An article titled “In the Fight to Make a Better World” recently appeared on several Indymedia websites, including Portland Indymedia. The article began,
“You read indymedia, chances are you know some protesters who are wanted by the police and the FBI. The good news is that now you can receive a big cash reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of crimanals [sic]. It’s easy just a quick call. and if you know more that one person you can get multiple REWARDS up to $2000 for each . for information leading to the arrest of known criminals and subversive group activity.”
The article then listed a wide-ranging and diverse collection of activist groups, movements, and political parties, including Democracy Now!, the Animal Liberation Front, Socialist Labor Party, and “Anarcist [sic] book fair,” among many others. We were very surprised to see our name on this list, right in between Cascadia Rising Ecodefense and Freedom for Animals. The article finishes by providing contact information for various federal agency snitch lines, including the FBI and Homeland Security.
Although the implicit premise of this article is that Olympia Rising Tide (and everyone else mentioned) are wanted by the police and FBI for criminal activity, it is important to note that Shayne O’Neill, the supposed author of this fishing expedition article, never actually accuses us of any criminal activity, nor of being wanted by the police or FBI. Olympia Rising Tide is a legal, aboveground community group. We have never carried out any illegal actions in the fight for a just and sustainable world. Some people do perform underground actions to dismantle oppressive power structures, but those are tactics that Olympia Rising Tide chooses not to use. The police and FBI have no grounds on which to accuse us of any illegal activity – that is why they are looking for people who read Indymedia to provide that non-existent information.
Fishing expeditions (searches for information on groups disliked by the State and Capital but about whom the State has no incriminating information) are a scare tactic used to neutralize groups who are effective at creating change. The police wish to silence us by sowing fear, distrust, and misinformation in our community. We believe we are being targeted because we are vocal, uncompromising, and effective (qualities any social or climate justice group should be proud to claim), not because we have broken any laws.
It is important to remember that nothing good ever comes from talking to the police. If you don’t talk, they won’t have any information. The majority of convictions of activists would not be possible were it not for informants, undercover agents, and snitches. Even if you think you are going to “clear up our name,” it is better to say nothing at all. If questioned by police, remember that the only thing you should say is “I am going to remain silent. I would like to speak with my lawyer.” Without voluntary snitches, the police would be much less effective at neutralizing activist groups. However much reward money you are offered (and do you really think they’ll deliver on that promise?), it is never worth it to betray your friends, comrades, and the movement. And statistically, people who snitch receive sentences that are just as long, if not longer, than those who refuse to talk. If you snitch you’re not “just telling them what they already know,” you’re giving them the tools to fabricate charges where they couldn’t before, and you’re setting back the movement. If you incriminate others, you are also incriminating yourself and making yourself a target of investigation.
This false insinuation that Olympia Rising Tide is comprised of known criminals and is wanted by the police and FBI is part of the larger crackdown on environmental and animal rights activists known as the Green Scare. Activists who carry out non-violent but illegal activities in furtherance of animal or earth liberation are demonized as violent terrorists. This “terrorism” rhetoric is used to prevent people from speaking out in the first place, and justify the criminalization of previously free speech. The government is not going after us for breaking the law, they’re going after us because we’re effective. For more information on the Green Scare, check out www.greenisthenewred.com.
Anyone who has information on Shayne O’Neill or the source of the original article is asked to please contact Olympia Rising Tide at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you believe you have been harassed because of your political beliefs, affiliations, or perceived political beliefs and affiliations, please contact the National Lawyers Guild’s Green Scare hotline: 1-888-NLG-ECOL.
Olympia Rising Tide will not be scared into passivity, nor will we allow ourselves to be neutralized by unfounded allegations of criminal activity. We will continue to remain vocal, uncompromising, and effective in confronting the root causes of climate change.