets — and they were targeted amongst the attendees on July 26. Court solidarity is a must, and it is part of why this case was won. No antifascist should stand alone when they are facing the power of the state.

Berkeley, March 4, 2017

A similar process unfolded in Berkeley, but this time, we were at a distinct disadvantage. Janet Napolitano, then chancellor of UC Berkeley and former head of Homeland Security, spent $8 million on UCPD to defend the fascists’ “right to free speech”. Antifa was good at showing up, but didn’t display enough sophistication when it came to defending us on a political level and unfortunately it got the best of us. We are unconditionally opposed to free speech for known fascist organizations. We need to insist that there can be no free speech for fascists because they don’t speak of anything of consequence — all of their organizing is to facilitate genocide of the oppressed. Genocide is not debatable. The situation in Berkeley was unfortunately contradictory. The mayor took advantage of the anarchists’ weakness — they placed police as the “protectors” of free speech, allowing the fascists to run wild.

There were some positives in what was otherwise a complex situation. One: the Berkeley 5 were a group of antifascists who were charged with beating up a fascist. Their case went to trial, in which the DA instructed the jury to ignore the historical facts, but the jury found them not guilty. The state failed in its attempt to frame these antifascists.

San Francisco, August 25, 2017

Patriot Prayer proclaimed that they would march from Kezar stadium in San Francisco. Whenever confronted with a fascist assault, we should use defensive tactics, i.e. “we’re going to defend our families from fascist marauders.” The International Longshoremen and Warehousemen Union Local 10 got word and planned to march to the same location at the same time. Patriot Prayer abandoned their provocative plan, understanding the consequences. This is how you fight fascism — with the power of labor.

Profound organizing against fascism takes not only the form of active community defense, but also the forms of education and of mutual aid that can build revolutionary consciousness and capacity. Antifascists need to find ways to better appeal to working class folks rather than increasing political polarization.

According to someone from It’s Going Down:  “The energy that exploded last summer needs to continue, albeit in new trajectories and projects. The neoliberal center is going to attempt to placate liberals and progressives and push for social peace; it’s our job to point out the contradictions and how similar both parties really are. We need to keep building up the mass networks and programs of mutual aid, tenant unions, and prison organizing which has been taking place across the US the past year and expand these projects. There’s a lot of new people around radical circles now that need to be caught up to speed on everything from security culture to community organizing — let’s not lose our momentum but keep growing. Already since Biden was elected we’ve seen strikes in New York and riots against the police in Tacoma; things may have calmed down a bit, but nothing is going back to whatever ‘normal’ is in an age of catastrophic climate change and rising fascism. Get organized. Expand the capacity of your projects. Work on strengthening existing movement infrastructure and growing it. Solidify and build regional networks. Deepen relationships with the broader proletariat in every way possible.”

It is not often in one’s life that reality confirms all of our convictions. But everything we’ve been saying has turned out to be 100 percent correct. We must never ever give up in terms of our perspective and our beliefs. The real goal of all of this is a socialist victory. Only by smashing capitalism can we smash fascism. Forward to our Socialist Future.


4 – Building solidarity outside the bubble

By Jesse D. Palmer
If it wasn’t clear before, the increasingly rapid creep towards fascism — with millions of people living in an alternative reality and blindly following buffoons selling division, racism and gun-toting threats of violence — is now a grave threat to any hope for justice, freedom or social progress. What can and should radicals do to push back?

First, its crucial to avoid being distracted by the latest shiny thing and merely reacting against media-driven spectacle. We are weakest when we let our oppressors set the agenda, frame the discussion and define the rules. We’re at our best when we act based on love and compassion and create something positive rather than just being against other people’s ideas and actions.

Fascism is not loving — rather, it dwells on cruelty, grievance, tribalism, nationalism, male chauvinism and white supremacy. It focuses on a desire to go back to a mythical earlier way of life and involves unquestioning obedience to a leader and a willingness to believe anything the leader says, no matter how absurd.

In fighting fascism, we can’t let ourselves develop our own hatred, intolerance and cynicism. If 75 million Americans are supporters of or members of a cult, I want to try to understand them as much as I can and avoid dehumanizing them and dismissing them — because dehumanization is itself part of the problem — even though I think they are wrong and dangerous.

If we’re to have a strategy to turn in another direction, it isn’t going to happen overnight. While the American Dream has always contained elements of fascism, it is over-simplistic to say that shit has always been this bad — things have gotten worse over the last few years and it would be more helpful to figure out why rather than being bitter. The expanding wealth and income gap, the economic decline of rural areas, the dizzying pace of social and technological change — there are big social changes that have perhaps made it easier for some people to feel grievance, and that may have pushed some people towards tribalism because they feel threatened and vulnerable. Making life better and more just for everyone is crucial to deflate hate.

Props to Anti-Racist action, punks who fought skinheads in the ‘80s, and Antifa for decades of street fighting racist groups. Right now however, I’m more concerned about perhaps 75 million people leaning towards authoritarianism than the tip of the iceberg of the Proud Boys and their ilk.
We need self-reflection about tactics. Antifa has had a hyper macho presentation that emphasizes self-defense and violence. This has been seized on by right wing media to promote a false equivalence narrative, which is arguably making the slide to fascism easier rather than more difficult. Street fighting escalates the tone of violent confrontation with fascists who actively want a violent, armed civil war. But Antifa and the larger radical scene is in general not heavily armed nor militarily trained — whereas most average right wing people in the US have guns, and right wing militias are heavily armed and often include military veterans with weapons training. If a civil war or armed conflict breaks out, the most likely result is authoritarianism, surveillance and repression — not any type of liberation. Looking at Iraq and other areas enduring armed conflict, there is a race to the bottom of pointless death and destruction, not just to the combatants but to everyone. Civil war is not likely to promote diversity, equality, freedom or environmental sustainability — rather a civil war is more likely to put all these backwards.

Beating someone up rarely changes their mind — and to address millions of people who don’t go to street fights, we need to focus on changing minds.
Although radicals struggle with the limitations of religious-type nonviolence and sometimes advocate for militancy such as fighting with police or destroying property — I have never heard radicals calling for mass executions and assassinations of right wing figures, which is precisely the type of discussion that is now commonplace amongst millions of right wingers. They are talking about killing folks like us. The Three Percenters etc. may evolve into death squads targeting political or civic figures, non-conformists, immigrants, and non-whites. Or perhaps they’ll begin an armed insurgency that carries out bombings and arson. Since right wing groups are cross-pollinated with the police and military, it is folly to exclusively rely on the police and government to push back against the fascist movement.

Populism – if it emphasized uniting the working class across race and other lines against the 1%, corporations and bosses — could be a powerful and positive force. But at the moment, the most widespread populism is organized around white supremacy — the radical scene has no active major working class populist movement like we did during Occupy. All we have is rhetoric and our dreams — not enough broad-based on the ground movements. We need to fill this gap because a lot of would-be fascists are experiencing economic anxiety every day. They don’t necessarily want the hate or the leader-worship — but they want to do something against conditions that are intolerable. The anger is out there — we can help make sure it is against corrupt elites and rulers who disrespect regular folks.
Radicals need to figure out ways to talk to people who have different demographics to build solidarity outside our bubbles. This will involve focusing on areas of agreement, not points of disagreement:
-we love our family and friends
-we want to be safe
-we want a decent life, to have enough to eat, to have a place to live
-we want things to be fair – those who work hard should be rewarded
-we want to be free to decide what to do on our own and not have power structures tell us what to do.
A lot of right wing people agree on these things. Radicals get hung up using college-educated code language. Sure Fox News plays a part in dividing the country, but our scene also needs to fix the ways we’re responsible for promoting division.

A larger community could stand up to the 1% who take more than their share. We need to be better at articulating the beautiful inclusive parts of our vision — tolerance, diversity — “we are all one”, “we are all Earthlings” — love each other — let’s share what we have rather than hoarding. We believe in freedom not conformity and boredom — cooperation not hierarchical power structures.

A crucial part of addressing rising fascism is figuring out ways to counter conspiracy theories — which begs the wider question of how to figure out what is true in an internet context filled with mis-information — and why it is important to try. Not all conspiracy theories are right wing — I constantly hear them in radical and alternative spaces. It is even more common to see friends relying on or distributing mis-information they heard on the internet without questioning its authenticity, checking the information or caring much. Too often I’ve kept quiet and let this stuff slide to avoid conflict but I’m not going to do that anymore — we all need to call out untruth when we hear it even if it supports our overall belief system.
You don’t need a conspiracy theory to explain injustice and power imbalances – there are real power structures that are right out in the open. The anecdote to conspiracy theories is having something to believe in and to hope for.

The search for truth and facts — and trying to make decisions with the most accurate facts possible — is crucial to a just, free, decent and sustainable world. Those in power have always manipulated facts, lied and used propaganda. Facts we learned in school and in history have always been biased, racist and sexist. But that doesn’t excuse or diminish the seriousness of recent next-level alternative realities like q-anon that are now believed by tens of millions of people.

Everything is not relative. There is a difference between the science industry controlled by corporations and the process of science in terms of testing whether particular things are true. Science involves observation, skepticism, formulating hypotheses based on observations, testing deductions drawn from hypotheses, and refining or eliminating hypotheses based on findings. Sometimes, we can test facts ourselves, but mostly we have to rely on information from others, and so radicals need to discuss how to find facts, how to fact-check things, and how to promote distribution of factual information and corrections of mis-information. This cannot be about relying on big tech companies to police right wingers because any tools they develop against fascism we can bet will be deployed against radicals.

We have to be modest and humble. I have no idea how to fix all this shit – I’m not smart enough and I’m not sure anyone is. Over the 33 years Slingshot has existed, the world has gotten worse and worse. Maybe it’s time to try something else.

A few months ago my friends and I were at the Berkeley Marina and we were trying to figure out how to turn back modern-fascism while slowing climate change and addressing racial and economic injustice. Our zany idea was that everyone would work much less since a high portion of work consists of bullshit jobs that don’t contribute to human happiness nor address human needs — and all that surplus work eats up tons of natural resources which is pushing nature to the brink of extinction.

Since there would be plenty of extra time, huge voluntary, free, social camps would be created to help unite the world and connect people who come from different backgrounds. Everyone could take a few weeks off and take a solar powered train to natural places full of swimming, group activities, sports and games, collectively prepared feasts and huge dance parties each night. Half the people at each camp would come from urban, coastal “liberal” areas and half from rural, flyover, “conservative” areas so rather than seeing people from different backgrounds as media-stereotypes, you could meet, talk to and get to know and play with real people. For those who wanted, huge groups of people would eat psychedelic mushrooms and have intense visions and revelations about how we are all one — there is no separation between us and the earth and the plants and the ocean —  and people are all the same. As the sun rose, it would be obvious to everyone that we can get what we need without hurting others. And in fact it’s the only way we can survive on this fragile beautiful world. Maybe fighting fascism isn’t only about fighting — when they go low, we get them high.

3 – People’s Park – Rumors of its demise have been grossly exaggerated

By J. Montigue & Stooge

There is something magic about People’s Park in Berkeley — like a scrappy cat with 999 lives. Just when the University of California was finalizing plans to build a 16-story, 1,200 unit dorm on the park amidst the tidal wave of gentrification sweeping the Bay Area, UC Berkeley students swept in to join community members and say “not so fast.” As Slingshot goes to press, students have set up an occupation camp to prevent UC from drilling their last batch of soil samples related to the dorm. Events are happening in the park every Friday, there are frequent marches and protests, the student government and other student groups have issued statements in favor of preserving the park — once again the University finds itself knocked on its heels and mystified about the Park’s endless energy to inspire each new generation. A new mood is in the air — UC’s development plans are not inevitable. 

People’s Park was constructed without permission in 1969 to create a beautiful community on vacant UC land. Protests about the Vietnam war and civil rights were against the system — the park represented a new chapter of resistance in which people began to build a new world worth living in. UC’s first attempt to seize back and destroy the park led to rioting, police shootings that left bystander James Rector dead and dozens wounded, and a week-long National Guard occupation of Berkeley. UC has always claimed to own the land on Dwight Way east of Telegraph, but since 1969 they have never been able to control it. Over the years, park users have practiced “user development” by building and tending gardens, trees and landscaping as determined by users, not government managers. It is a rare place in the city open to everyone, hosting a free speech stage and daily free food servings.

The issues connected to the Park are vital — people seek freedom to use and enjoy land, not just hold it for profit and greed. We demand direct involvement in creating the world and deciding how things should work in our community because these processes bring meaning to our lives. UC’s bureaucratic and dehumanizing management treats people and neighborhoods like computer circuits waiting to be programmed. 

An unspoken justification for UC’s dorm is to displace homeless people who hang out at the Park — but it is a paradox, because these days there are homeless encampments on every corner so no one can seriously believe that destroying the Park could “fix” homelessness. UC has done everything it could to push homeless people to the Park, bias its students against the homeless by conflating poverty with crime, and try to make the park a festering eyesore by tearing out trees, the children’s playground, freeboxes,  gardens and other improvements constructed by Park users. It made its own bathroom inhospitable and prison-like with no soap or hot water (even during the pandemic). In 2018 on the verge of the 50th anniversary, UC cut down 42 trees without warning or consideration. After decades of UC policy to undermine the Park, they now want to take credit for “cleaning up.” But the real mess is capitalism and a system that builds palaces for the few and leaves so many people out in the cold. UC claims the land is theirs and treats the park users and residents the way they treat the trees — disposable, worthless, unprofitable.

In this context, at the worst point in the pandemic, UC closed off most of the park with double-high metal fences and set up whirring generator-powered surveillance systems to protect drilling rigs. Park defenders had a rally on January 29 and 150 gathered — many of them in the Park for the first time. Everyone stood or sat on the ground, eye-to-eye at the same level and many spoke passionately. As the afternoon wore on, the sun cast long shadows on the golden grass — a crosshatch pattern of the fences that loomed above. An air of readiness and excitement grew and then like an unstoppable magnetic force, the crowd ran and tore the fence down and carried the pieces a few blocks to the University where it was piled in front of the administration building.

So started the student occupation — tents, hammocks — bringing foods and masks and gloves. Street medics from around the Bay area came to offer medical and mental health assistance to student defenders and unhoused park residents alike. Tense and dangerous situations have been de-escalated, or at least survived, with the collaboration of park elders, residents, and students instead of police.  Occupiers put care and attention into the park — picking up trash and bringing friendliness and conversation so the park felt alive and fresh and not ignored or so scary. 

As the occupation goes on, the focus has shifted from “occupation” (which implies a colonial presence) to “defense” and healing. New focuses are mutual aid, growth through gardening, and care of the land. There are regular arts events, classes, and movie nights. All are closely connected to realizing the park’s promises of autonomy and self-determination and defending it from the UC war machine through direct action. As the capitalist housing crisis has worsened, pushing the poor and people of color further to the margins of Berkeley, the park has become an essential refuge and cultural center.

It’s time to organize and share the knowledge between the generations, the resources between the housed students and the unhoused, to plan the defense of the park from UC’s colonial entitlement, and grow something together in a different way. The People’s Park committee is reaching out to see how the land could be re-matriated to indigenous stewardship, ending the landlordship of the UC once and for all. Contrary to what UC likes to say, the park is an essential and vibrant place today, not just history to get memorialized in a plaque.

To get involved, if you are in the Bay Area, come by People’s Park on Fridays at 3PM for the weekly community assembly, food, and events. Visit @peoplesparkberkeley on Instagram or venmo @pparkberk if you are able. For more info, visit peoplespark.org.

People’s Park forever! Let a thousand parks bloom!

2 – Message to Prisoner Subscribers

What we do: We provide free subscriptions to incarcerated individuals in the US who request them. We only publish 2-3 times a year, so there will be up to a 6 month delay between when you request a subscription and when you get a paper. We do accept submissions of art and articles from incarcerated subscribers but we only publish a very, very tiny fraction. We don’t publish poetry or fiction, and only run personal narratives or stories about your case if they are framed within radical analysis. 

What we don’t do: we are unable to provide penpals, legal aid/advice, financial assistance, literature besides Slingshot, or respond to requests for other kinds of help. Usually, we can’t write you back. We cannot use JPay or other inmate email services. 

Comrades on the outside:  We receive 5-10 letters from incarcerated folks every day. We welcome help reading them and processing subscription requests! — Love, Slingshot

2 – Stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline

By Robin

Hello from a platform 50 feet up in a chestnut oak tree! Watching the season change from winter to spring up here, the ice and snow melting off the branches and being replaced with buds and birds and bugs, has been magical and reminds me of the interconnectedness of all life. However, the spring weather has also brought back the chainsaw crews and workers in neon vests, who wish to scare us down or physically remove us from these trees in order to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

For those of you who may not have heard about the resistance to the Mountain Valley Pipeline, let me fill you in. The MVP is a 42-inch diameter pipeline that would carry fracked gas from the shale fields of northwestern West Virginia through Virginia for eventual export. To do this, it will cross through extremely steep and mountainous terrain — which has already caused pipe displacement, erosion and water pollution in construction areas — as well as under the Appalachian Trail (AT), across important sources of drinking water for local communities, and through some of the last remaining habitats of endangered species like the Roanoke logperch and the candy darter.

Direct action against MVP construction began over 3 years ago at the Hellbender Autonomous Zone on so-called Peters Mountain, though community members have been resisting the pipeline through legal methods ever since its proposal. The Hellbender Autonomous Zone included a monopod that lasted 57 days, a skypod that lasted 12 days, and tree-sits that lasted 95 days — long enough for MVP to lose its permits to work in the National Forest and to bore under the AT. Blockades and lockdowns to construction equipment continued on during 2018 and 2019, including lockdowns by a local teacher on her family’s land, a local professor, grandmothers, young people, Indigenous pipeline fighters, and a local and her daughter who occupied a tree-sit on their land, among others. 

On September 5th of 2018, two new tree-sits on Yellow Finch Lane were first occupied, and now in March of 2021 we are celebrating over 915 days of the Yellow Finch tree-sits preventing the deforestation of this land. Over this time, MVP has repeatedly lost and had to refile for permits, been issued multiple temporary stop-work orders, and pushed back the date they’ve been telling their investors the pipeline will be completed by — they are now more than a billion dollars over budget. While the Yellow Finch ground support camp was evicted in late fall of 2020, there has been no successful extraction attempt of these tree-sits.

The flood of community support we receive up here gives me hope for a different world, one where communities come together and take care of each other, depending on each other to survive instead of the state or market. A world based on reciprocity, integrity, on love for all life. For me, that world has no borders, no walls, no prisons, no police, and no pipelines — we stand in solidarity with folks fighting the Line 3 pipeline in so-called Minnesota, with the Wet’suwet’en struggle against the Coastal GasLink pipeline, with BLM and police and prison abolitionists, and all other anticapitalist and decolonial struggles. Together, we can free ourselves from the chains of capitalism and imperialism, and build the world we’d like to live in. 

Part of the reason why I am anonymous is because I could be anyone, even you! To get involved with the campaign against the MVP, email appalachiansagainstpipelines@ protonmail.com or visit Appalachians Against Pipelines on Facebook or Instagram! Or to support ongoing resistance, donate at bit.ly/SupportMVPResistance

2 – Introduction to issue #133

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

 When the article deadline rolled around, we sat in the dark under the stars around a campfire feeing the cold air, and realized the articles were not ready, so we put off making the issue.

During this time, Slingshot turned 33. Our origin story is significant to who we are today — at our genesis, Berkeley was still palpably raging, just 20 years after the Summer of Love and uprisings in 1968. Outside of our meeting room, protests were a weekly staple — sometimes daily. Slingshot’s pages were filled with fights against atrocities like police abuse, chainstores, war and the destruction of communities like People’s Park. Issues that still resonate today. The Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 that rocked many cities worldwide are an example of the mind altering activities that fuel the production of this project. Last year, lots of people put themselves in harm’s way in street protests and direct action campaigns to effect long overdue change — although constantly being in go-mode is sorta an insane condition to remain in. Often people don’t come back either physically, mentally, or emotionally. Yet we find that turning off in the face of oppression is not a life worth living. 

Over the years we’ve also maintained a little space inside The Long Haul Info Shop, a public space that is centered on resistance. Our shabby nest has allowed for a vibrant street culture to aide & abet in world revolution and evolution and their contributions often raises the value of our paper. It’s been a difficult year locking the doors and staying aglow by the heat of the screen instead of attending raucous protests and in-person gatherings. The longer days now stretch out before us, and the excitement of that acts as a cocktail with the uncertainty of our untenable situation with capitalism. 

Despite the pandemic and everything, the issue came out. With only a small krew, our process resembled flying (in a lawnmower) by the seat of our pants — yet nonetheless, we think this issue kicks ass! It’s easy to feel pointless and wasted in this post-capitalistic sh!tshow of a world, but somehow coming together with your friends and comrades to make art, eat together, spin yarns, cozy up inside shelter together, argue, laugh, cry, doze off…. These are the things in life that we hold dear, and we are very grateful to have the privilege to do as such under the banner of Slingshot. We love you, and we hope that you can go out and perpetuate that gooey feeling.

A key value of Slingshot is that the perfect isn’t the enemy of the good. When we get hung up on the issue being perfect, it doesn’t happen. When we are gentle to ourselves and realize that nothing humans make is ever as good as they want it to be, then magic things can happen and the issue can turn out better than we expected. This is part of the essence of DIY and punk. Just Doing It – doing something – is really important. It empowers you – it makes you feel alive. The mainstream wants everyone to doubt themselves and feel like only “professionals” can do stuff – which leads to a world with corporate music and media with most people just consumers.

We demand a world where we make the media and the music and everything – and yeah a lot of it is going to be funky and maybe not polished – but it will be authentic and have heart and feel real – not plastic and boring. And that is what Slingshot really counts for — the feeling that it is from real people who are on the same level as the readers, not towering over them from on high. And yes, all collectives should perpetually be reexamining themselves, their rules, goals and processes. This is especially true for longstanding collectives such as ours. 

Slingshot is always looking for new writers, artists, editors, photographers and distributors. 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: Bolton, eggplant, Elke, Emily, Emma, Fern, Gena, Grant, Jenna, Jesse, Lilian, Ramona, rác, Sean, Talia, 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 August 22, 2021 at 7 pm at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline & Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 134 by September 11, 2021 at 3 pm. 

Volume 1, Number 133, Circulation 22,000

Printed March 19, 2021

Slingshot Newspaper

A publication of Long Haul

Office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley CA 94705

Mailing: PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

510-540-0751 slingshotcollective@protonmail.com 

slingshotcollective.org • twitter @slingshotnews

instagram/ facebook @slingshotcollective

Circulation information

Subscriptions to Slingshot are free to prisoners, low income, or anyone in the USA with a Slingshot Organizer, or $1 per issue. International $3 per issue. Outside the Bay Area we’ll mail you a free stack of copies if you give them out for free. Say how many copies and how long you’ll be at your address. In the Bay Area pick up copies at Long Haul and Bound Together books, SF.

Slingshot free stuff 

We’ll send you a random assortment of back issues for the cost of postage. Send $4 for 2 lbs. Free if you’re an infoshop or library. slingshotcollective.org

1 – Community Springs from Dark Days

By Jesse D. Palmer

After a year of frustration living with pandemic restrictions, the mood is ripe for uprisings in the streets, blossoming worker cooperatives, new community commons, and wild carnivalesque festivals dedicated to freedom, sustainability, and love.  More than half a million people died needlessly from Covid in the US — powerfully demonstrating the failure of mainstream institutions to protect basic health and safety. The power structure only really cares about corporate power and greed. And Covid is only the tip of the iceberg — how much more of the American Dream can we take in the face of systemic racism, climate collapse and billionaires getting richer while millions face eviction? 

For those who can get the vaccine, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel — although it is hard to feel too happy because the legacy of colonialism means the global South may not see relief for years. 

Now is the time to organize what will come next — on a decentralized, non-hierarchical, basis in every city, every small town, every neighborhood and in each social scene. As society reopens, we don’t want to go back to normal since normal wasn’t working.  Everyone’s exhausted by zoom, fear, distance learning, isolation, loneliness and lack of touch — all our collective pent-up energy is a powerful force. How sweet it will be to re-emerge to rebuild a world worth living in.

The system wants to set the agenda and trap us into a boring rat race for money, status and distraction. It can tolerate protest so long as they are limited to a cycle of reaction against the latest police shooting, oil spill or homeless camp raid. 

So its crucial not to settle for crumbs when we need and deserve the whole pie. We need to say what we’re for. When we seize the initiative, frame the debate and pick the issue, we can win. Where the system focuses on competition, status, property, laws, technology, conformity and obedience, the world we’re struggling for is about treating each other with caring and kindness, living meaningful and pleasurable lives, and protecting the earth and each other from harm. Good values and humanistic goals and priorities are ultimately more powerful than laws and organizational structures. 

 Let’s organize fun, free stuff together — less gig work and more giggling. The pandemic has concentrated power in corporate and government hands — so a key value in the reawakening times is decentralization with communities making their own decisions. Did anyone else notice that the pandemic forced more plastic into the world with take-out food and lots of disposable stuff to avoid germs? What can we do to get rid of plastic altogether? 

The pandemic also underlined how we’re small and vulnerable to natural forces — the takeaway is the need to respect the earth and defend it from the industrial machine. Our lives and health are fragile — it’s important to stay present with those around you and live in the moment. After so much isolation there’s a greater awareness right now of how much we all need each other — so let’s build alternative community institutions based on mutual aid, cooperation and sharing: housing collectives, underground venues, community gardens, artists’ warehouses, tool lending libraries, free stores, bike kitchens, health clinics. Some things people did during the pandemic like home baking, outdoor dining, DIY crafts, community sing-alongs, etc. are worth keeping and expanding.

Building back better is going to take creativity, bravery and moxie — and in particular your involvement and dreams. Revival – rejuvenation – renewal – recovery!

1 – A ton of moss – forest defense report back

So many aspects of our lives ground to a halt last March as the first wave of covid swept the US. One thing that hasn’t slowed during the pandemic: industrial logging. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the timber industry spent 2020 logging full speed ahead, and folks across the bioregion have been busy resisting. Read on for spicy dispatches from the forested frontlines.

Lichen It Up Here

By a flying squirrel wearing a fanny pack

Comradely greetings from the temperate rainforest canopy on the coast of northern California! We’re Redwood Forest Defense, an affinity group of tree-climbin’ wingnuts who have been living aloft for the last year to prevent two groves from being clearcut by a billionaire-owned corporation.

Back in March of 2020, we were visiting a grove that treesitters had defended from 2012 to 2017, and we found fresh stumps and a chainsaw on the ground. We climbed the closest tree, stopped work, and we’ve been here ever since.

The forest that has become our home lies within the Indigenous village of Tsurai, on ancestral Yurok territory. This forest is second growth, a landscape developing toward maturity after being logged for the first time several decades ago. This is the next generation of old growth in the making – and it’s actually the rarest type of redwood forest. Of the 2 million acres of intact redwoods that were thriving on the north coast when settlers arrived, less than 5% is left, protected in parks. The vast remaining portion was either lost to development or is being managed, mostly by massive corporations, as monocropped tree farms.

Enter Green Diamond Resource Company, a “family business” and the fifth largest landowner in the US with over a million acres of forest under their management, mostly in the Pacific Northwest. Their plan for all “their” stolen land is short rotation clearcuts – returning to a given patch of forest every 45 years with heavy machinery to completely denude the landscape. In a mixed forest like this one, where several species of conifers and hardwoods commingle, Green Diamond’s practices involve cutting literally everything, including the less marketable species like alder and spruce, which are then burned in massive piles. Afterward, the area is replanted with a redwood monocrop and treated with herbicides to discourage competition. We wish we could say this is exceptional, but it’s actually the norm for industrial forestry here in the Pacific Northwest, and all over the world.

Of course, treesitting is nothing new in our area, and we are grateful to be surrounded by elder activists and the intact forests that they protected through direct action, litigation and advocacy. One of the paradoxes of forest policy in the state of California is that generations of forest advocates have put on the books some of the best environmental regulations in the country, but there is so little enforcement that corporate Big Timber is getting away with murder – both on private timberlands and in state and national forests. That’s the case here, where these forests provide habitat to creatures like the Pacific fisher and northern spotted owl who are headed for extinction because of industrial logging, and who the feds continually refuse to protect under the Endangered Species Act.

This is where direct action comes in. When all the public comments have been ignored, the lawsuits have failed, the politicians aren’t listening and the timber lobby is cackling with glee as the heavy machinery crunches over the forest floor, sometimes you gotta just get in the way. We’re now holding down two adjacent tree villages, protecting about 20 acres between them of the largest trees and best habitat in the immediate area.

In July and again in October, our defenses were put to the test when Green Diamond showed up to log. We responded by holding strong in the canopy and raising additional treesits to block road construction into the harvest units. Green Diamond was hands-off toward us, never calling the cops, and hiring half-assed security who didn’t prevent resupply, but they treated the forest with no such consideration. We grieved from on high for weeks as their heavy machinery flattened the landscape and the trucks hauled away what had been a living, breathing ecosystem. Witnessing the clearcuts is deeply saddening, but when I enter the treeline and know that the trees that still stand are there because of our presence, I am filled with purpose and gratitude.

Putting our bodies on the line can only protect a small area, but we are honored to be one of many thorns in the side of the global machinations that sacrifice forests for profit. Defending this place is a humanizing experience. Each ascent into the canopy is both a reminder of our smallness among giants and a reminder of our power to fight back against the cold logic of capitalism that threatens life on earth.

If you want to get involved, contact us. We host climb-trainings regularly and welcome local and faraway support and engagement in many forms, including but not limited to actually treesitting.

Email: redwoodforestdefense@ protonmail.com

Insta: @redwoodforestdefense Website: redwoodforestdefense.org

The Chameleon Blockade

By the South Sound Forest Defenders

In late September forest defenders of the South Salish Sea region launched a blockade in the so-called “Capitol State Forest,” which is the traditional territory of the Chehalis, Quinault, and Nisqually people and is currently under the colonial management of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The forest that the blockade protected was part of the “Chameleon” timber sale. Chameleon was auctioned off by DNR to Murphy, a logging company with offices and mills in Washington and Oregon which has been gobbling up many of the large timber sales on DNR land in this region.

Any observant visitor to Capitol Forest can attest to the destruction done by nearly 200 years of colonial extraction, first under the ownership of private timber companies and now under state management. Many folks have stories of visiting their favorite foraging or hiking spot to find that the forest has been callously clearcut. Rather than accepting the state narrative that the forest is simply a ‘necessary’ sacrifice-zone to fund schools (and cops and prisons), or the mainstream environmentalist notion that second-growth is not worth protecting, forest defenders decided a chance for this late-successional Douglas fir forest to grow was worth fighting for.

Utilizing an infernal contraption likened by some observers to an umbilical cord, an antennae, or “that scene from Alien,” forest defenders blocked the main road into the unit with a car that was anchoring a tree-sit in a nearby 100+ year old Douglas-fir. The blockade was erected before further work on the road had begun in the hopes of preventing access into the forest for future logging. If anyone were to attempt to move or mess with the car blocking the road in any way, the tree-sitter in the nearby platform could have fallen and risked serious injury or death.

In the week that followed, the blockade was honored by the presence of Protectors of Salish Sea, Red Road Rising, and many other community members who were disturbed by the ongoing ecological devastation perpetuated by DNR. A ground camp meant to support an expansion of involvement along with the tree-sitter began to flourish. However, about a week into the blockade, the camp was raided without warning by four different agencies including Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Patrol, the State Fish and Game Department, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. The two forest defenders on the ground were briefly detained and then released and DNR cops brought in spotlights and a generator in preparation of an extended siege of the tree-sit.

 In the final days of the blockade, DNR cops kept the tree-sit under 24/7 surveillance and prevented friends and supporters from delivering necessary supplies to the tree-sitter. Folks continued to show up and voice their support for the blockade as well as their disapproval of DNR’s ecocidal practices with almost-daily noise demos, prayers, and songs from a nearby road that could be heard from the tree-sit, led mostly by Red Road Rising and Protectors of the Salish Sea.

Wet and cold from the first big PNW autumn storm and deprived of the warm supplies DNR prevented them from receiving, the brave tree-sitter came down on October 11th and the blockade was subsequently removed. As of January, forest defenders learned that the forest where the blockade took place was in the process of being clearcut.

 The grief of not being able to save the forest that folks had grown to love and call home for a couple weeks has been powerful, but the spirit of forest defense is as alive as ever in this upper-left pocket of Turtle Island as the DNR continues to sell off critical forest to the highest bidder, undermining the survival of future generations of forest dwellers, river critters, and all who reside in the spaces in-between, above, and below.

The blockade inspired a new group of forest defenders to continue taking action together, it provided an opportunity to form affinities and relationships with local Indigenous-led groups, and it has hopefully inspired others to take action to protect the places that they love, whether those places be pristine old-growth or second or even third growth forests that, given enough time and respect, could support complex, mature ecosystems.

The blockade is dead, long live the blockade!

To stay up-to-date and to get in touch: Instagram: @southsoundfd Email: worthmorestanding@protonmail.com

The Rainforest Flying Squad; A New War in The Woods

By Joshua Wright

After two long decades, the war in the woods is back on, and not a moment too soon. British Columbia is currently clear cutting old growth forests at a rate of over 150,000 hectares per year, and with less than 400,000 hectares of what is considered to be “large tree” old growth left, the timber beast is on track to annihilate the last of the region’s ancient forests in a matter of years. The government said that they would act and they lied. NGOs have been petitioning for decades and they have failed. The activist community has stood paralyzed. Until now.

The 5,150 acre Fairy Creek Rainforest on Pacheedaht Territory is the largest unprotected old growth forest on Southern Vancouver Island, containing the only intact watershed in the region outside of a park. In summer 2020, the Teal Jones Group submitted plans and contractors began road building into the headwaters of Fairy Creek.

I had been watching the region via a dystopian satellite imagery service that allowed me to get up-to-date images of Fairy Creek from my home in Washington State. I saw the road building, and a friend put me in touch with a group of activists, veterans from the war in the woods, and days later we set up a blockade. In response, the logging contractors removed their road-building equipment from the mountains around Fairy Creek, and days later we shut down another logging operation, then days after that another. Thus the Rainforest Flying Squad was born. For over six months, with the invitation of Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones, we have been playing a game of cat and mouse with the industry, shutting down their road building, letting the company remove their equipment, following them, then shutting them down at the next place they try to destroy. What we want is simple: An end to all old growth logging immediately.

We currently hold down two blockades and a watch camp. We’ve prevented logging and road-building in over a dozen ancient forests, we’ve prevented the logging of Fairy Creek, and stopped road-building hundreds of feet before it reached an ancient yellow cedar tree estimated to be up to 2000 years old. Close to 1000 people have visited the blockades, and we have big expansion plans.

Once the snows in high-elevation old growth forests melt later this spring, we expect the industry to attempt one last free-for-all and seek to liquidate as many forests as they can before the government yields to our pressure. We will not let that happen. It’s time that British Columbia had its own Redwood Summer. A Cedar Summer during which we shut down all old growth logging on Vancouver Island and beyond, but to do that we need people. A lot of people. This summer will be our last chance to save the last fraction of our ancient forests, forests so magnificent that they seem unreal, forests that store more carbon than any other ecosystem in the world, forests with more biodiversity than any other ecosystem on earth. This is our last chance; clear your summer schedules and find a ride to Port Renfrew BC, you’ll find us there.

Contact; @fairycreekblockade on Instagram and Facebook Email: rain4estflyingsquad@gmail.com


What will 2021 bring for PNW forest defense? You can bet that Big Timber is gonna keep trying to destroy the world’s forests and climate, but all up and down the Pacific Coast, affinity groups are organizing, monitoring timberlands, and sharing skills. The above mentioned campaigns are still active, depending on when you pick up Slingshot. More of the same is brewing elsewhere. Here’s what we know of:

The current iteration of longtime Eugene group Cascadia Forest Defenders is gearing up to fight post-fire logging this year after another record breaking fire season. Climb trainings and events are being held regularly.

Instagram: @treesittersunion Email: treesittersunion1312@protonmail.com The Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project monitors and surveys national forests in eastern Oregon and, with data collected by volunteers every summer, is able to effectively challenge timber sales in that region. Survey with them! bluemountainsbiodiversityproject.org

A shout-out is due for the nonprofits who are working through legal realms to protect these same places. These fine folks spent the last four years suing the shit out of the Trump administration as the feds attempted to gut environmental protections, but they aren’t placated by typical lib greenwashing. As masked, peanut butter eating woods rascals, we value and respect their paperwrenching. Much love to the Environmental Protection Information Center, Cascadia Wildlands, and The Center for Biological Diversity.