Category Archives: Article

A Word On Security

Who can you trust?

Recently or not, we have realized that the U.S. political system and capitalism as a whole cannot be trusted to act in our best interests, and so we turn to each other. It is necessary to surround ourselves with people we can trust to be on our side, by our side, as we develop ways to survive and eliminate a system that employs false promises and thinly veiled threats to help itself to our energy, bodies, and time. But how do we protect ourselves from being burned again? Our trust issues come from systemic oppression and intergenerational trauma wearing us down over centuries; politicians always promising ‘change’ or ‘hope’ but never really delivering it; trigger-happy cops protecting and serving anyone but us; fair-weather ‘allies’ disappearing when things get tough; companies mining folks’ need to pay rent for profit; and technology tracking our every move under the guise of convenience.

With the absurdity of the world we live in seeming to escalate by the day, it seems like more people are willing to put more on the line to resist. At the same time, the stakes get higher as authoritarian entities gain the momentum and permission to squash any threats to their power. So we’re in a catch-22: we must trust each other if we are going to coordinate resistance, but if we are too vulnerable we expose ourselves to repression and state violence.

Security culture is a term for the customs and practices that provide greater security in many radical milieus. This includes everything from not mentioning who may be working on an anonymous project to not bragging about doing illegal things. As a general rule, if you are aware of someone trying to do something anonymously, do not out them. Further, security culture is about not telling people things they don’t need to know and not expecting to be told things that you don’t need to know. For those unaware of the repression brought down upon autonomous individuals, security culture can seem paranoid, unnecessary, and a sure way to keep people from ever trusting each other. We think security culture is about building trust by recognizing the vulnerabilities of you and your co-conspirators, and taking all possible steps to protect each other. What follows are a few examples showing why it is important to practice security culture.

Standing Rock Grand Jury

Grand juries have a long history of being used by the state to derail social movements. They have the power to subpoena anyone the state thinks might have relevant information, and if the subpoenaed person refuses to testify they can be jailed for up to 18 months for contempt of court. Recently it came out that a grand jury is investigating the events at Standing Rock. It is difficult to know exactly what is happening right now, as the situation is still unfolding and grand juries are supposed to operate secretly, but as of now at least one person has gone public about being subpoenaed and has stated that he will not cooperate with the state, even if it means being jailed. The existence of grand juries makes building trust all the more important, both so that we can operate with people without questioning whether they would serve time to protect us if it came to that and so that we can draw upon those bonds for support if we find ourselves targeted.

Undercovers and the RNC 8

Back in 2008 the Republican National Convention took place in St. Paul. Anarchists began organizing protests years in advance; just days before the convention eight were arrested and charged with felony counts of ‘conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism’. Most of the state’s evidence came from multiple informants that had infiltrated the RNC Welcoming Committee, an open anarchist group coordinating logistics and strategy for the protests. After years of organizing against the case and support from a broad range of people, the state was forced to drop the charges against three of the defendants, with the other five accepting misdemeanor plea deals. Two major lessons demonstrated by the experience of the RNC 8 are that informants often target those who are relatively new to resistance and manipulate disagreements within groups to prevent those who see through them from being able to force them out of activist spaces. It’s also important to remember the strengths and weaknesses of public organizing; groups that anyone can join have their place in resistance movements, but have glaring weaknesses as well. While doing public organizing one should keep in mind that agents of the state may very well be in the room; this is especially true when organizing against high profile events with enhanced security. Be open to finding new friends, but posturing about how ‘down’ you are in spaces like this just paints you as a target, and may even land you with charges (remember that for a conspiracy charge you don’t have to actually do anything illegal). One informant used his credibility as a member of the Welcoming Committee to garner trust and learn of non-public actions; make sure you actually know somebody, or they are vouched for by someone you trust, before working with them on anything that could get you in serious trouble. Members of the Welcoming Committee who kept this in mind were better protected than those who did not.

Jeremy Hammond and Online Security

Jeremy Hammond was a part of the LulzSec hacker group. He was responsible for many well-publicized hacks over the years, with the hack of surveillance-industry giant Stratfor being the most famous. The crucial mistake that led to his undoing was trusting Sabu, the ‘leader’ of the group, who had become an FBI informant. In their personal chats he gave some damning clues as to who he was, that he had been arrested at X protest, that he had friends who were recently arrested at Y protest. That narrowed down the list of who he could be to a select few people. He also had a variation of his cat’s name as his computer password. All of this serves to remind us that staying secure online is especially tricky. Even if you do everything right tech-wise, if the person you are talking with is working for the cops it doesn’t matter, and of course it is much harder to detect inconsistencies or red flags in an online interaction than it is in person.

Beyond these specific examples of methods of repression to protect yourself against, we have some broad suggestions for making connections while keeping each other safe.

Start now. Even if you’re not doing or talking about anything risky now doesn’t mean you won’t later. Start your security practices now so it’s natural for bigger actions.

Learn some history. The anecdotes we mentioned are not exhaustive at all. The more we learn about what has happened before the better we can prepare for the future.

Respect boundaries. It’s natural to want to ask questions to get to know people and express interest in what they do. But questions like, “did you write that zine?” or “do you know who tagged the precinct last night?” ask someone to give information that could be used as a tool of repression against themselves or a friend. More abstract, theoretical topics are much safer. Conversely, be smart about what you share, both in person and online. Any information that could be evenly remotely tied to anything incriminating for yourself or others should only be shared on a need-to-know basis.

Be smart with tech. For your own good and the good of anyone you communicate with. See the infographic below on basic techniques, but if you want to be absolutely sure something doesn’t fall into the wrong hands keep it offline and don’t talk about it near a phone or in a place you are known to frequent.

It’s okay to trust some people more than others. Trust is not all-or-nothing, though it is often presented that way. We all have that friend who we’d trust with our life but not our car. Or the friend who would never actively snitch, but may or may not cave under the pressure of a grand jury. Feel out these limits and remember that it’s okay to play it safe.

Check in (with yourself and others). Don’t second-guess yourself if something feels wrong, and don’t be afraid to ask others you trust how they feel about certain situations.

Keep It Local

This past month Frostbeard Studio, a Powderhorn shop specializing in “homemade candles for book nerds,” had its windows smashed out and its walls tagged with anti-gentrification graffiti. Responses to this incident have varied, from citizens raging about the nerve of someone carrying out such an attack upon ‘community’ or ‘art’ to people stopping short of endorsing the property destruction yet acknowledging the negative effects shops like Frostbeard, whose candles cost $18 apiece, have on historically black and brown neighborhoods like Powderhorn. In what should come as no surprise to regular readers, we have this to say about the smashings: good. We’ll delve into reasons why we think attacks such as this one, as well as the recent vandalism of a local real estate office/art gallery, could help prevent Powderhorn and similar neighborhoods from becoming homogenized hellscapes like Uptown in a bit, but first we want to spend some time deconstructing the often-invoked but rarely examined concepts of ‘community’ and ‘art’.

As was argued in the anonymous essay ‘The Clash of Communities,’ written during the 4th Precinct occupation back in 2015, the concept of a static overarching ‘community’ that includes all people who live within a certain area or who belong to a certain group holds no weight when examined closely. Instead we would do well to think community as something that is constantly in the process of becoming, with different communities “flowing in and out of each other, forming conscious and subconscious bonds, exchanging words and stories,” and at times coming into conflict with each other. From this perspective, community can for some mean working together to police the neighborhood and protect private property and for others mean working together to safely carry out actions that decrease the ability of trendy businesses to thrive and thus attract further waves of settlement and development to the neighborhood. Criticizing an action on the grounds that it is anti-community flattens out this nuance, perpetuating the myth that those who live in an area and want the rent to stay low and those who own businesses or property in the area and want more capital to flow into it somehow share a set of common interests.

Like ‘community’, the word ‘art’ is deployed again and again to deflect criticisms made about the effects that different actions have upon our environment. Art is assumed to be a universal good and thus anything that is labeled art is beyond reproach. But just as there is no ‘community’, there is no ‘art’, only arts, and different arts clearly impact the world in very different ways. There is the art of beautifying capitalist restructuring and the art of exposing it for the shit-show it really is. There is the art of soothing society’s winners, assuring them that they are human after all, and there is the art of reminding society’s losers that defeat is never final. There is the art of convincing yuppies to buy overpriced candles and there is the art of throwing up tags in the middle of the night. Claiming to act in the name of ‘art’ does not excuse one from having to justify one’s actions on ethical grounds.

Of course if the necessity of justifying one’s actions on ethical grounds applies to artists opening businesses in Powderhorn then it applies to those who smash their windows too. After all, we are sure the owners of Frostbeard were being sincere when they asserted in a Facebook post following the smashing that they are “not a big corporation trying to gentrify the neighborhood (quite the opposite).” Isn’t strategizing to run them out of business a little cruel? Well maybe, from a certain standpoint, but the thing to remember is that gentrification is a structural problem, even as that structure is the outcome of thousands of personal decisions. The owners of Frostbeard don’t intend to gentrify Powderhorn; gentrification is simply an unintended consequence of fulfilling their dream of selling nerdy candles. Conversely, we don’t necessarily wish to see their dream fail (in fact we are fans of many of the books their candles reference), but if their dream succeeding takes us further down the path towards the neighborhood being broken apart then we are forced to take a side and it won’t be theirs. Ultimately the question we should ask in relation to attacks such as these is this: do they work? Because only a reactionary would argue that a few boutique businesses failing and some developers not getting their expected return on investment is somehow ethically worse than hundreds of people being displaced.

Whether or not these attacks work is difficult to determine, and we certainly don’t intend to claim that all that is needed to stop gentrification is to break windows, but in our opinion actions such as these have definite impacts. Despite how it is typically framed, gentrification is not inevitable. Sometimes neighborhoods reach the point that much of Minneapolis is at now and then continue along the road to condo hell, and sometimes they don’t. Much of what determines the success or failure of various development initiatives is out of our control, but not all of it. We have the power to make life much harder for developers. As anyone who has tried to open one will tell you, small businesses are incredibly precarious, especially for the first few years of their existence, and even more so when they are expensive specialty stores that much of the neighborhood can’t afford. For examples of this we need look no further than the multiple trendy restaurants in and around Powderhorn, such as Blue Ox Coffee and La Ceiba, that have gone out of business in the past year or so, not because of any intentional assault but simply because the neighborhood doesn’t yet have the density of yuppies needed to sustain places that charge $5 for coffee or $20 for an entrée. The accumulated costs of the broken windows, higher insurance premiums, and decreased business that could result from increased agitation against these shops could push things into the red for businesses like Frostbeard that have so far been scraping by. If more and more of these businesses fail, fewer and fewer people who desire to live in neighborhoods full of trendy boutiques will move in, preventing the landlords from raising the rent, or at least as much as they would otherwise.

While targeting small businesses will always generate controversy, it is important to recognize that this is a decisive time for Powderhorn and similar neighborhoods. Wait another five to ten years for less-controversial targets like Starbucks to move in and any resistance will be too little, too late. Unlike Frostbeard, stores like Starbucks have sufficient capital behind them to weather broken windows and boycotts if they are confident that they will eventually get a return on their investment. Next year’s Super Bowl also offers developers an opportunity to ramp up their activity across the city; it is likely that this event will have effects that will be felt long after the game is over and all of the drunk executives leave town. Another reason that we can’t afford to waste any time is the fact that various tech companies have their sights set on making hip, progressive, white, artsy Minneapolis the Silicon Valley of the Midwest, “Silicon Prairie” as they call it. The main thing standing in their way is that they are finding it hard to convince top job candidates to endure the winters here when they could get jobs in Austin or the Bay Area, but as the winters continue to grow milder this will hold them back less and less. Now is the time to act—let’s sabotage Silicon Prairie from the get-go.

Beyond the concrete damage done to gentrifying businesses by attacks such as these, in our mind they have an important impact on the semantic field upon which the social war plays out, exposing fault lines within the city that are typically covered up by the progressive image of Minneapolis that is continuously forced down our throats. Such an exposure can be messy, but in our opinion is ultimately therapeutic; certainly it is preferable to the refusal to acknowledge conflict like good Minnesotans. Once an attack like this takes place, everyone who hears about it is forced to take sides, to define their views and act them out, instead of continuing to exist in some progressive fantasy where they can shop at stores like Frostbeard yet claim to oppose gentrification. They may have an “All Are Welcome” sign in their window, but it should be obvious that “All” can’t drop $18 on a candle, much less withstand another rent hike.

Reflections on Standing Rock

What can you say about Standing Rock? How to begin to describe what has been happening there in the past months to someone who hasn’t been? It’s a question that has been needling me ever since I left. A real answer would take up much more space than I have here and would be written by someone with more knowledge than me, as I only spent a few weeks there. The short answer is that it’s complicated. One thing I learned quickly while there was to be wary of those claiming to have the only correct or official program for resisting the pipeline and standing in solidarity with indigenous warriors. Like any group, Native people are not homogenous. Some are prepared to defend their land and people using whatever tactics are necessary, some are understandably cautious given this country’s legacy of violence against them, and some are classic politicians who despite good intentions act to neutralize any momentum generated by the people they claim to represent in return for a seat at the negotiating table. This last group, in Standing Rock as much as anywhere else in the world, is elevated to prominence by colonial power structures such as non-profits, tribal governments and media, and in a bizarre but unsurprising reversal any non-Native who seeks out as wide a variety of Native views as possible and evaluates how best to contribute to the struggle accordingly rather than simply parroting the official leadership is accused of perpetuating colonialism. Native spiritual practices are then mobilized to pressure warriors to remain ‘peaceful and prayerful,’ in a manner similar to how Christianity is often deployed against non-Native struggles. This was clearly especially painful to witness for the multiple Natives, both Sioux and non-Sioux, who explicitly told me that their traditions have never recognized a division between praying and fighting back, with one elder labeling the imposition of Western notions of pacifism on Native traditions ‘spiritual abuse.’

Yet in spite of such obstacles there are many powerful currents brewing at Standing Rock. In addition to the actions taken against the pipeline, covered elsewhere in this issue, people from all across Turtle Island and the world are building bonds and generating momentum against industrial civilization that I think will prove extremely powerful in the coming years; indeed this momentum has already manifested itself in a variety of anti-infrastructural actions around the continent in the past months. Furthermore, people who have only recently found themselves within the struggle are listening to and learning from those for whom struggle has been a reality for generations. This is especially important given the tendency of the white Left in this country to gloss over the genocidal foundations of this society and thus claim victory the moment a few reforms are offered, leaving those who can’t or won’t stop pushing forward even more isolated than before. We can only hope that this renewed historical awareness will encourage us not to stop now. As anyone who spends much time at Standing Rock quickly learns, if you want to split a log of firewood you can’t just aim for the top of the log. If you do the ax will simply bounce off. Instead you must swing through the log at the larger piece of wood it is sitting upon. If we really want to kill this pipeline we can’t just swing at DAPL but must swing at the oil economy as a whole. And when DAPL is dead we will keep on swinging, not just at the oil economy but at this entire white-supremacist industrial nightmare.

Autonomous Organizing in the Age of Trump

So they really went and did it. This time last year the Trump campaign was only just beginning to lose it’s comedic factor. Now Trump is just days away from taking office, and many are at a loss on how to navigate this new reality. Without promising any solutions, we would like to outline a combative strategy against the incoming regime and all manifestations of oppression and authority.

In the days following the election, even cities where riots did not erupt from anti-Trump demonstrations witnessed an antagonism unprecedented in recent history. In every metropolis throughout the country social peace was shattered, even where it was strongest. Even as the immediate momentum slows, calls to disrupt the inauguration ceremony on January 20th have picked up steam. Interfering with this spectacle holds potential, but the prospect of decentralizing conflict on the 20th and beyond is what really piques our interest. The model we elaborate here provides us with a loose strategy for spreading ungovernability, reducing the capacity of the Trump regime, and by extension local authorities of all parties, from operating.

This strategy is what we, and others like us around the world, call autonomous self-organization. Let’s take a moment to unpack what we mean by this. First of all, when we speak of autonomous action we refer to action taken outside of or separate from official groups and organizations. While useful at times, formalized relations such as these can not only hinder our ability to act but also leave us vulnerable to repression when actions can be tied to offices, spokespeople, or membership lists. For these reasons, affinity groups are often proposed as an alternative to organizations. Affinity groups refer to those friendships that most of us already have—those handfuls of comrades with which we have built, or are building, a deep trust. With our affinity groups or even alone we have the freedom to take initiative, acting on our own accord and on our own timelines without waiting for instructions or invitations.

In refusing to become followers in struggle we are also refusing to gather followers for ourselves. For this reason reproducibility is prioritized when acting. Spray paint is 97¢ if you can’t steal it, every home has a hammer, and concealing your identity is simple if you think ahead (see our September issue for some tips). The easier an act is to reproduce the more likely it is to generalize, and as attacks spread and more people join in it becomes more difficult for authorities to profile possible suspects, creating space for more to participate and for bolder actions to be taken. While isolated acts are manageable, generalized unrest can and does make it harder for law enforcement to operate, harder for them to harass, arrest, evict or deport us.

It is important to note that the framework of autonomous self-organization is not exclusive to small or clandestine actions. It can also inform how we approach mass actions such as demonstrations. Rather than the traditional march where we follow the bullhorn from point A to B, we can come together as a cluster of individuals and affinity groups who cooperate to carry out larger, public actions. The tradition of protest marshals solidifies a hierarchy between organizers and participants, stifling self-organization even when marshals aren’t directly facilitating the work of the police. Instead, different individuals and groups can come prepared to achieve their own goals, whether this means bringing a banner along with flyers to hand out, acting as a self-defense squad against right-wing threats, or having the tools necessary to carry out a targeted attack when the time is right. In this sense, every public call should be viewed as a call for self-organization, a call to step up with our own contributions, with the hope that they can come together to strike a chord.

It might be difficult to imagine anything meaningful produced in our current context from a handful of isolated acts of resistance, yet the world abounds with examples: gentrifying businesses closing in San Francisco after repeated vandalism, immigration enforcement raids aborted in London after spontaneous blockades, eviction lawyers in Berlin dropping cases after their cars are burned. These are small victories within western urban centers, but we have just as much to learn from the self-organized communities of southern Mexico, the squatted forest of the ZAD, or the maroons of the eighteenth-century South.

Over the past year, the Twin Cities has seen a number of acts that loosely fit within this framework. Some are claimed through anonymous communiques submitted to counter-information websites such as Conflict MN or It’s Going Down. Others simply rely on the eyes of witnesses and passerby, leaving us guessing as to their intentions or allegiances.

In the spirit of self-organization, we at Nightfall have no interest in becoming the single voice of anti-authoritarian views and critique in the Twin Cities. The actions we cover and the events we promote are not representative of any single group but instead resonate with us regardless of their stated affiliations or lack thereof. We look forward to others with whom this newspaper resonates putting their voices and clarifications out into the world in whatever format appeals to them. This newspaper only requires a printer and a few dedicated friends.

So far we have described a framework of attack—something we find to be a crucial component of liberatory struggle. However it is just that: a component. Equally important is to support each other and build communities to sustain ourselves. The balance between these two has been described elsewhere as spreading anarchy and living communism. Any attempt to sever one component from the other will surely lead to defeat. As a friend once said, the commune is that which sustains the attack and the attack is that which enlarges the commune. We briefly explore this in a separate article [in issue 4.]

Everyone agrees, the situation is bleak. The Democratic Party is scrambling for relevancy, desperate to redirect different struggles and campaigns into membership drives. Every leftist group sees an opportunity for a new organization to take the Democrats’ place; that this organization is always their own is surely just a coincidence. These false solutions only offer the certainty of defeat, of death. We see in autonomous self-organization the potential for something more than bare survival, something like life. Our lives belong to no vanguard, organizer, or leader—only to ourselves.

False Solutions To The Catastrophe

We recently hit a point of no return for climate change. Atmospheric carbon levels reached over 400 parts per million, well above the 280 ppm of preindustrial times, the 300 ppm agreed upon by many low-lying countries as the limit above which anything further would constitute genocide, and even the 350 ppm touted as the acceptable limit by North American NGOs. It’s likely that this level won’t return to a more environmental-friendly level ever again, at least not within the lifespan of the human species. Rather than being demobilized, however, this news only reinforces in our minds the urgent necessity of change, but we are still barely scratching the surface while we are rapidly destroying the planet. In the last couple years more and more environmental NGOs stepped up and launched campaigns to save the environment and reverse climate change, yet these campaigns mainly focus on changing personal habits and endorsing politicians. Let’s take a closer look at two organizations and their attempts to save our planet.

First let’s take Friends of the Earth Action, a sister organization of Friends of the Earth, one of the biggest national environmental organizations. Friends of the Earth’s biggest campaign right now is a campaign called “Save the Bees”. While saving the bees is definitely a cause worth fighting for, considering the issues we are facing right now it is pretty trivial, especially since FoEA doesn’t link the shrinking bee population to climate change. And even though Friends of the Earth Action is still hiring organizers to help save the bees, taking a look at their website the last article about anything related to their save the bee campaign is dated in 2014, which was also when the last action relating to this campaign happened. Still, Friends of the Earth Action is sending out canvassers every day to go door to door and ask people for donations.

The way this is done is very typical of NGO’s. Canvassers are not allowed to talk about specific goals and strategies of the campaign or even get into a discussion with people, but instead are instructed to keep it light and simple, focusing only on getting the biggest donation. Friends of the Earth Action’s strategy is for canvassers to hand people a tablet with a static screen displaying a picture of a bee and their slogan. The tablet doesn’t offer any information about the campaign, the cause, or what can be done to save the bees. FoEA doesn’t want to talk about strategies and action plans because they don’t have any. Their main goal is to get people to donate and become a member of their organization. This is a well known strategy, as the more members an organization has, the more funding it can get, and the more influence and power it has.


The second organization I’d like to talk about is This in an environmental organization that is best known for organizing the People’s Climate Marches that took place all over the country in 2015. The first red flag is that like many other environmental NGOs, accepts significant donations from foundations such as Tides, which is primarily funded by oil profiteers. It might seem odd that the companies who are most involved in destroying our planet are donating to an environmental organization that is claiming to fight climate change and environmental destruction, but it actually makes a lot of sense from a capitalist perspective; buying the organizations, who might be able to hurt them to keep them quiet and their actions ineffective. Unlike Friends of the Earth Action, whose main focus is raising donations which seem to disappear into a void focuses on what they call direct action. During the People’s Climate Marches got a lot of people involved, partnering with many organizations, companies and politicians who all publicly promised to make an effort to stop and reverse climate change. But in the end that’s all that happened: a lot of empty promises. managed to mobilize tens of thousands of people to take the streets for a day to demand climate justice, but offered no way for participants to follow up on that demand. The marches garnered attention in the media, but that was all. Instead of building our capacity to fight against environmental destruction, continues to stage media-centric events and focus on people changing their personal habits. Despite their rhetoric, finds itself among the long list of environmental organizations who claim to advance radical change but instead only offer individual solutions such as taking shorter showers to save water, biking or walking instead of driving, using energy saving light bulbs to save electricity and all the other tips we have heard so many times.

While there’s nothing wrong with these tips, they don’t even begin to address the monstrous scale of the catastrophe. To be able to save the environment and slow down climate change, we need a radical action strategy in place of the idea that we can keep capitalism and our current lifestyle alive.

If people took the scientific reports about global warming seriously, the engines of every fire department would sound their sirens and race to the nearest factory to extinguish its furnaces. Every high school student would run to the thermostat, turn it off, and tear it from the classroom wall, then hit the parking lot to slash tires. Every responsible suburban parent would don safety gloves and walk around the block pulling the electrical meters out of the utility boxes behind houses and condominiums. Every gas station attendant would press the emergency button to shut off the pumps, cut the hoses, and glue the locks on the doors; every coal and petroleum corporation would immediately set about burying their unused product where it came from—using only the muscles of their own arms, of course.

– CrimethInc., “The Climate is Changing”

Sustainable For Who?

At this point only the most stubborn would attempt to deny the connection between the highway and structural violence. The office worker who glides comfortably from their workplace in downtown Minneapolis to their house in the suburbs and the person on the street whom the office worker only ever sees from the skyway both exist in their present forms because the police stand at the ready in case the person on the street decides to take action to get what the office worker has got, and the architecture of the city itself works in tandem with the police in ensuring this separation of decidedly closed loops of circulation, with highways and skyways reserved for some and sidewalks and bus routes for the rest. There are even some parking decks in the skyway system that exit directly onto the highway. But we want to talk about a relationship that is less obvious but no less real, the relationship between the greenway and police murder, between the greenway and displacement, between the greenway and the continuing climate catastrophe.

At first glance nothing could seem more absurd. The greenway is progressive. The greenway is eco-friendly. The greenway is for regular people. You know, people like us. What goes unexamined in statements like these is just who is included in this us and who is excluded. Witness for example the furor that erupted when muggings occurred on the Midtown Greenway on three consecutive days in 2015. Three muggings in three days would barely register if they took place a block south on Lake Street, but the muggings on the greenway enraged certain citizens, who fumed online in thinly coded language about the barbarity of anyone who would rob a biker, betraying a total lack of awareness of the role the greenway plays in shuttling the modern leisure class safely through destitute parts of the city to destinations like the co-op in Seward, the restaurants at the Midtown Global Market, or any of the numerous condos that line the greenway in Uptown. What does it matter to someone living in one of the neighborhoods that the greenway bypasses that the person they are robbing is passionate about progressive causes? The only thing that matters is that they have shit worth taking and are an easier target than someone in a car. Following the muggings Soren Jensen of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, an organization whose primary function seems to be to cloak the interests of business and development in the language of community, advised bikers in an interview with the Star Tribune to call the cops if they see groups of people loitering on the greenway. This despite the fact that anyone who uses the greenway regularly knows that people often congregate there not to rob anyone but because they have nowhere better to go, because it provides more shelter and less of a chance of being harassed by police than other public spaces in the area. In light of this Jensen’s exhortations for those passing through the greenway to ally themselves with the structural violence directed against those attempting to dwell there makes plain that the greenway is not there for everyone to use as they wish like the commons of some mythic past or future, but rather exists for a specific reason, to smooth the flow of certain people between various sites of work and play, if things that one must pay to do can ever really be called play. In this way the greenway can be viewed as a single piece in a giant mosaic of infrastructural projects and consumer trends that have been gaining steam for a while now.

At this point in time the market has realized that the old way of doing things, the way of suburbs and strip malls, is no longer sustainable. Not because of the violence needed to secure the existence of such places or the environmental havoc they wreak but because they are really fucking depressing. Too many people sense on some level the emptiness and destruction on which such a world is built and lose their desire to work and to play alike. The forces of the market cannot sit idly by and let this happen, and so a new capitalism must be forged, a sustainable capitalism. The modern capitalist subject who bikes to work, eats organic, puts a few solar panels on top of their house, posts an outraged Facebook status every once in a while can go to sleep feeling that they have done their part, or at least that they are not as guilty as those in the suburbs. But all the greenways, light-rails and co-ops in the world can’t conceal the fact that the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere recently eclipsed 400 ppm. Can’t conceal the communities across the Global South that have smoothly transitioned from being devastated by the drilling of oil to being devastated by the mining of the minerals needed to make solar panels and iPhones. Can’t conceal the fact that people’s rage is being expertly exploited by corporations like Berkshire Hathaway, which funnels millions through its various foundations into fights against pipelines yet just happens to own BNSF Railway, the railroad that currently transports 75% of the oil fracked in the Dakotas (approximately 600,000 barrels a day, much more than the 470,000 barrels that the Dakota Access Pipeline will transport if it is completed). In fact about 50 BNSF trains filled with this highly-volatile oil pass through Minneapolis each week on their way to refineries and ports, many of which Berkshire Hathaway also owns. Unsurprisingly, Berkshire Hathaway does not fund organizations that challenge the oil economy as a whole and not just the pipelines, and the spokespeople of the organizations it funds often work to discredit those who do as ‘unrealistic.’ And of course we shouldn’t forget that a major argument used by the state in favor of destroying much of Minnehaha Park and numerous important environmental and religious sites in order to reroute Highway 55 as discussed elsewhere in this issue was that the reroute of the highway was a necessary first step towards building the light-rail system, although one would think that if the goal was for people to use the light-rail building a highway parallel it would be the exact opposite of what one should do. This argument proved to be effective in driving a wedge between mainstream progressives and those who were putting their lives on the line not to reform industrialization but to stop it. Similar rhetoric is currently being used to argue for the removal of the K-Mart at Lake St and Nicollet Ave, as this is said to be necessary to build a streetcar line that will run down Nicollet connecting the restaurants and boutiques a few blocks north of Lake with those a few blocks south. The fact that this will destroy one of the last stores in the area that those with low-incomes can afford as well as a large parking lot where people can gather is simply seen by our progressive city council and neighborhood associations as an added perk (not that we are any friends of K-Mart, of course). What all these examples make plain is that the only thing sustainable capitalism ever sustains is capitalism itself.

So what then? We’re not arguing that use of the greenway should or could be replaced with some other more moral mode of circulation. Some of us use the greenway everyday, just as some of us eat organic when we can afford to, but we do these things because we prefer them to the similarly flawed alternatives, not because they will change anything fundamental about our society. Clearly they instead function hand-in-hand with the current order, as evidenced by the condos sprouting along the greenway like hideous brick-and-glass mushrooms and the gentrification taking place in Central around the newly opened Seward Co-Op Friendship Store. While we are forced to circulate as subjects of this brutal system, forced to work and to buy groceries and to pay rent and all the rest, we might make use of these amenities at times, but we should be careful not to mistake them for solutions to the mess we find ourselves in. Solutions will never come in the form of consumer choices. We only begin to work on real solutions when we stop identifying as consumers and citizens and begin thinking of ourselves as insurgents against this regime of consumption and death, and begin to link up with others who think similarly.

A Conversation On The Sacred Stone Camp

A NightFall Editor:  First off, can you tell us a little bit about the Dakota Access Pipeline?

Anonymous Participant: The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), is owned by a Houston, Texas based corporation called Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. which created the subsidiary Dakota Access LLC that is building the pipeline. The DAPL, also known as the Bakken Pipeline, is proposed to transport 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day (which is fracked and highly volatile) from the Bakken fields of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The current route of the DAPL will cross over the Ogallala Aquifer (one of the largest aquifers in the world) and under the Missouri River twice (the longest river in the United States). Dakota Access has systematically failed to consult with tribes and conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

In early August, Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge announced that, along with Marathon Petroleum, it will make a significant investment in the Bakken Pipeline System, including the controversial Dakota Access pipeline. As part of their statement, Enbridge also noted that, “Upon successful closing of the transaction, Enbridge and Marathon Petroleum plan to terminate their transportation services and joint venture agreements for the Sandpiper Pipeline Project [a crude oil pipeline proposed for northern Minnesota.]”

We know that this influx of resources from Enbridge will only speed up the construction process.

NF: When and how was the Sacred Stone Camp established?

AP: The camp is at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers. This is important location for the Mandan origin story as the place where they came into the world after the great flood. Where the two waters meet, created Iŋyaŋ Wakháŋagapi Othí, spherical Sacred Stones (thus the colonizers’ term ‘Cannon Ball River’), but after the Army Corp of Engineers dredged and flooded the rivers in the 1950s, the flow has changed and Sacred Stones are no longer produced. The camp is surrounded by historic burial grounds, village grounds and Sundance sites that would be directly impacted by this pipeline. The water of the Missouri River is essential to life on the Standing Rock Reservation as well as all of the nations downstream.

On April 1st, 2016, a group of over 200 supporters, led by forty riders on horse, under the Lakota name, “Chante tin’sa kinanzi Po”, which translates as “People, Stand with a Strong Heart!” left Fort Yates for a thirty mile trek to the camp located just north of Cannonball, North Dakota. They setup up tipis and a sacred fire. This camp has swelled in the past two months and has had multiple satellite camps across the river on private as well as unceded land on both sides of the river.

NF:  What is daily life like in the camp?

AP: Cooking, cleaning, gathering and chopping firewood and hanging out, especially around the campfire sharing food largely defined camp life. There are always families of all generations populating the camp. You can hear the people playing the drum, giving the camp its own heartbeat. Stories and memories are shared like water. Laughter and life are not uncommon.

The reality of the situation is that the people have been resisting the U.S. Empire and continuing genocide for so long that the drones and military surveillance flying above the camp the whole day becomes almost forgettable; like living next to a waterfall, the sound becomes a part of the landscape. We do counter-surveillance, logging the enemies movements. We can see all the pipeline construction equipment on the east side of the river.

Everyday there are prayers of resistance offered to the water, earth and ancestors. Without the water of life the camp and we would die.

Construction on the DAPL blockaded near the Sacred Stone camp, August 2016

NF:  How have folks at the camp mobilized to stop the pipeline thus far?  Has it been solely a publicity campaign/symbolic protest thus far or have folks directly interfered with construction of the pipeline?  Are there discussions about tactics at the camp?  Did these change after the Army Corps of Engineers approved the pipeline crossing the river and/or after the arsons affecting DAPL construction sites in Iowa?  As I see it, the camp and the arsons are complementary rather than conflicting tactics for stopping the pipeline; is this generally how people feel at the camp or is there a range of opinions on the matter?

AP: Like with any struggle, the people are not homogeneous in thought and tactic. Much of the camp’s rhetoric is of the “Non-violent Direct Action” type. Lock your arm to this piece of deconstruction equipment and take a picture with a banner for Facebook. But the Warrior Culture that is so rich in Lakota memory seems to counter a lot of the liberal, non-violent, NGO types. Comrades saw what happened in Iowa, heard about the $1,000,000 in damage and got inspired. I wouldn’t say that it was publicly celebrated because the camp’s tactic of “Non-violence” is the image they want to perpetuate. Like I said, it is a tactic… not everyone thinks that is what we need to dogmatically stick to. It is one thing to use Non-Violence as a rhetorical device in corporate media to spread your inspirational actions but it is another thing to preach it as your dogma in your private circles and use it to stop material damage to the infrastructure of ecocide. I see the former being invoked much greater than the latter.

NF:  How has the camp’s location on private land affected its character?  I would imagine the fact that it’s on private land gives it some protection against police but also means that if folks at the camp did engage in any illegal activities the land owner would be in a vulnerable position with regards to legal repression.  Is that a concern?  Does the person who owns the land have more say than others about tactics or daily matters at the camp?  What does the decision making process look like?

AP: The question of “private land” is especially difficult to address when we factor in Reservations (or what the U.S. Empire originally called and created them for, Prison of War Camps). The reservations are actually Federal Land. This means that local county and state police cannot enter it. A huge reason why Dakota Access (the company) is not building the pipeline thru the rez but literally a couple hundred meters north of it.

When the reservations were created, imperial logic of “borderization” was imposed; meaning, the communal and nomadic lands used for Life were divided by borders: fencing for animal domestication, invisible lines drawn on maps to denote “property” i.e. who owns what, etc. This fundamentally changed people’s relation to land. And this set up the infrastructure/hierarchies for surveillance and policing.

The camp exists in a way that resists this imperial imposition. We share food and water without hesitation. We have no leader. We all have knowledge to share and learn from each other. We recognize that the borders we build between ourselves are not “natural” anymore than the flooding in the 1950s by the Army Corps of Engineers is. They do not spread our Wildfire, so we continue to keep the eternal flame lit.

Instead of framing things in colonial terms of “legal/illegal”, it makes more sense at the camp to think in terms of effectiveness; effectiveness of stopping this genocidal project so the people can reclaim their Way of Life.

NF:  How can folks in the Twin Cities support the camp and keep up with what’s going on?

AP: Unicorn Riot has been doing amazing media coverage the entire duration of the camp and you can can thoroughly updated by reading and watching their media at their website search for tag: DAPL

Visit the camps offical website.

From there you can donate to the legal defense, see what supplies are needed, and more.

Lastly, come to the camp! Everybody is welcome.

Mask Up: How & Why

[Pamphlet version]

The events of the July 9th highway shutdown were inspiring, to say the least. Those who struck back against the police state inflicted significant financial damages on the city of St. Paul and the businesses that rely on I-94, as well as injuring 21 cops. Headlines the next day juxtaposed this number with the 102 arrests made that night to imply that the violence directed against the police did not go unpunished. However, the vast majority of those arrests were either negotiated surrenders by pacifists among the highway blockaders or misdemeanor citations issued hours after the shutdown was over. As it stands now only one person is facing felony charges stemming from the shutdown. The fact that there were many more who fought back that night and got away with it shows that it is possible to put the police on the defensive without resorting to suicidal lone wolf attacks such as the recent ones in Dallas and Baton Rouge. However, one person facing felony charges is still one too many, and that number could easily have been higher had the police been only marginally more prepared. Many people engaged in a variety of risky activities without taking basic precautions to conceal their identity. While the police were temporarily driven out of the streets surrounding the highway there were still cameras present, as well as pacifist enforcers eager to impose their own tactics upon those with differing ideas of how best to oppose the police. Nekima Levy-Pounds, the influential leader of NAACP-Minneapolis, stated in a speech at the Governor’s Mansion following the shutdown that “I ain’t no snitch, but if I see you smashing things I’m running to the 5-0.” With this in mind we offer the following reflections and fashion tips for today’s security-minded rebel.


The first order of business is to cover your face. A bandana will work, but a t-shirt is better. Simply put it around your head as if you were putting it on, tie the sleeves together behind your head and pull it up to just below your eyes, covering as much as possible. Combine with a hoodie and/or stocking cap to completely cover your face. Another important point is that the more similarly-dressed people there are, the harder it tends to be for police to get charges to stick to any one of them. For this reason black is the preferred color for masks and protest-wear in general, as it is one of the most common clothing colors and it makes us look fabulous. Beyond the mask it is best to stick with plain clothes that can’t be easily tied to your everyday style, such as a simple hoodie and jeans combo. If something could be used to identify you, cover it up or leave it at home. That means tattoos, hair, shoes, bags and other distinctive accessories. Glasses are not ideal but you definitely do not want to have contacts in if the cops bring out pepper spray or tear gas, so wear them if you need them and ditch them if you can manage.

In addition to having your all-black ensemble ready to go, you will generally want to wear something inconspicuous when entering and exiting areas of conflict. Avoid changing in sight of cops, cameras and people you don’t know or trust. A change of clothes is also crucial in case the cops start shooting marker rounds, little pellets that hurt like hell and leave a colored stain wherever they hit. If you are tagged by one of these, ditch the marked clothes as soon as possible, as police use marker rounds in situations where they have lost control, tagging individuals to send snatch squads after once control has been reimposed. In fact, much of the state’s case against the person facing felony charges from the night of the 9th appears to rest on the fact that when they were picked up they were allegedly sporting a tag from a round fired earlier in the night. It might suck to ditch your favorite pair of jeans, but a new pair will be cheaper than a court case.


There are many reasons you might choose to maintain anonymity at protests and other moments of rupture, the most obvious being that many effective methods of resisting the brutalities of this world, from white supremacy to patriarchy to the destruction of the earth, fall outside the boundaries of acceptable protest as defined by cops, politicians and respectable citizens. Actions such as defending oneself from the police, attacking the assets of white supremacist collaborators such as the private prison-funding Wells Fargo and expropriating the physical manifestations of the life stolen from us at work (aka looting) all carry with them the possibility of repression and are therefore best done as anonymously as possible. However, there are many other reasons you might choose to mask up. Even if, for whatever reason, you do not personally engage in confrontational actions masking up can respect and protect the autonomy of those who do. As we said before, the more masked people there are the safer are those who are most likely to be targeted by the police. Or maybe you don’t come to the protest expecting to engage in any risky behavior but are overtaken by the course of events, as happens in unpredictable situations. If you see a cop trying to drag one of your friends away and have the opportunity to snatch them back, you will be happy you masked up. And beyond your feelings on whether or not outright confrontation with the cops is tactically sound in our current moment, the long history of state repression in this country demonstrates pretty conclusively that the state will mobilize all of its power to crush any movement, peaceful or not, that poses a real threat to its hegemony. You can be sure that the police were filming the night of the 9th, in addition to monitoring the feeds of those livestreaming; those who did not have their faces covered are now that much more likely to have attention paid to them in the future.

A word or two should also be said about white supremacists. Much has been made of the fact that the white supremacists who shot five protestors outside the 4th Precinct in Minneapolis last year were wearing masks. Respectability-obsessed activists have manipulated people’s legitimate concerns about another white supremacist attack to pressure anyone wearing a mask, regardless of their political position or their perceived race, into removing it, thus consolidating their control over spaces of potential rupture. What has been completely overlooked in the discussion of this incident is the fact that in addition to wearing masks the white supremacists were filming everyone at the camp. These creeps have shown a pattern of harassment against known anti-racists both online and in real life, as evidenced by the death threats received by the individual who originally sounded the alarm that white supremacists were using 4chan to plan an assault on the occupation. They used their camera as a weapon much like the gun they would shoot soon after. Clearly this is a conversation that should be happening before we are on the streets confronting the police and the racists, but in our opinion the existence of white supremacists is another reason to wear a mask, not a reason to expose yourself. Perhaps in this sense these white supremacists were being more realistic than our side; they recognized that this is a conflict between two irreconcilable forms of life and took steps to protect themselves accordingly. It’s time we do the same.

Anybody But Trump?

With the conventions over and election season moving right along, we’ve seen a renewed urgency around the imperative to make sure that anyone except Donald Trump is elected. Trump’s presidency is presented to us as a doomsday scenario that must be avoided at all costs, even if that cost is voting for someone like Hillary Clinton. Yet the fact is that Clinton’s policies are Trump’s with a softer touch. There is no alternative in electoral politics – whether Hillary Clinton or Jill Stein.

There are two differences between Trump and other politicians which make his campaign remarkable. The first is that he is blunt about his oppressive positions: making blatantly racist calls for deportations while Hillary attempts to sell her immigration policies as “humanitarian,” despite the fact that they will still lead to a similarly massive amount of attacks on migrants, just as Obama’s policies have. Let’s not forget that Obama has deported 2.5 million people, more than any president before him. Trump is simply the most flagrant of the candidates; in reality they all share an interest in the perseverance of the status quo.

The second difference is that Trump’s campaign has mobilized disparate organizations on the far-right and given them space to recruit and build. Militia groups have been prominent at Trump rallies and the white nationalist Traditionalist Workers Party was spotted at his campaign events early on. At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland countless different far-right groups were present. We’ve already seen how this campaign has encouraged the far-right in terms of public organizing; the KKK have attempted two high-profile rallies this year in Anaheim and Stone Mountain, while the Traditionalist Worker’s Party organized what was supposed to be a pro-Trump demonstration in Sacramento. All of these and more were fiercely confronted by anti-fascists, although some ended with serious injuries.

If we’re being honest, there’s nothing we can do to stop the election of a president who will continue to oppress us. We should focus on what we can do: prepare for the potential of escalating conflict with far-right movements. How would white supremacist groups react to Trump’s victory in November? To his loss? What if the loss is narrow, or a landslide? Victory celebrations could become roving mobs attacking people perceived to be of marginalized identities. As far fetched as this may seem, it’s already a reality in Europe where the far-right has capitalized on the refugee crisis to expand it’s power, in addition to the historical precedent of lynch mobs in the United States. Maybe the reality of a Trump presidency that can’t deliver on his promises will lead to a depression of right-wing organizing as happens on the left every time a Democrat wins. Maybe a landslide loss will bring many who previously held faith in the electoral system into the fold of militant fascist groups.

The point is that these are the material scenarios to explore and more importantly, prepare for. Preparation can include anti-fascist propaganda, self defense training (hand to hand, bladed, and armed), building and strengthening ties with friends and accomplices, keeping tabs on right-wing activity and confronting it when the opportunity arises. Nothing could be worse than facing a trained enemy after wasting months registering voters to defeat Trump. There are no solutions in the democratic system, it’s time to leave politics behind and confront domination where it exists: it’s material manifestations in our daily lives.

This will not begin nor end on election day. These confrontations are ongoing, flaring up during large battles at white nationalist demonstrations and Trump rallies. To stomp out fascism, we must be persistent in denying the far-right a platform, denying them a voice, denying them the ability to feel safe whenever they leave their house. The convergences against white supremacist demonstrations, the attacks on Donald Trump supporters at his events, the waves of anti-racist vandalism, these and more all coalesce as hostile conditions for our enemies. What we’ve seen so far is inspiring, from Sacramento to Chicago to here at home, but we need to get ready to step things up a notch.

Beyond Justice

By now everyone is familiar with some version of this story. Jamar Clark was shot by the police on the morning of November 15th and died a few days later in the hospital. What occurred leading up the shooting is something else entirely and will not be explored here. Most are likely familiar with what followed: an occupation of the 4th Precinct’s lawn, a night of rioting, a white supremacist shooting, and more. Eventually the cold set in and the occupation was cleared, leaving many waiting to hear whether or not the officers would be indicted for their actions.

Participation in these actions was diverse; a variety of perspectives came together in one place. However, the most dominant voices were those calling for the officers to be prosecuted. Smaller demonstrations centered around this demand took place regularly after the removal of the encampment.

On March 30th it was announced that the officers who had killed Jamar Clark would not be charged. This sparked a day of protests across the city. Remarkably, the tone of these demonstrations had changed very little, as the crowds continued to chant “prosecute the police!” On June 1st, the FBI announced they would not indict the officers either. Protests have taken place since then and have remained faithful to this slogan, demanding what has already been unquestionably denied.

This brings certain tensions to the forefront: we cannot appeal to one part of the system for justice against another part; it is all the same system. Putting the police on trial and even behind bars will never dismantle the entire structure of cops, courts, and prisons—in fact, one might argue it actually supports that structure. Yet protesters continue to demand such a thing.

It is important to remember that from the beginning the call to “prosecute the police” did not speak for everyone. Especially within the first few days following the shooting, the chant was commonly interrupted with “fuck the police.” From this perspective, the demand for prosecution is less about actually prosecuting the officers and more about bringing into the political system those who previously existed outside of it. To say “fuck the police” is to
say to the government: ‘there is nothing you can do for us.’ By channeling this sentiment into a political demand (for prosecution, something the government can do) it lowers the possibility of destabilizing unrest, the likes of which was seen on the night of November 18th. If people believe that there is something the government can do for them they can easily be bought off with a small carrot, and ultimately, swept under the rug while self-appointed leaders consolidate their power.

This would explain why there are still protests for prosecution despite its impossibility. People are still angry, as are we, that police officers get away with murder. But this is nothing new. The state has always had a monopoly on violence and the police are the armed guards of the social order. Let us not forgot that in this country the police evolved from slave patrols. In many of these past instances, people have recognized that there is no justice to be found from the same system that deals us injustice—and so they burnt everything down. The fires of Baltimore and Ferguson still burn fresh in our memories, but we can’t forget Los Angeles in 1992 or the countless revolts of the 60’s and 70’s.

In these cities, however, police continue to kill with impunity. So the answer is not simply to burn everything down, although perhaps that is a good start. We must simultaneously destroy the structures that dominate and oppress us (such as the police) as well as build our communities so that we don’t need things like police anymore. It is important in this process that we do not replicate what the police do, but instead reevaluate our understandings of law, crime, justice, and pretty much everything. A small glimpse of this world could be seen during the 4th precinct occupation in November, when everyone was given food and shelter for a short time. It was far from perfect, but it is crucial to know that these are not fantasies in our heads but realities that we create.

For a world without police!