Sunoco Faces Backlash After Repeated Pipeline Drilling Spills

from Unicorn Riot

West Whiteland Township, PA – Construction of the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline faces several new obstacles as local authorities and the public respond to a series of drilling accidents.

Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners recently voluntarily stopped construction in certain areas where horizontal directional drilling for the pipeline had contaminated local water sources. After a meeting with township officials on Friday, July 14, the company announced that it was halting drilling operations in Chester County “indefinitely.” The horizontal directional drill (HDD) has been withdrawn from the site at Whiteland West Apartments where it had been active until last week, and has been sitting unused in the parking lot at St Peter and Paul Catholic Church and School.

It is unclear how long drilling in the area will stop, and if construction activities other than drilling are still taking place. Sunoco Logistics reportedly intends to blame Union Pipeline contractors, who had been operating the drill in Chester County, and replace them with workers from Michels Corporation, a pipeline contractor known for its work on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.

Sunoco admitted puncturing an aquifer in Exton while drilling on June 22, and has offered bottled water and hotel vouchers to over a dozen residents whose water supply either disappeared or was tainted. The incident has been described as an “inadvertent return” – an accidental process in which a chemical slurry of underground drilling lubricants ends up flowing back towards the surface, contaminating any local waterways in its path.

Contaminated water from a tainted well in West Whiteland Township

Sunoco has paid to attach several homes to the public water system after their private wells were tainted with drilling slurry containing chemicals. However, problems with the aquifer feeding the public water system have also been reported since drilling began last month. Before residents started reporting contaminated water, the company had ignored requirements to notify downstream residents 72 hours before starting to drill.

Permitting paperwork from February of this year shows both Sunoco and Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection were aware that drilling was likely to damage the local aquifer. Despite this knowledge, Sunoco was given regulators’ blessing to drill anyway.

Earlier this month we heard from affected residents in Chester County about how pipeline drilling accidents are impacting their neighborhoods and their lives:

 [Video]

Water contamination from drilling has also been reported in other counties along the route of Mariner East 2. Blair County reported an ‘inadvertent return’ earlier this month. On Monday, July 17, another drilling spill was reported at a Mariner East 2 HDD site in Middletown, PA, in Delaware County:

On Monday July 17th, Middletown Township reported to residents that the township had been made aware of a bentonite spill at Sunoco’s HDD drilling site behind Tunbridge apartments. Middletown Township reported that they had been notified around 4:30pm, and that PADEP had also been notified and was responding to the event. It is reported that the spill reached Chester Creek. – Middletown Coalition for Community Safety

On Tuesday July 18, a Middletown resident posted a video of the drilling spill site to Facebook and noted how contractors’ efforts to contain the spill seemed inadequate.

Sunoco had previously spilled drilling slurry into Chester Creek in Delaware County earlier this year while drilling in Brookhaven on May 10. The Middletown Coalition for Community Safety is demanding that Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) revoke “prematurely issued water obstruction and encroachment permits” for Mariner East 2 as well as calling for a moratorium on all pipeline construction. State Senator Andy Dinniman, of West Whiteland Township, also alleges that Sunoco used loopholes in DEP regulations to ignore potential impacts private wells when applying for permits.

Additionally, Sunoco is facing legal action from the Chester County township of West Goshen, which seeks an injunction to immediately and indefinitely halt construction on Mariner East 2. West Goshen Township supervisors, who voted unanimously to petition Pennsylvania’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for an emergency order, allege that Sunoco began pipeline construction at an unapproved location without notifying them or asking for their permission. Township officials also say Sunoco pipeline crews ignored local construction and safety regulations, and have repeatedly blocked the driveway to the local fire department with their vehicles.

Several hundred miles west in the Susquehanna Valley in central Pennsylvania, tree-sits at Camp White Pine still block Mariner East 2’s route through Huntingdon County. The property is owned by the Gerhart family, who have refused to allow pipeline work crews onto their property despite repeated rulings against them by local courts on behalf on Sunoco. Huntingdon County judge Georce Zanic recently approved an injunction sought by Sunoco to allow police to arrest the Gerharts (and/or their supporters) on their own property at the pipeline company’s request.

One of several tree-sit pods at Camp White Pine, on the route of Mariner East 2 in Huntingdon, PA

With drilling paused in Chester County, the blockades at Camp White Pine still in place, and neighborhoods along the route self-organizing to respond to pipeline safety issues, hundreds of miles of Mariner East 2 are still incomplete. Nonetheless, Sunoco Logistics (‘an Energy Transfer company’) claims the pipeline will be operational sometime this year. The line would carry liquified gases such as ethane, butane, and propane from frack fields in Scio, Ohio across Pennsylvania to export terminals at Marcus Hook, where it would then be shipped across the Atlantic to a plastics company in Scotland.

Stay tuned to Unicorn Riot for more updates as we continue to report on this unfolding story.

Alt-Right Tries and Fails – Again – In Philly

from Philly Antifa

“Lol only half of us are actually Nazis and the others are being ironic. We’re so funny.”

On Saturday July 15th Refuse Fascism (an anti-Trump/Pence coalition with no affiliation to our crew) held several “Drive our the Trump/Pence Regime” demonstrations around the country.

Having been thoroughly embarrassed over and over in the past few months, one might think that the racist right might have taken the hint and left these nice communists alone. And for the most part, you would be right. Gone were the throngs of suburban MAGAts, Bikers for Trump, and crews of White Nationalists we saw back in May during the failed “Make America Great Again” march. Even the pathetic turnout on July 2nd could not be repeated. (See links if you are not a regular reader)

No, what turned out this past Saturday with some vague notion of disrupting or trolling the Refuse Fascism march represented the dregs of the Pennsylvania Alt-Right. Less than a dozen individuals brought together through social media and shared stories of catching beat downs for having bad situational awareness and worse politics, “rallied” on the corner of 15th and JFK.

We say “rallied” because they were basically silent the entire time, preferring to talk among themselves or occasionally argue with the Anti-Racists and Anti-Fascists that walked by on their way to the Refuse rally, which went off without a hitch across the plaza. They handed out two different fliers. The first was as vague as it was pathetic, listing a bunch of “posi” slogans about how “We can be great again” though refraining from using Trump’s name, and a bunch of masked pleading about how the alt-right are poor victims of Leftist violence. The 2nd flyer was largely a cut and paste job of that idiotic article put out by the NJ DHS claiming the Antifa are an “extremist group.” The article, riddled with inaccuracies and bias, was followed by an article detailing the far right’s acts of violence, including ACTUAL murders, but these lovers of informed discourse declined to distribute any information about THAT article. Instead, they preferred to (incorrectly) assert that an article online means that all Antifa are now “classified as terrorists,” when in reality none are.

After the Refuse march departed from their rally, barely even noting the MAGAts, they (along with their police escort and a handful of Anti-Fascists and media) walked over the the Fox and Hound on 15th street. The right wingers ordered food and drank for several hours.

Undercover police and surveillance made for a calm scene, but Antifa did inform the management of the identities of the alt-rightists, including the fact that one of them was non other than Mark Daniel Reardon, aka “Illegal Aryan,” the Neo-Nazi troll who has been putting up Neo-Nazi flyers in West Philly (more on that below). Reardon hopped into an Uber not long after. A few more of them would make similar exits until a core group headed back towards city hall to distribute more of their Anti-Antifa fliers. It did not take long for them to realize their folly and they were soon calling the cops for protection again.

So who were this patchwork crew of Alt-Knights, “Classical (racist) Liberals,” MAGAts and outright Neo-Nazis who struggled to even exist in Philadelphia while under constant police protection? Here’s some of what we know about them:

Jeff Thomas

Jeff Thomas

Jeff Thomas is a member of Greater Philadelphia Alt-Knights. He is “not a Nazi or White Supremacist.” He tries (repeatedly) to make that clear to Anti-Racists that object to his organizing events for Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists to attend. Thomas claims that he is an anarcho-capitalist or right libertarian, both nonsense terms invented to hijack leftist language about individual liberty to serve the rich. When confronted with the fact that everything he organizes (including this past Saturday) is at least 50% comprised of Neo-Nazis, Fascists or other White Supremacists, Thomas only shrugs his shoulders and mutters some absolution of responsibility based on his inability to control others. When you’re full of shit you’re gonna attract flies, Jeff.

Jeff claims on social media to be living in Collegeville but has a partner who lives in Philly and he’s still listed at his parents’ house on S. Mountain Drive in Reading. He loves to debate, which we caution against as a waste of time, but if the mood strikes you he can be reached at 610-207-2223.

Thomas is working on a book on right and left politics. We imagine that when he wants to call it quits, he will claim this was all just research. Anyone remember Jacques Pluss? Anyway, time will tell. It’s irrelevant because when you help organize and protect Neo-Nazis, your own personal politics are moot.

There’s no shortage of con-men or short-sighted demagogues on the right who may not consider themselves racist (again, completely irrelevant and laughable considering the circumstances). This is true for Jeff Thomas, and this is true for Gaving McInness, Donald Trump, or any other not-textbook-fascist who associates with, enables and emboldens Neo-Nazis and other racists and/or Fascists.

Mark Reardon

Mark Daniel Reardon, aka “Illegal Aryan”

Regular readers of this site will remember Mark Daniel Reardon, aka “Illegal Aryan,” a The Daily Stormer poster who we exposed after he anonymously claimed responsibility for putting up Neo-Nazi flyers along Locust Walk a few months ago. According to a man who was at the rally Saturday and lives in West Philly, Reardon has been spotted putting up more flyers, including one at 36th and Chestnut. Reardon is a Neo-Nazi who attended the Traditionalist Worker’s Party rally in Pikevilly, KY in May and returned to find out he was no longer anonymous.

Reardon attending the private conference portion of the Traditionalist Workers Party’s event in Kentucky.

Since then he was kicked out of his apartment but is still staying somewhere in Philadelphia and recently stopped by a Food Not Bombs serving at an anarchist space then took to twitter to gloat about how he had visited our “headquarters” (lol) and escaped detection.

However this past Saturday he was just a shook one who feebly refused to answer an elder’s question as to whether the Holocaust happened (though he stuck out his tongue and smiled when Jeff Thomas and others acknowledged the Holocaust happened).

Reardon pretty much refrained from talking with anyone other than the other Alt-Rightists, and was generally about as craven as we all expected. He did post a boasting report back afterwards about his ability to survive a day out in Philadelphia with police and sympathizer protection, in which Reardon also speaks highly of just how sympathetic the others there were to his politics and activities.

Ellsworth Lewis

Ellsworth George Lewis III

Ellsworth George Lewis III is a far-right wing racist troll who is a member of Greater Philadelphia Alt-Knights. He is 31 and lives on Lincoln Ave in Prospect Park, PA. He works at Taylor Hospital in Ridley Park PA.

Here is a screengrab of Lewis discussing the “Unite the Right” rally being held in Charlottesville in August with the explicit aim of merging the outright racist elements of the right such as National Socialists and White Nationalists and the so-called “non-racist right” like Ancaps and various so-called “sovereign citizens.”

Deborah Nemeth

Deborah Nemeth

Deborah Nemeth lives in center city. She works as a paralegal and business manager for Piscitello Law as well as Project Manager for Diamond Contractors. Her bigotry of choice seems to be Islamophobia. This is only her second appearance with this crowd by our count, and is another one of this crew that claimed to not be a Nazi or White Supremacist. For our feelings on that argument, see Jeff Thomas.

Howard Caplan

Howard Caplan, aka “Pizzagate Howie”

Howard Caplan, also known as “Pizzagate Howie” or by his (now suspended) twitter handle @pghowie1, is a local wingnut and the seemingly the last man on earth (or at least in Philadelphia) willing to publicly claim that the endlessly debunked Pizzagate conspiracy is a real thing. Caplan also burst into Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul during midnight mass on Christmas eve to deliver a tirade alleging a link between Pizzagate and The Catholic Church’s (very real) scandals regarding sexual abuse. Before he was on Pizzagate, Caplan was the “Hillary 4 Prison sign guy” for flying said sign along Roosevelt Boulevard near where he lives in NE Philly.

Kevin Nally

Kevin Nally, JR

Kevin Nally Jr. is fucking gross. He is otherwise known as “pill eater” and he runs a website asianaryanism(dot)com (NSFW. Disgusting misogynist and racist content), the crux of which is advocate for a home for racist alt-right white men who fetishize east Asian women as submissive sex objects. When we say home we are being literal; the site claims to advocate for “a new ideology called ‘Asian Aryanism’ where a new white male-asian female ethnostate is established right next to the white ethnostate that Richard Spencer proposes…” Nally’s website features his writings and music, including an album called “Rape is Love” with a disgusting cover featuring battered women.

Nally lives at 606 Nantucket Court in King of Prussia. He was with a woman, who people were calling “Molly”.

So so far we got an Ancap who is either playing dumb or is just really dumb, a far-right LARPer, an Islamophobic nazi sympathizer, an actual Neo-Nazi, a racist misogynist, and fucking “Pizzagate Howie.” This is a wonderfully diverse collection of unique fashy snowflakes.

Also spotted with the Alt-Right contingent included:

This douche had stars and stripes socks.
This guy was with them. He seemed to be trying to blend into the Refuse Fascism rally but after Antifa started filming him he bounced.

There was also a 15 year old boy who expressed sympathy for the Traditionalist Worker’s Party and claimed “Hitler did nothing wrong,” though they quickly backtracked and said “some things.” His (hopefully ashamed) mother was literally waiting a few yards away behind a row of police. Daniel Reardon beamed about the little Nazi in his report back, claiming he had a “bright future.” Sounds like wishful thinking coming from a guy with a lot of hard times on the horizon .

And that was pretty much all of them, except for one or two who kept more or less silent.

Oh and there were some total P.O.S. Anti-Gay preachers there with their kids. Something about everyone going to hell. It was stupid. Later they went to Clark Park during a Dead Milkmen show and some of the attendees confronted them. Maybe there’s room for them with Jeff and Howie and Deb’s crew of people who are safe nowhere in Philadelphia.

Takeaways from this rather uneventful event are some classics (cops protect Fashies/the alt right is a bunch of rich kids and wingnuts getting duped by White Supremacists) as well as some disturbing new ones (Reardons report back, which we won’t link for obvious reasons, makes it very clear there is no limit to who this crowd associates with) as well as the always worthwhile goal of taking some time to let racists, sexists, homophobes and other assorted fascists know they are (still) not welcome in Philadelphia.

Eternal War on the Hitler Youth,

Anathema Volume 3 Issue 5

from Anathema

Volume 3 Issue 5 (PDF for printing 11 x 17)

Volume 3 Issue 5 (PDF for reading 8.5 x 11)

In this issue:

  • Call for Week of Solidarity with J20 Arrestees
  • Assassination Attempted in Alexandria
  • Antifa v. 4Chan: A Perspective on the July 2nd March to Impeach Trump
  • What Went Down
  • News
  • Letter to the Editor
  • PA Pipeline Updates
  • Factory Death
  • NYPD Officer Assassinated
  • Watching Police
  • July 25 Day of Solidarity with Antifa Prisoners
  • Zoo Abuse, Collective Liberation
  • How to Buy a Gun
  • Poem, Pictures, & Comics

Bury Me Not in A Land of Slaves: A Short History of Immediatist Abolitionism in Philadelphia, 1830s-1860s

from The Tubman-Brown Organization 

[The above image is a depiction of the 1851 Christiana Riot, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where a slave-owner was shot and killed when attempting to retrieve an alleged “fugitive slave.” The subsequent trial took place in Philadelphia.]

 

By Arturo Castillon

Edited by Madeleine Salvatore

 

I ask no monuments, proud and high,

To arrest the gaze of the passers-by;

All that my yearning spirit craves,

Is bury me not in a land of slaves.

“Bury Me in a Free Land,” Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

 

In the 1850s, the author of the above poem, Frances Harper, was part of a network of revolutionaries who made it their mission to abolish slavery in the United States. Known as Abolitionists, these partisans of freedom fought for the immediate emancipation of slaves, and developed a specific approach to Abolitionism known at as “immediatism.”[1] In the 1820s, the most radical Abolitionists in England and the United States began using this term, “immediatism,” to distinguish their strategy for abolition from the predominant, gradualist one.[2]

The Abolitionists that we are most familiar with today—Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and John Brown—all fought for the immediate emancipation of slaves, a prospect that most people at the time, even most abolitionists, considered extreme and impractical. Yet, in the long term, the immediatist tendency proved to be the most practical and strategic. Instead of miring themselves in legislative strategies or insular sects, the immediatists built organizations to secretly assist thousands of people fleeing from slavery, who in taking the risk of freedom, deprived the southern planters of their primary source of labor—slave labor.

In Philadelphia, black abolitionists like Frances Harper, William Still, and Robert Purvis would rise to the forefront of the immediatist struggle against slavery. Because of the city’s proximity to the South, it was a crucial junction point on the Underground Railroad, a secret network of routes and safe houses that people followed northward when fleeing from slavery. Undeterred by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, which legally guaranteed a slaveholder’s right to recover an escaped slave, hundreds of escapees made their way to Philadelphia every year, most coming from nearby Virginia and Maryland. With the Compromise of 1850, the Southern slaveholders strengthened the Fugitive Slave Act, which now required the governments and citizens of free states, like Pennsylvania, to enforce the capture and return of “fugitive slaves.” This compromise between the Southern slaveholders and the Northern free states defused a four-year political crisis over the status of territories colonized during the Mexican-American war (1846-1848). For the immediatist wing of the Abolitionist movement in Philadelphia, the implications of the new Fugitive Slave Law were clear: it had to be disobeyed and disrupted, even if that meant engaging in illegal activities to assist fugitives.[3]

By the early 1830s, the Abolitionist movement in Pennsylvania was starting to radicalize, reflecting developments on the national scene, such as David Walker’s 1829 Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, and the 1831 Nat Turner slave insurrection. The older, mostly white Quakers, who had led the movement for decades, favored legal, non-violent measures for gradually abolishing slavery, while a growing tendency of mostly black abolitionists demanded the immediate abolition of slavery.[4] This growing dichotomy, between the gradualists and the immediatists, reflected the essential difference between reformist and revolutionary politics in the Abolitionist movement.

As the abolitionist movement became more immediatist in the 1830s, the Vigilance Committee, as it came to be known, emerged as the principal organizational form for assisting fugitives as well as victims of kidnapping. After black Abolitionist David Ruggles founded the first Vigilance Committee in New York City in 1835, Robert Purvis and James Forten formed the “Vigilant Association of Philadelphia” in 1837. Abolitionists in the rural counties surrounding these cities soon followed suit, becoming part of a regional network between Philadelphia, New York City, and other nearby cities, like Boston. The Vigilance Committees raised money, and provided transportation, food, housing, clothing, medical care, legal counsel, and tactical support for people escaping from slavery.[5]

The committee in Philadelphia was a racially integrated group that also included a (predominantly black) women’s auxiliary unit, the “Female Vigilant Association.” This degree of inter-racial and inter-gender organization was unheard of at the time, even in the Abolitionist movement.[6] The committee also included ex-slaves. Amy Hester Reckless, for example, was a fugitive who went on to become a leading member of the committee in the 1840s.[7]

While providing strategic resources to fugitives, the committee also carried out bold interventions. Members of the committee orchestrated two of the most notorious slave escapes of the 1840s: 1) that of William and Ellen Craft from Georgia, who used improbable disguises to make their way to Philadelphia in 1848, and 2) that of Henry “Box” Brown from Virginia, who arranged to have himself mailed in a wooden crate to Philadelphia in 1849. These daring escapes were widely publicized in the antislavery movement, and these fugitives appeared in public lectures in order to rally support to the Abolitionist cause. [8]

However, by the early 1850s, several waves of repression had left the committee disorganized. These included a string of crippling lawsuits against those who defied the Fugitive Slave Law, including participants in the Christiana Riot of 1851, wherein a slave-owner was shot and killed after attempting to capture a “fugitive.” A new organization was needed, so in 1852 William Still and other abolitionists established a new Vigilance Committee to fill the void left by the older, scattered one.[9]

Led by William Still, who had escaped from slavery as a child with his mother, the new Vigilance Committee was even more effective than its predecessor, assisting hundreds of fugitives every year in their quests for freedom. By the mid-1850s, Abolitionists had transformed Philadelphia into a crucial nerve center of the Underground Railroad, by then a massive network that spanned the U.S. and extended into Canada. The most prominent “conductors” of the Underground Railroad, people like Harriet Tubman and Thomas Garrett, directed hundreds of fugitives to the Vigilance Committee every year.[10]

Although the original Vigilance Committee was a clandestine organization, its reincarnation operated both publicly and in secret. Some of the members of the committee were lawyers who defended fugitives in the Pennsylvania courts, while others assisted fugitives using methods that were unequivocally prohibited by those same courts. Some even published their names and addresses in the Pennsylvania Freeman newspaper and in flyers so that fugitives could easily find them. In order to generate public support for their cause, they used the antislavery press and public lecture circuit to broadcast the success of their illegal activities—without revealing specific incriminating details and only after the fugitives were safe. Carefully documenting the daily operations of the committee, William Still wrote extensively about the hidden stories of slave resistance and the inner workings of their secret network. When he finally published The Underground Railroad Records in 1872, it would be the first historical account of the Underground Railroad. [11]

This delicate balance between secret operations and public activity was dramatically demonstrated in the summer of 1855, when William Still and others organized the escape of Jane Johnson and her children from their owner, John Wheeler, as they were en route to New York, docked in Philadelphia. During the escape, Passmore Williamson, one of the only white members of the Vigilance Committee, physically held back Wheeler, a well-known southern Congressman, while Still led Johnson and her children away to a nearby safe house. [12]

In the legal proceedings that ensued, a federal judge charged Williamson with riot, forcible abduction, and assault. The judge in the case rejected an affidavit from Johnson affirming that she had left on her own free will and that there had been no abduction, and Williamson spent 100 days in Moyamensing prison. The case became a national news story, as Abolitionists used the media to trumpet the success of the Johnson rescue, and to expose the southern slaveholders’ domination of the federal court system, which the Abolitionists called a “Slave Power Conspiracy.” Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and other abolitionist leaders visited Williamson during his confinement, and wrote admirably of his actions in the antislavery press.[13]

The Philadelphia immediatists were fully aware of their strategic role in the national struggle against slavery. At a mass meeting in Philadelphia in August 1860, leader of the immediatist wing, William Still, explained that because they were “in such close proximity to slavery” and their “movements and actions” were “daily watched” by pro-slavery forces, they could do, “by wise and determined effort, what the freed colored people of no other State could possibly do to weaken slavery.”[14] By openly defying the Fugitive Slave Law in a border city, the immediatists in Philadelphia exacerbated the growing conflict between the free states of the North and the slave states of the South to a degree that few other Abolitionists could.

Through ups and downs, for nearly three decades, the Vigilance Committee acted as the organizational nucleus of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, a city that was publicly very hostile to Abolitionism. Most white workers opposed Abolitionism on racist ideological grounds, while the merchant elites and early industrialists of the city had close economic ties to slaveholders in the South and throughout the Atlantic. There where numerous anti-black and anti-abolitionists riots throughout the 1830s and 1840s in Philadelphia.[15] Even though they were persecuted for their cause, by subverting the Fugitive Slave Law in this border city, the immediatists—a radical minority within a minority—antagonized the slaveholders and their allies—a much larger and well-established enemy.

As the overall antislavery movement continued to grow throughout the North, the southern slaveholders went on the defensive. With the John Brown insurrection in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859, and the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, who campaigned against the expansion of slavery, the slaveholders in the South became more entrenched and alienated from the rest of the United States. In February 1861 the Lower South region of the U.S seceded, creating a separate country called the Confederate States of America, also known as the Confederacy. The U.S. national government, known as the Union, refused to recognize the Confederacy as a legal government. The Civil War officially began in April 1861, when Confederate soldiers attacked Fort Sumter, a Union fort in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. As the war took its course, Philadelphia Abolitionists, like Octavius Catto, shifted their strategy to radicalizing the Unionist cause from within. Catto and others organized the enlistment of black troops and advocating for a coordinated military assault on slavery in the South, for which they were strongly condemned by white Philadelphians.[16]

Before the war, and during its initial years, much of white Philadelphia was sympathetic to the Southern slaveholder’s grievances. But with the deepening of the conflict between North and South, most Philadelphians came to support the Union and the war against the Confederacy. A turning point came in 1863, when the city was threatened with Confederate occupation. Entrenchments were built and people fought to defend the city, defeating the Confederate Army at the Battle of Gettysburg.[17]

However, even with the shifting of opinion against the South, most white Philadelphians still believed that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. Many white Americans continued to believe that the Civil War was a “white man’s war” to preserve the Union and nothing more. Abolitionists and black Philadelphians continued to be the targets of mob violence, and some white Philadelphians even blamed the Abolitionists for the war.[18]

Having proclaimed the need to end slavery from the very beginning, Abolitionists identified the structural contradictions that tore the nation apart. But rather than wait for the gradual disintegration of slavery, the immediatists worked to hasten its destruction. In a society that was for the most part hostile to their cause, the immediatist wing of the abolitionist movement performed the historic duty of following through, with long-term consistency, those revolutionary tactics that alone could save the Union and drive the Civil War to a decisive conclusion. More and more slaves escaping from plantations, the enlistment of black troops into the Union army, the immediate emancipation of slaves throughout the South—these tactics were indeed the only ways out of the difficulties into which the Civil War had descended.

The Civil War had stemmed from a breakdown of a structural compromise that developed between two distinct modes of production—one based on northern industrial wage labor, and the other southern slave labor. The development of the antislavery movement over time made this “unholy alliance” impossible to maintain in the long run. In this, the Civil War confirmed the basic lesson of every revolution: either the revolutionary movement acts to accelerate strategic contradictions over time, breaking down all barriers to the attainment of its objectives, or it soon stagnates and is suppressed by repression and counter-revolution. This lesson stands the logic of gradualism on its head: revolution doesn’t advance with small increments, with legislative preconditions, but with prompt, uncompromising actions that destabilize the structural limits of the existing system.

The will for revolution can only be satisfied in this way—with strategic, revolutionary action. Yet the masses of people can only acquire and strengthen the will for revolution in the course of the day-to-day struggle against the existing class order—in other words, within the limits of the existing system. Thus, we run into a contradiction. On the one hand, we have the masses of people in their everyday struggles within a social system; on the other, we have the goal of immediate social revolution, located outside of the existing system. Such are the paradoxical terms of the historical dialectic through which any revolutionary movement makes its way. The immediatists overcame this contradiction by adapting themselves to the mass self-activity of the slaves, who in their day-to-day resistance to the slave system offered the abolitionists a means to realize their revolutionary objectives.

For over three decades, through ebbs and flows, victories and defeats, the immediatists consistently engaged with the everyday struggles of the slave class. They constructed multi-racial, multi-gender organizations that operated both legally and illegally, in order to help people emancipate themselves from slavery, to help them stay free, and to help them gain basic democratic rights. In doing so, they fostered the development of a revolutionary movement that precipitated the U.S. Civil War and culminated in one of the greatest social revolutions of world history—the emancipation and enfranchisement of million of slaves and workers in the South during the Reconstruction Era.

By the end of the Civil War, a once persecuted minority of fanatical Abolitionists were now national leaders. Today we see them as good-hearted activists, or even as moderates. But there should be no mistake about it—all Abolitionists were considered extremists. Few people believed that the slave system would fall. The Abolitionists certainly did not believe their revolutionary goal would one day become official government policy. In the end, the Abolitionists recognized the social and historical crisis in front of them, and the immediatists adapted to it better than any other Abolitionist tendency of their time.

 

“Lines,” Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Though her cheek was pale and anxious, 

    Yet, with look and brow sublime, 

By the pale and trembling Future 

    Stood the Crisis of our time. 

 

And from many a throbbing bosom 

    Came the words in fear and gloom, 

Tell us, Oh! thou coming Crisis, 

    What shall be our country’s doom? 

 

Shall the wings of dark destruction 

    Brood and hover o’er our land, 

Till we trace the steps of ruin 

    By their blight, from strand to strand?

Drilling for Mariner East 2 Pipeline Contaminates Drinking Water

from Unicorn Riot

West Whiteland Township, PA – Residents along the construction route of Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners’ Mariner East 2 pipeline are reporting contamination in their water after pipeline drilling accidents led to a chemical slurry compromising a well, which then tainted another well and several aquifers.

Over the last few weeks, neighborhoods in Chester County west of Philadelphia began experiencing stomach aches, and noticed their water was sometimes brown in color, contained sediment and bacteria, and smelled of chlorine.

When people started to notice problems with their water, neighbors connected through the Uwchlan Safety Coalition, a local community organization addressing ongoing health and safety issues posed by Mariner East 2. Sunoco offered many affected residents hotel vouchers and compensation for meals, and provided pallets of bottled water, while avoiding taking direct responsibility for the contamination. (Sunoco recently merged with Energy Transfer Partners, known for building the Dakota Access Pipeline.)

Contaminated water from a tainted well in West Whiteland Township

Continued drilling operations threaten to entirely destroy the safety of area wells, which would force those relying on well water to hook up to the public water system. While Sunoco has offered various forms of compensation for issues with private wells, those on the local public water system have also been reporting stomachaches after drinking water that smelled like chlorine.

Correspondence between Sunoco Logistics and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shows that both Sunoco and DEP officials knew that drilling in certain geological formations in the Exton area could damage the local water table.

Before DEP eventually approved the permit under political pressure, permitting paperwork noted,

Karst area near Exton and the East Whiteland compressor branch present additional risks of IRs [inadvertent returns] during HDD…There are carbonate rocks, karst surface depressions; and identification of other public water supplies (groundwater or surface water) within one mile… Groundwater impacts from an inadvertent return cannot be directly visually observed from the surface. Any loss of circulation is the only indicator of drilling fluid migrating out of the borehole into the groundwater.

Sunoco representatives downplayed the risks from the drilling slurry (a mixture of chemicals and mud) in conversations with affected residents, comparing the bentonite clay to cat litter or the foundation used in makeup. Earlier this year, Energy Transfer Partners spilled two million gallons of drilling liquids into Ohio wetlands while constructing the Rover Pipeline, leading to a $430,000 fine and the temporary suspension of their horizontal directional drilling operations.

In West Whiteland, horizontal direction drill (HDD) operations were paused for a few days but resumed again on Saturday, July 8, despite objections by local lawmakers. Drilling is taking place on the grounds of the Whiteland West Apartments, a development with 377 housing units.

Contractors employed by Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners are currently operating an HDD hidden from public view using poles on sheets and wooden boards.

An open air waste pit for drilling waste is set up adjacent to the drill at the Whiteland West Apartments, a stone’s throw from some resident’s balconies.

Open air pit for storing Mariner East 2 drilling waste at Whiteland West Apartments

On July 3, a Uwchlan Township resident posted a picture showing how a new pipeline work site had taken up much of the playground area at her child’s daycare.

Photo challenge day #3 I don’t use Instagram but I downloaded it just to post this picture for our officials to see what is happening. I don’t have an easement on my house BUT this is the daycare my child goes to. Their beautiful green outdoor play space that once had tall trees to shade them is now about 3 feet away from a fence/wall where the pipeline is being built right on the other side!!! The trees are taken down and the dust and debris that are flying around can’t be good for them. Then when it’s all done if there should be a leak, I can’t even imagine that outcome! This is what people are living with. How can those in power allow corporations to do this? #pipeline #pipelinesafety #uwchlantwppa #uwchlanpa #chestercounty #chesco #pennsylvania #makeadifference #photooftheday #marinereast2 #change #trending #natgas #photoofthedaychallenge #frommypointofview #lionville #community #communityaction #6abcaction #cbsphilly Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Pat Toomey, U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Congressman Ryan Costello, PA State Rep. Becky Corbin, Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, John C. Rafferty, Jr. 6abc Action News, NBC10 Philadelphia, The Daily Local News, Philadelphia Inquirer, CBS Philly

A post shared by Tay Thieu (@tthieu33) on Jul 3, 2017 at 4:33pm PDT

Starting at frack fields in Scio, eastern Ohio, Mariner East 2 will carry highly explosive natural gas liquids such as propane, butane, and ethane across Pennsylvania to export terminals at Marcus Hook near Philadelphia.

These gases could be easily ignited by everyday appliances in the event of a leak. Many local schools, homes, and an assisted living facility are all well within the blast radius should leaked gases explode.

Mariner East 2 construction outside an elderly assisted living facility in Exton, PA

Glenwood Elementary in Media, PA has been conducting emergency evacuation drills with students to prepare for a potential pipeline leak explosion.

Quest Consultants, an independent firm hired by Middletown Township to evaluate the risks from a potential pipeline explosion, ran several detailed statistical simulations of potential leak scenarios. An analysis of data from previous spills estimates “that a leak will occur along the shared route once every 2.5 months.

On April 1, the Mariner East 1 pipeline, which Mariner East 2 will run parallel to, leaked 20 barrels of propane, ethane and butane in Berks County, PA.  An explosion from a leaking natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania last year set fire to forty acres of land, and left a 26-year old father covered in severe burns. Sunoco has one of the worst pipeline safety records of any company in the business.

The fracking and pipeline industries in Pennsylvania, assisted by Governor Tom Wolfe’s task force to accelerate pipeline construction, have been aggressively expanding new infrastructure throughout Chester County and many other areas of Pennsylvania.

Affected residents living in and along the path of Mariner East 2 across the state have been raising objections and resisting in various ways. Sunoco claims the natural gas liquids pipeline will be in operation this year; hundreds of miles of the route are still incomplete as of this writing.

Military intelligence contractor Tigerswan, which worked for Energy Transfer Partners behind the scenes to disrupt and discredit the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, is monitoring opposition to Mariner East 2 in Pennsylvania. A consulting firm called Bravo Group boasts on its website about its contract for Sunoco Logistics to “neutralize opposition” to Mariner East 2 – a vague mission which presumably includes keeping tabs on everyone from blockaders at Camp White Pine to the various neighborhood-based Safety Coalitions formed in townships along the pipeline route.

Camp White Pine Blockades Mariner East 2 Pipeline in Central Pennsylvania

from Unicorn Riot

Huntingdon, PA – After receiving all necessary permits from state regulatory agencies in February, Sunoco Logistics has been pushing ahead with construction of the Mariner 2 East Pipeline. Sunoco Logistics Partners and Energy Transfer Partners, announced the completion of their corporate merger on April 28.  President Donald Trump is an investor in the company.

Mariner 2 follows the route of Mariner 1, a repurposed oil pipeline which carries natural gas liquids (NGLs) to the east coast for export.  Mariner 2 would follow roughly the same route, stretching over three hundred miles across the state of Pennsylvania from frack fields in Scio, Ohio to bring propane, ethane and other fracking byproducts to Marcus Hook, a refinery and export hub just south of Philadelphia. While Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners promotes the pipeline with rhetoric about American energy independence, the natural gas liquids transported by Mariner East 2 are primarily for export to the European plastics industry.

Map of the Mariner East 2 construction route

Many counties and municipalities have contested the pipeline’s route through their communities, only to be overruled by state officials, who claim that their decision to classify the pipeline as a “public utility” means it is in the state’s interest to make sure the pipeline is completed, and that townships and municipalities may not act against the interests of the Commonwealth. The highly explosive nature of the natural gas liquids carried by the pipeline means that the various homes, businesses, and schools could be incinerated in a natural gas fireball in the event a leak occurs and then is ignited by a motor, cell phone, or many other everyday appliances.

Despite being an interstate pipeline, Mariner East 2 is not regulated by any federal agency. It is primarily regulated by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, an industry-friendly agency known for issuing permits despite not having enough staff or funding to properly oversee permitted projects.

The primary obstacle to the completion of the Mariner East 2 pipeline has been the Gerhart family in rural Huntingdon, whose property has been condemned for eminent domain. In March 2016 landowner Ellen Gerhart and several supporters of the Gerhart family were arrested by Pennsylvania State Police after people climbed trees to prevent them from being cut, in violation of a court order telling the Gerharts to not interfere with any pipeline work being done under her property.  (See video from that day here.)

All charges against those arrested on the Gerhart’s land in 2016 were eventually dismissed after 8 months of court proceedings.  The 80-year-old forest, now mostly clearcut by pipeline workers, was a treasured part of the Gerhart family’s home, as they had placed the land into forest stewardship with the hopes of preserving it for generations to come.

The combination of tree-sits, defensive measures, and supporters gathered on the Gerhart’s land has come to be known as ‘Camp White Pine’ – an homage to the numerous white pine trees which still populate the area.

 

A rare “Writ of Possession” was granted to Sunoco Logistics by a local judge, allowing them greater authority to enforce their eminent domain rights on the Gerhart’s property- including using law enforcement to remove landowners from their own property.  Ignoring orders from County Judge George Zanic made on behalf of the pipeline company, the Gerharts and their supporters have created what is said to be the most complex tree-sit operation on the east coast.

 

While construction crews have not yet encroached this year on the fortified tree-sits where Camp White Pine still stands, despite having been granted eminent domain for the area, construction on Mariner East 2 continues in surrounding areas.

On Monday May 22, pipeline work crews arrived without notice on Ralph Blume’s farm near Newville, PA and began cutting trees.  The Cumberland County Sheriff was there to intercept Mr. Blume when he came to confront workers who he said promised him they would give advance notice before working on his property, which they did not.  The sheriff told Mr. Blume he would not arrest him, which Resist Sunoco PA speculated was “because Sunoco didn’t want the bad publicity that would come with arresting a 77 year-old man.”

 

Energy Transfer Partners has already had accidents and spills while constructing the Mariner East 2 Pipeline in Pennsylvania.  On May 3, a large slurry of drilling fluid spilled into Chester Creek as drilling for Mariner East 2 was being done in Delaware County, PA. Work crews placed sandbags around the slurry, which was an ineffective means of containing the spill as the water simply rose above the sandbags and spread the slurry downstream.  The drilling fluid contains bentonite clay, which is known to be deadly to aquatic wildlife.  The original Mariner East 1 pipeline also leaked 20 barrels of ethane and and propane on in Berks County on April 1.

On June 29, Huntingdon County George Zanic issued a new injunction requested by Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners authorizing the arrest of anyone on the Gerhart property who impedes pipeline construction.  Neither Judge Zanic or any employee of his court informed the Gerharts of the injunction made against them on behalf of the company, they only heard about it after being questioned by news reporters.

The new injunction means pipeline workers, accompanied by police who may target and arrest landowners on their own property, could arrive on the Gerhart’s land any day now. When we asked Elise Gerhart what she expected, she told us,

I expect them to come with brute force. That’s how they’ve done it in the past, that’s what we saw at Standing Rock… that’s the way that they do it. If they can’t trick you, they bully you. If they can’t bully you, then they attack you. So, that is what I expect…they want to build this pipeline and we’ve seen, when Energy Transfer Partners wants to build a pipeline, they’re willing to physically hurt people to get them out of the way. And we’ve seen how the police are complicit with that. At this point I am expecting to go to jail, potentially for an extended period of time, I’ve been trying to prepare for that. All I can say is that sometimes you just have to do what’s right. You have to try and protect yourself from harm, and we’re just trying to do everything we can to do that.         -Elise Gerhart

An investigation by The Intercept into the private security firm Tigerswan, now known for their illegal operations in North Dakota to protect the Dakota Access Pipeline, shows the mercenary contractor is also monitoring opposition to Mariner East 2. Tigerswan advisory board member James Marks was also found to have written an editorial for PennLive.com attacking opponents of Mariner East 2, without disclosing his personal connections to a firm employed to harass pipeline opponents.

lawsuit by Clean Air Council, set for trial this December in Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, could possibly stop the pipeline based on issues with its permitting and use of eminent domain.  In the meantime, construction continues, and local authorities (the Huntingdon County Sheriff and Pennsylvania State Police) have historically been quick to respond to the pipeline company’s requests to repress their opposition. The Huntingdon County Sheriff has not yet responded to our request for comment.

We spoke at length earlier this year with Elise Gerhart about her family’s fight against Mariner East 2 on their property, the direct action tree sits at Camp White Pine, and how the pipeline fight in Huntingdon connects to broader struggles across the state and the country.  Read or listen to the interview here.

“We’ve Got No Choice”: Interview with Elise Gerhart of Camp White Pine

from Unicorn Riot

Huntingdon County, PA – In May, Unicorn Riot visited Camp White Pine, a direct action encampment on the Gerhart family’s property in the hills of Huntingdon County, PA. Several tree-sits currently sit on the easement for the Mariner East 2 pipeline, where Sunoco has claimed eminent domain to build the pipeline against the property owner’s consent. Read our report here.

We spoke with Elise Gerhart for almost two hours about the history of her family’s property, their struggle against encroachment by Sunoco, and what she expects in the fight ahead. We also discussed regulatory corruption in Pennsylvania, law enforcement responses to pipeline resistance, and the implications for climate activism in the post-Standing Rock era.

Listen to the interview below (1 hr 38 mins) or click here to download

[Interview transcript below the cut]

Fake Event Mobilizes far-Right at Gettysburg; Militia Member Shoots Himself in Leg

From It’s Going Down

In the last two weeks, Alt-Right trolls have attempted to replay the events in Houston, Texas in June, where using over the top threats from fake antifa groups on social media, they galvanized a ‘counter-protest’ from the militia movement.

Moreover, it turned out that the people behind the trolling where also raking in thousands of dollars off of crowdfunding for the ‘counter-demonstration’ which drew several hundred and led to infighting between militia members and neo-Nazis. Seems like the Right has a business plan! Make a fake antifa group, make over the top threats, and then crowd fund money off of people that want to protest it.

This time around, trolls using the page ‘Harrisburg Antifa’ alleged that antifascists would burn flags and urinate on the graves of Confederate soldiers. These outright lies were then picked up by the ‘journalists’ at Fox News and distributed as actual truth. This connection between Alt-Right trolls and Fox News is not new; just last week Fox reprinted an article written by a member of the Alt-Right who wrote a hit piece about IGD at HeatSt.com.

Interestingly enough however, in the lead up to the protest, Navy Jack, a mover and shaker within the far-Right Oath Keeper militia, called out the event as total make-believe in a tweet (see image on the top-right), which has since been deleted. Navy Jack also included the photos of the two people he believed were behind the fake event and called it #FakeNews.

Other members of the far-Right, such as Joe Biggs, who recently left InfoWars because of the #Pizzagate conspiracy, have stated publicly that the rise of such fake antifa accounts have hurt the far-Right who continues to take them seriously.

In an interview with USA Today, Central PA Antifa, who IGD interviewed last year, also rightfully called out the event as a complete and total fabrication:

Central PA Antifa, based in the greater Harrisburg area, is planning to participate in an anti-Trump demonstration in Philadelphia on Saturday, according to the email.

The email claimed the rumors about the Gettysburg protest stemmed from a fake Facebook page called “Harrisburg Antifa.”

“This page is not run by antifascists but by alt-right trolls attempting to discredit antifa, create confusion, and attempt to stir violence,” the email stated.

Furthermore, Antifa took exception to the allegation that they would be desecrating graves, especially in Gettysburg, “a site of great historical importance in the struggle of oppression,” the email said.

“That battle was a turning point in the war that eventually lead to the freeing of millions of slaves,” Central PA Antifa said. “The Confederacy and their ideology were dealt a resounding defeat at that battle, as fascism itself will one day be defeated by the will of all people to be free from oppression.”

The BBC also ironically pointed out:

There’s a problem: although there is a cemetery at Gettysburg, no Confederate graves at the site are marked by stones.

Alt-Lite trolls, general adult failures at life, and conspiracy theorists like Cassandra Fairbanks and Jack Posobiec did flip flops with the story. First, they promoted it as fact and then when it became clear it was a fake, they took to laughing at the mainstream media for picking up the story after they helped to get it off the ground. Hilariously though, it was Fox News that picked it up and ran with it after hearing about it from the grassroots far-Right, even as some local Fox affiliates backpedaled on the story.

But regardless of the lies, militia members and the far-Right still showed up to Gettysburg to protest the hoax created by Alt-Right trolls. During their ‘counter-rally’ however, a young militia member apparently shot themselves in the leg. 

According to One People’s Project:

The rumor that antifa were coming to Gettysburg National Military Park to desecrate Confederate monuments there turned out to be false, but that did not stop a group of militia members from coming out, standing guard and shooting themselves in the foot – or literally in their left thigh.

According to Pennlive, a 20-year-old “patriot” accidentally triggered the revolver he brought to the park, which was inside a leg holster, when he temporarily rested the bottom of his flag pole against the holster. Park police who were nearby when the shooting took place quickly applied a tourniquet, possibly saving his life.

The accidental discharge happened near four designated fenced areas for demonstrators. Many of the ‘patriots’, did not go into those areas immediately reportedly because their permit was suspended because of a brief rain, but instead marched around the perimeter. After the rain cleared, they were allowed in.

Later, as police were trying to unload the revolver, it went off a second time while visitors were nearby. Police say the gun was “bad” and they had a hard time getting the rounds out of the chamber. After they forced all of the rounds out of the revolver, they secured the gun.

As Alt-Right trolls peddle lies, mainstream and corporate media like Fox News feeds off of the manufactured frenzy, which in turn leads to far-Right militia groups mobilizing to ‘fight’ these fake threats. This cycle has become increasingly clear. People like Cassandra Fairbanks and Jack Posobiec lose credibility when independent investigative journalism expose the facade. It is important that our movements continue to support, fund and defend such liberatory efforts.

Moreover, it was the far-Right, not anarchists and antifascists, which called for violence in the lead up to the demonstration and in the end, shot themselves with a gun and put people in the general area of Gettysburg in danger. This is the kind of reckless behavior they accuse our movement of engaging in all of the time, yet it is the far-Right which is creating a climate of violence, fear, and threats of bodily harm.

The far-Right has a symbiotic relationship with the State, the mass media, and is built on a foundation of dis-information and relationships of violence. In an attempt to get ratings they sow rotten seeds amongst the public, crowdfund off each other and peddle their rhetoric to anyone simple enough to be played. The joke is on them this time. Reap what you sow and maybe you’ll just end up shooting yourself in the leg.


 

Fighting Pipelines and Displacement with Camp White Pine

from It’s Going Down

What would you do if your family’s home was threatened by eminent domain to make way for a pipeline of fracked gas? Would you roll over? Give up? Take the money and run? Or would you stand and fight?

This interview, with Camp White Pine, details how one family in Pennsylvania stood up to a pipeline which is threatening to not only evict them from their home, but also build a pipeline which would pollute watersheds and ecosystems in the local area. From their Facebook page:

With construction season upon us, Camp White Pine is digging in our heels to fight the Mariner East 2 pipeline in the Susquehanna Valley of so-called Central PA on occupied Shawnee, Lenape, and Susquehannock Territories.

The Mariner East 2 is a 350+ mile long Sunoco pipeline project, comprised of two new pipelines starting in southeastern Ohio, and running through northern West Virginia and across the length of Pennsylvania. These lines will carry natural gas liquids (NGLs) like butane, ethane, and propane to an export facility along the Delaware River in Marcus Hook, PA.

Resistance to the Mariner East 2 is spreading, with impacted residents and organizers working in communities all along the proposed route. Sunoco Logistics has no regard for the beauty of Appalachia, the preservation of its diverse ecosystems and the safety of the people who live here.

We also discuss the harassment, threats, and attacks that both law enforcement and corporations have leveled against those who are standing up for themselves, as well as the connections between the #NoDAPL struggle and ongoing pipeline battles happening across the US.

More Info: Bail Fund Donate Here, Camp White Pine Facebook

Harrisburg, PA: Reportback and Analysis of June 10th Counter-Demo

from It’s Going Down

On June 10th, ACT for America held anti-Muslim rallies across the country. They were assisted by American Vanguard, a white-supremacist fascist group, and the Oathkeepers, a hyper-masculine organization of former military and police officers. One of the rallies was held in Harrisburg, PA, where they were joined by the ultra-racist Keystone Skins. In an effort to create a strong counter-presence a call was put out to activists in the region to join Harrisburg comrades in shutting them down. We were among many who answered.

As anarchists, we firmly believe in self-criticism and learning lessons from every action. This is our attempt to do so.

Leading up to the day of the action, we had concerns about what we perceived as some organizers’ peace-policing discussions of militant tactics. We did not gain a complete understanding of their concerns, and felt that ours were not fully heard. Arranging a spokes council well in advance would have prevented much of the resulting tension in both preparation and execution, and provided clarity in terms of goals, contingency plans, support for autonomous actions, diversity of tactics, etc.

A spokes council, when properly implemented, is distinguishable from representative councils: the spokes (individuals comprising the spokes council) constantly rotate, must closely follow the affinity groups’ mandates, can be immediately recalled, and any decisions are non-binding. This provides a method for organizing the decision-making process of a large group while preserving the autonomy of all involved. A spokes council can help level the field of communication, so that everyone’s voice is heard, most importantly those of folks who are too often silenced, i.e.: women, people of color, lgbtqia+.

Decisions can be made using consensus, and agreements and understandings can be efficiently communicated from each crew to the spokes council and vice versa. Groups voluntarily opt in or out, and have time to speak amongst themselves to determine the nature of their relationship to the spokes council. Moreover, a spokes council provides the opportunity for people from different crews to establish personal connections, and potentially boost confidence in the strangers they will stand with as comrades on the day of the action.

For the action in Harrisburg, the spokes council would have been talking on a regular basis, met the night before and morning of, and been ready to meet quickly when necessary during the action itself. Instead, there was an attempt to make critical decisions among 40-60 people. While full participation in decision-making can function on the ground, with the lack of clarity between groups leading up to the action and with cops and fash looking to pick a fight, it proved ineffective.

The Action

Our crew plus one person from Harrisburg arrived at the meet-up spot at the designated time already bloced up. It took the rest of the day’s main organizers and crews over an hour to arrive, during which time we were scouted by both fash and cops. This put us at a severe disadvantage and deflated the morale of those who had waited around for so long.

Once more people arrived, a decision was made to move the group to a location that was not clearly communicated and to which several individuals and crews had severe misgivings, leading to further lack of confidence in some of the local organizers. A few crews even de-bloced and considered leaving town, and then re-bloced once we decided to take to the streets. That said, at least one of the local organizers was attentive and responsive to outside concerns, and did their best to relay messages to the other local organizers. We had established a rapport with them weeks prior, vibed well, and felt comfortable looking to them in times of critical decision-making, which speaks to the need for good inter-regional communication before an action. Unfortunately, other organizers appeared to drown them out and dismiss them, which not only hampered confidence but, in our eyes, actually led to harmful chaos.

Upon arrival at the capitol, it was clear we had arrived well after the fash and pigs, whose occupation of the capitol steps was reinforced by armed paramilitary, police barricades and mounties (pigs on horseback). For our movement to succeed we must constantly evaluate the situation on the ground and ensure we dictate the terms of success. The goal was immediately changed from stopping the march (which was clearly not going to happen) to preventing fash from approaching the rallying point and drowning out their chants. Crews continued to arrive, bringing noisemakers and other supplies. Fash continued to arrive, too, albeit in meager numbers, and when some people within the bloc attempted to hold the line as they approached, others did not, and they were able to break through easily, assisted by the pigs, who came armed with rubber bullets, smoke grenades launchers, and zip-ties.

Around this point, some crews left and de-bloced. While some returned, others did not. Organizers had continuously called for the bloc to “tighten up” so we could somehow reach consensus as a full bloc. This was clearly not working, and some of us recommended the creation of a spokes. An ad-hoc spokes was assembled, in which not all crews were represented, some individuals attempted to function as an actual spokes, a few attempted to dominate the conversation, and others seemed unsure of how to operate within that environment.

Amidst this spokes reevaluation, a peace-police antagonizer came into the bloc and began yelling incoherent nonsense. Rather than removing him, pigs arrested a person of color who was standing close by, and the bloc did nothing to stop it. We attribute this arrest to disorganization and miscommunication, and need to figure out how to avoid situations like this in the future: how to neutralize rogue antagonizers while protecting and maintaining the bloc.

Eventually, the spokes decided we should leave the location and begin a march as a way of coopting the fash’s plan and create an anti-racist march.

The march was immediately pursued by mounties, police on foot, and several police vehicles. In an attempt to outpace the pigs, the “leaders” of the march kept a fast pace, which was dangerous for several reasons. First and foremost, it was ableist—some who may have wanted to participate couldn’t. Second, it risked spreading the bloc thin. Luckily several individuals ensured this did not happen. We began to feel much more confident, forming lines in the street and pushing through aggressive mounties who tried to penetrate, reroute, and divide the bloc. We dictated the terms of the march and cut off police interference. A local civilian joined the march and suggested a densely populated public destination, and we marched there effectively.

Once we’d passed this location, the mounties became much more aggressive, charging the bloc in an effort to remove us from the street. Shit was going south. As we weighed separating from the bloc and some of us even began to so do, pigs started to make arrests and we were cut off.

After de-blocing, regrouping, and meeting up with others, we observed several roaming bands of Proud Boys (who appeared young and weak) walking the streets looking for members of Antifa to fight. Groups of pigs did the same, clearly in coordination with fash and also in pursuit of Antifa, stashed gear or perhaps even cars that looked out of place. Nonetheless, several members of different Antifa crews beat the shit out of a few Proud Boys with their own weapons (they later complained about their wounds, using social media to request safe spaces to spout their hatred).

Lessons

1) There should always be a secure and comprehensive scouting plan before any action, but especially a large-scale action. This includes leading up to and day of. We need to ensure that we have a complete understanding of the terrain: potential locations where we can demonstrate our power, choke points, escape routes, etc. This must be done carefully and thoroughly.

2) The host crew and folks coming from abroad must be clear about where they stand, what they are willing to do, goals, and contingency plans. Clear communication is key always, and every effort must be made to listen to anyone who expresses concerns during planning. This is crucial when working with others as it ensures that people know they are being heard, and helps everyone to work as a more cohesive unit.

3) As a movement, we need to be more creative with our tactics. The fash and pigs have become accustomed to bloc strategies in these types of scenarios. In order to win we need to think about other ways to take them on.

Conclusion

We were able to enact an effective noise-making counter-demonstration, drowning out the fash’s pathetic chants and renditions of “God Bless America,” or whatever. We were then able to take the streets, creating decent optics by staying tight, chanting in unison, and maintaining the bloc through an extensive route in downtown Harrisburg. And, after the bloc dissipated, folks were able to de-bloc and make some fash regret leaving their keyboards. All of these elements of the action could’ve been improved with better communication and planning, and in the future, as we make a more concerted effort to do so, we must take into consideration lessons from the June 10th action in Harrisburg.

P.S.: Remember, horses are our friends, and even though they can be scary they don’t want to be involved in our oppression any more than we do. They are frightened in those moments, and will often defy their masters when the heat is on.