Posts tagged direct action

results!

Lots of great things are happening right now in the Ruckus-sphere as a result of lots of hard work and prep, so I wanted to take a minute to update friends and family, as well as just acknowledge positive results, progress, and fruits of our labor! So exciting.

Before heading to my parents’ place in Wisconsin last week, I was up on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound for a week, training folks in direct action climbing as part of Ruckus’s Localize This! Action Camp.

[Check out our news coverage on Seattle’s King 5 news!  That’s me in the black demonstrating a controlled rappel;)]

It was an excellent camp, and one of the greatest things about it was the direct connection to action. The camp was formatted to help the local Vashon community prepare to stop a multinational corporation from developing a gravel mine. The trainings felt all the more impactful with the majority of participants thinking about how they were going to incorporate their new skills into upcoming action campaigns.

And then this morning some of our folks did a kickass action up in Toronto against the Royal Bank of Canada, protesting their bankrolling of the Alberta Tar Sands (through Rainforest Action Network‘s divestment campaign).

I got a text message at 5am this morning saying that the banner-action was happening, and it made my day to watch as the photos rolled in of two of the amazing women in Ruckus’s IP3 (Indigenous Peoples’ Power Project) network (one who is also a Ruckus board member) who I’d just gotten to hang out with on Vashon two weeks ago – climbing RBC headquarters’ flagpoles and unfurling the banner. (Luckily it went much better than it did in the crazy dreams I had when I drifted back off to sleep after reading the text message!)

It’s great to see results. Training in Action!

Something else I’ve been up to at Ruckus is managing the launch of our new website and blog which have both been in major need of rehaul for years now. While we had amazing folks at Tumis and Radical Designs do the design and implementation, I get to deal with the content management – I basically spent months [virtually] filing, and adding new content. We’ve still got some quirks to work out (if you find one, let me know!), but I’m super stoked to have our new site and blog up and running!

So, check out the new site, and my posts from today about the camp and action!:

my blog post: “putting training into ACTION”

more on today’s toronto action

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consuming nature

after a potluck dinner with friends, jess and i spent the rest of the evening on thanksgiving watching, “behind the mask”, a documentary about the ALF (animal liberation front), and why people risk their lives to save the lives of animals imprisoned in vivisection labs, fur farms, etc.  a fitting time to watch such a film, on a night when turkeys were being carved at tables across the U.S. en masse.  i would recommend the film to everyone.

in my experience as a vegan, the vast majority of animal rights and vegan discussions revolve around food choices. i know there are myriad reasons why people eat animals – it’s a nuanced issue, steeped in cultural traditions, geographical limitations, and plain old habit, to name a few. but to me, the defining characteristic of veganism goes beyond simply not eating animals, or even any animal by-products – to me, veganism is a consciousness that extends compassion to all lifeforms, making choices that minimize suffering and cruelty in all animals and humans, and leaving the least impact on the world around us.

while food is a constant in our everyday lives, so too are millions of other products that we use on a daily basis, which often contain animal-derived ingredients, or were tested on animals in vivisection laboratories.  countless dogs, rabbits, chimpanzees, cats, mice, and so many other animals are tortured – yes, TORTURED – every day in universities and corporate labs – on the false premise that we NEED to sacrifice animals for the sake of ‘scientific progress’.  the truth is that these tests are not only inhumane and cruel; they are also irrelevant and outdated, which makes them all the more horrific.  millions of animals are tortured and killed every year for nothing.

labrats1

but, it’s not for nothing, really – it’s for profit.  the truth is that animal experimentation is simply a giant business, complete with the false advertising necessary to keep the public consuming more and more products which they are brain-washed into believing are a) necessary, and b) the results of required animal sacrifice.

as an anti-capitalist, i resent the fact that “organic”, “natural”, “cruelty-free”, “not tested on animals” products are just another (rapidly growing) market.  the point is not to just replace all the bad products with “friendlier” versions – we simply don’t need the vast majority of products that are being manufactured.  it’s all just a capitalist conspiracy – the propaganda of “choice”.  when the truth is that all those choices (i.e. entire store aisles of shampoo, etc.) are the causes of deforestation, oil wars, animal experimentation, child and sweatshop labor, worker exploitation, overflowing landfills, obesity, disease, financial debt, stress, and depression… which in turn lead people to MORE PRODUCTS!

and this is all just talking about things we think we “need” – healthcare products, pharmaceuticals, homecleaning supplies; not to mention all the crap we simply do not need – such as the christmas gifts i can imagine were so important to the hordes of “black friday” shoppers this morning, that they trampled a wal-mart employee to DEATH in order to buy.

it’s all incredibly overwhelming – everywhere we turn there is another reason why the thing we just bought/ate/entertained ourselves with is “wrong”.  there are so many injustices happening in our world, hopelessness is an epidemic in our society.  i’d like to think that the hordes of “apathetic” individuals are really just overwhelmed and think that there’s no way they can do anything “right”, so they gave up trying.  it gives me personally more hope to think that’s the reason our society is letting these atrocities continue – rather than that people just don’t care.

so what can we do?

everyone doesn’t need to immediately become “vegan”, if they’re not prone to sticking with new commitments or changing their habits; it’s more about increasing awareness and reducing consumption, little by little, as fast or as slow as they are willing.  unfortunately in our world today, it’s impossible not to use/consume anything that has an adverse effect on animals, people, and our planet, because everything we manufacture uses resources to acquire, create, package, and/or ship the damn thing to the market.  so it’s first and foremost all about reducing the number of things we use.  rethinking what we really need/want.  is this product i want really worth everything it took to make it possible for me to have it?

and secondly, when we are going to buy things new, it’s about using all those choices wisely.  it’s really not that hard to spend a second to check the label for “cruelty-free”, or “not tested on animals”.  since, alas, we still live under capitalism, boycotting companies who use animal experimentation and other bad manufacturing processes is still one good way to vote against these practices (and simply buying fewer products overall/spending less money in the market is another form of boycott).

and another important way to demand an end to cruel practices, is through nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience – directly confronting the powers that propagate injustice, and/or stopping the injustice whenever and wherever possible.  when it comes to animal rights, this is where the ALF comes in – and “behind the mask” does an excellent job of explaining why direct action is necessary to end cruelty to animals.

changing societal norms is a long process, which we have seen over and over again throughout the centuries:  overturning feudalism, slavery, gaining voting rights, civil rights, etc.  none of these injustices were reversed due to letter-writing campaigns.  it takes people willing to break unjust laws in order to expose how unjust the laws are, in order to change enough people’s minds and change the laws/practices.  the people who are brave enough to take the risks for these causes, are such a threat to the dominant paradigm, that the government labels them terrorists, and vilifies their image in the mainstream’s eyes.  this happens in every movement – in an attempt to prevent the public from actually listening to the truth.

those who can’t/or are not willing to take action themselves, have a responsibility to at least support those that can/do take action, and actively resist the “terrorist” propaganda campaigns that the corporations and government tout against activists.  as the film quoted JFK, “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

whatisterrorism

a few books and resources:

animal liberation by peter singer

eternal treblinka by charles patterson

making a killing by bob torres

the sexual politics of meat by carol adams

fast food nation by eric schlosser

ALF – animal liberation front website

green is the new red



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repeal prop 8 action

in an ironic twist of fate after my last post, i ended up on an action team to protest the passage of prop 8 last night in san francisco.  there was a mass march planned from civic center to dolores park starting at 5:30pm, and after the march stepped off at 7th and market, 10 of us (after quickly forming an affinity group in 24 hrs), followed the march to 9th and market where we then stopped, linked hands, and formed a human chain across market street, displaying a banner that said, “We Will Not Be Silent: REPEAL PROP 8″.

cd-line

our street blockade effectively stopped traffic for several hours, and the energy of the group and the crowd that surrounded us was amazing.  there weren’t more than 30 seconds pause between the endless chants, some tried and true, and some innovated on the spot.  then, just when we were considering an escalation of tactics, the main march came back to join us, and our group led the crowd past the cops, throughout the city, taking over the streets and ending with an occupation of the castro well into the night.  you can read my report of the night’s events on the ruckus society website.

although there were no arrests (the cops behaved in typical SFPD “another day, another protest” fashion, making no arrests as long as things remained nonviolent, which they did), the spirit of the night was empowering for all who participated, and perhaps introduced many to the world beyond permitted marches and rallies, even if just slightly.

below is a really grainy video from my phone during the castro occupation of one of the individuals from our group, yelling “how many people held 9th and market?!” and the group standing up to cheers from the crowd:

when i was asked to support the action and participate in the blockade, i didn’t hesitate.  and while some may find that ironic or confusing, given my stance on marriage, to me this was a grassroots endeavor worth participating in:  an entire section of society (which includes myself) just had some of their rights stripped from them on tuesday, when prop 8 eeked past 50% support in the state-wide election.  although the state (and federal) constitutions may not have ever originally intended to permit marriage rights to same-sex couples, the constitution also never meant to include blacks and women, when it said “all men are created equal”.  they meant white men who owned property.  don’t tell me the word “men” is a shorthand, inclusive term!

so despite the fact that i hope one day state-sanctioned marriage becomes irrelevant, prop 8 has stripped people of their rights through pure discrimination and blatant bigotry, which to me is more important to fight than marriage itself.  our rights are being eroded regularly, and we can’t let one slide, lest we find ourselves under martial law (oh wait…).

adrienne maree brown wrote a heartfelt piece about the hate experienced through the prop 8 campaign.

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Un-Dam the Klamath! IP3 Action in Portland

congratulations to everyone from the klamath river tribes and the klamath justice coalition for their action at the PacifiCorp headquarters in Portland on Thursday, protesting Warren Buffet’s PacifiCorp-owned dams on the Klamath River that are killing off salmon and native ways of life.  ruckus’s IP3 (indigenous peoples’ power project) has been actively training and supporting native klamath activists in strategic nonviolent direct action tactics in their campaign against PacifiCorp/Warren Buffett’s dams. big ups to marty and IP3!

update from marty:  “crowd of about 30 of 100 crossed the line into pacificorp property and staged a die in. Once resurrected 4 gallons of green algae were escorted by the crowd but were locked out of the building in a standoff that lasted about 20 min. The reclaimed space then became a stage for street theater where a 20 foot dam was broken down by a fish puppet.  Riot cops were about to kick in to high gear when the crowd regrouped to hear testimony from community members, tribal officials, elders, and commercial fishermen.  Community members and local supporters felt great about reclaiming space and disupting business as usual on the anniversary of the 2002 fishkill in which 68,000 salmon were killed by the Pacificorp dams…”

read more about today’s action at the pacificorp headquarters here on portland indybay, and here on the ruckus site.

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