Bundy V. #Ferguson; Teargas and Smiles All Around!

This post was originally published in September, 2014. 

Bundy Ranch and Ferguson threw out all notions of what people thought they knew about activism be it left wing, right wing, or race-based. Both incidents were born of the exact same frustration and both suffered from outsiders “hijacking” the movements to serve their own ends. However, while they are similar in some ways, Ferguson and Bunkerville were treated completely different by the media, the public, and more importantly law enforcement. This has led many to question the reason one incurred such a violent response, while the other appeared to be a government in retreat. The answers are much simpler than most people are willing to accept, and they probably are not what most believe.

In order to adequately explain the difference between Ferguson and Bunkerville, it is necessary to briefly review both. In April 2014, a local rancher named Cliven Bundy issued a call for help from his cattle ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada. Bundy was facing the closing days of a decades old dispute with the US government, spearheaded by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM closed several thousand acres of public land, and were preparing to round up Bundy’s trespass cattle, which had roamed on the land for several years despite court orders to cease. Bundy’s call was answered by dozens of “patriots” and a number of citizen militia. The result was hundreds of armed men and women, ready to fight for what they saw as stunning government overreach. After nearly two weeks of escalating rhetoric, the incident ended with the BLM retreating, and the militia declaring victory.

In Ferguson, on August 9th, an officer confronted two African American men who were walking in the middle of the street. Accounts vary as to what happened next, but the consensus is, one of the men, Michael Brown, began to wrestle with the officer as the officer was in his vehicle. Brown fled from the officer, but then turned back to face him. At that point, the officer fired at Brown, killing him. Brown was found to be unarmed. The next night, a candle light vigil for Brown took a turn for the worst as members of the vigil began looting local businesses. By late on August 10th, many businesses were burned and other property destroyed. On-line hacktivists called for a full-scale attack on the City of Ferguson and the police department. The hacktivists took down web sites, and encouraged civil-disobedience on the ground. Dozens were arrested. Police deployed rubber bullets, audio-disruption devises, teargas and riot officers. The unrest ended nearly two weeks after it began. Over 150 people were arrested in the 16 days of rioting.

What is the cause of such a disparity? The answer lies in the inherent nature of social movements. Each movement needs three things; a clear message, a sympathetic public, and the ability to evolve. A clear message is a prerequisite for organization. When organized, activist movements are easier to control because the crowd follows a certain set of rules, established by the leadership. Examples of this include almost all immigration marches, anti-tax rallies, and anti-war protests. While both movements were in response to government oppression, only one had a clear message; Bunkerville.

At Bunkerville, Cliven Bundy and the militia set out to protect Bundy’s trespass cattle and secure the release of the confiscated cows. The message was clear, thus when two of the country’s largest militias arrived, the Oath Keepers and Arizona Praetorian Guard, they were able to quickly establish leadership and control the movement. It is important to note that when BLM Special Agent Dan Love broke the skirmish line and approached the throngs of armed militia, he was able to negotiate with one person. This presence of leadership allowed for the peaceful retreat of the BLM and probably saved the lives of dozens of people.

In Ferguson the message was ambiguous; “Justice for Mike Brown” or “stop police brutality” or “the police are racist” and so on. The lack of a single coherent message led to a lack of leadership and instead, an ochlocracy formed and remained for two weeks. People took to the streets being led by an ideology, fed by anonymous on-line provocateurs. Several people tried to take control of the mob including Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the Nation of Islam. None of them succeeded because none of them had a clear message. On August 15th, five days after the shooting, Captain Ron Johnson from the Missouri Highway Patrol arrived on scene and attempted a similar move as BLM SA Love. Initially it looked as through Capt. Johnson’s presence and the use of the state police was enough to quell the anger, but this notion faded within 24 hours as the mob continued to riot. In the end, Ferguson calmed simply by virtue of running out of steam. As many movements have witnessed throughout history, anger and resentment only last for so long. Had one, tangible demand emerged early, Ferguson would have never seen the clouds of gas.

The police responded to Bunkerville and Ferguson in the same manner; heavily armed, teargas at the ready, and skirmish lines prepared. Bunkerville’s throngs were placated by their leadership, thus not a single round was fired. In Ferguson, no one was in charge so the crowd surged, challenged the skirmish lines, and incurred the wrath of a modern police force. Police agencies in the US are not accustomed to dealing with leaderless resistance. Their approach in Ferguson was not at all surprising when viewed through the lens of modern police training and common knowledge, both of which state, “look for the leader.” In the end, shouts of racism and intolerance by police in Ferguson hold little water because the movement itself invited the response by failing to organize early. Interestingly, Bunkerville and Ferguson attracted enough people to qualify as a sympathetic public, even if that public was highly niche. Unfortunately neither enjoyed national or global support similar to “Occupy.” Time will tell if Ferguson is able to adapt, but without a defined message this is not likely.

Much more can be said in regards to the Ferguson movement and its face-first collision with the police. The main point however will never change and that is, Ferguson lacked a message, therefore they lacked leadership, and we all saw the results.

Why #ISIS cares about #Ferguson

Standing on the rubble of a bombed-out apartment complex in Gaza seems an odd place to see a sign supporting rioters in Ferguson, Missouri.  Yet, there he stands, a man with a forlorn look, holding a homemade sign declaring Gaza’s support for the movement in Ferguson. The links between Gaza and Ferguson are not obvious to the general public, and require a deep dive into American left ideology. Indeed this is exactly why the links between Gaza and Ferguson should be treated seriously. Anti-establishment ideology is ubiquitous in American activism and research into the solidarity between Gaza and Ferguson opens a Pandora’s box of extremism which ultimately leads to a British Jihadi fighting for ISIS.

In August the terrorist group, the “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” issued a statement of solidarity with the protestors in Ferguson. The PFLP, amongst other things, stated “…the empire will fall from within.” The phrase is not merely an extremist platitude, it is a philosophy that many activists in the United States either ignorantly follow, or willingly promote. Regardless of where one stands in the activist continuum, they all acknowledge that no external force would ever bring down the United States. But what if a force was able to crumble the system from the inside? Is there a precedent for this? The answers to these questions explain the recent messages from ISIS to Ferguson.

If one looks at the Arab Spring or Euro-Maidan one sees a common theme emerge; when governments fail, extremists thrive. No one can reasonably argue that the Arab-Spring didn’t benefit al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, or even ISIS to a certain degree. Syria is a failed state and is the global training ground for Jihadists from California to Chechnya. In each of these cases, the impetus for unrest came from within but was fueled by outsiders who leveraged the chaos to seize power. Power was found by those who could move swiftly into a deteriorating situation and establish order. Iraq, Syria, and Egypt all stand as a testament that a government can be crumbled from the inside and that extremism is quick to move in and take over.

Returning to Ferguson, is there a foreign influence and does it encourage anti-government sentiment? The answer is a resounding yes. For example there are at least a dozen pro-Palestinian groups on the ground in Ferguson operating, organizing, and encouraging the unrest. Each of the groups have direct links to Gaza and spread their ideology through drawing moral equivalencies between the “oppressive Israeli occupation” and a “racist, militarized police force” in the United States. They all understand that once a person accepts the premise they are being systematically targeted by an oppressive regime, any tactic becomes morally acceptable. Hence, rioting, looting, and even violence are not only suggested, they are encourages. The police in the United States are now seen as a militant arm of a Fascist regime, controlled by anomalous powers and fueled by institutionalized racism.

This is the exact vector four members of ISIS used to inject their support for Ferguson. Their messages, while seemingly short, are firebrands stoking distrust, anger, and extremism. They seem to have watched the influence of the anti-Israel groups and decided they too can capitalize on the dissent. Their messages are an acknowledgment that the plan has worked before, and could work again. The question now becomes will Ferguson act as a rally point for lone wolves or homegrown violent extremists sympathetic to ISIS, al-Qaeda, or PFLP? Time will tell. The “Food Stamp Bomb Plot” foiled last week does not appear to be connected to an international group, but was terror inspired nonetheless. Their amateur attempts may be a “one-off” or may be the beginning of a new wave of insider attacks aimed at undermining the government. Again, time will tell.

“Jade Helm is coming for you.”- An overview of the movement to stop #MartialLaw

                                        A valid threat or just bored Bundy alumni?


In May 2014 at a little ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada, a small army of patriots, militiamen, psychos, and gun-nuts gathered to fend off the encroaching US Government, manifested in the Bureau of Land Management. While much of the army comprised the respectable “who’s-who” of the US Militia movement, there were several right wing extremists, paranoid preppers, and all around wackos who always managed to jump in front of a camera or make a dumb comment on radio. Their paranoia was kept at bay by the rigid para-military discipline fostered in the legitimate militia groups. Unfortunately, as always happens in large scale movements like this, a small amount of paranoia always leaks through the cracks and causes havoc. In Bundy’s case, an unnamed, DOD insider, who was some sort of ex-Green Beret or SEaL, or Delta Force Commando told the Oath Keepers Eric Holder was going to wipe them out with a drone strike. The ensuing chaos tore a wide chasm between the Oath Keepers and dozens of other militia groups. What does this have to do with Op: Jade Helm 15?


Activist groups love conspiracy theories. The left was certain Bush was going to declare himself a dictator in 2008. The current Black Lives Matter/ Ferguson movement is rife with conspiracies about police abuse, evidence tampering, and so on. The far right however seems to hold a special place in Tin-Hat City as is evident by their latest target; The Unites States Military. This summer dozens of military personnel will take part in a nationwide training exercise called Jade Helm 15. The exercise will include elements of public surveillance, urban scenarios, and quite possibly, hostile crowd control. The Pentagon, has been uncharacteristically open about JH15 and information on the exercise is ubiquitous on the Internet. Despite the openness of the government, and vast amounts of verified information on the net, hundreds of conspiracy pages have popped up all across the country.

The paranoia reached critical mass in April when the Texas State Guard was ordered to observe and report the movements of JH15 operators. The fear in Texas, as well as in dozens of other states, is JH15 is a precursor to POTUS declaring Martial Law, and confiscating guns. This is of course the best case scenario. The worst is “another” false flag operation leading to Martial Law and the confiscation of guns. Either way, the two biggest fears of the right are coming true, and all at the hands of the US Military.

Upstart militia groups and obscure militia main-stays jumped on board the paranoia train and began kicking out social media and “information” pages designed to educate the population on the dangers of JH15, and even resist it if needed. The biggest casualty in the furor over JH15, just like in the current BLM riots, is trust. The mainstream right has traditionally stood-by and defended the military at all costs.  The far right has always been “pro-military” but maintained a cautious distance. With JH15 coming, the far right has decided the military can no longer be trusted. This is a dangerous evolution as most of them have also cast aside support for the police, never supported Congress or the White House, and hate the FBI. If they can cause enough trouble, they would easily begin to pull the mainstream right down with them. This would not be good for the right who need to convince the nation they are ready to lead in 2016. Distractions like JH15 conspiracy theories only reinforce the notion that the right wing is crazy.

In terms of dangers to JH15 operators and contractors; time will tell. It is entirely reasonable to expect surveillance teams and live-streamers, trailing JH15 personnel. It is also possible, however unlikely, a one-off takes his chances at fighting the government by targeting JH15. In the end, once JH15 is over, the Internet will move-on to the newest conspiracy theory and the far right wing will continue to look distant and unrelatable.

“The South Will Rise Again!” so says The League of the South

Secessionist and nationalist movements are frequently lumped into the category of “hate groups” due to their hyper niche ideology focused on eliminating some form of tormenter. For some its the “Jews” while for others its African Americans, foreigners, gays, or any other segment of society which fails to meet their standards. Applying the label of hate group conjures up images of hooded white men chanting racial slurs while marching in lock-step around a burning cross. Any more, the designation leads to a quick dismissal by the larger activist community, and allows these groups to operate with impunity in the shadows. Thus is the case with the emerging League of the South.

Founded in 1994 by a group of Southern academia and attorneys, LOS claims ideological kinship with the League of United Southerners and the Italian national-populist movement, Lega Nord. According to their own website, LOS was formed as a secessionist movement brought about because of the corruption of the United States government. Their formation in the mid-nineties follows the marked increase of anti-government groups during the same time. Founders and early members of the group include the attorney who defended Martin Luther King’s assassin, and a weapons trafficker who was building his own armory with stolen US military assets.

LOS is careful to avoid the label of “revolutionary”, which would denote the violent overthrow of the US government. Rather, LOS claims to be a pure secessionist movement seeking legal separation from the United States. LOS leadership encourages their adherents go through a process they call “abjuration of the realm” which in short, is the complete removal of oneself from the power of the government. An extrapolation of this hints at traditional sovereign citizen actions like refusing to pay taxes, refusing to vote, and recusing oneself from the census. Indeed, LOS feels the current US government constitutes an unholy empire, occupying southern lands and that through abjuration the entire south can become a sovereign nation with its own commerce, customs, and rule of law all favoring a Christian Southern Lifestyle.

LOS recently garnered media attention due to a rallies in Montgomery, Alabama and Tallahassee, Florida. In Alabama, a small contingent of LOS members participated in an anti-gay marriage rally. According to LOS, gay marriage is not in-line with the teachings of Jesus Christ, therefore is not tolerable. In April, LOS combined with the Republic of Florida Militia to protest against the Students for Justice in Palestine, and their burning of a Confederate flag. To LOS, the Confederate Flag is a symbol of their culture and heritage whereas to the Students for Justice in Palestine, it represented hate and violence a la the Ku Klux Klan. While protesting against the Students for Justice is hardly indicative of a hate group, LOS’ description of the protestors as “trannies” left little doubt as to their ideology.

LOS membership numbers are unknown, but based on their social media page and publicly available photographs, they probably number anywhere from 30 to 50. There is no indication LOS has influence outside of the southern states, but within that region they are definitely on the move. They revamped their website recently, moving away from “Dixie Net” to a more professional URL. They also maintain a facebook page complete with a banner showing members holding signs reading, “Immigration hurts southern workers” another indicator of their bias against anyone but their own “kind.” Page admins bragged recently about new members with diverse skill sets volunteering their time to improve their image. There is also unconfirmed reports from late 2014 indicating the group was building and training a paramilitary force for protection.

Time will tell if LOS makes an aggressive move into the militia realm or will stay a club-like secessionist movement. In either case, if the last few months are an indicator of what’s to come, we may be seeing more of the League of the South.

The Revolutionary Communist Party’s New Face

Ferg Revcom

Its unlikely many of today’s activists understand the significance of the “Second Red Scare” let alone the driving force against Communism in the 40’s and 50’s. If they did, then they would undoubtedly understand the American Right’s reaction to the modern iteration of Communism and its place in the nationwide spread of direct action. From Ferguson to Oakland, one organizing entity has reigned supreme, despite being low-key and benefitting from pseudo journalism, rebuffing claims of their presence.  They reached their zenith in April with the #A14 Shutdown movement against police brutality. The resurgence of Communism in the form of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has been baffling to some, and down right aggravating to others. In all of the confusion two questions must be answered, Who are the “Revcoms” and why now?

Whose Revolution?

The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA like many other activist groups trace their lineage to one or two movements existing in the 1960’s. As with many of these groups, the Revolutionary Communist Party, also known as Revcom, was formed after a split from a larger group. In this case, Revcom was a break-away group from the Students for a Democratic Society. Co-Founders Carl Dix, and Bob Avakian formally organized Revcom in 1975 and based it off of Avakian’s plethora of writings on what they termed, “the ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.”  In short, Avakian and his comrades believe in the destruction of the current political, social, and economic systems in favor of a vanguard-led society where the workers produce and trade goods and services without the burdens of capitalism. In this new-found society old vestiges of patriarchy, oppression, capitalism, and racism would be a thing of the past. Freedom would be found in the ability to produce and consume as one great communal collective.

Why Communism Now?

Avakian and Dix are old school activists who understand that the bold, in-your-face direct action favored by millennial activists will not work. Instead, they favor a far more intellectual approach to revolution. Unlike socialist-anarchists, Revcoms choose to “smash the system” by highlighting obvious manifestations of the oppressive system one at a time, and organizing activists to confront those elements, all the while pointing out how obvious it is that change is required. All the while Revcoms hint that their system in the best alternative.

This is what led Revcom to the current “police reform” movement. To Revcom, Mike Brown, Walter Scott, and Eric Garner are all victims of the capitalist bourgeoisie oppressing African American men at the heel of white cops. The police are the jackbooted thugs of the system, therefore they are the most obvious target for direct action. Hence, the #A14 Shut Down against police brutality. Dix is no stranger to anti-law enforcement movements. He is the driving force behind the “Stop Mass Incarceration Network” (SMIN) which focuses solely on law enforcements’ interaction with Black America. #A14 was held on SMIN’s traditional day of action and not so incidentally, it was also Equal Pay Day. More on this another time.

A quick review of photographs from the “Hands Up” and Black Lives Matter events across the country reveal a large number of Revcom signs and supporters. The prevalence of Revcom paraphernalia is a sign Dix and Avakian have succeeded in connecting with the disenfranchised African American community, a plight they failed at in 2005. The question is, how deep is the connection? The presence of their propaganda is not necessarily a sign Communism is becoming more popular. Marches and rallies are great places to spread one’s ideology, but not a great place to understand them. For this reason, Revcom may be experiencing a flash-in-the-pan resurgence based only on the disquieted voices in the BLM movement. In fact, if history is any indication of future behavior, once people get to know Avakian and his cult-like following, they will more than likely move away from the group.

Revcom’s resurgence may soon prove to be more than just a temporary flash, as there are indications the group is moving into the “Fight for $15” living wage demonstrations. In the meantime, however they appear to be happy supplying signs, tracts, and web space for the Black Lives Matter movement. A decision that may not bring many converts, but has succeeded in bringing attention. Something Avakian craves.