Eventually it had to come out in the trials for alleged crimes at the Republican National Convention(RNC) that the so called “anarchists” of the RNC Welcoming Committee were being influenced by provocateurs. Basically the worst that happened at the RNC was broken windows, slashed tires and one dropped sandbag. However, the worst alleged planned incident that was an alleged fire bombing by three people. The stories that are now coming out point to the leader of that group as Brandon Darby, paid by the FBI. Brandon had the strongest political activist background. Brandon was not a person just sitting in a meeting taking notes, he was a person teaching people in martial arts how to fight the police. Brandon was a leader! Informants don’t lead, provocateurs lead. Yet this provocateur is getting off scot-free and even being called a hero by the Powerline Republican blog. Brandon suckered two naive young people into doing acts that will put them in jail for a long time. David McKay and Bradley Crowder, from Austin, Texas are scheduled to go on trial in Minnesota on Jan. 26, and are facing a possible 30 years in jail if convicted on all counts.
Democracy Now has the story:
LISA FITHIAN: I have no question that he’s a provocateur. I mean, I’ve worked with Brandon for a long time, and everywhere that Brandon has worked, there has been discord, tension, aggression. We know that-you know, the interesting thing is that now that we know for sure, more and more stories are starting to emerge about what Brandon has asked people to do in the past. So the more I find about these young men, as well, it’s clear to me that-
AMY GOODMAN: Like what?
LISA FITHIAN: Well, that, I mean, they are two young men from Midland, Texas who are angry at our government, who wanted to learn about organizing, and they wanted to make a difference in this world. They are not that experienced, and they were very impressionable. And when you have somebody like Brandon, who has some national notoriety, he’s-they were star-struck. And again, based on the documents-and I know Carly will talk more about this-these documents make it very clear that he was leading these young men down a road that unfortunately got them into a situation that they are now facing very serious consequences, years in prison, as a result of the work of Brandon Darby.
And here is testimony from even further in Brandon Darby’s past in the organization, Common Ground:
MALIK RAHIM: And I knew from the very beginning that Homeland Security had infiltrated us. I knew that when I realized that to be critical of FEMA response as it related to Katrina, on the aftermath of Katrina, we took upon the wrath of Homeland Security. I was looking at it coming from many different ways. But God knows I didn’t think it would be from Brandon. And that part of it has literally-it has literally broken my heart, again, you know, that this has happened.
I know that there’s been many people that left from Common Ground in frustration, and many of it was due in part because of Brandon. Many young ladies, many individuals that he literally ran off, you know? It just tackles me. I couldn’t read the whole letter.
But let me be clearer than just one Brandon Darby provocateur. The whole RNC Welcoming Committee was wrongfully led by the idea that violence was an appropriate response to violence, instead of living by Martin Luther King’s peace pledge as I reported here and here. Let’s put as plainly as possible, the RNC Welcoming Committee were tools that the police used to justify $50 million in expenditures, to justify pre-emptive arrests (no cause detainments) and to justify all of the war zone tactics used in St Paul during the RNC. For a whole week our civil rights were gone in St Paul.
How do we know about provocateurs? We know because the peace movement has a very long documented history of provocateurs since the 1950’s. We know because there were video cameras totally blanketing St Paul and the highest number of cops to citizens ever and yet certain key incidents go without charges. With high police informant infiltration, with the highest satellite-drone-video camera coverage and high number of every layer of police, the lack of arrests for certain incidents can only be because provocateurs performed those key incidents of violence.
Peace and progressive movements have a long tradition here. Local neighborhood peace groups have meeting since before the Iraq War. In every peace and progressive movement, the dissenting voice is respected, even revered. I was there one day when a person disrespected troops which every other person in the room disagreed with, yet that person was allowed to stay and speak. We even had pro-war advocates speak. Yet when I brought the idea of provocateurs and peace pledges to the RNC Welcoming Committee meetings, I was kicked out – twice! I have not even been kicked out of Republican conventions! Hmmm, so what could an old lady say that was so threatening that they had to remove me from the meetings? Maybe it was “Hi, are you paid by the FBI?”.
So the Republican National Convention is over, many people think that the danger of provocateurs is over, Actually, no!
At the Gaza protest on Monday, there were similar dark dressed people with faces covered. One of those face-covered people was discrediting the protest by burning flags. Note that provocateurs don’t have to come from the police, they could come from the militaristic Zionist movement. While I was there, here is Dick Bernard’s description:
It didn’t help that the guy with the Israel flag (2nd attachment), whose face was hidden behind a ski mask, was, by his actions, as much as daring someone among the demonstrators to push him, hit him, beat him up, or grab his flag and stomp on it. He approached the protestors in an “I dare you” sort of way. He was quite certainly trying to provoke an incident.
These provocateurs went totally against the wishes of the organizers, “We specifically asked that for no one burn any flags.”
So there is a real need for action! Any group and any rally has to set rules and boundaries like a Peace Pledge or they risk a single face covered provocateur burning a flag to make the evening news and totally discrediting all the good that they were trying to do. In fact a handout of the public pledge should be ready to hand out to the news.
For a good example, here is Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers’ Peace Pledge that every peace action could adopt:
Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers
Commitment to Practice Nonviolence during Demonstrations and Vigils
As peacemakers we will reflect upon and abide by these commitments:
We will use our anger at injustice as a positive force for change.
We will refuse to return the assaults, verbal or physical, of those with whom we disagree.
We will refrain from insults and swearing.
We will not harm the earth and any living species, nor carry weapons.
If arrested as members of a nonviolent vigil or demonstrations, we will behave in a nonviolent manner.
We will not act anonymously nor evade the legal consequences of our actions.
In the event of a serious disagreement about this commitment to practice nonviolence, we will remove ourselves from the action.
Our attitude will be one of openness, friendliness and respect toward all people we encounter, including police officers and city workers. Our goal is never to harm or dismiss those who think and act differently, but to
continue to dialogue and work together in building a more peaceful, just world for all.
Adopted: August 12, 2008
Every peace group must be very proactive in setting the boundaries and rules. In addition, when provocateurs show up, I suggest shouting:
What’s your name provo-ca-teur
You’re not peace provo-ca-teur
So my question is the peace movement smart enough to stop and eject the provocateurs? And has the RNC Welcoming committee finally had enough experience with provocateurs and jails to also stop and eject the provocateurs?
It comes down to this, how can anyone who truly believes in peace, act in violence? And how can we expect our country to act in peace when we cannot even act in peace at our own events?