Listen to the Episode — 156 min


Clara: The Ex-Worker;

Alanis: An audio strike against a monotone world;

Clara: A twice-monthly podcast of anarchist ideas and action;

Alanis: For everyone who dreams of a life off the clock.

Clara: Hello everyone, and thanks for tuning back in to the Ex-Worker! Over the past weeks, a whole lot has been happening around prisoners and state repression; new sentences, long-awaited releases, tragic deaths, coordinated raids and counter-repression, and more. So for this episode we’ve assembled a variety of short features that explore themes of repression, security, and resistance. In celebration of former Green Scare prisoner Eric McDavid’s release after nine years inside, we reflect on the lessons of his case for our efforts to resist today. There are also two interviews to share: Ramona Africa speaks to us about the MOVE 9 case and the life and death of Phil Africa, and an anarchist from Barcelona gives a report about the recent wave of repression by the Spanish state in Operation Pandora.

Alanis: We’ll also read part of a recent CrimethInc. essay that assesses the possibilities and limits of whistleblowing, as well as an inspiring statement by Jason Hammond (sibling of incarcerated hacktivist Jeremy Hammond) as he heads to prison for his role in an anti-fascist action. Listeners weigh in on cable access TV, iTunes, and an insider view on security and entrapment strategies, and we’ll wrap it all up with a conclusion that ties together many different reflections on staying safe so that we can get dangerous together. And as usual there are a lot of news reports from all over, announcements of events, prisoner birthdays to recognize, and plenty more. I’m Alanis…

Clara: …and I’m Clara, and we’ll be your hosts. To read the transcript from the show, or to find links or more information about the topics we discuss, check out our website at

Alanis: And if you’d like to give us feedback or suggestions for upcoming episodes, hit us up at

Clara: Alright Alanis, you know what time it is–

Both: It’s morphin’ time!


Alanis: First up, it’s the Hotwire, our look at resistance and revolt happening around the world. We’ve got a LOT to cover today, so, let’s get started. Clara?

Clara: Advocates of the impossibly corrupt and environmentally devastating TAV high speed rail project that threatens to cut through the Alps received a double-blow last week in the form of a major court victory for activists, and another large-scale act of arson. Last week, three people wearing hoods set fires at Bologna’s Santa Viola station. The fires destroyed the regional train traffic control system, which put the entire rail network in northern Italy on hold until it could be repaired. The press referred to the attack as “surprisingly effective.” Since the first of December, six fires have been set along Italy’s high-speed rail, causing the fast-moving trains to screech to a halt.

In spite of accusations of terrorism and the controversy surrounding fresh sabotage, three anarchists who were jailed in relation to the blockade of machinery and throwing molotovs at cops had their terrorism charges dropped. However, Francesco, Graziano, and Lucio are still accused of possession and transportation of weapons of war, causing damage by fire, and some misdemeanors. The three comrades remain under preventive detention for now, in the high security wing of Ferrara prison.

Alanis: Elsewhere in Italy, clashes broke out at an anti-fascist rally in Cremona when around 2,000 protesters took to the streets to object to an attack by far-right group supporters. The fracas left a political activist in hospital. Protesters marched through the city center chanting slogans and waving banners to draw awareness to the plight of anti-fascist activist Emilio Visigalli, who is currently in the hospital in a serious condition, following last week’s attack by the far-right group CasaPound. Midway through the rally, a group of youths appeared wearing helmets, dressed in black and carrying sticks. They began to throw stones, bottles, flares and smoke bombs at the police, and attacked banks and businesses on their way to the CasaPound headquarters.

Clara: At demonstrations commemorating the anniversary of the 2011 Egyptian uprising that led to the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak, police and security forces killed at least 15 protestors in Cairo, Alexandria, and elsewhere.

Alanis: Kenyan riot police teargassed a group of 8–13 year-old schoolchildren who protested against the seizure of their school playground, which had reportedly been purchased by a local politician who intended to pave it over to make a parking lot for the nearby hotel he owns. Things got rowdy when they started knocking down a wall which separated their school grounds from playing fields. At least five children received medical treatment for exposure to tear gas, and one policeman was seen with blood pouring from beneath his riot helmet.

Clara: Widespread looting took place in the Soweto township of Johannesburg, South Africa after a shop owner shot and killed a teenager who had tried to rob the shop. So far, police have arrested 121 people for looting. News sources are calling the looting xenophobic, as many of the nearly 80 shops which were looted were Somali-owned. However, one commentator has pointed out that South African shops have been looted as well; it just happens to be the case that most of the stores in the area are foreign-owned.

Alanis: Near Cape Town, South Africa, 27 prisoners armed with knives and sharpened objects attacked 10 guards. More guards rushed to the scene and put a halt to the quote “bloodbath,” but not before the prisoners managed to beat and seriously wound 5 guards, while 4 others sustained minor injuries. According to a Correctional Services official, who asked not to be named, the attack was a retaliation after a prisoner died after being restrained at Brandvlei Prison in Worcester. South African prisons are on lockdown and more acts of retaliation are expected.

Clara: A police officer and an inmate were killed and 29 prisoners were wounded at the jail in Recifo, Brazil in the latest of many riots raging in Brazil’s notoriously overcrowded prison system.

Alanis: At least 3,000 people took to the streets in São Paulo, Brazil, to protest more transit fare hikes. Friday’s protest is the second São Paulo residents have held this year over transportation costs. The previous one took place on January 10, when at least 2,000 people protested against bus fare increases. Public transport cost hikes led to massive nation-wide demonstrations in Brazil in June 2013, which we covered at length back in Episode 25.

Clara: Thousands of Peruvians marched in at least 11 cities Thursday night to protest against a new law that strips workers between ages 18 and 24 of some labor rights, and some of the demonstrations turned violent. In Lima, some of the more than 5,000 marchers clashed with tear gas-hurling police, pelting them with sticks and stones and setting fire to trash in street bins. Sixteen police officers were injured, one seriously, and 20 people were arrested in the capital.

Alanis: In Boston, activists shut down commuter traffic on Interstate 93 for several hours, chaining themselves to concrete-filled 50-gallon drums and chanting “Black Lives Matter.” Seventeen people were arrested.

Clara: Across the US, protestors commemorated the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with “Reclaim MLK” actions, insisting that the civil rights leader’s radical legacy not be “sanitized” to pacify post-Ferguson social struggles. At a Reclaim MLK action in Bloomington, Indiana in which a major intersection in the commercial district was shut down, a cop had his body camera knocked off and stolen. Unfortunately, two people were arrested and charged in the scuffle, and another woman was picked up later and charged with felony theft after police claim she snatched the bodycam off the ground and disposed of it. Later in the evening, during a second demo that made its way over to the Jail, a tire was slashed on a squad car. The camera has yet to be recovered.

Alanis: Normalista students in Mexico continue to clash with police over the disappearance of their 43 classmates last year. On Monday, students clashed with security forces in Iguala, as protesters tried to break into the local military base. Four people were reported to have been injured. Clashes also took place in the coastal city of Acapulco.

Clara: Two officers have been injured by rock-throwing protesters in the Israeli city of Rahat, during the funeral of a Bedouin man who was killed during protests a few weeks ago. Police deny any excessive use of force in dealing with Arabs and point to the diversity in Israeli society, where Arabic is an official language and an Arab serves on the Supreme Court. Bedouin activists point out that they still face discrimination and economic disparity, and that “anger and tensions are high… any small incident can make things explode."

Alanis: On January 7, seven Waorani warriors invaded the Petrobell oil field in the Amazonian province of Pastaza, causing enough damage to shut down 11 oil wells operating at the facility. Soldiers from the Ecuadorean military were called to the scene and six soldiers were wounded in the clash with the warriors who were armed with blowguns, shotguns, pistols and spears. Six of the seven Waorani men were ordered by Judge Alvaro Guerrero to be imprisoned on January 8th, and a seventh man was allowed to remain free with certain restrictions based on his advanced age.

Clara: The struggle against the C-type or Maximum security prisons in Greece continues: propaganda actions have been occurring regularly in various neighborhoods of Athens and cities throughout Greece, drawing attention to the attempt by the Greek State to more extensively confine anarchist prisoners and those who struggle.

Alanis: As our correspondent from Germany mentioned in our year in review episode, a disturbing right wing anti-Islamic popular movement continues to grow in Germany. Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA, received a recent boost in popularity after the killings of journalists and cartoonists at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris by Islamist militants. Their demonstrations in various German cities have attracted as many as 25,000 participants despite condemnation by German Chancellor Merkel and widespread anti-fascist counter-demonstrations. They’ve also managed to weather some scandals, including recently when Lutz Bachman, the founder of PEGIDA, resigned from the group after a selfie he took depicting him posing as Adolf Hitler went viral. The group continues to publicly insist it’s not racist or neo-Nazi, despite widespread participation of open neo-Nazis in the marches….

Clara: …And the fact that their founder dressed up as Hitler and took a picture of himself and put it on Facebook!

Alanis: In fucking Germany, people!

Clara: The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is attempting to push through a law that would allow current President Kabila to stay in office. Thousands have clashed with police and built barricades in the streets of Kinshasa, and dozens have been killed by police. According to the Guardian, authorities reportedly shut down the internet in the capital city in an effort to keep protests from spreading. Expect to see that happening a lot more in the years to come…

Alanis: New road safety regulations issued by the Russian government can potentially prohibit people considered to have a wide range of “mental and behavioral disorders” from obtaining driver’s licenses, including folks diagnosed with depression or anxiety, drug or gambling addicts, and, perhaps most controversially, transsexual or transgender people.

Clara: An Oklahoma legislator has introduced a bill that would criminalize wearing hoodies! Under the terms of the new law, you could get fined hundreds of dollars or spend up to a year in jail for wearing a hooded sweatshirt or other clothing that conceals your identity… and this is not just at protests, nor just in the commission of a crime, but in literally any public place.

Alanis: In this month’s least surprising news so far, it looks like killer cop Darren Wilson will also not face any federal civil rights charges for murdering Michael Brown.

Clara: Meanwhile, New Jersey cops were caught on film murdering Jerame Reid, a 36 year old black man, during a traffic stop, shooting him nine times as he emerged unarmed from his car with his hands in the air.

Alanis: On January 10th in Minsk, Belarus, riot police raided a punk concert, confiscating radical literature and filming and collecting IDs. Three people were arrested, with charges including “minor hooliganism” and “distribution of extremist materials,” as well as swearing at riot police.

Clara: Seriously?

Alanis: Seriously. One received a 100 euro fine while two got ten days in jail, and one reported having been beaten up while in custody. Four more people have been arrested at subsequent solidarity actions, while others who were forced to hand over IDs at the concert have received home visits from police. Members of the Anarchist Black Cross in Belarus speculate that the upcoming elections have provided the state with a justification for escalating repression against anarchists. Keep posted on updates at

Clara: Puerto Rican independentista and socialist revolutionary Norberto Gonzalez Claudio was released from prison on January 15th and returned home to a crowd of supporters in Puerto Rico. He had been underground since 1985 and was serving a five year sentence for a bank expropriation to fund the independence struggle.

Alanis: Journalist Barrett Brown was sentenced to over five years in prison for his role in reporting on Anonymous and the StratFor hack for which Jeremy Hammond is now serving time in prison. Here’s the statement he released after the sentencing:

Clara: “Good news! — The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex. For the next 35 months, I’ll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world’s greatest prison system. I want to thank the Department of Justice for having put so much time and energy into advocating on my behalf; rather than holding a grudge against me for the two years of work I put into in bringing attention to a DOJ-linked campaign to harass and discredit journalists like Glenn Greenwald, the agency instead labored tirelessly to ensure that I received this very prestigious assignment. Wish me luck!”

Alanis: An eco- and indigenous rights activist named Krow has been sentenced to serve 9 months in jail plus five years probation for charges caught during a 2013 protest at a proposed mine site in northern Wisconsin. We’ll post a link to Krow’s sentencing statement on our website, and link to more information about how to support them through their next legal steps.

Clara: And some more sad news to report: anarchist and anti-fascist Jason Hammond has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison for his role in an attack on a white supremacist gathering in Tinley Park, Illinois in 2012. Five other anti-fascists known collectively as the Tinley Park Five have already served prison time and been released on parole for their roles in the action. Jason is the sibling of Jeremy Hammond, who is serving a ten year sentence for his role as a hacktivist with Anonymous.

Jason has written an incredible statement explaining the actions, and we’re going to share a long excerpt from it. You can read the full statement at

Alanis: I write this statement after pleading guilty to state charges against me for my participation in an organized direct action taken against a group of white supremacists in May of 2012.

While Chicago was in rebellion against the western military super-alliance NATO summit in 2012, a small group of racists organized their own ‘white nationalist economic summit’ in the nearby suburb of Tinley Park. Anti-fascists across the Midwest had ascertained the time, location, and identities of some of the attendees of this meeting, including known members of white supremacist groups such as the KKK, National Socialist Movement and Council of Conservative Citizens. Upon becoming aware of this information, myself and others decided to confront the fascists at their meeting. A righteous melee ensued, many of the ten white supremacists were injured, and we left the scene in less than two minutes.

Unfortunately after leaving the restaurant, five comrades from Hoosier Anti Racist Movement were also arrested for their involvement by an off duty cop. They are known as the Tinley Park 5, all of whom spent time in Illinois prisons after taking a non-cooperating plea, and have since been released on parole.

A year after the action, in July 2013, I was arrested outside my home by the FBI and Tinley Park Police. I was charged with armed violence and mob action, the same as the other 5 anti-fascists. Now, after examining the evidence and evaluating my options while out on bond, I must accept the judge’s offer of 3.5 years. My chances of winning the case were very low, and if I lost, it could potentially mean a significantly higher sentence.

It is difficult to decide whether to plea or not when faced with gambling years of your life in prison, but I also completely detest the narrative of the state and their courtrooms. Their story is that they rightfully apprehended the criminal, tried, and put them away in prison, where they will learn not to do it again while separated from society where they cannot spread their infectious ideas. That system does not work and it never will. I abhor this monopoly of justice and violence; the reality is that the state wants people in their prisons, especially people whose political interests are in conflict with the “business as usual” violence that their police and armies perpetrate. My crime is standing up against the flag of hate and the violence against people of color that it represents. The state, in a petty act, went out of their way years later to prosecute me.

Furthermore, the state has always supported a white supremacist power structure. Even after the endless series of racist wars and hundreds of years of oppression on this soil, they don’t see it as a problem when neo-Nazis get together, and in fact grant permits and offer lines of police to protect their free speech. In Ferguson, New York, Chicago and beyond, we see police using military grade equipment in conjunction with the National Guard to combat people protesting the unjust murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of law enforcement. These are not isolated incidents, but rather symptomatic and indicative of a deliberate move to uphold the pillars of white supremacy in this country, which will not change unless we fight against it.

I went into this action following the principles of anarchy, equality and freedom which have guided my life. For many years I have been involved in different projects engaging social justice, from volunteering at social centers, community libraries and food distribution programs. I have also supported and participated in anti-war, environmental and immigrant rights movements. Through these experiences I became more aware of how the system that governs this society depends on the mass exploitation of large parts of the population and the Earth itself for the profit of the rich and powerful. I was inspired and motivated by the people I met in the movement to strive to make change at the root of the problem, even if it meant possibly sacrificing my own personal freedom. Throughout history, any movement that struggled to change this system was considered dangerous by the government and was met with immense repression and state violence. But there were successful moments within these movements… and despite how history is presented like a Disney movie, not all of their actions were non-violent. Today there still is police brutality, a massive prison industrial complex, presidents waging endless wars for profit and power, and violence, alienation and marginalization at the crossroads of gender, sexuality, race and class. It would be naive to think that all of these problems could only be solved through pacifism; working with or within the system, following dogmatic and assimilative reformist agendas that take over and sell out movements; the answer lies in creative resistance that utilizes a wide diversity of tactics. I think some people have always known this, but more of us need to challenge the privileged tendency to reject destruction of property, or of the bodies protecting the state, as taboo violence rather than a legitimate form of resistance. As our collective patience is constantly worn away by failures of government to address people’s actual needs, it is up to our own communities and individuals to decide for themselves what is an appropriate form of self-defense.

But I would also like to note that the hyper-spectacularization and priority of violence amongst folks in the movement might also be folly, because I believe it in itself is not sufficient for a real radical transformation of society. People need to look within to make the change they want to see in the world as well as raise hell in the streets. People are improving their communities through their own support, healing circles, discussion groups, rallies, speak-outs, prisoner support, popular education, community health projects and asking hard questions and challenging oppressive thoughts however they manifest.

The ideas and actions that these white supremacists are pushing are dangerous and poisonous and is unfortunately still deeply rooted within the fabric of this society. Racism manifests itself in a number of ways and none can be ignored; from the blatant and overt bigots like those at the meeting in Tinley Park to the subtle micro-aggressions that people of color experience on a daily basis. We are all obligated to confront the dead old ways of these oppressive ideologies using every means possible. My actions were in the spirit of continued resistance against racism and fascism and for the rights of people to live without fear of racist attacks. Those in struggle know the risk of jail, pain or death when trying to radically change the structure of society, but it is a struggle we cannot ignore - and we intend to win! After the interruption of the meeting in Tinley Park, the organizing group for their economic summit disbanded and the individual who booked the event said that they were “stepping away from white nationalist organizing.” When a comrade is arrested the movement bears a high cost, but actions like these can prove effective as they dissuade people from joining hate groups and prevent the work that they do. I feel these tactics could also apply to different avenues of struggle, directed towards exploitative bosses, racist cops, gentrifying landlords, sexists anywhere, and fascist politicians.

Some people have speculated my arrest was part of some revenge plot of the FBI because of the hacking and whistle-blowing my brother Jeremy Hammond has done against various sectors of the government and the private intelligent corporations they work with. While I love and support my brother and his actions 1000%, and condemn the FBI and the US government for their own cyber wars they wage, I think it is unlikely that was the reason why I was held in custody. Regardless, my brother and I were both apprehended because our actions were not carried out with absolute precision and with every precaution made to disguise our identities and ensure we would not be busted.

However, it is absolutely true that we live in a vulnerable society with extreme governmental overreach, where anyone could be subject to surveillance, entrapment, targeted prosecutions and trumped up treason and terrorism charges purely for ideological reasons. It is a context deliberately cooked up by politicians and the national security complex to create fear and distrust amongst activist circles, as we can see looking at the huge number of dissidents who have been jailed or killed. Again, I’ll state my respect for political prisoners in any country who are staying strong and struggling to fight the power. I would encourage anyone who considers taking direct action to know why they are doing it and do so carefully as to not jeopardize themselves, their comrades, or the movement itself. A person in prison is another person we have to free. To those whose worlds were shaken and who are angry or displeased at my actions, remind yourselves humbly of the atrocious history of violence that white supremacy has done and continues to do so to this society and ask yourself, do I support it? Do I benefit from it? Will this be my legacy? Or do I want to change it?

Yours for the struggle!

With love and rage, Jason Hammond

Clara: Thanks so much for your moving words, Jason; we send you all of our love & support & solidarity. For more info on Jason’s case and how to offer support, visit


Alanis: In another piece of sad news, we learned recently of the death of Phil Africa in prison on January 10th. Phil Africa was one of the MOVE 9, one of the members of a Philadelphia-based black revolutionary group serving decades in prisons on trumped up murder charges. The insanely brutal repression of MOVE in the 1970s and 80s forms one of the most despicable recent chapters in the state’s war on revolutionaries who challenge the foundations of racism and exploitation of the earth. Phil’s death occurred under extremely suspicious circumstances, with his previously good health declining dramatically while being held in a hospital for days prevented from communicating with his family. From one angle, his life was almost inconceivably tragic: two of his children were killed by the state: one crushed to death by police as an infant in 1976, and another dying when the police dropped a bomb on the MOVE family’s home in West Philadelphia in 1985. Phil remained separated from his wife Janine (another MOVE 9 prisoner) for 36 of their 44 years of marriage, and was not able to see her before he died. Yet despite the horrific violence he and his family endured at the hands of the state, he was no victim. He maintained strong relationships with friends, family, political supporters, and fellow inmates, corresponding with hundreds of people, serving as a mentor to many, learning to paint and expressing himself as an artist, and remaining a committed revolutionary to the end. As a press release announcing his death stated, “Phil will never be forgotten and this is not the end. He is dearly missed but his strong example should inspire everyone to fight harder for the freedom of the MOVE 9 and all political prisoners. This latest government treachery will be the fuel needed to motivate people to step up the pace for this revolution.”

Clara: To learn more about Phil Africa, the Ex-Worker caught up with Ramona Africa, part of the MOVE family and an active supporter of the incarcerated MOVE 9. Ramona discusses the origin and history of MOVE, the life of Phil Africa, and the ongoing struggle to free the remaining members of the MOVE family from prison. You can learn more at Alanis: This is Alanis from the Ex-Worker, and we’re speaking today with Ramona Africa. Ramona, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Ramona Africa: Oh, thank you for having me. We always welcome the opportunity to inform people about MOVE and what’s going on with us.

Alanis: First, we want to offer our condolences on the death of Phil Africa, who passed on January 10th.

Ramona Africa: We appreciate that, thank you. Alanis: We’d like to learn more about Phil’s life and his struggle. First, for a bit of background in case all our listeners aren’t familiar, can you give us a quick introduction to the MOVE organization? Ramona Africa: Right, the move organization surfaced in 1971, founded by a black man named John Africa. And John Africa brought people together from all different races, beliefs, socio-economic backgrounds - just from all over - and brought us together as a family and cemented the bonds of family with one common belief, that belief being in the all-importance of life, of every living thing without category. What John Africa taught MOVE and enabled us to understand is that those who are in the system teach people and program people to believe in things, like money, jewelry, a house, a car, a certain lifestyle. But none of those things are important; only life is important. And this is MOVE’s belief. Our very first demonstrations were at the zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo; at furriers who sold mink coats, etcetera; at circuses that enslave and abuse animals for so-called entertainment. And we demonstrated at these places because John Africa taught us to understand that the definition of life is feelings, and it is absolutely ridiculous to feel that humans have feelings but no other form of life does. I mean, if you kick a person, they’ll yelp. They’ll feel that. But if you kick a dog, the dog feels that too and will yelp. You know? So, we had demonstrations and protests of the abuse of animal life. We had demonstrations at boarding homes for the elderly that were nothing more than fire traps and where the elderly would be abused physically and emotionally. We had demonstrations at conferences and conventions of DuPont chemicals, Dow Chemicals, for poisoning our environment. We had demonstrations at the reservoir where our drinking water comes from, protesting the poisons, you know, the chemicals put in our drinking water. So, we take life seriously. That is our belief. And it is because we believe in life, in the sanctity of life, and revering and respecting life and opposing anything or anybody that goes against life. Those running the system have come down us horrifically, because they don’t believe in life. Even though it’s life that’s keeping them alive! You know? They care about the air that they need to breathe, the water they need to drink. You know? They don’t care about the sun that they need, as well as we need, to warm the earth and put light on the earth so that we can survive it. They don’t care about any of that! And that is what has put us in conflict with each other: put MOVE in conflict with the system and put those running the system in conflict with MOVE. Alanis: Can you tell us about how Phil became a revolutionary and joined the MOVE family? Ramona Africa: Yeah, Phil and Delbert Africa were very close friends before coming into MOVE, years before coming into MOVE. And they had a rather roguish past. I mean, they did things that would raise the hair on your neck. You know? And we don’t have a problem acknowledging that, because that’s what they were and who they were before MOVE. But upon meeting John Africa, you know, just casually, and then John Africa like talking to them, befriending them - they saw a different way of life. And they still had a lot of those characteristics in them when first coming to MOVE, but the longer they stayed in MOVE and applied the teaching of John Africa, they just became such loving, and at the same time serious, revolutionaries. What became important to Phil is his family, you know, his wife, his children, the MOVE family, doing what’s right. He became uncompromisingly opposed to the things you hear about all too often today: the police murders, mass incarceration, you know, this country bombing and murdering children, like they did our children. May 13th of 1985, this government dropped a bomb on me and my family and killed the second of Phil’s children. They killed one back in 1976. The police trampled a three-week-old baby. Phil and Janine’s three-week-old baby to death. So, along with the wisdom, indisputable wisdom of MOVE’s founder John Africa, and along with the examples that this system demonstrates not only with MOVE but around the world, literally, Phil became a committed revolutionary. John Africa said he [Phil Africa] was a preacher, you know? And it’s the truth, because people across the globe that had any contact with Phil, loved Phil. Inmates in the prison, particularly younger men that were coming through there and did not have a strong attitude, a light attitude, and would get involved in things that they shouldn’t and everything… Phil would talk to them and work with them. Phil was a boxing trainer, and on the street MOVE people and even a lot of our supporters would run into people that say, “Yeah, Phil taught me how to box!” You know, “Phil straightened me out!” This one woman who lives in Boston, her nephew was in SCI Dallas with Phil, and the young man and his aunt had a little conflict and Phil wrote his aunt. And when I spoke with his aunt recently after Phil passed, she said, “I couldn’t believe that this young man” - well, Phil wasn’t all that young, he was 60, I think - she said, “I can’t believe that he wrote me. And boy, did he straighten me out in a very calm nice way.” You know, expressed his concern and everything. Everybody that has made contact with Phil Africa has the same kind of reaction to him. John Africa said he was a preacher, you know? Cause he could sit and talk to you and council you, you know, with MOVE’s beliefs, and never had a problem doing it. Never had a problem with that. So that’s what Phil Africa was before MOVE, and what the teaching of John Africa turned him into. Alanis: What can our listeners do to celebrate the legacy of Phil Africa? Ramona Africa: Yeah, this coming Saturday, January 31st, we’re having a celebration of life event for Phil. And we’re gonna have some of his artwork there, because Phil was an artist. He didn’t start out good, but became a very good artist. People from across the world are emailing us their comments, their remembrances of Phil, their contact with Phil. And people will be there at the program who will speak, and you know, speak on their contact with Phil. That’s really what the event is going to be. We’ll have food and refreshments for people. But people will just be speaking on their remembrances of Phil. And with this example, MOVE and lot of our supporters are more determined than ever to up the ante on pressuring the system about releasing our families. Particularly with the examples of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York, the young brother in Ohio. And that these people, these cops that committed these murders were never even charged. Our family, nine members of our family have sat in jail for over 36 years, going on 37 years, for a crime that they did not commit. And, understand this: a crime that the trial judge, this was… the trial of the MOVE 9 was a trial by the judge, not jury. It was what they call a bench trial so the whole burden of the trial fell on the judge. He had to listen to all the evidence and then render a verdict. He found all nine of our sisters and brothers guilty of murder. Sentenced them to 30 to 100 years each in prison. The very next day, he went on a radio talk show program and when asked a direct question by Mumia Abu Jamal as to who killed Officer James Ramp on August 8, 1978, Judge Malmed responded saying, “I haven’t the faintest idea.” Now, he had just sat through that entire trial; he found my family guilty. Now whether you’re a juror or a judge in order to find someone guilty based on their legal law, you have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. Now, saying that you don’t have the faintest idea who committed crimes, that is not, that is not, you know, being convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. Our family has sat in prison almost 37 years now, and they were eligible for parole as of 2008. And each time they have gone before the parole board, they have been denied because they won’t lie and say that they’re guilty of something that they’re not. And that’s what the parole board says, “failure to take responsibility for your crimes.” Now, they have not committed a crime, and the thing is, for the parole board to demand that they say and admit to committing a crime that they didn’t - what sense does that make? Do you know almost every week or thereabouts, you hear or read in the news about people that have sat in prison, been convicted to prison for… they’ve been in there 10, 20, 30, even 40 years some of them, only for new evidence to come up, you know something happens to show that’s there’s no way this person could have committed that crime. And they have to release them. So with a track record like that, of convicting innocent people and having them sit in jail, some of them 40 years or more, where do you get off demanding that somebody you know say that they’re guilty, when they’ve been telling you for almost 37 years now that they’re innocent. And the trial judge says he don’t know who committed the crime. I mean this is, this is appalling! You know?

And people wonder why MOVE people keep coming at this system the way we do? I mean you put my family in prison, call them murderers with no evidence, with the trial judge saying he can’t prove that they’re guilty, he don’t know who committed the crime. But meanwhile, when these cops shoot people down in the street, they get their walking papers. I mean, they keep doing their job, they don’t get indicted and convicted. The same people that want to call my family, the MOVE 9, murderers are the very same government that dropped the bomb on our family and burnt babies of some the MOVE 9 alive! But they call us murderers? You know, I mean, it’s hard to take. It’s hard to take. And it’s what keeps MOVE people bitter and resentful and keeps us fighting this kind of nonsense. Alanis: What can our listeners do to continue the struggle to free the members of MOVE 9 who are still in prison? Ramona Africa: Well, the main thing is the parole board. Because, at this point they have completed and gone over their minimum sentences. And most of the prisons that my family are in have recommended my family for parole. So, you know, either the parole board members are getting orders or they’re just nasty and hate MOVE. Something is happening there. But they are the people, the Pennsylvania parole board, they’re the people that need to hear from us, that need to be pressured by the people and know that people are watching the situation, are aware of it, and want MOVE people out of those prisons. Alanis: Ramona, thank you so much for speaking with us today. Ramona Africa: Oh, no problem, thank you for the time. Let me just say, anybody who wants more information can call MOVE at 215–386–1165 or email us at ONAMOVA[at]


Clara: Just in the first month of the year, we’ve already had a lot of dramatic news about radical prisoners, both exciting and heartbreaking: the death of Phil Africa, the sentencing of Barrett Brown, Jason Hammond, and Crow, the release of Norberto Gonzalez Claudio…

Alanis: But in the best news we’ve gotten so far in 2015: Eric McDavid has been released from prison early, after serving only 9 years of a 19 year sentence!

Clara: That’s totally amazing! But, um, how!? He wasn’t supposed to get out until 2023…

Alanis: Well, if you just want the legal explanation, he was released because of a habeas petition that he and his legal team filed in May 2012 – a habeas petition is basically a legal maneuver in which the court is challenged to justify someone’s imprisonment. Because the government withheld important documents from the defense at trial, including love letters and an order for a polygraph test that was never given, Eric’s original judgment and sentencing were vacated and he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge that carried a five year maximum sentence. This means Eric has already spent four years longer in prison than could have been required under the statute for the charge he pleaded guilty to. He received credit for time served and was ordered released. Before we get to the rest of the feature pieces in this episode, we’re going to spend a few minutes talking about his case and our reactions to his release. Stay tuned!

Clara: So, it’s really incredible that Eric McDavid is out of prison now. But… the things I’m feeling right now are more sad, and angry. Like, it’s amazing that he’s out, but it’s also insane that he ever went into prison in the first place, you know?

Alanis: That makes sense. Did you watch the video of him being released from prison?

Clara: No, why?

Alanis: Ok, well, first off, it made me CRY. Like a BABY. And, well, secondly, they briefly interview his partner Jenny and she speaks to that…

Reporter: You’re delighted, but are you angry as well?

Jenny: Of course, a lot of terrible things happened, and, you know, I think that Eric’s legal team did a great job bringing those things to light, and I hope that people continue to talk about that, and that Eric’s case is just one among many.

Clara: Yeah, think about all the people like Eric who are sitting in prison for potentially their whole lives, and many of them haven’t even done anything– as far as I can tell, it’s really common, but people aren’t likely to believe someone who’s already in a jumpsuit and looks the part of a criminal. Just last week in North Carolina, Joseph Sledge was released from prison after 37 years in prison for a murder he didn’t do. THIRTY-SEVEN YEARS! Back in 1976, he was serving a four year sentence for larceny (which, need we point out, is bullshit in the first place) and had escaped (which, need we point out, is awesome), and was snitched on by a fellow inmate in return for a drug conviction and a $3,000 reward and leniency with his own sentence. And so Joseph spent nearly four decades rotting in prison: because the jury and judge already detested him for having rebelled against poverty and against incarceration, because the system rewards people for snitching and gives incentives for them to lie and turn on each other… and it’s certainly not surprising to find out that Sledge is a black man while the two murdered women were white, in the context of the profound white supremacy at the foundations of the legal system.

Sledge was assisted by the Innocence Project, an organization that helps exonerate wrongfully convicted inmates by using DNA evidence to clear their charges. In his case, a judge had ordered the physical evidence to be tested over 14 years ago, but nobody could find it… until it turned up in an envelope on the top of a dusty filing cabinet in the courthouse basement. We can imagine how many other people will never have the opportunity to prove in court that they’ve lost decades of their lives due to a racist court or a greedy snitch. To date, the Innocence Project helped exonerate 325 people, which is definitely no small task… but still only a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the people who’re currently serving time in the U.S. Which, as we’ve noted in past episodes, has the highest rate of incarceration of any country, boasting 25% of the world’s prison population while totaling only 5% of the world population…

Alanis: Right. Well, I’d be lying if I said that my heart doesn’t explode with happiness when I hear about people getting out early – whether by DNA, legal appeal, or escape. I think that these complex legal and technical maneuvers are totally worthwhile pursuits, and might even help out a few lucky prisoners, but in these cases nothing is necessarily being done to undermine the institutions which keep people imprisoned in the first place. Again, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t always try to get our friends, family, and comrades out of prison if we have any opportunity to – I’m just saying that we have to augment aspects of one-on-one support for individual prisoners with practices that bring light to and challenge the structural manifestations of prisons.

Clara: I’m with ya, but what can that look like?

Alanis: Well, off the top of my head… there’s always the courts, the police, surveillance systems like cameras and other monitoring devices, the physical buildings which constrain people and the people and companies who build and maintain them.

Clara: All worthy of our attention, for sure.

Alanis: I also wanna engage with something you brought up: the idea of innocence. This word has been coming up a lot lately. For example, in terms of prisoner support: how some prisoners maintain their innocence of the specific charges they were convicted of as a key factor in their campaign, as with the MOVE 9 as discussed earlier. But some comrades are attempting to do away with the concept entirely, or seriously challenge the framework, such as the slogan “Neither Innocent, Nor Guilty,” which was deployed by those supporting anarchist prisoners Amelie, Carlos and Fallon in Mexico.

There’s also the matter about how widespread unrest has catalyzed around police murdering people of color, but only when the dead can be portrayed as having been innocent, unarmed, etc. The media and the police put a lot of energy into trying to portray the victim as armed, dangerous, and aggressive, and unfortunately this tactic works to quell unrest. And simultaneously it automatically delegitimizes anyone who doesn’t passively allow themselves to be slaughtered by police, and raises the consequences for the kinds of self-defense that could actually keep folks alive.

In any case, to bring things back to Eric: I wanna stress that I’m not only excited about him getting out because I don’t think he did anything wrong. It’s important to demonstrate solidarity with folks in prison even if they did quote “do something wrong…” because keeping people in cages doesn’t do anything to undermine the dynamics which put them there in the first place. If anything, it just reinforces the cycles of abuse and poverty which keep the cages full, along with the wallets of those who profit from increasingly privatized prisons.

Clara: And it’s clear that, even if we don’t think Eric broke the law… well, he did “do something wrong,” and that was to dream of a world that looked different from this one: one where infrastructure projects conceived of and built by humans wouldn’t inflict irreversible damage on other species that share the land with us; a world where we could imagine radically different relations between ourselves and our surroundings.

Unfortunately, Eric’s big heart and dreaming mind were seriously taken advantage of by the FBI – in the form of a person who called herself “Anna.” Let’s take a few steps back and talk about how Eric came to be in prison in the first place, in order to fill in people who might not be familiar with his story, and to remind those of us who are how quickly everything can change.

Musical interlude:

The headlines called them the believers Comparisons were made to a terrorist organization Well Anna had the car, Anna paid the rent Anna helped find the recipe to make the explosives She encouraged her friends to follow through with their plans They were gonna build a bomb and blow up the Nimbus Dam Their conversations were being recorded They didn’t know it but Anna was an fbi informant…

-from “Anna is a Stool Pigeon” by Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel)

Clara: During the course of his habeas petition, Eric’s legal team gained access to over a thousand pages of documents which hadn’t been made available during his initial trial in 2007– documents which would have solidified his lawyer’s case that he was entrapped by the U.S. government, corralled into a plot that wasn’t his own by an undercover informant who was tugging at his heartstrings and his politics. Some of these withheld documents were pieces of correspondence between Eric, and a mysterious FBI informant who, to this day, is only known as “Anna.”

Eric and “Anna” met at an anarchist gathering in 2004 in Iowa. After several months of attending anarchist events, she had honed her look and personality as a radical: playing the part of a street medic during protests and summits, spewing militant rhetoric, and completing the package with camouflage skirt and pink hair. Eric and Anna continued to run into each other at protests and gatherings over the next several months, and his romantic feelings for her flourished. She egged on his attraction to her rebellious spirit and began to pepper their conversations about their potential romance with mentions of militant direct action. Anna recorded these conversation and sent them straight to her FBI handlers.

Anna was also fostering friendships with a few other radicals she’d met in the course of her work– Lauren Weiner and Zachary Jenson, who were indicted on the same charges as Eric but caved under the pressure of decades in prison and collaborated against their co-defendants in exchange for lighter sentencing. Anna egged the FBI-fabricated “cell” toward action, although through recordings and accounts, each of the three express doubts about the plans. Whenever this happens, Anna lost her temper, accusing the others of being unable to “stick to a plan.” The FBI, via Anna, rented a cabin in rural California which they wired with cameras and tape recorders, and paid for Anna to drive Lauren and Zachary out to California in her Chevy Lumina, also bugged.

Arriving in California, the three met up with Eric and began practicing making bombs – using recipes and materials, of course, provided by the FBI. Their proposed targets included cell phone towers, a genetically modified Tree farm, and a dam. Anna continued to act as the force keeping the group on task, until January 13, 2006, when the FBI swooped in and arrested Eric, Lauren and Zachary in the parking lot of a local Wal-Mart. All three were charged with “conspiracy to damage and destroy property by fire and an explosive" – quite literally a thought-crime, because neither Eric, nor his alleged co-conspirators, ever carried out an action.

Eric’s arrest occurred within the larger context of a phenomenon that activists and civil rights advocates have dubbed the Green Scare, a wave of arrests of environmental and animal rights activists in the early 2000’s. Many of these activists faced trumped-up terrorism enhancements for carrying out or planning direct actions that financially damaged corporations who benefited from the exploitation of animals and the earth. The name alludes to the “Red Scare” of the 1950’s, when radicals and dissenters were labeled as “communists” and faced prison, blacklisting, and other social consequences. We discussed it in some depth in Episode 17.

After his arrest, Eric was denied bail twice – despite having no prior criminal record and no history of violence – and spent almost two years before trial in the Sacramento County Main Jail in solitary confinement. He had little to no contact with other prisoners or the outside world and was only allowed to leave his cell for a few hours each week. During that time he endured two separate hunger strikes to gain access to vegan food. He also endured two separate bouts of pericarditis – a heart condition which he had never experienced before his time at Sac County.

Eric fought the charges against him on the grounds of entrapment at his trial in September of 2007. After a trial riddled with errors, lies, and blunders on the part of the government, a jury found Eric guilty. Many of those same jurors later made damning statements about the FBI’s handling of the case, and two of them submitted declarations to the court stating that they believed Eric deserved a new trial.

In May of 2008 Eric was sentenced to 19 years and 7 months in prison. At the time, it was the longest standing sentence of any environmental prisoner in the US. Unfortunately, Eric’s case and sentencing seem to have set a precedent, and others, like Marius Mason, have since been sentenced to similarly outrageous prison terms. Eric appealed his conviction and his sentence immediately following his trial. The 9th Circuit Court rejected his appeal in September 2010, and the supreme court has refused to hear his case, but the habeas petition secured his release in early 2015.

Music interlude from “Anna is a Stool Pigeon” Be careful what you think Be careful what you say It might be used against you in court one day Well Anna thinks she’s a hawk She’s just a fucking snitch…

Alanis: Eric’s case is still relevant, even if he’s now walking freely and adjusting to life here in the open-air prison we call life under capitalism.

Clara: Just because his name will be removed from lists of prisoners to write to doesn’t mean he doesn’t need our help. And I don’t want his story to fade. We have to keep talking about the green scare and entrapment and keep analyzing the tools our enemies use to ensnare us. Not to encourage paranoia or exceptionalize ourselves, but because I never want to see this story play out again.

Alanis: Within anarchist circles, we saw similar tactics utilized by the FBI in the case of the Cleveland 4. Several young “Occupy Cleveland” activists were courted by an FBI informant, who nudged them into action and provided materials to be used in an attempted plot to blow up a bridge. And there have been numerous cases of entrapment surrounding anarchist participation in protesting against summit meetings in the U.S., where informants pushed activists toward more militant tactics. We talked about this in more depth back in Episode 17.

Clara: Even creepier examples of this have transpired in Britain, where numerous undercover cops have infiltrated protests movements for years and years, and, in 9 out of 10 documented cases, had sexual relations (including having children!) with activist women they were spying on, while simultaneously using them for cover and legitimacy.

Alanis: Ew! That’s fucking disgusting! And, if it weren’t abundantly obvious, anarchists and activists are far from the only people whom these tactics are used on. The FBI has come under criticism from civil rights groups for their provocative use of informants in Muslim communities, infiltrating mosques and online forums and drawing young, sometimes impressionable Muslims into government-fabricated terrorist plots.

Clara: And these tactics definitely aren’t only used for large terror plots which get a lot of media attention; they’re used all the time in smaller cases, often relating to drug sale or possession.

Alanis: Learning to gauge the risks posed by an activity or situation and how to deal with them appropriately is a crucial part of staying out of jail; and it also helps to know what you’re not worried about, so you don’t waste energy on paranoia or unwarranted, cumbersome security measures. Just as it’s important to stay safe from legal repression, it’s just as important to resist being intimidated out of acting at all! We call this tightrope walk security culture, and there’s a lot we could say about it. For now we’ll just quickly cover a few points that stick out to us from Eric’s case.

Clara: Refrain from planning serious actions with people you’ve just recently met or don’t know very well. Don’t talk about actions in a car, house, usual haunt, or near cell phones or computers. Don’t brag directly or indirectly about what you’ve been involved in. Beware of people that play on your emotions to motivate you into actions you’re not fully comfortable with, whether pressuring you to “man up” or flirting with you or whatever form it takes. And be really wary of people who seem pushy about “kicking it up a notch.”

Emeril Lagasse: BAM! BAM! BAM!

Alanis: These guidelines can’t be applied in every situation. We mostly bring them up in relation to planning really intense actions, including those that involve fire or property destruction. They may be less relevant in situations where the social gains that can be made from including more people outweigh certain small legal risks, but keep them in mind nonetheless.

Clara: But one thing that is ALWAYS relevant in any situation is that you should never EVER talk to any police about anything! No matter how innocuous the questions are, no matter what they tell you. They can and will lie to you, whereas anything untrue you say to them, whether intentional or accidental, is a crime in and of itself. And if they already knew something, they wouldn’t need to ask you. You will always keep yourself and your comrades safer if you refuse to give them any information.

Alanis: And in case you needed more encouragement: those who snitched in the Operation Backfire cases, on average, didn’t get shorter sentences than those who stayed strong and kept their mouths shut.

Clara: Despite the success of Operation Backfire and the Green Scare, there are still hundreds of unsolved ELF and ALF attacks, not to mention the innumerable actions which carried no acronym or claim. Meanwhile, many of the folks who’ve gone to prison in recent years didn’t actually commit any militant actions. So we need to get over the idea that we can stay safe in a resistance movement just by refraining from certain activities – we shouldn’t be deterred from acting, just from talking!

Alanis: Eric’s case offers a textbook example of entrapment. Keep it alive and share it with those around you, especially those who are newer or more peripheral to radical politics, since those are the people who are usually preyed upon by agents of the state. In the same breath, though, be sure to share inspiring stories of when people have gotten away with really brilliant and spectacular actions! Because of all the energy that goes into supporting prisoners and making their cases known, by default we often hear a lot more about actions in which people are caught. As much as we amplify the stories of prisoners, let’s also keep amplifying the deeds of those who have gotten away!

Clara: As we mentioned, Eric still needs our help through this part of his journey out of prison. For more information about supporting prisoners through the extended journey of post-release, check out the new zine After Prison, which interviews several former earth and animal liberation prisoners about their experiences after being released and what kinds of support they needed. We’ve mentioned it on the podcast before, but since it’s extra-relevant right now, we’ll post a link up on our website, We’ll also post a link to Eric’s support website, where you can donate to his post-release fund. Check it out.


Alanis: We reported in our last episode on a wave of repression by the Spanish state against anarchists in Barcelona, Madrid and elsewhere. Our comrades at Crna Luknja, [CHERna LOOk-nya] an anarchist radio program based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, conducted an English-language interview with an anarchist from Barcelona last month about this repression and resistance to it. Here we share a long excerpt from it to provide some background to the raids, repression strategies of the Spanish state, and how anarchists in Barcelona and beyond have responded. ****Crna Luknja:**** Hello, welcome to Crna Luknja, the anarchist voice on radio student. How is Barcelona today? Barcelona Anarchist: Today, Barcelona is pretty calm. Crna Luknja: Okay, so we are here today to speak about the latest police measures against the anarchists. So can you in the beginning briefly describe what happened last week in police attack that was named operation Pandora? Barcelona Anarchist: Yes, on December 16, the Catalan police raided three social centers including the oldest squat in Barcelona, Casa de Montana and the anarchist social centers of neighborhoods of Poble Sec and Sant Andreu. They carried out a total of 14 raids. The other raids were at houses, people’s houses, mostly in Barcelona but also in Manresa and Sabadell which are two other cities in Barcelona province, and also in Madrid. They arrested a total of eleven comrades, eleven anarchists. Those people were sent to Madrid, and at the end of the same week, seven of them were sent to prison, two await trial, and the other four were released with charges, and they have to sign in every week awaiting trial. Crna Luknja: Okay, it seems that tools of criminalization are now aimed at anarchists. The state, the Spanish state, is obviously trying to isolate the most radical part of social movements in order to neutralize it, and maybe to set the path of non-violent discourse in the ongoing mobilizations against austerity measures. Where do you see the dangers of this shift? Barcelona Anarchist: Whenever they make accusations on the basis of terrorism - because the elven comrades are accused of illegal organization with terrorist ends - whenever they use this tool of theirs, these accusations of terrorism, they’re trying to create a lot of fear. They’re trying to get other people to distance themselves from those who are targeted by repression. That’s a major danger. Fortunately, in this case it seems to be backfiring; it seems not to be working. The day of the arrest, there was perhaps the largest solidarity protest with anarchists in the Spanish state since maybe the 70’s. In Barcelona somewhere between three and five thousand people came out into the streets. There were also large protests in other cities. Not only anarchists came out but many others. People came out, and there’s been a continuation of solidarity actions, of protests, of meetings. There’s another major protest being organized for the 27th of December. And also the social centers that were targeted by police raids have received a lot of support and new bursts of activity. So, at the moment, the whole attempt to sow panic, to get people afraid and to isolate those who are being repressed have backfired. The opposite has happened. But there’s also a danger there that when prisoners receive really broad popular support, sometimes what they’re fighting for can be diluted. So oftentimes we see support campaigns where lots of people are insisting on the innocence of those arrested, rather than focusing on the original struggle that those people were arrested for. So that’s another danger that we’re facing, making sure that the support campaign doesn’t get diluted by the fact that many people who aren’t anarchists are showing solidarity. And it’s great that so many people are showing solidarity. Especially people who don’t have a lot of experience with struggle, who are less radical can start using the terms of the state, and to say that, to base their support on a claim of innocence rather than them giving importance to the things that these comrades are fighting for in the first place. Crna Luknja: Clearly this latest police attack is aimed at the broad social movement, and whenever an act of criminalization happens then we have the huge mobilizations against criminalization. But often the only thing that we focus on is police oppression and then we forget about the wider social issues, about the wider social struggles that these people that now in prison participated in. So maybe can you just briefly say which are the most potent, the most strongest political struggles in Spain at the moment that also our comrades were part of. Barcelona Anarchist: Well, for example, one of the things that they’re being criminalized for, the state is trying to link them to this organization, this public organization, it’s not a clandestine organization. And this organization published a book making an historical critique of democracy. So, in Spain there was a dictatorship until the 70s when it transitioned to democracy and a lot of anarchists are fighting to show the ways that the power has continued in some changed forms but in a lot of the same ways from dictatorship to democracy. And that’s one thing that’s not supposed to be talked about in democratic Spain. So the very fact that the state alleges that they published a book critical of democracy as evidence against them in the terrorism case. There’s been lots of anarchist participation in the general strikes and other protests are becoming bigger with the austerity measures. There’s the struggle to maintain social centers, to have free non-commercial spaces that can be locations for debate, discussion, movie showings, art exhibitions, free popular meals. And clearly also this campaign of repression is also targeting anarchist social centers and a number of the comrades arrested were involved in some of these social centers. Crna Luknja: Clearly then, we could say that what is at stake here is the broad autonomous political organization in Spain and autonomous organized resistance against austerity measures and capitalism in general, and not just the specific acts of a few individuals. Barcelona Anarchist: Definitely. Crna Luknja: You would agree with this? Barcelona Anarchist: I would and there’s also the important issue of supporting prisoners. That the people who were targeted were also definitely targeted for supporting two other anarchists prisoners who are still locked up. They were arrested in an anti-terrorism raid in December of 2013. Five people were arrested and two of them are still in prison awaiting trial. And these are two comrades that had already sat in prison for a long time in Chile in what was called the bombs case there, another attempt to repress anarchists. Which completely fell apart in trial. In trial, all the evidence fell apart. They came to Spain and then the Spanish police arrested them again. The media used the fact that they’d been accused in the past as proof of their guilt. So what we also see is an example of police internationalism; a campaign that transcends borders in which the police are trying to criminalize anarchists. Crna Luknja: The latest raid was in a way an inauguration of the draconian law in Spain that aims to stifle protest and really put a lot of new, previously unimaginable boundaries to the political actions. What does the law the Spanish state just adopted mean for the activists? What will consequences be for popular movements in Spain? Can you briefly and specifically say about this something? Barcelona Anarchist: Yeah, the new mordaza law, gives police a lot more powers to repress protest and increases penalties. It allows them to prohibit unauthorized gatherings, to prohibit the filming of police and things of that nature. It’s a powerful weapon to help criminalize protests of any kind. Crna Luknja: Some people say that this law and this very brutal action from the police could be seen as the recognition of movements’ strength. The state is so scared of social movement that it feels that it has to develop new tools of oppression. Maybe we could say this, we could see these latest incidents in this light. Barcelona Anarchist: I think that’s true. On a number of occasions in the past years, social movements and struggles have really threatened the stability and order of the Spanish government. They’ve threatened plans for economic development. They’ve threatened the ability of the state to carry out evictions of all the people who can’t pay their mortgage or pay their rent any longer. So a lot of the foundations of capitalism in Spain really are being questioned and the ability of the state to carry out these measures has in some, in a few cases, been hindered. Crna Luknja: So based on this, we can say that we can look forward to positive and good developments in Spain in the next months and years, even in this tragedy of the austerity. Barcelona Anarchist: I think so. I think the popular response to this last repressive measure has been huge has showed that people won’t stop struggling they won’t go away and they’re not afraid. Crna Luknja: Okay, let’s leave it with that. Just maybe anything else where all the information about the latests developments in Spain could be sourced, could be found? Barcelona Anarchist: At the moment there’s a website that’s available,, and information in various languages is up on that page. Crna Luknja: Okay, thank you for all the information and keep up the struggle. Barcelona Anarchist: Thank you for having me, thank you for your protest there.

Alanis: This interview took place in December, shortly after the Operation Pandora raids. We contacted our correspondents in Barcelona for the latest updates on the situation, and here’s what they reported:

On January 29th, the Spanish courts finally made the police files available to the defense lawyers and the arrested anarchists. Up until this point, they did not know what exactly they were accused of, beyond what the police were leaking to the press.

It turns out the evidence is so weak, the judge released all seven of the imprisoned anarchists on bail. Their comrades organized a festive homecoming. Unfortunately, because the State does not believe in its own principles, a weak case does not mean a safe case. The seven released anarchists have had their passports seized, they must sign in at court 3 times a week, and they still face very serious charges, together with the 4 comrades also arrested on December 16 who were already released. In addition, Monica and Francisco (who survived the “Bombs Case” in Chile only to be arrested again in Spain a year ago) are still locked up. Prosecutors have linked up the cases of Monica and Francisco with the Operation Pandora case, but they are still being pursued by different courts.

The State is talking about nine bombings that have been carried by anarchists across Spain over the last few years. Taking a closer look, it turns out that no one was hurt in any of these actions, some of these supposed bombings were just arsons, while others involved what the police are calling “simulated explosive devices” - which I think is another way of saying “not explosive devices.”

However, they don’t seem to have any physical evidence connecting the 11 people accused in Operation Pandora to these mystery devices. They do, however, have evidence connecting them to the publication of a very dangerous book, “Contra la Democracia,” which criticizes democratic government. This book was signed by “Grupos Anarquistas Coordinados,” or GAC, a public anarchist group that the Spanish government randomly decided was a terrorist organization, because when you’re a government, you can do whatever the hell you want. They have also declared that the GAC is affiliated with the Informal Anarchist Federation, or FAI, which has been declared a terrorist organization by the European Union. None of the texts published by the GAC, however, declare an affinity with the FAI, and the discourses and methods expressed by the two groups are different.

On February 14, anarchists and supporters across the Spanish state will be distributing copies of this terrorist book in the streets to keep it from being suppressed, and so that people can see for themselves how absurd the politics of anti-terrorism are.


Clara: In this episode, we’ve discussed several high-profile cases in which activists, journalists, radicals and anarchists have faced prison. Some, like the MOVE 9, continue to insist they’re innocent of the crimes of which they’re accused; in Eric’s case, no crime ever took place, except for thoughtcrime. Others, like Jason Hammond, proudly affirm and defend their criminal action on the grounds of their political values. The case of Barrett Brown, the journalist who helped publicize the StratFor hack, are in an interesting middle ground where our society’s tensions around openness versus secrecy and control over the flow of information come into play. Hackers like Jeremy Hammond and Anonymous explicitly break laws from outside of institutions in order to expose their nefarious deeds; journalists like Brown or Glenn Greenwald help circulate information accessed by such rebels, and despite clearly playing partisan roles in social struggles, can hide behind the legitimacy afforded to their profession and its so-called objectivity. Each has a role to play in struggles against state and capitalist power, though the former often face harsher repression than the latter.

Alanis: Somewhere in between these two positions lies the whistleblower. In recent years we’ve seen a variety of high-profile cases - Chelsea Manning, Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, and others - in which courageous individuals working within oppressive institutions used their positions to access and leak information exposing what they saw as wrongdoing by those institutions. Perhaps the most influential of these is Edward Snowden, and it’s his case that we’ll use as a point of departure to analyze the possibilities and limitations of whistleblowing as a strategy for radical change.

Clara: In 2013, systems administrator Edward Snowden, working as a subcontractor for the National Security Agency, leaked secret documents to media outlets that revealed the existence of widespread global surveillance programs run by the United States government and its allies. He has become a global celebrity, designated as The Guardian newspaper’s “Person of the Year” for 2013 and the runner-up for Time Magazine’s similar award. Over the last year he has lived in Moscow, where he took refuge against the threat of prosecution by US authorities, and continues to participate actively in the international debates around privacy, security, electronic communication, and freedom that his disclosures helped to stimulate.

Alanis: Yet here in the US, rather than catalyzing widespread resistance to mass surveillance, Snowden’s revelations seem to have been incorporated into a cynical resignation about the omnipresence and inevitability of government spying. While some demonstrations have taken place, and certainly lots of debate and legislative proposals, Americans haven’t risen up in large numbers to challenge the surveillance state or physically resist its infrastructure. While riots raged against police violence, liberals and politicians scrambled to cash in on the rebellions by calling for federal funding for body cameras for police - even more electronic surveillance to put greater quantities of information into the hands of our oppressors.

Clara: This past October saw the release of Citizenfour, a documentary about Snowden and the NSA’s surveillance programs. The following analysis, which recently appeared on the CrimethInc. blog, starts from the film to assess the role of the whistleblower in public discourse about social change, tracing its limitations and pointing to the directions future resistance will have to take to overcome them.

Alanis: Beyond Whistleblowing

Edward Snowden: “The greatest fear that I have… is that nothing will change. People will see in the media all of these disclosures. They’ll know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves powers unilaterally to create greater control over American society and global society. But they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight.”

Alanis: Citizenfour is just the latest expression of public fascination with the figure of the whistleblower. Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden—the whistleblower defects from within the halls of power to inform us about how power is being misused, delivering forbidden information to the people like the holy fire of Prometheus.

But can the whistleblower save us? Is whistleblowing enough? What limitations are coded into a strategy of social change based around whistleblowing, and what would it take to go beyond them? Certainly, whistleblowers look good compared to the institutions they expose. Faith in authorities of all stripes is at an all-time low, and for good reason. In a news clip in Citizenfour, we see Obama claim to have ordered an inquiry into the NSA before Snowden’s revelations surfaced, trying to imply that he was Snowden before Snowden. The President calls for a “fact-based” discussion—when the only useful public source of facts has been the illegal leaks of the man he is decrying. It is difficult to imagine a starker contrast between courage and cynicism.

But it’s one thing to unmask tyrants—it’s another thing entirely to depose them.

Clara: The theory of social change behind whistleblowing implies that if the crimes of a government are revealed, popular outrage will force the government to fix itself. “I believed that if the NSA’s unconstitutional mass surveillance of Americans was known,” Snowden said, “it would not survive the scrutiny of the courts, the Congress, and the people.” Yet Snowden’s greatest fear has been realized: reforms to restrict NSA surveillance programs have been defeated by the elected representatives Snowden pinned his hopes on.

Snowden and other whistleblowers have succeeded in discrediting governments, but not in halting the expansion of the surveillance state. They have revealed how invasive and unaccountable our rulers are, but they have not equipped us to defend ourselves. Is it possible that the same factors that position whistleblowers to achieve such an impact also hinder their revelations from bearing fruit?

Why does the whistleblower make such a compelling protagonist? Above all, because he is positioned to speak from within the system: he is invested with all the legitimacy of the institutions he exposes. She did not begin as a rebel or an outsider; she believed in the system, and felt betrayed when she learned it did not adhere to its own regulations. Whistleblowing is premised on a democratic discourse: if people know enough, they can “speak truth to power,” and this speech itself will somehow catalyze change.

Snowden’s own revelations show how naïve this conception is. The departments that built this surveillance infrastructure—which now seek to imprison Snowden alongside Chelsea Manning—hold power by virtue of coercive force, not persuasive arguments. Merely speaking truth is insufficient; we are not in a dialogue, but a power struggle.

Likewise, it’s a mistake to treat the backroom machinations of politicians and bureaucrats as temporary malfunctions in an otherwise transparent and egalitarian order. These are not excesses, but business as usual; they are not exceptions to the rule, but essential to rule itself. Since the heyday of whistleblowing in the 1970s—Daniel Ellsberg, Deep Throat, the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI—investigative journalists have exposed scandal after scandal. Treating all of these as anomalous implies that the state itself is inherently legitimate, and simply needs reforming. But it’s backwards to think that citizens can police the state. The stronger the state, the more power it will bring to bear against its citizens—not to mention everyone else.

Focusing on whistleblowing as a primary method of challenging injustice frames those who hold privileged positions within the current systems of war and surveillance as the agents of change. Yet for the most part, these people are the least likely to step out of line; a thousand mechanisms of selection, insulation, and incentive ensure that they are not susceptible to crises of conscience. It should be no wonder that Mannings and Snowdens are so rare, relative to the faceless thousands who design and enact military occupation or mass surveillance.

We can’t stake the future of humanity on those within the halls of power. Instead, we should be asking how people from all walks of life might work together to disable the infrastructure of oppression.

Alanis: System administrators like Edward Snowden wield disproportionate influence over the fate of our species, but they cannot create a solution by themselves. Centralizing a few computer experts as the subject of social struggle obscures all the other demographics whose participation is essential in any movement for liberation. This oversight explains the despair Julian Assange and Jacob Appelbaum hinted at in their 2013 talk at the Chaos Communication Congress, when they described sysadmins as a class that should organize to defend its own interests, warning that it would soon be too late to halt the descent into digital tyranny. In fact, people outside the institutions of power will go on fighting against injustice regardless of the consolidation of power on the internet—many have no choice. The rapidly increasing numbers of the marginalized, unemployed, and oppressed must figure at the center of any strategy for change alongside defectors from the programming caste. If programmers conceptualize their interests as distinct from the rest of humanity, and organize to defend those interests rather than to participate in a struggle much greater than themselves, they will be doomed, along with the rest of the species.

As Snowden feared, in the absence of proposals for how to fight it, the revelation of state surveillance only exacerbates the chilling effect it is intended to achieve. The average newspaper reader, upon learning that the NSA is tracking his whole life via his smartphone and credit card, is not likely to take to the street in outrage, but to become more guarded and submissive. Yet silence and obedience will not protect us: they only embolden those in power to target ever broader circles of potential enemies. Nor can encryption and other security measures suffice to keep us safe: the government will always have superior technology at its disposal. If we conceptualize resistance as a merely technical issue, we will be defeated from the start. Encryption is important, but the only real security we could achieve would be a movement powerful enough to stand up for anyone targeted by the state. However much intelligence government agencies gather, they can only utilize it to the extent that they are able to bear the political consequences. The sooner we join in an open struggle against them, the safer we all will be.

Clara: Let’s return to the figure of the whistleblower. The ideal hero is like us: an Everyman, only endowed with supernatural courage and destiny. Heroes represent a step we could take, but do not—a step we often do not take for fear that we are not gifted the way they are, not chosen by destiny. And this is precisely what is dangerous about heroes: they tend to sideline those who believe in them.

This is not to denigrate whistleblowers. Snowden and Manning have given everything to be true to their consciences, out of the most selfless intentions. But the best way to honor their courage and sacrifice is to step onto the same path. The message they have for us is not just the information they delivered, but above all their conduct itself, their decision to defect from the side of oppressive power to the side of the people. Rather than simply revering Snowden’s exceptional bravery, let us ask ourselves what the equivalent to his deed would be in each of our own lives. It might not be whistleblowing, but something else.

What would it mean for the rest of us to defect from the power structures that we participate in? To identify what is intolerable in our own mundane complicities, and break them off once and for all? This is a step each of us can take, wherever we are situated in the architecture of power.

Alanis: Whistleblowing alone will not bring about social change. That takes direct action. Remember, there was no whistleblower in Ferguson—it was not a revelation of police misconduct that triggered the most important wave of protest against police brutality in two decades, but the fact that people acted on their outrage. The killing of Michael Brown was understood nationwide as a tragedy because people protested, not because a video recorded it, nor because an insider revealed that his killer violated some statute. Objecting to government activity on the grounds that it is illegal or corrupt leaves us powerless against all the forms of brutality and abuse that are already legal. We need to develop the capacity to stand up to the authorities, regardless of the laws. Otherwise, all the whistleblowing in the world will be futile.

Today, we don’t lack awareness of the surveillance state so much as we lack concrete examples of how to take action against it. In the spirit of Jeremy Hammond, we might hypothesize that what we need is not just to reveal the misdeeds of the state, but to identify its strategic vulnerabilities. From protecting Tunisian activists against surveillance to revealing the names of members of the Ku Klux Klan, Anonymous has demonstrated the tactical advantages of hacking in concert with social movements. Richard Stallman himself has pointed out that denial-of-service actions are simply a new form of blockading—just as protesters from New York to the Bay Area blocked interstate highways, online activists blockade the information superhighway. Protests that combine online and offline direct action offer opportunities for new alliances cutting across class, race, and geography.

Meanwhile, the functionaries who keep the surveillance apparatus running operate out of offices in placid suburbs from Fort Mead to Hawaii. Following the lead of the protesters who targeted Google in San Francisco, we can imagine offline demonstrators opening a new front in the struggle. Perhaps this could turn the tables on those who consider themselves the masters of the digital universe from the comfort of their desks.

Clara: So whistleblowers, sysadmins, and hackers of all hats must make common cause with other movements and populations, understanding whistleblowing as one of many tactics in a much larger struggle. Alone, whistleblowers and other digital dissidents will be tracked down and imprisoned like Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond, or trapped like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Together, with all our diverse abilities and perspectives—from programming skills to the clarity that comes of having nothing to lose—we will be more powerful than any of us could be alone.

“I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA,” Snowden insisted in his more innocent days. Today, any real pragmatist must acknowledge that it would be easier to dismantle the NSA and all the unaccountable institutions it defends than to reform them. The simple desire to be granted privacy and left in peace brings us into direct conflict with globally networked state power. This is a daunting prospect, but it’s also a good time for it, as millions of other people around the world are being propelled into the same conflict by the ecological, economic, and racialized crises produced by this top-heavy power structure.

Alanis: And here we arrive at the heart of the matter. The chief target of the NSA has never been so-called “terrorists,” but grassroots movements that challenge the distribution of power. In this light, the decision to broaden the scope of NSA surveillance to include the entire population of the United States is not surprising after all. The goal never really was to find the proverbial terrorist needle in the haystack. The real targets of the surveillance apparatus have always been the activists in Tunisia, the revolutionaries in Egypt, the anarchists in Greece, #M15, #occupy, #blacklivesmatter, the revolution in Rojava—and all the social movements yet to come, as crisis begets crisis.

It is no longer realistic to imagine social change as a matter of policy discussion, if it ever was. We need to be thinking in terms of revolution, whether you act from behind a keyboard or a barricade.


Clara: OK! Time to take a look at this episode’s listener feedback. Alanis, what have we got?

Alanis: Well, first off, let me say that we’ve been getting a LOT of messages from folks, which is totally awesome! We’re doing our best to reply to everyone, but we’re running a little behind. So apologies if you haven’t heard from us yet.

That said, Colin from Vermont wrote in with a comment in response to our discussion of media nad social media in the last episode, saying:

Clara: My local group has had a recent revelation. Did you know that most cities have public access TV shows? Shows desperate for content? Shows that will give you a time slot, no questions asked? Shows that will let you use their equipment and borrow their cameras?

You know why nobody watches public access? Because everything on it sucks. Well, whose fault is that?

So we started an anarchist-oriented public access show. It still sucks, as far as TV goes, but we’re working on improving it, and I’ve had people stop me on the street, so people are already watching.

Alanis: Thanks, Colin, and we wish you luck with the show. It’s hard to get excited about television, and not just because most of the other content generated by corporate media is terrible. Refer to Jerry Mander’s 1978 classic Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television for a holistic critique of the social, political, psychological, environmental, and bodily dimensions of television - which goes far beyond a critique of the content of the programs. Having a critique of the medium doesn’t inherently entail refusing to engage with it - and thus ceding the territory entirely to our enemies. But it does mean we should keep in mind how the ideas and practices we’re trying to advance relate to the medium itself. Is our vision of an anarchist utopia one in which we have really good TV shows available to us all the time? I think the capitalist market and internet technology is more likely to produce that “utopia” than decentralized waves of revolt against all authority. Instead, do we envision a world without television? If so, then is it better to attempt to use the problematic medium to sabotage the conditions that make it possible, or stake our hopes on trying to prefigure the worlds we imagine through the media in which we communicate?

Clara: Of course, we’re obviously grappling with these contradictions ourselves as podcasters. And some listeners have taken us to task for how we’ve handled it so far. Cora wrote in with a critique of us for our complicity with Apple and iTunes, saying:

Alanis: I’ve been listening to the Ex-Worker for a few months now, learning a lot and enjoying it thoroughly. However, at the start of each episode when you ask us to ‘like’ you on iTunes, I cringe. It seems so counter to your and anarchy’s ethos. Apple doesn’t need your advertising help and you could instead use this as an opportunity to promote an open-source alternative. Thanks for considering this and keep up the podcasting!

Clara: Cora, that’s totally fair. Let’s go on the record and say, fuck Apple, fuck iTunes, fuck proprietary software…

Alanis: And, depending on how far you want to take it, fuck the internet, fuck computers, fuck industrial manufacturing, and indeed fuck industrial civilization.

Clara: Quite so. It should be apparent that as anarchists we’re irreconcilably opposed to this world and just about all the institutions in it…

Alanis: Just about? You getting liberal on me, Clara?

Clara: Libraries, though. I’m still really in to libraries.

Alanis: Huh. Yeah, good point.

Clara: But still: we want a total reorganization of social relations and a profound shift in our material reality. So is open source software really going to make an appreciable difference, relative to what we’re up against?

Alanis: Maybe not, but that’s no excuse for failing to live in sync with your values to the greatest extent possible within the framework of whatever mode of activity with which you’re engaging. If you’re organizing a meeting, organize it in an anarchist way - that is, attempting to distribute power horizontally and challenging hierarchies between participants. I don’t need to believe that my vision of anarchist society is one big consensus meeting to see it as a valuable tactic in working towards that vision, and a coherent expression of anarchist relations in the here and now. Likewise, if you’re working on a computer-based project, evaluate it within the context of your anarchist values and figure out how best to challenge hierarchy, through everything from your software and operating system choices to your security practices - even if you’re doing so to fight for a world in which there are no computers.

Clara: Sure, I hear you. But part of the reason we started the Ex-Worker podcast was as an effort to connect with folks who might be interested in anarchist ideas but were not social connected to anarchist communities and spaces “IRL”, as it were. Making it available via iTunes is a way to be more broadly accessible; when I first started listening to podcasts before we were making this show, that’s how I found them, and I didn’t know any other way to search for them. So by giving us positive iTunes ratings and increasing our prominence within their weird search algorithms, we’re very possibly making it easier for random people to encounter the show who otherwise would be encountering the anarcho-capitalist slop that’s out there via their keyword searches.

I guess it’s not that different from Colin’s anarcho public access show. Sure, the revolution will not be televised, but people who see that show might be more likely to show up when it does happen - or to believe that it’s worth taking action regardless.

Alanis: People will accuse us of being hypocrites no matter what we do; and you know what? Of course we’re hypocrites! The only people will the luxury NOT to be hypocritical are those who have no fundamental disagreement with the institutions of our society. Those of us who want to see radical changes in social relations, power, technology, daily life, and everything else will inevitably be forced to act in ways that are counter to our values, or to participate in institutions or processes that we despise. Where we each decide to strike that balance, where we are and aren’t willing to compromise: these are important decisions, but we shouldn’t obsess over them or use them as a basis for judging or condemning each other. Anarchism isn’t a party program that says yes open source and no proprietary software (though that may be a valuable strategic choice), or takes a fixed position on whether or not to use TV or other modes of media (that’ll depend on the context). The important thing is the logic you bring to bear on your activities, in whatever sphere.

Clara: Cause, you know, we need… to change everything. And to do that, we can… start anywhere.

Alanis: Wait, I thought it was, “To change anything, we have to start everywhere.”

Clara: Crap, did I read that wrong? Can someone look that up?

[music break]


These questions about computer security and entrapment of dissidents are especially relevant in this political era of state repression through conspiracy charges. In our earlier discussion of Eric McDavid’s case, we alluded to the FBI strategy of entrapment that has been used against anarchists and political radicals, but most frequently against Islamic communities in the US. This has kicked into high gear with the worldwide phenomenon of disaffected young Muslims leaving their countries to fight for ISIS. There isn’t the political will in Washington to fight another ground war in the Middle East, so in addition to the US air bombing campaign, domestic security services will have to do their part convincing the public that all that massive anti-terrorism budget is being well-spent and that America is contributing to the struggle against ISIS on the homefront.

Did y’all see in the news about the 20 year old from Columbus, Ohio who was arrested for supposedly plotting an attack on the US Capitol building? In some ways, it’s a familiar story: the FBI wants to show it’s doing something for the war on terror, so they get an informant to come up with a dastardly-sounding plot and troll around in chatrooms online until they find someone who they can talk into it. Make the plans, provide the backing, buy the materials, and set everything up, then arrest them dramatically, throw a press conference, send them to prison for 20 years, and enjoy promotions and bonuses. We talked about this federal strategy of entrapment and conspiracy, which has especially targeted Islamic communities but also political radicals, in Episode 17.

Similarly, a 19 year old Colorado woman was trapped by FBI agents after discussing plans to travel to Syria to fight or offer medical support to the Islamic State. At her sentencing, where she received a four year prison term, she insisted that she never planned to hurt anyone. But, as a corporate news article pointed out, “Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Holloway also said [she] continues to defy authority, making vitriolic comments about law enforcement even though authorities showed restraint in their handling of her case. That’s a troubling sign that she may reoffend, Holloway said.”–084837348.html

So there we hear what’s really going on. It may seem a bit of a stretch to paint lonely teenage nurses from American suburbs as bloodthirsty jihadists, but when you strip away the rhetoric about Islamic terrorism you can see this in the context of the nationwide anxiety over the undermining of the legitimacy of law enforcement in the aftermath of Ferguson and the Brinsley killing of two NYPD cops. Now, the state uses a test case most Americans will line up behind - repressing potential international jihadists - to establish a precedent in which “defying authority” or making “vitriolic comments about law enforcement” can be a justification for longer prison sentences. Meanwhile, a seventeen year old in New York was arrested for a Facebook post including a string of emojis that implied sympathy for violence against police. How far will it go?

Meanwhile, anarchist prisoner Bill Dunne found himself targeted by a “hit” from the US Parole Commission, meaning that instead of recommending his release they effectively sentenced him to an additional 15 years, scheduling his next consideration for parole for November 2029. Why? To quote the parole board, as per Bill’s account: “The Commission finds your continued association and affiliation with anarchist organizations is evidence you still harbor anti-authoritarian views that are not compatible with the welfare of society or with the conditions of parole.” Again, it’s not what Bill did while on the outside, nor how he has conducted himself while in prison, but his “anti-authoritarian views” that justify his lifelong incarceration. Combine this with what we’re seeing in the previously described cases, and we find that opposition to authority is what the state wants to target, not specific behaviors or so-called “crimes.” We’re not outraged about this because of some civil liberties argument about free speech and the “criminalization of dissent” or whatnot, because we recognize no legitimacy on the part of the state to either secure or deny us rights. We simply recognize that across these various cases, police and courts are expanding the range of tactics they can use to repress anarchists and anti-police rebels.

We need to pay careful attention to these cases, and not just ones targeting political radicals; whatever tactics police and security agencies can get away with against Muslims, angry teenagers, careless internet trolls, and whomever else they can snare will certainly be used against us. And we should also show solidarity with folks targeted in this wave of reactionary arrests, as more and more our anger against police and authority becomes a crime itself. It’s not enough that when we’re kids, they diagnose us with “oppositional defiance disorder” and try to medicate our hatred of authority out of us so that we’ll do our homework and stay in line. If our defiant spirits make it through to adulthood, then prison steps in to cure what the drugs pharmaceuticals couldn’t manage. Why? Because they know that without all of their efforts to pathologize, criminalize, and marginalize resistance from cradle to grave, it could prove contagious, and above all they fear the infection spreading out of their control.

But we have to find each other. So many of us are left isolated, wondering if we’re the crazy ones, unable to figure out why everyone else seems to passively accept all the misery and bullshit of this society, wondering if there’s anyone else out there who cares enough to do something about it. So we send out messages in bottles, screams into the void, hoping to encounter others who feel similarly. And that’s why they lurk on Facebook and in chat rooms and on Twitter, sniffing for signs of discontent that might grow past sign-holding and voter-registering. They prey on our loneliness and isolation, our urgent need for connection, our earnest desire to find some way to resist. We can’t stay isolated; lone wolves can make a difference, but for the broad transformations we so urgently need to be possible, we’ve got to find each other. Yet when we try to reach out, we’re vulnerable to entrapment by predators. What can we do?

Well, there’s only one thing to do: keep resisting while learning all we can and doing our best to stay safe. We should pay attention to what we can learn from renegades like him as well as whistleblowers like Snowden (who revealed the extent of NSA global surveillance) and hackers like Jeremy Hammond (who offered us a glimpse into the world of private security firms). But we must not let these revelations scare us out of acting. Act smart, act carefully, but take action - resistance is not impossible and it is not futile.

Recall what Jason Hammond wrote in the sentencing statement we read earlier. On a basic level, the reason why Jason and Jeremy were caught and sent to prison, moreso than any government conspiracy, was simply because “our actions were not carried out with absolute precision and with every precaution made to disguise our identities and ensure we would not be busted.” Whether that means perfecting your encryption online, or making sure your clothing obscures any possible identification, or planning your exit routes carefully - whatever it is in your case, do your research and take all the precautions necessary to keep out of prison and stay in the struggles that matter most to you.

As we pointed out during our discussion of Eric’s case, one lesson of the Green Scare is that not taking action will not protect you - you don’t have to have actually taken militant action to serve a long prison term as if you had. Nor does snitching protect you - many of the snitches involved did considerable time, in some cases longer than those who stayed true to their values and their comrades. Given these facts, all their efforts to repress and divide us can backfire; if we’re not necessarily safer by remaining inactive or even by snitching, then we have no reason not to take action on every front that we can. The best way to stay safe is to follow security culture, never cooperate in any way with police, and refuse to be intimidated into passivity in the face of our ever-expanding prison society.

When it comes down to it, security is about love for ourselves, love for our comrades, and love for the resistance that lights a fire inside us and brings meaning to our lives. Rather than resort to suicidal despair or nihilistic indifference, let’s care for ourselves and each other enough to be cautious and intentional with the risks we take.

We’ll close with the words of Tortuga, the Chilean anarchist who was grievously injured and narrowly escaped decades in prison after a failed bomb attack against a bank.

Tortuga: We need to use a little more prudence. So the action won’t be today, it will be tomorrow… but it will also be better. It will be better planned, more focused on the safety of those involved, and other small details that I don’t know if I can pass on here. But like I’ve written, one mistake, one small neglect can change everything. And we are far too valuable to be needlessly putting ourselves at risk. I think my most focused advice today would be, more than anything, that this comrade value herself, that she not feel like her life is just a material contribution to the struggle. I would tell this comrade to value herself a little more, that she give herself time and room to breathe. That’s all, that the struggle is for your whole life; it won’t change by waiting one more night.


Clara: And last but not least, here are a few events of note coming up in the next couple of weeks. Alanis?

Alanis: On the 7th, 8th and 9th of February an Open Barricade Festival will take place on the Zone a Defendre, or ZAD, Roybon in the Chambarans forest in southeastern France. Inspired by the example of the original ZAD in Notre Dame des Landres in western France, an anti-airport occupation we discussed back in Episode 14, a number of parallel land occupations have sprung up around the country recent years. At the ZAD Roybon, occupiers are fighting the construction of an environmentally destrructive tourist park. Folks will gather to build barricades and cabins to occupy and defend the zone, along with workshops, cultural events, and more. Bring building materials, tools, all your friends and waterproof and warm clothes. For more information about the struggle and a schedule of events, visit ZAD Roybon dot noblogs dot org. (

Clara: The Buffalo Field Campaign is inviting wildlife warriors to a Week of Action from February 9–16, 2015. This is an urgent call out for motivated volunteers to come and stand strong beside the bison in Yellowstone National Park before the government slaughters 800–900 wild bison from these precious herds. For more information about the Buffalo Field Campaign, which has been struggling alongside the buffalo since 1997, visit

Alanis: And a very bold call has gone out to “Shut down Canada” on February 13th. A group called “Solidarity with all land defenders” has issued a CALLOUT for communities across Canada to blockade their local railway, port or highway on February 13th. Don’t buy, don’t fly, no work and keep the kids home from school. A diversity of tactics is highly recommended! Get everyone involved. The goal is to significantly impact the Canadian economy for a day and demand there be an independent inquiry into the 2000-plus cases of missing or murdered indigenous women.

Clara: A call has been issued for workshops and presentations at the Toledo Free School Fest, which will take place on March 21st. Proposals are due march 8th. For more information, check out .

Clara: And finally, here are some prisoners whose birthdays just happened or are coming up in the next few weeks… on January 26th was Marius Mason, an eco-anarchist and activist who is serving nearly 22 years for dozens of actions claimed by the Earth and Animal Liberation fronts.

Alanis: And on February 4th, Veronza Bowers Jr, a former black panther party member who was framed for the murder of a U.S. Park Ranger. He is being illegally held past his 30-year sentence, making him one of the longest held political prisoners in U.S. history.

Clara: Take a second out of your day and drop these folks a letter, card, or postcard. It makes a huge difference. We’ll have their addresses posted on our website in the notes for today’s show.

Clara: And that concludes this episode of the Ex-worker. Big ups to our comrades at Crna Luknja for the interview about Operation Pandora, Ramona Africa for speaking with us, our listeners for writing in with feedback and ideas, and Underground Reverie for the music.

Alanis: This has been a production of the Crimethinc Ex-worker’s Collective. For more information about everything we’ve talked about on today’s show, you can check out this episode’s show notes and transcript at

Clara: And if you have any questions, feedback or suggestions, get in touch by emailing us at podcast at crimethinc dot com.

Alanis: Until next time…

Online resources

Links and references from this episode of The Ex-Worker:

  • To learn more about the MOVE organization, check out Here’s their announcement about the death of Phil Africa.

  • We received this message from Ramona Africa about harassment of another member of the MOVE 9, and how you can offer him some support: "ONA MOVE, everybody. Another disturbing situation has surfaced at SCI-Dallas. Our brother Delbert Africa has been without a cellmate since the passing of our brother Phil Africa. Dallas officials told Delbert that they would not give him a cellmate for a while, yet the other day Delbert was brought a new cellmate. The issue is, C.O. Lindler who works on Delbert’s block (Block I) has been trying to provoke Delbert, whether it was on his own because he hates MOVE, or because he had orders. Lindler was saying things like, “Everybody else has cellmates, what’s so special about him?” If this guard has a problem with MOVE people then he should request not to work Delbert’s block and leave our brother alone. This example is so outstanding because the whole jail knows that our brother, Phil, just passed and people don’t usually antagonize and try to provoke a person that has just lost a loved one. So what is Lindler’s problem? We are alerting people to this situation because it looks like they’re trying to provoke something with Delbert and we won’t let them get away with this treachery, we’re doing as JOHN AFRICA teaches us to do, we’re exposing it. Understand, this is not about Delbert having a cellmate or not, it’s about this guard misusing the situation to try to provoke Delbert. Robin Lucas is the superintendent’s assistant and the person to contact with your concerns. Her number is 570 674–1101, after the recording push 0 for operator and ask for her. Her email address is Thanks for your continued support—-Ramona for the MOVE family

  • The celebration of Phil Africa’s life that Ramona Africa announced for January 31st has already taken place, but if you couldn’t make it, you can watch the Livestream coverage of the event here

  • Check out the full text of Jason Hammond’s powerful sentencing statement, from which we read a long excerpt.

  • Here’s footage of Eric McDavid’s release from prison]( - keep the tissue box or snot rag handy.

  • Eric McDavid still needs our help with his post-release fund. If you can contribute, please do so at

  • If you’re a radio or podcast aficionado, there have been a few episodes of this American Life which cover stories of informants and entrapment: Episode #381, Turncoat, which speak with and about an activist named Brandon Darby (and, in our opinion, goes way too easy on the monster); Episode #387, Arms Trader 2009; Episode #471, The Convert, which goes in depth about an FBI sting operation at a Mosque. For more on FBI infiltration of Islamic communities, see this film from Al-Jazeera on FBI informants. Also see this infographic on mass incarceration for some more helpful info.

  • Check out the zine After Prison for testimonies from former earth and animal liberation prisoners about their reflections on post-release support.

  • For more information on keeping yourself safe from informants and state repression, don’t miss the CrimethInc. primer on security culture.

  • Here’s the sentencing statement by environmental and indigenous rights activist Krow, who is heading to jail for helping resist mining in Wisconsin.

  • The website covers updates from anti-anarchist repression in Spain under Operation Pandora.

  • The interview we shared with a Barcelona anarchist comes from Crna Luknja, a Ljubljana-based anarchist radio show (mostly in Slovenian, with some English-language features). Listen to the full episode

  • In our conclusion to the episode, we cited anarchist prisoner Bill Dunne’s recent “hit” from the parole board.

  • Prisoner Birthdays we announced in this episode:

    Marius Mason #04672–061{January 26}
    FMC Carswell
    Federal Medical Center
    P.O. Box 27137
    Fort Worth, TX 76127
    Please address outside envelope to Marie Mason, inside card or letter to Marius.

    Veronza Bowers Jr. #35316–136 {February 4th}
    P.O. Box 150160
    Atlanta, GA 30315