Statement from a Resister

Statement From A Resister – Leah-Lynn Plante from Because We Must on Vimeo.

On the morning of July 25th, 2012, my life was turned upside down in a matter of hours. FBI agents from around Washington and Oregon and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents from Washington busted down the front door of my house with a battering ram, handcuffed my house mates and me at gunpoint, and held us hostage in our backyard while they read us a search warrant and ransacked our home. They said it was in connection to May Day vandalism that occurred in Seattle, Washington earlier this year.

However, we suspected that this was not really about broken windows. As if they had taken pointers from Orwell’s 1984, they took books, artwork and other various literature as “evidence” as well as many other personal belongings even though they seemed to know that nobody there was even in Seattle on May Day. While we know that knowledge is powerful, we suspected that nobody used rolled up copies of the Stumptown Wobbly to commit property damage. We saw this for what it was. They are trying to investigate anarchists and persecute them for their beliefs. This is a fishing expedition. This is a witch hunt. Since then, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, we have learned that this Grand jury was convened on March 2nd, 2012, two months before the May Day vandalism even took place.

I was served a subpoena to testify before a Grand Jury on August 2nd, a week later. I hastily packed my life up into boxes, got rid of almost all of my personal belongings in preparation of incarceration. I was dismissed that day after refusing to testify and re-subpoenaed for August 30th, which was pushed back to September 13th. In that time I did a lot of self care, got my affairs in order and got advice from other people who have either resisted Grand Juries, gone to prison or both. I returned to the Grand Jury on September 13th where I was granted immunity. When you are granted immunity, you lose your right to remain silent and can be thrown into prison for civil contempt. Between consulting with my attorney and an hour long recess, I narrowly avoided a contempt hearing simply because they ran out of time. I was dismissed and was told I would receive my 4th subpoena. I walked out of the courthouse just in time to witness Matthew Kyle Duran, my fellow resister, being taken away to prison in a police van. It broke my heart to watch them kidnap an amazing and strong person and take him away from his friends and loved ones. Katherine “Kteeo” Olejnik has met a similar fate for refusing to testify on September 27th. Right now, Matt and Kteeo are both sitting in prison cells for doing nothing but remaining silent. I have nothing but love and admiration for them both and I know that thousands of others feel the same. On the drive home that night my brain felt like it was short circuiting. A few days later, I received notice that my next subpoena was for October 10th. They also notified my lawyer that they were preparing for a contempt hearing.

Court dates aside, my life has been a roller coaster. Thanks to unrelated events, I have suffered with severe depression and PTSD for many years. These are now much worse and new things trigger me. For a while after the raid, I was in a constant state of panic and I could barely eat. Every time someone knocked on the door, every time I heard any sort of loud sound in my house, my heart sank and I thought “they’ve come for me.” To the day of this writing, I haven’t slept a full night since that cold July morning thanks to nausea inducing anxiety that wakes me up between 4:00 and 7:00 every single morning. After a couple months, the initial panic has faded into grim acceptance. Despite my mental health issues, I never once considered co-operation and never would. It is against everything I believe in. On my right arm I have a tattoo reading “strive to survive causing least suffering possible.” This is something I live by every single day and will continue to live by whether I am in a cage or not.

I cannot express in words how grateful I am to all those who have shown us support and solidarity, especially our friends, partners and loved ones. We will all get through this together. I know I am a broken record with the following sentiment, but I feel like it’s worth repeating. They want us to feel isolated, alone and scared. I know that even though Kteeo has been held in what is essentially solitary confinement, she does not feel alone. I know that Matt does not feel alone. I know that I will not feel alone. When they try to mercilessly gut communities, we do not scatter, we grow stronger, we thrive. I view this State repression like this: The State thinks it is a black hole that can destroy whatever it wants. In reality, it is much more like a stellar nursery, wherein it unintentionally creates new, strong anarchist stars.

I do not look forward to what inevitably awaits me today, but I accept it. I ask that people continue to support us throughout this process by writing us letters, sending us books, donating and spreading awareness.

My convictions are unwavering and will not be shaken by their harassment. Today is October 10th, 2012 and I am ready to go to prison.

Love and solidarity to all those who resist,
Forever in silence.

Leah-Lynn Plante


FBI asks about Dakota activist’s controversial speech

Waziyatawin, a professor of indigenous history at the University of Victoria in British Columbia who used to go by the name Angela Cavender Wilson, told students that it’s time for American Indians to abandon symbolic demonstrations. Truth-telling efforts haven’t achieved anything, she said, according to a recording of the speech obtained by the Winona Post.

Cara Baldwin This is really an important case in point -not only  in relation to contemporary debates about the proper extent of  free speech – but to the notions of occupation and commons – with threads that relate to epic land-disputes elsewhere.

Chris Chen My sense is that scholars and activists who are part of these struggles are coming up against the limits of the various dominant anti-racist strategies in play for decades now: spiritual witnessing, consciousness raising, pleas for the recognition or tolerance of cultural difference, “speaking truth to power as though power didn’t know what it was doing,” etc.

These strategies presuppose that racist material dispossession and pervasive violence, an entire infrastructural political economy of racism, can somehow be remedied by symbolic rituals of inclusion and greater cultural appreciation (if liberal multicultural curricula at schools are any indication–this has been largely confined to dance, dress, and cuisine). I think that this culturalization of anti-racist thought and practice has been a disaster, projecting political agency outward, away from these communities.

Waziyatawin’s speech seems like a fairly modest proposal to reconsider more militant forms of direct action. In a post-911 US, I guess this means a visit from the FBI.

I should clarify that by projecting political agency outward away from these communities I mean performing cultural identity and difference for a potentially sympathetic audience of white liberals. The possibility of militant political action initiated by communities of color has become unimaginable in liberal political discourse which understands racism as a failure of cultural understanding.

Not only does this assert a depoliticized and profoundly disciplinary concept of shared cultural identities, it aggressively severs racism from political economy, and conceals the extent to which austerity, xenophobic scapegoating, and racist violence are mutually reinforcing.


The Great Firewall of the US and “Wasteful Spending”

I’ll be the occupying editor of Occupy Everything for the rest of the month, because I’m currently an internet refugee. Since UCOP has made it clear that they can and will send the police and the FBI to our door if university servers are used for creating electronic disturbance, my own personal blog has become a space that I can no longer use to write what I want. Everyday it becomes clearer that the internet as a space of freedom is a rapidly disappearing dream. With the latest news about Wikileaks, that the US has cut off their domain name, the country I live in has joined the UK, China, Iran and other countries which filter and control what information can be seen by their populace online. The UK joined this club last year when they took the Pirate Bay offline for UK residents. When I saw Jacob Applebaum speak at The Next Hope hacker conference in New York, I was moved but still held a fundamental question about Wikileaks, will the “truth” change anything? Wikileaks seems to be based on some very modernist notions about truth and democracy, imagining that if people everywhere just knew the truth of the injustice of the Iraq war, that they would rise up and stop it. And yet, such notions as truth and revolution prove to be increasingly bankrupt and the possibility of an uprising presupposes that political passion could overcome the crushing realities of poverty and hunger, or the constant fear of death and the loss of family and friends that so many of us seem to be right on the edge of as we try to just maintain our lives, or the struggle to survive that so many queer people, people of color, differnently abled people and more feel everyday in a society that wants us dead. Still, I am consistently impressed at how much of a threat governments see Wikileaks as, stopping and searching their volunteers at borders, exploiting border control legislation to further political ends, sending federal agents after founder Julian Assange, jailing Bradley Manning for submitting data to Wikileaks and threatening to execute Assange. For links and so much more amazing news, if you haven’t already, see Wikileaks’ twitter feed. Here’s a tweet I appreciated:

RT @JPBarlow:
The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops. #WikiLeaks

Another amazing story in this information war is that of AAARG.ORG, but that is a long post for another day.

Apparently the control over information and protection of copyrights for corporations is a far higher priority for governments than freedom of expression, and yet this is just the latest example of how the crisis of capital is really a crisis of priorities of the rulers. While the economy is supposedly taking a downturn and corporations get billion dollar handouts while students and workers are asked to work more for less money, there are always funds to send the police to kick down doors to protect Apple’s patents and the FBI to protect UCOP’s servers. All around me, the effects of the budget cuts that we’ve struggled against so hard are taking effect. Next school quarter, I might not have a job or health care, and my partner and many of my friends are all scrambling to find a way to pay for their education, as all of our jobs have been cut. The class that I’ve been teaching for a year at UCSD has been cut from the curriculum in response to the budget cuts, and as classes are cut TA jobs for those classes are also disappearing.

As the situation continues to worsen in California, the resistance seems to have slowed, hit with the weapon of bureaucracy as hundreds of us respond to investigations and criminal charges for our actions to resist the cuts. Part of this response to stop the resistance has included shutting down information flows, including noncompliant websites that facilitate disturbance, communities that value human expression over copyright controls and communities that value human life over keeping secrets. To try to stave off this loss of online freedom, some have proposed that hackers and developers take direct action and route around the information oppression. The Pirate Bay has proposed the creation of a P2P DNS system, which would prevent governments like the US from taking down sites who’s political views they disagree with, since of course copyright is just another political position and copyfight is a form of resistance. I also proposed, along with other bang lab members, a plan to use wireless routers and mesh networking to rout around phone companies control over the infrastructure of the internet called autonet, which we unfortunately have devoted very little time to making happen. These projects can be seen in the spirit of Fluxus’ call for artists to create infrastructure, except instead of creating magazines to mail out, we have to create an entire postal service. I can only hope that this post, the beginning of my online occupation of this site, is not deemed too disruptive to the information controls to be deported from the online public space of the internet.

Still everyday new resistance springs up, such as 400,000 Italian students taking the streets with the slogan “You block our futures, we block your cities” and universities all over the UK have been occupied, blockaded and have gone on strike. These events serve as a huge inspiration to me to keep on livin. New right-wing forms of resistance, though, are also popping up. Nick Knouf, who created the MAICgregator project which inserts into websites an augmented overlay of information about military and pharmaceutical ties, recently posted about the latest right-wing crowd-sourcing project and his attempts to thwart it. Nick writes on his blog:


Attacks on NSF Funding

Eric Cantor ( R ), the incoming House majority leader, is asking people to look for ‘wasteful’ National Science Foundation (NSF) funding. In his view, this would include projects that can be found using the keywords “success, culture, media, games, social norm, lawyers, museum, leisure, stimulus”. Cantor asks people to search for these keywords on the NSF website, make note of the offending award numbers, and submit them to a web-based form. This is an instance of so-called “crowd-sourcing” being used against the very researchers who are key in developing and studying this phenomenon.

I have written a simple script to upload your own “suggestions” to this form. These suggestions consist of texts such as Alice’s Adventues in Wonderland, Capital, Communist Manifesto, and works by De Sade. Additionally, the uploads come from referers such as “” and “”. The project follows in a long line of similar interventions such as the FloodNet by EDT and b.a.n.g. lab.

Note: the script that processes the results of the form on Cantor’s site is actually hosted on the personal site of Matt Lira, well-known technical operative of the GOP. Thus this script never connects to any .gov website.

The script and accompanying text files can be downloaded here. All you need is python 2.5 or higher to run. Comments at the top of the file explain any changes you might want to make.


In the spirit of blog writing, this is just what I’ve been thinking about. Maybe you just thought tl;dr. Hopefully, I’ll be posting more throughout the month. I look forward to your feedback! Enjoy…