Filed under: Featured, Night Owls
Night Owls is a seasonal chronicle documenting actions against power, claimed and unclaimed, from across the territory occupied by the United States. Through slanted or absent coverage, mainstream media takes great care to ensure that people don’t notice how empowering and effective these moments can be. By consolidating and analyzing these acts outside of the news cycle, we aim to trace a continuity across combative contexts and struggles, moving away from the role of content consumers.
We want to consider the specific context of the United States, the dead heart of global capitalism, in which Black and Indigenous struggles against white supremacy and settler colonialism have laid out paths of struggle marked by daring insurgent actions. While international insurrectionary traditions have also inspired us, our goal is to highlight a number of different approaches and to critically reflect on direct action in the U.S. today. Anarchists have their own tradition of going on the offensive in this part of the world, but as Kuwasi Balagoon reminds us, anarchy can’t fight alone.
Faced with pacification, cooptation, and repression, severed from our revolutionary heritage, relatively few in these parts decide to fight back. We emphasize these anonymous efforts in hopes of expanding our collective imagination of what is possible. There is no single path towards a world we want to live in, free of domination. Every act holds the potential to contribute to a wider social revolt.
We cannot abandon “strategy” to the authoritarians and managers, who will use this word manipulatively to discount actions that don’t play into their unspoken strategy and goals. Blows to the operations of power can be understood as part of a wider decentralized and anti-authoritarian strategy towards insurrection. As Russell Maroon Shoatz wrote from behind bars, resilient and multi-headed formations have successfully confronted power throughout the centuries.
Reports on social conflict can often veer towards romanticization. In an effort to avoid this, we’d like to acknowledge the very real consequences that can befall those who make the decision to attack. Solid security culture, relationships, and operational security can go a long way, but struggles with teeth will inevitably have prisoners. If highly-criminalized actions are to be a viable part of our strategy, it would be irresponsible to not put just as much effort into supporting our prisoners. We must also prepare for repression ourselves, and only make certain decisions when we know we can live with the worst potential consequences. As we spread the silent wings of this column for the first time, we want to pay respect to tomorrow’s June 11 day of solidarity with Marius Mason and all long-term anarchist prisoners, who continue to be our companions in struggle from the inside.
To help spread these stories of rebellion outside of internet echo chambers, Night Owls will also be available in print. Echoing an initiative across a border, we will accompany our chronicle with a poster or two depicting a recent action that spoke to us.
WAR ON STATE DISCIPLINE
The past few years in the U.S. have shown that even highly repressive policing and incarceration are not enough to win full servitude from its citizens. A slew of new laws and legal opinion restricting gender and sexuality, one arena of life in which many of us have won a little freedom over the past decades, is an attempt to more directly discipline our bodies, an approach that capitalist states have historically used to control their citizenry, along with more obvious forms of punishment.
Before we cover the courageous ways people have begun to resist these developments, we want to look at the question of why the state is using these repressive measures in this moment. While some on the Left have hypothesized that the move to overturn Roe is an attempt to distract people from an increasingly miserable economic situation, we know this move has been coming for a long time and that it can’t be reduced to a simple economic or short-term cause.
Respect Life Hollywood, an anti-abortion clinic, was attacked by a cell of pro-choice anarchist insurgents Jane’s Revenge, who plastered the walls of the establishment with graffiti in support of bodily autonomy and other messages addressing pertinent political affairs. pic.twitter.com/eQ80OWjo81
— Tequesta Black Star (@TBSFlorida) June 5, 2022
All of these measures restrict the human body, its desires, and its reproductive ability: the core of life itself and the ultimate source of freedom. Early capitalism started out with these kinds of disciplinary measures in order to create a submissive workforce — for example, with the mass burning of “witches” alongside legislation and other practices that enforced new gender roles in Western Europe and on this continent, especially where hierarchies were not customary among its original inhabitants. These new gender and sexuality norms played an integral part in imposing capitalism’s global reach and establishing the settler colonial project that we now call the United States. The latest capitalism is using similar disciplinary tactics in its eternal need to force people to work who would simply prefer not to, and who, besides, have much better things to do, like burn down police precincts.
Until recently, the end of pandemic unemployment and the return to pandemic-inducing work had coincided with a relative lull in visible attacks by anarchists and other rebels. The May 8th arson of Wisconsin Family Action’s Madison headquarters — an anti-abortion group — abruptly changed this. The building was also tagged, “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either,” along with a circle-A and “1312.” A group named Jane’s Revenge claimed the arson, demanding that all anti-choice organizations disband within 30 days. It also warned those in power of additional actions: “And we will not stop, we will not back down, nor will we hesitate to strike until the inalienable right to manage our own health is returned to us.”
— Abolition Media (@abol_media) May 9, 2022
Such initiative is a breath of fresh air, especially when we are all aware of how far the State will go to ruin our lives if they catch us. Attacks as daring as this one, though, speak for themselves — Wisconsin Family Action and anti-abortion groups across the country will interpret them as a material threat, regardless of whether that threat is also communicated verbally to them or not. In the spirit of comradely critique, we would suggest that by using our communiques to talk to one another as opposed to addressing our oppressors, we demonstrate that we can do for ourselves what a heartless system never really did for us anyway.
In response, Jane’s Revenge, Bo Brown Memorial Cell in Olympia contributed a similar idea:
We echo the words of some crazy bitches from over a decade ago when we say that we are not asking for the right to choose, we are taking into our own hands the ability to abort a pregnancy. We are not asking for advertisements or media that pander to trans people, we’re wresting the tools to change our bodies out of the control of doctors. We are not appealing to state power for an end to patriarchal violence, but threatening: “‘If abortions aren’t safe, then neither are you.’
On the same night as the arson in Madison, an Oregon pro-life center was blessed with molotovs, which ignited a small fire that was extinguished quickly. A month later, anonymous hands put an anti-abortion clinic in Buffalo to the torch by setting multiple fires in the building, as well as leaving “Jane was here” scrawled on an adjacent wall. A Hollywood anti-abortion clinic was plastered in slogans like “Abort the State,” while an Asheville pro-life center had its windows smashed and the same message left in Madison was painted on its doorstep. Pro-life centers in Washington, Lynnwood, Maryland, Portland, and Denton suffered a similar fate.
For the moment, not a single arrest has been produced, though only time will tell if anything will come from investigation efforts. Graffiti that is written in ALL CAPS will have less forensic value to investigators compared to stylized tags, although it is likely that even this or communique writing style will be analyzed. If a graffiti action uses the same tags or signs the same name as arsons, operational security decisions would ideally reflect the increased risk of a possible joint investigation. Traces left at the crime scene can enable fingerprint and DNA forensics, such as blood that was found on a window in Asheville, the unignited Molotov recovered in Madison, or even a spray paint can that is ditched a few blocks away.
— Asheville Blade (@AvlBlade) June 7, 2022
On a different note, we were dismayed to see some anarchists publicly criticizing the original Jane’s Revenge action as poorly timed, not generalizable, or overly risky. We won’t bother to link their words here. We encourage anarchists to not project their fear of repression onto those who make different decisions around risk, under the guise of a strategic critique. Critical solidarity is important, but this shouldn’t aim to take the wind out of experiments with tactics which face more severe repression, in part because their impact often surpasses an exclusively symbolic dimension. The 2020 uprising saw widespread use of arson; tactics generalize when they are considered apt to the task at hand.
In response to cities’ sweeps of homeless encampments, courageous vandals in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Santa Cruz launched counter-attacks. In Seattle, people smashed out the windows of a Parks and Recreation building and smashed three of the vehicles parked next to it, leaving a spray-painted message to clarify the choice of target for the public: “You sweep, we strike.” In Minneapolis, “some angry faggots” slashed tires and smashed up trucks belonging to the public works department in April, and in early June a contractor’s truck that had assisted with an eviction was torched.
Folks in Santa Cruz, CA seem to have said "you sweep, we strike" the other day, torching a bunch of city property in explicit response to that city's violence against people who are unhoused –https://t.co/WvX3KZCXu7
— Twin Cities Encampment Responders (@TCparkresponder) June 3, 2022
In Santa Cruz, city vehicles were set on fire as a preemptive response to the city’s announcement that they will shut down a local homeless encampment in July. In early June, the “You sweep, we strike” counterattacks spread to Portland (OR), where vandals smashed out windows at the building of the company being paid to evict houseless people, and in a separate incident emptied out and redistributed 34 planters that had been placed in a neighborhood to prevent people from camping and sleeping there.
It would appear that the amount of “finding out” is increasing in comparison to the amount of violent eviction collaborators “fucking around”. https://t.co/MVwiWkJsgp
— Twin Cities Encampment Responders (@TCparkresponder) June 4, 2022
By taking aim at targets that don’t have infinite resources at their disposal — municipal services or small contractors — anarchists can make quite an impact with relatively little effort. A fleet of vehicles turned to ash is a significant obstacle for these relatively feeble actors, impairing their capacity to realize their dreams of gentrified cities sanitized of the poor. Preemptive strikes provide an opportunity to actually prevent repression, rather than limiting ourselves to responding to it.
BURSTING THE NATIONAL BUBBLE
In April, anarchists in Olympia sabotaged a Bank of America ATM in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders. A similar action occurred in Pittsburgh in May. These are the only recent attacks we know of in solidarity with an international struggle, although we were also happy to see the arson against a Pratt & Whitney engine facility in Orange County, CA last year in solidarity with Palestine, at a time when international sympathy with Palestinian resistance was at a high point. The Olympia anarchists’ communique expressed an aspiration to increase international solidarity efforts in the U.S., which we share. While operating in the heart of the empire involves its share of challenges, we are also positioned to go after targets that people elsewhere would probably love to get their hands on.
FORESTS MUST BE DEFENDED
Meanwhile, a little “night work” is back, along with a well-honed movement strategy dating back to the early 2000s, when the SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty) campaign popularized the strategy of going after every single corporation and person associated with their primary target. No one attached to Huntingdon Life Sciences was safe — the campaign involved actions like firebombing the homes of executives who even associated with HLS.
— Defend the Atlanta Forest (@defendATLforest) May 25, 2022
The Defend the Atlanta Forest movement hasn’t been quite so spicy yet, but its intentional diversity of tactics includes some of the first arsons against heavy machinery seen here since the Earth Liberation Front’s demise, as well as solidarity sabotage and vandalism across the country. This uptick in solidarity attacks around the U.S. is a testament to the campaign’s successful avoidance of some of the strategic pitfalls endemic to radical ecodefense campaigns over the last decade, which in part have stemmed from the brutal repression against the ELF’s more radical but risky tactics. Defending barricades is back on the menu, allowing the tactical imagination of what’s possible in a forest defense to finally transcend tree-sitting and lockdowns. They’ve insisted from the beginning that “the forest is everywhere,” that associated targets can be found wherever you are, and that this fight is against a system rather than a particular project.
— Abolition Media (@abol_media) May 8, 2022
The outpouring of solidarity attacks nationwide also points to how far the techno-industrial nightmare we’re in has progressed, and how few opportunities present themselves for how to approach and target it. So far, at least 13 pieces of heavy machinery have been burned in the Atlanta Forest itself, in four separate arsons over the past year, and flames recently hopped across the concrete to visit the Atlanta Police Foundation’s “youth center.” Across the rest of the U.S., vandals have attacked equipment and buildings attached to the construction companies contracted to destroy the forest (Reeves Young, Brasfield & Gorrie, and Atlas Technical Consultants) as well as Bank of America, one of the Cop City project’s sponsors.
Boyette Brothers Equipment Rental Service Machines Set On Fire
"To Boyette Brothers (rental service) + anyone who tries to help build cop city, our message is simple: "If you build it, we will burn it.""
read the full communique here:https://t.co/CtbuBGlbVn
— Scenes from the Atlanta Forest (@scenesatl) June 7, 2022
It’s true that the forest is everywhere, and so is the desecration of life as the non-human world is gradually extinguished and we humans continually prodded into shapes and spaces that can more easily be controlled and employed. Maybe the lull in direct actions in response to this reality up until recently speaks to a relative lack of motivation when the attack isn’t part of a bigger movement and its impact is less obvious. The Atlanta Forest struggle has provided such a movement and reawakened this kind of initiative. Whether that movement succeeds or fails, the campaign to stop those who are destroying Atlanta’s forest still has the chance to broaden into a campaign that comes into conflict with those who are destroying life everywhere else too.
ACTION BRIEFS: MAY DAY – JUNE 7th
On May Day, “some kid” smashed the windows of a Bank of America, which funds “the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline on unceded Wet’suwet’en land, and ‘cop city’ in the Atlanta Forest.”
5/4: all over the USA
The North American Animal Liberation Press Office (NAALPO) releases a list of 11 unclaimed arson attacks over the past 16 months on meat processing plants and other enterprises, from New Hampshire to Nebraska, that systematically abuse and destroy non-human animal life.
5/5: Boulder, Colorado
An anti-abortion Catholic church has a window broken and graffiti written on it.
5/5: Portland, Oregon
A pro-life center is deprived of its windows.
An individual is killed by police in the course of a molotov attack on police vehicles and officers, an act that his brother later said was motivated by his experiences in county jail.
— Abolition Media (@abol_media) May 21, 2022
“Colorado Anarchists” broke windows and graffitied at a Catholic Church, “in retaliation for its material support of dangerous anti-abortion groups like 40 Days for Life.”
5/8: Madison, Wisconsin
The headquarters of an anti-abortion group are targeted for arson, claimed by “Jane’s Revenge.” “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” is tagged on the building alongside “(A) 1312.“ The fire burns a part of the wall.
5/8: Keizer, Oregon
The side of the Oregon Right to Life building is lit aflame by a molotov, though the fire was quickly extinguished.
5/10: Albany, New York
“Some anarchist” broke windows and left graffiti at the office building of Atlas, which is contracted for the Atlanta cop city.
5/11: Atlanta, Georgia
Park police cars are ambushed in the Atlanta forest with bottles and rocks during their inspection. A few hours later, a Department of Juvenile Justice van suffered the same fate. “Juvenile justice was served, but probably not in the way they meant. Atlanta will remain a forest.”
A bear attacks two U.S. Army soldiers, killing one, in the process of protecting her cubs. The bear disappeared afterwards and as far as we know has not been seen or harmed since.
5/13: Birmingham, Alabama
The windows and doors of Brasfield & Gorrie Corporate HQ, which is contracted for the Atlanta forest cop city, are smashed.
5/14: Reisterstown, Maryland
A pro-life center is tagged with “Jane’s revenge” among others.
5/16: Dawsonville, Georgia
“Some sexxii Forest Fairies” graffiti a home associated with Dodd Drilling LLC. “THE WEELAUNEE FOREST IS NOT DYING; IT IS BEING KILLED AND THOSE WHO ARE KILLING IT HAVE NAMES AND ADDRESSES.”
5/19: Lane Country, Oregon
Many construction vehicles have their windows smashed. “Not only must Cop City be stopped but all construction everywhere. Construction projects anywhere are a threat to living things everywhere. We will not stop until there are no more windows to smash or excavators to operate.”
5/20: Minneapolis, Minnesota
In response to a raid on the Atlanta forest in which multiple people are arrested, a Bank of America which sponsors the Atlanta Police Foundation has its windows smashed, and “DEFUND COP CITY” is graffitied on its front.
5/20: Kansas City, Missouri
Five toilets at fast food restaurants are sabotaged by vandals who brought in backpacks full of stones and flushed the stones down the toilets.
5/21: Olympia, Washington
Four anti-abortion churches are graffitied. Jane’s Revenge, Bo Brown Memorial Cell claims responsibility, “for joy, pleasure, and self-determination.“ They add, “we wish to highlight that it’s easy and fun to attack. Our enemies are vulnerable and easy to find. In acting, we learn to act; in waiting, we only learn to wait.”
5/25: Lynnwood, Washington
An anti-abortion center has five windows smashed and is painted with the refrain, “If abortion isn’t safe, you aren’t either“.
5/26: Oakland, California
An Atlas subsidiary office has its windows smashed, in solidarity with Atlanta forest defenders. “We didn’t need a reason, but the hydra of industrial society has many heads and construction firm Atlas is one.”
5/26: East Coast, USA
Shoplifters use a tote bag to liberate 51 lobsters over a two-day period and return them to their natural habitat on the northeastern coast of the Atlantic ocean.
5/27: Durham, North Carolina
Anonymous individuals sneak into a construction site of a luxury townhouse complex, cut holes into the finished plumbing, and pour concrete into the gas tank of the back hoe. The claim encourages: “All of us can reproduce the tiny ripples that disrupt gentrification.[…]Take actions to interrupt the easeful flow of development that is destroying the potential of what else we can create. Every ripple counts.”
5/27: Atlanta, Georgia
At the Atlanta Police Foundation’s “youth center,” a window is broken and four molotovs are tossed in. “This was the day before the two year anniversary of the burning of the third precinct in Minneapolis. Fuck The Police.” Unfortunately, investigators believe they have a lead in relation to a car that was caught on surveillance cameras in the vicinity — the forces of law and order will often have a harder time identifying bikes than cars.
5/27: Brooklyn, New York
An unknown person or persons busted into the altar at a New York City Roman Catholic Church known as the “Notre Dame” of Park Slope, stole a $2 million gold relic and decapitated a statue of an angel. The relic, a jewel-encrusted gold tabernacle, had its own electronically operated “burglar-proof” safe and one-inch thick steel plates completely surrounding it, which the thieves boldly cut through. Camera recordings from the church’s security system were also stolen.
6/1: Erie, Pennsylvania
A door window was smashed and building tagged at the northeast office of Atlas (Atlas Technical Consultants) in Erie, PA.
The truck used by a contractor to evict a homeless encampment is torched outside the contractor’s house. “Get it through your thick fucking skulls, Minneapolis: you sweep, we strike.”
A brick was thrown into a moving NYPD patrol car around midday, breaking the car’s front windshield. The individual took off on foot but was intercepted by police.
6/2: Columbus, Ohio
An Atlas office is smashed up!
6/2: Atlanta, Georgia
“A horde of forest defenders were able to stop a bulldozer on the edge of the woods (that was being escorted by kkkops) from destroying the forest by throwing rocks, deploying fireworks, & shouting scary words!”
In advance of the closure of the San Lorenzo Park Benchlands homeless encampment, multiple city vehicles were set on fire and destroyed at a maintenance yard at Harvey West Park. Graffiti left at the scene read, “Leave Homeless Alone!!” and “Stop Sweeping!”
6/3: Washington, D.C.
A pro-life center is splattered with red paint, accompanied by the tag “Jane says revenge“.
6/5: Portland, Oregon
Three doors and around 25 windows of the Rapid Response Bio Clean building, the group contracted by the city to sweep and displace houseless people, are shattered and sprayed with tags including “Revenge” and “You Sweep, We Strike.”
6/5: Portland, Oregon
34 planters filled with gravel and soil, set up by NIMBYs and city officials in a neighborhood to prevent houseless people from camping there, are emptied and redistributed.
6/6: Atlanta, Georgia
An earth-destroying machine in the forest, along with a few others, are incinerated. “If you build it, we will burn it.”
6/7: Asheville, North Carolina
A pro-life center is smashed, splattered with red paint, and tagged with “if abortions aren’t safe, neither are you“.
6/7: Amherst, New York
The anti-abortion clinic CompassCare is put to the torch — “Jane was here” is left spray painted on a wall outside it.
HIT US UP
If you come across existing articles from mainstream media you’d like to see included in our next action briefs, or have feedback on the column, we’d love to hear from you at nightowls [at] riseup [dot] net. Please do not send us your communiques or any actions you are personally taking responsibility for — send these instead to one of the counter-info projects that publish claims, some of which are listed here.