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Oct 12, 22

Night Owls #2: Summer of Sabotage

Download pamphlet: Print – Tabloid [For a Risograph]
Download action poster:  Print – Tabloid [For a Risograph]

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes in An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, “Everything in U.S. history is about the land.” All nation-states rely on maintaining control over a particular territory, while capitalism has forced people across the world into dependency by taking away their access to land. But the United States is also a settler colonial state, built on anti-indigeneity alongside anti-blackness. Colonial regimes like the U.S. “create their legitimacy by occupying indigenous land and trying to delegitimize indigenous sovereignty. […] That’s the fundamental core of the colonial project” (Amrah Salomon, O’odham Anti-Border Collective). Understanding the deep significance of “land back” as an objective is of critical importance, especially as the Defend the Atlanta Forest campaign and other place-based struggles gain momentum across this territory. Prioritizing indigenous sovereignty can be difficult for settlers in the U.S. to navigate, but it is critical to the success of liberatory struggle. [1]

So are practices of autonomous and offensive direct action, which this column aims to bring together. Struggles to defend land, especially when intertwined with reassertions of indigenous self-determination, pose an existential threat to the United States as a settler colonial project. This means that such struggles are met with brutal repression. We can help avoid the containment that repression seeks by spreading the active defense of land to new places, while evading state control by taking action in unexpected and decentralized ways.

We must learn from the historical mistakes of anti-capitalist strategies that attempted to carve out autonomous spaces or build dual power without also going on the offensive against capital, white supremacy, and the rest of the colonial project. As the essay “Land and Freedom” notes in its discussion of the Back to the Land movement of the 1970s, “the profound need to overcome alienation and reencounter the world will never take us out of harm’s way. If we go to the woods to find peace — not inner peace but an absence of enemies — we’re doing it wrong. Life lived against the dictates of colonization is a life of illegality and conflict” (Sever, Black Seed #1).

Insurrectionary anarchy gained popularity among anarchists in the United States over the past two decades partly in response to the significant lack of conflictual direct action in many of the predominant radical tendencies at the time. [2] Many people desiring a more combative approach cut their teeth in the anti-globalization movement, in which anarchists and other radicals clashed with police in mass mobilizations against international governmental summits like the G7. Through these experiences, some sought to expand their practices beyond the defensive posture that these demonstrations maintained (in that the objective of the demos was to stop someone else’s planned event) and the reliance on a huge turnout to make conflict possible.

Insurrectionary thought and practice emphasizes the ability of individuals and small groups to take initiative by going on the offensive, especially through tactics like vandalism and sabotage, whether in the context of a broader social movement or on their own timelines. These types of action are often referred to as “attacks,” although they typically target property rather than people. In places where leftists and anarchists of a more leftist variety dominate most radical movements and explicitly distance themselves from such actions, honest alliances within those movements can be nearly impossible. This dynamic has historically confined much-needed direct action to a small, but often still impactful, subgroup of people.

The wave of uprisings against anti-Blackness and policing that began in 2014 after the police murder of Mike Brown, though, has significantly shifted how a lot of people think about property destruction. Transformed by these experiences, it’s becoming easier for more people to envision how individual initiative and direct action can transform the terrain of activity and maybe even overcome some of the limitations of mass action and uprisings. This column’s purpose is not only to highlight instances of sabotage and direct action that are often otherwise invisibilized, but also to provide some cursory reflections on the value of such attacks, and what they can accomplish and contribute. A lone act of vandalism can be a “signal of disorder,” a sign taken by observers to mean that there are still people willing to break the social peace and pose a destructive question to the way things are. With some creativity, our actions can even surpass the goal of “sending a message” and can concretely impact the functioning of domination; a string of sabotages can bring a particular project to an end, or put sand into the gears of the infrastructural backbone that industrial capitalism so heavily depends on. Widespread or well-targeted sabotage in the context of broader civil unrest could help amplify a crisis in which the State loses control, if only temporarily, over the territory it’s supposed to be governing. Each action contributes to an imaginary of what is possible, for all those who have grown tired of the channels of contestation that normalcy offers.

Actions claimed by “Jane’s Revenge,” which continued to spread across the country this summer, have helped put the question of sabotage and its uses back on the table. Although many of the claims continued to address themselves to our enemies, others used the opportunity to talk to one another and propose further action. A communique out of Everett, WA writes: “We echo what you have heard from JR before – in acting, we learn to act, and in waiting, we learn only to wait. Acting is fun and easy. You only need a few very trusted comrades. Those who would kill us are vulnerable and visible. We’ve only just begun.”

Continuing this line of thought, how might angles of action be expanded outside of pro-life centers? Jane’s Revenge has essentially become an informal network of attack, one that any anarchist is encouraged to take up, and in which communication with one another happens primarily through actions and their communiques. This means that what an individual or group of individuals does and says within these contexts has more influence than usual to change the course of action and the discourse around it. What kind of potential does this type of network offer that has yet to be explored? Those who took aim at the State House in Vermont, as well as the spray painting and arson of a church in a Virginia suburb and the choice to target the donors of a pro-life center in Oregon, offer some suggestions. [3]

Source: actforfree.noblogs.org/

Direct resistance to colonization occurred in the form of a series of vandalisms and sabotages in so-called Nevada in early July, when conflict between members of the Winnemuca Indian Colony and Judy Rojo, their self-appointed tribal chairperson in so-called Nevada, came to a head. According to the action claim, Rojo’s authority is not recognized by residents of Winnemucca. She has been charging rent, demolishing homes, and forcefully evicting residents since fall 2021, stealing 320 acres that legally belonged to the colony. In response, opponents targeted Rojo’s building projects’ suppliers, sabotaging project trailers at a company headquarters, locking and gluing gated entryways, and vandalizing windows at another company’s office on a separate occasion.

In a daring internationalist solidarity action from Portland, fire was set to a car owned by Free2Move, whose parent company supplies vehicles to the Greek police, in solidarity with Greek anarchist Giannis Michailidis’s hunger strike. By weaving connections with struggles elsewhere, through relationships, words, and deeds against shared enemies, we stand better equipped for the enormous task at hand. In this way, we also help our ideas and practices to surpass the imaginary lines of borders and the territorial control imposed by the State.

Source: Scenes from the Atlanta Forest

This summer also saw attacks proliferate in solidarity with the ongoing campaign to defend the Atlanta Forest. The defense of forests and other places that have so far evaded the reach of urban sprawl is starting to slowly spread elsewhere, with the “Save the Meadows” campaign in Philadelphia and the struggle to defend People’s Park in Berkeley, California. Will this strategy — of finding local ways to defend the forest, which those fighting in Atlanta remind us is everywhere — continue to spread? While it can definitely be simpler to take action in solidarity with a relatively high-profile campaign that has an easily defined objective, what could it look like to spread a combative defense of land, and the relationships we form through meeting there, across a multitude of different places?

Such campaigns often speak to a need to stop environmental destruction as we look ahead to a future of accelerating climate collapse, forgetting that we are already living in the aftermath of an ecological and social apocalypse. Over the past 450 years, colonization has decimated the ecological landscape of this entire continent, robbing and removing people across the globe from their land through a multitude of forced migrations, and the new wave of climate disasters is its logical consequence. This is not to suggest that we should give up the fight against the coming changes, but to put the current climate crisis in a historical context of survivance, specifically that of violently uprooted and colonized peoples as well as of non-human species. [4] Positioning our struggles as either part of or in solidarity with that tradition of survival, rather than thinking of it as a brand-new situation, might further shake the legitimacy of the State and its hold on us all. And maybe one day the struggle to defend the forest will once again be everywhere.

Notes:

[1] Here we’re using the term sovereignty to mean prioritizing indigenous self-determination with regard to the lands they belong to, to the extent that’s possible under the conditions of whatever struggle is going on, with the goal of getting the land back to fully autonomous indigenous stewardship. See J. Kēhaulani Kauanui’s discussion of the contested nature of the terms “sovereignty” and “nationhood” among anarchists in “The Politics of Indigeneity, Anarchist Praxis, and Decolonization,” p. 17-20. While there is some contention over the term among indigenous anarchists, its meaning in anti-colonial contexts is different from its mainstream or colonial definition.

[2] An exception to this trend was the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front, both of which used autonomous incendiary direct action as their primary tactic in the U.S. from around 1996-2003. These networks had been almost completely repressed by the State by the time that insurrectionary anarchy became popularized.

[3] Unfortunately, another unexploded molotov thrown through a window was recovered in Tennessee and reportedly sent to a lab for analysis. Forensic investigators sniffing for fingerprints and DNA have a much easier time doing so with glass bottles which often fail to break when thrown inside of a building.

[4] The term “survivance” describes a type of resistance to the United States that is specific to indigenous and other colonized people, one that combines practices of survival and resurgence.

Action Briefs

6/8: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The windows at a police substation are broken.

6/10: Tallahassee, Florida

Atlas Technical Branch loses its windows in solidarity with forest defenders in Atlanta.

6/11: Gresham, Oregon

A molotov is thrown though the window of First Image, a pro-life center, causing extensive damage. The Southeast Portland branch of First Image had already had its windows smashed in May.

6/12: Kansas City, Missouri

Some anarchists smash every window and door of an Atlas construction office.

6/12: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

All of the windows of the Hope pro-life center are smashed out by the Anti Hope Brigade.

6/15: Springfield, Massachusetts

Atlas Technical Consultants lose their windows and receive some paint.

6/16: Minneapolis, Minnesota

The office of the largest anti-abortion organization in the state loses its windows, thanks to Jane from the block. “There’s no reason why we can’t dance while we destroy. Turn our scream into a song and laugh in the face of an empire as it burns.”

6/17: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Anti-Gentrification Action/Another Gay Anarchists attack two construction sites. Paint and glass etch were used against the windows of a luxury apartment construction, and the windows of another were smashed out. “We did this to fight gentrification and to contribute to the new wave of anarchist attack in the US. We also did this to have fun!”

6/18: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The locks and windows at a new Whole Foods are destroyed by the Ghost of Penn Plaza.

“Some anarchists chose to manifest divine violence, to share a social act in a time of social distance, to thrust onto the walls that which we often sit uncomfortably with […] Slogans sprung upon brick facade to point: people lived here, people walked this land, human stories persevere in defiance of linear time. The soul of the block serves to haunt industry titans. We invite others to make more social expressions, bring visibility to the pain and anguish that comes with the class society: high gas and commodity prices, paying for a war, companies profiting from the destruction of homes. We believe this small stone cast can make larger waves.”

6/18: Watauga, Texas

A baptist church that advocates killing queers has its windows smashed, and the graffiti “f(a)gs bash back” is scrawled on the sidewalk.

6/19: Detroit, Michigan

Criminal queers smash windows of two pro-life clinics.

6/24: Lynchburg, Virginia

The Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center is spray painted with graffiti and multiple windows are smashed out by Jane’s Revenge #187. “We encourage anyone to gather their friends, pick up a crowbar or a bottle of spray paint, find your nearest misogyny shop, courthouse, or pig pen and go fucking ape shit. We have learned that this is really quite simple, all you need is a few trusted friends and a little bit of passion!”

6/25: Longmont, Colorado

A Christian pro-life pregnancy center is set on fire and tagged with messages including “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you.” The building is heavily damaged.

6/25: Montpelier, Vermont

Seven windows at the Vermont State House are smashed out early in the morning and spraypainted, “If abortions aren’t safe, you’re not either.” The department estimated the damage was worth over $25,000.

6/25: Portland, Oregon

A nocturnal demo attacked a Starbucks, a bank, and a pro-life clinic.

6/26: Portland, Oregon

Some baby killers attack a donor to First Image, a pro-life organization. The claim lists some local addresses of other donors.

6/27: Reston, Virginia

A local Catholic church is graced with arson and graffiti.

6/27: Burlington, Vermont (Abenaki land)

Jane’s Revenge smash the windows at an anti-abortion clinic. “A veritable volley of crashing and shattering sounds filled the neighborhood and our gay hearts to their brims.[…] Gather your friends and collect heavy rocks. Learn the skill of accelerant bartending. Decentralize your actions– go into the night and be feral with joy!”

6/27: Everett, Washington

The windows are smashed out of a pro-life center, accompanied by a molotov.

6/29: Atlanta, Georgia

Trees in the Welaunee forest are spiked to protect against felling by chainsaw by Railroad Workers Union Local 1312, accompanied by signs to alert the workers. “The draws of ‘society’ & the ‘civilized’ & ‘developed’ world cannot surpass the sounds of swallows in trees, humming of insects & bees, & the liberation of laying under the starry skies.”

6/29: Southfield, Michigan

A pro-life center loses its windows, which is the fourth attack of its kind in the area over the previous couple of weeks.

6/30: Granville Correctional Center, North Carolina

Prisoners organize a hunger strike following “fires, prisoners attempting to fight off a half dozen or more storm troopers single-handedly, and other means of protest” over a number of issues in the prison and to commemorate George Floyd Day and Juneteenth.

7/1: Nashville, Tennessee

An arson at the Hope Clinic for Women is foiled when the molotov cocktail did not ignite after being thrown through a broken window. Jane’s Revenge graffiti is left behind.

7/2: Madison, Wisconsin

Graffiti is left on a Catholic church: “Pro life my fucking ass, let’s talk about all the native kids you’ve killed !!” Four Catholic churches have been recently vandalised in the area.

7/6: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Janes Revenge smashes the front windows of a pro-life union that runs two centers and an anti-abortion hotline. “Solidarity with all those attack the state, capital, civilization, and patriarchy.”

7/7: Atlanta, Georgia

The Beaver Gang cut down a 40-ft surveillance pole. “We noticed that police escorted a white work truck with boom lift affiliated with The City of Atlanta to install a very large & approximate 40 foot wooden pole on Key Road near the prison ruins in south Atlanta yesterday, for what appeared to be a high altitude surveillance tower[…]Us beavers just so happen to LOVE a good hardwood pole, & will surely gnaw down more if you bring them! Thanks for the snack APD!”

7/7: Winnemuca, Nevada (Paiute and Shoshone land)

Attacks are claimed against the self-appointed tribal chairperson of Winnemucca Indian Colony, who is charging residents rent, demolishing their homes and forcefully evicting them. “Western Nevada Supply Company headquarters in Sparks, NV was vandalized. Multiple project trailers in a supply yard had electrical wires cut, tail lights removed, and messages of: ‘End contracts with Judy Rojo,’ and ‘stop colonizing Winnemucca’ spray-painted in black and red.”

The claim also mentions that “In April of 2022, machines were destroyed and two buildings, the tribal building on the 320 acres, and a deceased elder’s home that Judy seized to turn into a Bureau of Indian Affairs office, burned down, totaling approximately 1.3 million dollars in damages.”

7/8: Winnemuca, Nevada

Western Nevada Supply Company in Winnemucca is also vandalized: bike locks are used around entrances/gates, door locks filled with super glue, windows were blacked out and a message of “end contracts with Judy Rojo” was spray-painted.

7/8: Worchester, Massachusetts

Paint hits one pro-life center and windows are smashed out at another.

7/9: Elko, Nevada

Arnold Machinery in Elko, which supplies some of the heavy equipment to Judy Rojo, was vandalized. Windows were blacked out and a message of “end contracts with Judy Rojo” was spray-painted.

7/25: Atlanta, Georgia

The installation of a surveillance camera on the edge of the Atlanta forest was prevented — forest defenders threw rocks at the van and chased them off.

7/29: Atlanta, Georgia

A tow truck sent to take forest defender’s cars was looted and burned in defense of Weelaunee Forest.

7/30: Atlanta, Georgia

Police accompanying an excavator are pushed back with rocks in broad daylight, and barricades were erected upon their retreat. A truck left behind was looted for contracts, a drivers license and credit cards, then dismantled and later burned.

8/2: Portland, Oregon

Arson of a Free2move (car share) vehicle in solidarity with Giannis Michailidis. “Free2Move was chosen as a target because their parent company Stellantis is a supplier of vehicles to the Hellenic Police; aiding the every day repression of the Greek state.”

8/3: New York City, New York

The office of Alta Vista, a Cop City partner, received a hail of paint and broken glass.

8/3: Berkeley, California

Park defenders tear down fences erected around People’s Park, attack and sabotage construction machinery, and drive out riot police.

8/4: Omaha, Nebraska

Atlas Technical Consultants lose their windows.

8/5: Atlanta, Georgia

A truck of Georgia Power, a collaborator in the destruction of the Atlanta forest, lost its windows as it drove past the forest.

8/9: San Francisco, California

Fences are torn down around a subway station after a State crackdown on non-permitted vendors. In solidarity with People’s Park in Berkeley, Parker Elementary in Oakland, Echo Park in LA, Mystic Garden in Daly City and every fight for the liberation of public space and against the ever-encroaching police state!

8/14: New Orleans, Louisiana

Prisoners at the Orleans Justice Center refuse to go into lockdown and barricade themselves in their pods for three days, releasing a list of demands for basic needs at the facility and holding up signs visible to people outside. Jail officials cut off access to water inside the pod and raided it on Sunday after prisoners started to flood the pod, put on masks, and break the glass windows. “We the people are tired of being treated in such an inhumane manner.”

8/18: Easthampton, Massachusetts

A pro-life center is splattered in red paint by Jane.

8/24: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A stand of pine trees in the meadows of FDR park, which is in the process of getting developed, are marked with signs warning some of them have been “spiked.” The spiked stand of trees is discovered a week later amid a larger clearcut swath.

8/26: Atlanta, Georgia

Destruction vehicles at a Brasfield & Gorrie construction site are vandalized, and graffiti is left behind reading “STOP COP CITY.” Some wondered, how could this be? The site undergoes 24 hour surveillance. Maybe they aren’t as invulnerable as they’d like you to think….

8/27: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Six pieces of construction equipment are ruined overnight in the meadows of South Philadelphia’s FDR Park, which is slated to be clearcut as part of a “revitalization project.”

9/6: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Four pieces of heavy machinery being used to cut down forest and develop the Cobbs Creek Golf Course are sabotaged. “There doesn’t need to be a bigger campaign going on for us to take matters into our own hands and try to stop some of the destruction that surrounds us.”

9/8: Atlanta, Georgia

Construction machines are torched on a property owned by the city of Atlanta. “Solidarity with warriors and saboteurs!”

9/11: Vancouver, Washington

The personal car of the Portland Police Bureau cop responsible for two murders is sabotaged at his home. “Hiding in your white suburbia house is not going to make you safe. You will never be safe. See you soon.”

9/14: Atlanta, Georgia

An excavator is arsoned at Michelle Obama Park. “This was for revenge for the greedy capitalists who turned what was once a beautiful forest into a barren lot approximately 18 months ago— this barren lot plan being the police & black halls hopes for the rest of Welaunee.”

9/20: Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Anarcho-pyro militants found extreme joy in watching flames spread from our matches to the old rotting symbol of settler-colonialism”, John Steven’s House in Minnehaha park, “the first settlement west of the Mississippi River.”

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Night Owls is a seasonal chronicle documenting actions against power, claimed and unclaimed, from across the territory occupied by the United States.

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