Posts by Justin Oliver

Advice to Graffiti Activists


I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if the image above is actually destructive of property or a public service signalling discontent with the Atlanta Police Department, but an anonymous commenter had some sound wisdom for graffiti activists and insurrectionists.

Advice to the vandalists:

1) All materials should be wiped down with rubbing alcohol prior to the action. This is the only way you can be sure all finger prints have been removed from your tools. After you rub the tools down with rubbing alcohol, you should only handle them with gloves on.

2) Dispose of all incriminating evidence afterword. The mob is famous for dropping guns at the scenes of crimes. This is because if you are stopped by cops a few blocks later, you won’t have evidence on your person. This is hugely important. If you use a rock, you avoid the risk. But if you’re using spray paint or a hammer, for instance, it’s best to leave the evidence at the site. In a recent attack on a Nike outlet in Portland, for instance, the vandals left their baseball bat at the scene of the action. If you end up getting home with the potential-evidence (not advised) then you probably don’t need to destroy the tool if it’s a regular household item. Regardless, if your house is raided, everything that could possibly be destructive will be seized.

3) When talking about plans to attack or vandalize shit with your co-conspirators, don’t do it around cell phones or computers. These technologies can be used to eaves drop on you and you don’t want that. Furthermore, after the action is over you should check in with your cohorts to discuss how you all feel and if there are relevant next steps (posting a communique, calling news, follow ups etc.). Other than that, you should not talk about the action again. Even with the people you did it with. David McGowan was convicted when he reminisced in the vaguest sense imaginable with a former alleged ELF cohort who had turned informant.

Tagged with:

Recap: Peaceful Streets Project DFW (05/03/2013)

This video was shot in association with Dallas Cop Block in downtown Dallas around DART’s West End Station.

Fortunately, the evening was pretty quiet. The police seemed aware of our presence but didn’t confront us. Witnesses informed us the arrest in the second part of the video was made for public intoxication.

Several pedestrians told us how much they appreciate what we were doing and that they were surprised to learn that they are free to film police encounters as well. So even though we don’t witness any overt forms of police misconduct, this activity is still of value in educating the public and creating a culture where people expect accountability from public officials.

Tagged with:

Concerning Social Justice

for his future

In thinking and reading about social justice, I find that there is a certain apprehension among right-libertarians and conservatives that the term itself is at best unnecessarily redundant or, more sinisterly, merely a disingenuous euphemism for the state confiscation and distribution of wealth.

Now granted, the latter seems to be the conclusion some leftists have made in determining what are the necessary conditions for achieving social justice. As a libertarian, however, I think that is a premature conclusion and would like to offer a more ideologically neutral definition of social justice.

In the plainest sense, justice requires evaluating the relevant consequences of an individual’s choices, according to a moral criterion, on the basis of the available factual evidence. If (conventional) justice is concerned with evaluating the consequences of an individual’s choices, I would think a comparative understanding of social justice would mean, on the basis of the available factual evidence, evaluating the consequences of implementing a chosen social system.

What is still a matter of discussion and debate is determining what rightly understood justice and rightly understood social justice are. Both concepts take a proper understanding of what the moral criterion should be. Is the proper standard for evaluation the well-being that a social system provides for the the most vulnerable, the ordinary members of the community, or something else? Just what consequences and for whom should social justice consider?

I can agree that social justice, properly understood, takes account of the welfare of the vulnerable and destitute. I take issue with the idea that there must necessarily be conflict between different classes in society and that social justice bends in favor of one class over another. After all, what is appealing about justice is its impartiality. If justice is treating people as they deserve and people (regardless of their creed) at least deserve to be treated with respect over their own lives, social justice is evaluated at least partially on the basis of how well people living within a social system have dominion over their own lives.

Tagged with:

Drug Testing for Benefits Is Offensive and Counter-Productive

A pair of state lawmakers have introduced bills mandating applicants seeking government benefits submit to drug screenings.

According to state Sen. Tommy Williams, the principle is that people who receive government money should have government oversight to ensure they can ween themselves from that support. That seems plausibly sensible, but it’s disingenuous when you recall that it’s not just any institution inspecting and tracking people’s personal behaviors, but the apparatus of social compulsion.

Williams’ bill would requiring testing of applicants seeking unemployment benefits and have them complete a questionnaire about their lifestyle. It’s belittling to think that workers have already had their paychecks docked and now would have their personal decisions scrutinized for withdrawing funds they already contributed. Not that a retired wealthy banker like Williams would know, but it’s further insulting that this exchange was likely done under considerably less favorable terms than they would have been in a co-operative insurance program.

Sen. Jane Nelson’s proposal to screen unemployed and low-income applicants for government assistance is just the next progression.

Despite their pleadings of allegiance to the US constitution, conservatives seeking to escalate the scope of the state’s reach are acting consistently with their inclination for social control. Federal courts have ruled these procedures unconstitutional repeatedly, and there’s no reason why these blanket privacy intrusions would meet the constitutional requirement for probable cause.

As a practical matter, these tests have proven to be wasteful and ineffective. In a fizzled Florida experiment, less than four percent of applicants failed or refused to comply with the test.  After incorporating the cost of the screenings, the program’s experienced a 63.2 percent cost increase, not including the legal challenges the law faced before it was halted by a court order.

With one class of people noticeably absent from scrutiny — those being the recipients of corporate welfare — the moral of the story here is not new, but bears repeating: If you are at all dependent on the state, whether by choice or force, and you don’t have the good manners to be politically connected, you will always stand the risk of being treated like a patient at a criminal asylum. It’s as good a reason as any other to resist further encroachment of the government on our private lives.

Tagged with:

Insult and Injury to ‘Lady Liberty’ in Fort Worth

If there’s a local incident epitomizing that masters and bosses are two sides of the same hierarchy, it’s the recent assault and firing of Liberty Tax employee Channing Gould.

By one account, Gould was assigned for the past two weeks to stand point on the 40-feet-wide median of the Tarrant Parkway and Park Vista Boulevard in north Fort Worth. Commuters in the DFW Metroplex will recognize the pedestrians occupying the sidewalk at busy intersections dressed in the Lady Liberty garb during income tax season. The 19-year-old had the gall of not immediately hopping to the commands of a complete stranger with the legal backing to administer potentially lethal force with impunity. In exercising his free speech, Gould was allegedly in violation of a city ordinance banning solicitation on street medians. He was caught in a catch-22 of the security-state apparatus, either risk arrest following his boss’ orders or getting his hours cut, possibly even losing his job, by submitting to Fort Worth’s finest.

The office who dealt two Taser shots to Gould’s head will likely face administrative review for the use of force and most certainly be cleared of any wrongdoing.

Gould is reported as telling the officer, “Get away from me! What are you doing? Go talk to my boss!” The culprit posed no physical threat to the officer that would sanction the use of potentially deadly force, but the employee’s real crime was expressed by Mark Richards of Lite 87.1, missing “the life lesson of always complying with police officers.” The real crime was disobeying our superiors.

It’s surreal to grasp that the beating came when Gould was in attire symbolizing an American icon of freedom and equality, while corralled into a dead end job for wage labor that encourages tax serfs to pay tribute for funding their forthcoming oppression.

Rather than standing up for a traumatized employee, the owner of the Liberty Tax branch said “she was not aware of the ordinance, but she is siding with officers.” The boss’ actions are fitting. An authoritarian hierarchy’s chief responsibility is to shelter standing powers, berating those who would publicly challenge the judgement or request justification from stewards of privilege.

Tagged with:

Event: National Juror Rights Celebration Day

National Juror Rights Celebration Day was held in response to a capricious Florida judge who jailed a peaceful jury rights activist, attracting more than 100 supporters throughout the country. It shows that Judge Belvin Perry’s actions to violate the free speech rights of Mark Schmidter haven’t gone unnoticed.

Mark Schmidter

Unfortunately, nationwide event was held during a non-jury week at the Tarrant County Justice Center. So an event is being scheduled for the following week on Wednesday, March 20. We have held several local jury outreach actions in recent years, so we can go forward with a location that has been successful at previous outings.

Distribution material will be provided, but can be found on the Fully Informed Jury Association website here.

Event website:

When: Wednesday, March 20, from 7:15 to 8:15 a.m.

Where: Weatherford-Houston intersection near the Texas de Brazil restaurant at 101 N. Houston Street, Fort Worth, TX 76102

Tagged with:

Taking Drones Seriously

Dragonfly X-6 drone

If you have concern about the potential abuse by law enforcement agencies from the use of unmanned drone aircraft, there must be something kooky about you, according to Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy.

“[F]olks are worried that Mayor Bob Cluck wants to fly them overhead for random begonia inspections.” Kennedy snidely continued, “For triggering this sudden panic about ordinary police surveillance, we can thank former Texan Rand Paul, who took to the U.S. Senate floor for half a day last week to frighten C-SPAN2′s mostly older viewers about Evil Robot Spy Planes.” This is downright misleading. Sen. Paul’s filibuster highlighted the fact that the Obama administration had refused to disavow the rational that Americans not engaged in combat could be unilaterally targeted without due process for assassination.

As much as Kennedy would like to marginalize concerns about the use of drone aircraft, venerated organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have questioned the use of domestic drones. Local congressional Republican Joe Barton, who is as establishment as anyone in Washington, co-wrote a letter [PDF] to the FAA expressing concern about privacy that drones endanger. The latest Defense Authorization Bill calls for domestic drones to operate “freely and routinely,” so it stands to reason why people would express their opposition before the constitutionally dubious Department of Homeland Security begins offering grants to law enforcement agencies that make drones even more commonplace.

If police departments are routinely using drones in the their duties, it’s reasonable to imagine that the scope of those duties would creep. Some police departments have expressed interest in using less-lethal armaments like rubber bullets and tear gas. Manufacturers are in the design stage to construct drones the size of hummingbirds. Because of their maneuverability and discreteness, drones can impinge on the privacy that most people reasonably expect, making people subject to routine aerial surveillance that would drastically undermine their quality of community engagement.

In a free society, the desire for — or at least apathy with — a surveillance culture that scrutinizes our every move and public sentiment should be what we consider out of step. But that is exactly the future that people who desire social control are seeking. They take government to be an object to be yielded to, and ordinary folks are the ones to be viewed with suspicion.

Tagged with:

Video: GOP ‘Rising Star’ Fired After Controversial Copyright Reform Memo

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now spoke with GOP staffer Derek Khanna after he was fired for publishing critical remarks about the current state of intellectual property laws.

Tagged with:

Event: Israeli Apartheid Week

The Denton Anti-War Network is sponsoring Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) on the University of North Texas campus by holding forums, demonstrations, and film screenings. The event is being held in common with more than 200 other cities around the world to bring awareness to the racist apartheid policies of the Israeli government.

Events will take place all week and conclude with a public forum on campus. More news about this event and other anti-war actions can be found on DAWN’s Facebook page.

When: Monday, March 4, to Friday, March 8.

Where: University of North Texas campus

Tagged with:

Recap: Riverside Community Time Bank Orientation

I attended an orientation of the Riverside Community Time Bank and was introduced to a few of the members. In the video below, Analiese Hill introduces the concept of a time-based currency.

Josiah Warren, a 20th century individualist anarchist, is credited with creating one of the first time-based currencies in America. These local exchanges allow for people of all backgrounds and interests to participate. In addition to the economic advantages of these grassroots mutual aid networks, they can also enrich the relationships of people in the community.

It’s a growing organization still in need of supporters to help spread awareness of mutual credit. A planning meeting will take place Saturday, Jan. 19. Further logistical details will be available on the group’s Facebook page.

Tagged with: