Filed under: Analysis, Anarchist Movement, Northeast, Repression, The State
An analysis from Jersey Counter-Info about the recent arrest of a man suspect of carrying out serial arson of forested lands and what that shows about the State’s priorities.
Just a few months ago the state arrested a local Piney, Greg Fullman, for burning down over 600 acres of forest and starting several other incendiary fires in South Jersey, in an arson spree that spanned almost a year. By the state’s own account, they massively screwed up their own “investigation” several times, in an almost comical fashion, despite having virtually indisputable evidence against Greg. There was security video footage, DNA, and easily traceable items purchased at a Wawa that he used to start the fires. On one occasion, agents of the state even caught Greg in preparation of setting a fire and did not detain or arrest him. Greg was eventually arrested after almost a year and is now facing over two dozen arson related charges.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) June 12, 2017
The state’s reaction and response in this case is stark in comparison to how anarchists, or even the general militant left, have been treated for activity against the state that rises nowhere near to the level that Greg’s compulsive pyromania has. Instead of the bumbling pigs Fullman experienced, NJ anarchists and the militant left have been subjected to intense state repression by several state agencies over the last 6 plus years. Specifically they’ve used SWAT style domicile raids, cyber tracking and monitoring, in person intimidation, vehicle stalking details, and verbal intimidation via phone calls in an attempt to dismantle our networks and imprison us. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) even went so far as to create a public campaign against anarchists and label us as “terrorists” who pose a “moderate” threat to the state of NJ.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 6, 2017
To be clear, as anarchists, we do not support the state or any of its systems, even when people commit objectively harmful acts, and we do not support the imprisonment or charges against Greg Fullman. It is however, important to understand the power and function of the state and its agents through events like these, especially in context to living in a post 9/11 and green scare landscape. (In a NJ context a NJ IWW member and animal rights activist arrested in 2005.) While it may be hard to say the exact reasoning as to why state agents functioned more like “keystone cops” in this situation, the apolitical nature of his actions coupled with his Piney identity likely had a lot to do with it. With all of this in consideration, the state’s handling of Greg highlights the seeming duality of the state, and its own contradictions further.
Another arrest of a white nationalist with high powered weapons, this time a neo-Nazi in New Jersey. This is why #Trump and Fox News need the trope of "ANTIFA," because their own base is mass producing potential mass murders. https://t.co/GkfY3BSfMp
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) August 21, 2019
Pushing beyond a base level assessment of the state’s treatment of anarchists vs. Greg, anarchists can learn a lot from Greg’s actions as they are a perfect example of security culture “don’ts” Greg’s mistakes can be noted in no particular order as: leaving DNA evidence (through personal use of an energy drink can and cigarette butts) at the scene, being caught on security camera purchasing items that would be used in the fires, leaving other easily traceable forensic evidence at the scene (tire tracks from two personal vehicles, sneaker prints from shoes he regularly wore, discarded trash), not checking his vehicle for tracking devices enabling the pigs to track his movements, not locking down his social media, and setting fires close to areas he could be easily traced to.
Thinking about security culture “do’s,” anarchists engaged in analogous action against the state would likely: be conscious not to leave any DNA at the scene, shoplift any needed action items or have someone unconnected buy items in cash, prepare any needed materials far in advance, dispose of any and all clothing and shoes used in the action, avoid use of personal vehicles, regularly check their domicile and car for bugs, lock down all social media accounts, not shitting where they eat (as per action site), not engaging in other “illegal” activity that could get you arrested and exposed, assessing the action location beforehand, and having an emergency plan if things go south.
With the panopticon of state surveillance encroaching on us, to quote the 325 collective:
The black flag has to return. Propaganda by the deed. Attacks that strike the powerful in their hearts and make the fear change sides. Actions that sabotage the social machine and give it seizures. The destruction of the property of the capitalists, destruction of the means of production of a harmful predator culture.
photo: Fabian Jones via Unsplash