Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

It Could Happen Here Weekly 72

It Could Happen Here Weekly 72

Sat, 25 Feb 2023 05:01

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Welcome to Biggie Burger. I'll take a cheeseburger. Two door or four door. What? Sorry, I'm shopping for a new car on the Roto app. Did you know that Roto finds discounts and rebates specific to each customer? That's kind of cool. Right. So you get the car you want at the price you want. It's like getting your burger just how you like it. Get every rebate and discount available. Then save big on your next car with Roto. Download the Roto app or check out Roto, the easiest way to buy or sell a car right from your phone. When you arrive in the all new Toyota Crown, every entrance becomes a grand one. With an available hybrid max power train that says, you always arrive fashionably on time. Style that says, emphasis on the fashionably. And presence that says, you speak softly and everyone listens. Introducing the Toyota Crown, the car that says so much. Toyota, let's go places. Mom, dad, let's talk. Before you know it, I'm out of here. I want to go to college or start a business. My allowance ain't going to cut it. The UNESTAP puts smart investing tools right in the palm of your hand. And with the UNESC gifting link, friends and family can contribute to your child's account. Download the UNESTAP and use the code iHeart25 at Sina to receive a $25 bonus when you fund your account. See terms and conditions at That's Hey, everybody. Robert Evans here. And I wanted to let you know this is a compilation episode. So every episode of the week that just happened is here in one convenient and with somewhat less ads package for you to listen to in a long stretch. If you want, if you've been listening to the episodes every day this week, there's going to be nothing new here for you, but you can make your own decisions. Hot fucking Moses. Welcome to It Could Happen Here. The podcast that is sometimes introduced by me, Robert Evans. Other times it's introduced by James Stout or Mia Wong, who are both on the call today. How's everybody doing? Pretty good. We've declared victory over the balloon. Yeah, we, we, I finally, the F-22 gets its first air to air kill. He's the kid. Yeah, yeah. Hundreds of billions of dollars later. We did it, guys. We did it. We really, we really did. Like the F-22 is like God's perfect killing machine. Yeah. And it's, it is like, it is a six hundred and what was like a sixty seven billion dollar aircraft. It is a perfect air. It is a perfect air superiority craft, which in modern warfare makes it slightly less useful than an eight hundred and fifty dollar DJI drone with a hand grenade strap. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, to be fair, to be fair. It's very express. I cannot think of like a better metaphor to understand how the US Army works than shooting a, using, using a sixty seven billion dollar aircraft to shoot a three hundred and sixty one thousand dollar missile at a balloon. Like, I mean, just like, listen, a, somebody, that's a deal. That's a deal. Several balloons in his life. I'm really not this high up. It is extremely entertaining. And yeah, I can't fault that pilot. I am deeply disappointed in rural America that no crazy rich guy with a Cessna flew his friend with a fifty cow up to like a thirty thousand feet. This has dropped that thing. Why does seventeen incinerator was invented for this specific instance? And yeah, we've been let down again. Anyway, what are we talking about today, Mia? I mean, the balloon obviously. We're talking about the balloon a little bit. And then we're going to talk about something more interesting, which is the sort of history of US-China relations and how it's not what everyone thinks it is. I've been led to believe by the media that there is nothing more interesting than the balloon and that we should be focusing on a coverage on the balloon. That's true. There have been other balloons. There are now a fifth balloon as it the towers. Okay. So yeah, let's go. Yeah. So, okay. So I want to start off by like, I want to talk a little bit about the balloon, which is that. Okay. So we have the American Arby's claim that this is a surveillance balloon. There's a chance it was just a random balloon. Like, I don't know. I don't want to completely discount the fact that it was a balloon. I do want to talk a little bit about sort of balloon surveillance stuff, though, because I've seen a lot of people both on the left and also on the right who are just like, why would anyone ever have a spy balloon? It's like, okay. So you're going to talk a little bit. You don't have to do this. We need to talk a little bit about surveillance satellites, which I come from a family of astronomers, and one of the sort of dark secrets of astronomy is that the stuff you point up also can be pointed back down again. And yeah. Yeah. So, you know, one of the other things about this is a lot of the companies that make telescopes and make the lenses for that are companies that work heavily with the NRO, which is the National Reconnaissance Office, which is a genuinely terrifying organization with an unfathomable black budget dedicated to just like spying on people from aircrafts and from space. And more people should be like, we have a lot of like, people are scared of the NSA. More scared of the CIA, but more people should be scared of the NRO because Jesus Christ, that stuff is, whoo. But in the end, okay. So the NRO has a bunch of satellites, right? But the thing about satellites is that they move. Okay. You can't prove that. I will, I will, I will, I will, I will do a war Thunder. I will post class. We live under, underneath a flat dome. And satellites are stationary. The dome rotates in a clockwise direction around them and that's responsible for the illusion of motion in the heavens. Sure. Yes. There's no comparing response to that. I got nothing. No, owned. So okay. Alright. So satellites move, they move in stable, unpredictable orbits and this means a few things, right? One of the things that it means is that a satellite is only over the area you wanted to cover for a limited amount of time because it's, you know, the satellites moving around the earth, right? And this means that, you know, you can, you can calculate their orbits and you can calculate when they're going to be in range or whatever they want to look at. And you know, and this means you can do things like, for example, figuring out where the satellite is going to be and hiding whatever you're working out when they pass. This is how the CIA, this is how the CIA completely missed India's nuclear weapons program is that they knew when they did, they knew when the fly, the spy satellite is flying over, they just hid all their weapons equipment and the CIA never figured out they were building dukes. Well, actually not based because nukes are bad, but, but yeah, yeah, yeah, very funny. Very, very funny. Yeah, yeah. But what do they do? They just paint it like a hot dog or something and just be like, no, they literally, they were just like put tarps over it. Whatever the satellite came around and they built things underground. It's very funny. I'm patenting the world's biggest hot dog idea in case someone else does that. Yeah, I think Jamie Lath just actually might have you beat to that. You'll have to do it to the death. Jamie sequentially clear arsono, something we're not supposed to talk about on the podcast. Well, look, it's like the Israeli secret arsono, it's an open secret and not a closed secret. So okay, you can solve this problem of sort of telescope go move. Either by having just a bunch of satellites going constantly or by having a geosynchronous satellite, which is in an orbit where it's like basically over the same spot of the earth at one time. The problem is that both of these are like unfathomably expensive and that doesn't mean that governments don't do that. Like the US is about to spy satellites. Like lots of countries spy satellites, but you know, it's really, really expensive. And there's a few other reasons why you would use a balloon, which are some of the reasons the US uses them in Afghanistan. One is that you have really limited space on a satellite, which means that there's, you can only fit certain kinds of equipment onto each satellite. There's another issue, which is that okay, if you're putting spy stuff on a satellite, it has to work in space and it turns out that space sucks and wants to kill you. I didn't like it's a it's a mark of how like bad people are at strategic thinking that they would ever ask, why would you put spy stuff on the balloon? Especially if like it's a little weirder to float it over the US if that's what happened. But like if you are the US or China or Russia engaging in most of the conflicts, those countries engage in where they're not dealing with state level actors, a balloon provides perfect surveillance very cheaply. It doesn't require refueling like it's an incredibly reasonable platform to spy on people with. Yeah. And I think there's another thing which I think has been less talked about, which is that okay, there's an equipment gap basically between when you design a camera for a satellite and when the satellite goes up. And this means that whatever you whatever kind of cameras and technology you're putting in a satellite are going to be by definition a few years out of date, because that's just how long it takes to design the equipment and putting it and put it into the air. But you know for a balloon, you can you can you can do stuff that's more modern than what you would have on a spy satellite. Now you know and also like you can you can also just put other stuff on the balloon that's not just cameras like you can do SIG and stuff you can use. So okay, the moral of this story is that like this but the spy balloon is not like a completely implausible thing. I if if you like put a gun to my head and said me what happened to your my guess would be it was like this by balloon went off course or some shit and there's lost control of it now. Yeah, it probably was not meant for the continental United States because that's a weird move. But it does. Yeah, it's happening. So. Hi, this is Mia and post. So back when we recorded this episode in the heavy days of early February, there had been but two balloons. There have now been so so many more balloons. Oh my God. The US just has balloon mania we now know a little bit more about the sort of suspected Chinese balloon. It does that that balloon seems to be an actual balloon. At the very least the US government claims that they've recovered an enormous amount of sort of technical and observational equipment from it. They said it was. Well, what was their exact line? The size of three school buses. A bunch of signals and television stuff, which is something we didn't mention an enormous amount, but yeah, like that's an everything you can use the balloon for is intercepting phone communications or radio communications, etc. Okay. So like it seems like they're like the first balloon may have been an actual balloon. Every subsequent balloon however we have learned more. So at least one and my my assumption is this is every single subsequent balloon after the first balloon. We have confirmation that one of the balloons is shot down over Canada by NF22 and this seems to be a pico balloon from the North and Illinois bottle cap balloon brigade. These are just like these are just like tiny balloons that people send out so they can surf and navigate the globe. These are these people are just like balloon hobbyists. They just they just like balloons and you know it's just honestly really sad. Like these are just people who like they just like putting balloons up and watching them go around the world and they were met with the entire aerial bite of the world's greatest superpower which spent literally more money than I have ever seen in my entire life to annihilate literally like about a hundred or two hundred dollars worth of essentially foil and some GPS equipment. These people apparently tried to contact the US government tell them what was going on in the US government was like eh so yeah, congratulations to the US government which has it has one it has one an important geosathegic victory over the North and Illinois bottle cap balloon brigade. I just this has been this has been breaking news from me. I in the in the balloon war. I yeah enjoy the rest of the episode. But you know I wanted to use this to talk about something more interesting which is again like the sort of arc of of US China relations and what actually drives it because I think people have a really really not very good understanding of how it works and why. Okay, I think it's reasonable to ask you why why are you talking about the arc of US China relations aren't US China relations always bad and the answer is no. In fact, US China relations is sometimes actually quite good. US China relations are driven by these two sort of interlocking forces right on the one hand you have the internal domestic and also kind of global balance of class forces inside a country. And that plays a huge role in a lot of the things that are going to happen in the US China relations and the other thing that happens is what you guys would call geopolitics. And we're going to kind of start with the geopolitics sign and then move back and forth between that and the sort of class angle on it so you can get a kind of understanding of how this stuff actually works and how to think about it in ways that are just sort of incredibly simplistic and useless. So all right. I'm not going to go all the way back to like the 1800s or whatever because there are US China relations. We actually invaded China at one point in like the 1800s for some fucking reason. Then we actually we did it again in 1902. Yeah, but okay, so but in terms of dealing with modern China dealing with US you would modern US China relations is about the US's relationship with the CCP. And weirdly during World War II it was the relations were actually really good. Um, you know, obviously China China is the US's ally in World War II. I were there were also allies with China's nationalist party the KMT. But you know what what's interesting about this is that there's a faction of the US Army that is anti KMT and pro CCP. And they're not pro CCP because they're communists. They're pro CCP because they're kind of racist and they really don't like the KMT kind of out of racism. And the second thing that that's going on is that the KMT as we've talked about elsewhere is just like incredibly corrupt desk party. And that means that you know some of the people who have to like the people who have to work with them on the ground of World War II or like these are literally the worst people who have ever lived one on earth are we doing with this. That means that when the Civil War starts right like the US takes a nationalist side but like nowhere near as strongly as they could have. And this creates this sort of like this myth around like the loss of China that becomes this massive thing in the US is because this is one of the things that triggers something. McCarthyism, etc., etc. is like everyone becomes convinced it was like oh my god, like I Truman like like they lost China like we could have kept China for the communist but like they lost it. Wow, okay, but this has another massive impact which is that it creates this thing called the China lobby. And the China lobby is this is this sort of bank of these like incredibly psychopathic right wing like anti communist ghouls and some also people who had some also people who were like had been rich in China and then could have got owned by the CCP. And they start pushing incredibly aggressively for like regime change in China for just the US and China not have a diplomatic relations. And this this starts to sort of like tank relations between the US and China. And then obviously like so we fought a war with China in Korea. A thing that I feel like doesn't get talked about as much as you would think it would. Yeah, the Korean War is the memory hold war in the UK. It's what is America but it's the war that no one does. Yeah, I mean the forgotten war is literally like it's it's most common nickname. It's a pretty good book by that title too. Yeah, but you know like that war like there are there are US and Chinese troops like shooting the shit out of each other like oh yeah, like a crossing to our peninsula like there are there are there are Chinese troops doing bayonet chargers through the road artillery like into the American lines. My my the last before I bought my place my last landlord was a Chinese citizen living in the US on a green card. And during a pandemic conversation over some wine we kind of figured out that both of our grandfathers wound up at the same battles and they very amazing shooting. Yeah, that's the melting pot buddy. You she became a landlord. Mm hmm. Well, I mean, it's just a dream. There is a reasonable argument that they're in back again. Landlord story is the entire course of the sort of like Chinese Chinese politics in the 20th century. Yeah, certainly respect to the United States. Yeah, well, it also China right because let land lures are back now. It sucks. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, no, no, no Chinese people have a gum landlords, but yeah, many are subject to landlord shit. Yeah, you know, okay, so like obviously it's really interesting too because when people like when people write about US China relations, they normally like the thing they pick from this period tends to be like the Taiwanese straight crisis and it's like, okay, yeah, there was a still with a straight crisis. But again, like the US and China were like shooting at each other like before this like why is this that why is this the thing that you pick for the down here of US China relations like we were out war. Okay, but baffling stuff, right? But you know, and relations are not good to like the 60s either like sort of based on very very similar sort of lines that you'd seen in the 50s. Like this is a period where people sort of take communism anti-communism seriously. That stops being true very quickly. On the other hand, these sort of geopolitics things have real material consequences, right? You can look at this in the American side where, for example, the industrial buildup of the Japanese and Korean economies and also the industrial buildup like the industrial buildup of California, right, has to do with these sort of trade linkages that are being set up in order for you US to run the war in Korea and run the war in Vietnam. And China has its own sort of version of this where which starts getting more and more apparent by it starts around the mid 60s. They have this thing called the third front, which is okay. So having now been through like, I don't know how literally I don't even know how many wars since the start of the century. The CCP goes, okay, we need to shift our production away from sort of the coast and into the middle of the country so that they can't be attacked by the Soviets and they can't be attacked by the Americans. And this has a really major effect in terms of what sort of Chinese industrialization looks like over the course of the mid 20th century is you get this industrial buildup that's built up and that is going to be destroyed later on. And it's destroyed in part because of what starts happening in the 70s, which is to sort of warm up between the US and China based on sort of Nixon and Kissinger's attempts to sort of peel the Chinese away from Soviet Union. And you know, like Robert, you've talked about this on bastards before. But you know, part of what's going on here is that China, like, basically gets into a war with the Soviet Union in 1969. It's not called that. It's technically just called the border dispute, but like, like there are troops like shooting at each other. Like all across the border, people are beating each other. The death was sticks. Like, people are shooting borders at each other. It's a real war. And you know, in a grand British tradition, of course, calling like massive conflicts and emergency or the troubles. Yeah, yeah. Okay. But this, this, this really sort of drives Chinese sort of international relations to the point where they're like, okay, so I know we're supposed to be communist, but also like the other communist power next door might like march an army across the border at any point. So you know, you get you get this sort of triangle diplomacy of Kissinger trying to sort of bring China into the well, at least away from the Soviet spear and then closer into the US spear. And you know, this starts to work, right? And you can ask, you know, there's other things going on here, right? It's trying to not just playing pure geopolitics. Um, there, there's, there's another factor involved, which is that part of the sort of conditions for US and Chinese sort of like, I don't know, it's called bilateral relations or whatever sort of geopolitical can't bullshit you want to say for like getting along closer is the US starts sending these technology transfers over to China. Like, I mean, literally like like taking like sometimes like taking factories basically and like taking them apart and then putting them in boxes and shipping them over to China. And you know, okay, and this, this is, this is a huge deal for the CCP because like the Chinese economy in this period has been really bad and part of this is just, you know, this is what happens with you Mao. But a second to read part of this is that China's has has had a real, basically it's China's been dealing with this sort of economic crisis sense like, like literally since they came out of World War II, which is that. Okay, so, but most of China's industrial capacity was completely destroyed during the war. The parts of it that weren't were like, there was this belt and men's area that had stuff and the Soviets literally loaded loaded the factories on trains and shipped them back and shipped them back east or back west. So by the time the CCP takes over, like China has less industrial capacity than like Russia did at the beginning in 1917. Jesus. So, situations really bleak, right? And the other thing that's bleak about it is that, okay, so in order to build an industrial base, right, we talked about this a bit on the show, in order to build an industrial base, you need food, but in order to get like increase your agricultural productivity, you need like mechanical goods, but you can't get those mechanical goods unless you can increase your industrial capacity. So you have this bottleneck. And this winds up being one of the solutions to the bottleneck is getting technology transfers from the US. And you know, the sort of product of this is that now all of our products and services, which we are about to talk about, which we should buy are made in China. So yeah, go, go, go, go buy those things that are the product of all of this. That's no problem. Yeah. Don't question it. Just purchase it. Go to Ali Baba and just find their, get Ali Express and just wire them $700. Within, I'm going to say two weeks to 17 months, you'll get a package of something. Yeah, get a draw. Buy a draw. Honestly, if you order something from Ali Express, there's no real way to know what you will get. That's the beauty of Ali Express. So you, you, you, you, there is, there is, there is a non-zero chance you get a collection of really, really sick Chinese shirts that just have absolutely random bullshit on them. It's great. It's a big, sick Chinese shirts or like knock off versions of military grade optics that work well enough for the Taliban to use. Yeah. Yeah. They're liberating people in the world of Ali Express. So it takes it. All right. And we're back. So, okay, the Chinese swing into sort of like a line with the US. These are doing things that are like even a lot of the US's right wing allies won't do. Like for example, China is one of the first countries to like to diplomatically recognize Pinochet, Chile. And they like sent him a shits on of money. They sent them loaned. They sent them direct cash transfers. And like, this is a point where even like France and like the UK are like, we, we, we, that's a, like we're not, we're not going to have, we're not going to acknowledge this military leadership. And China's like, yeah, this rules. Hell yeah. Pinochet. And you know, they do other stuff that's very sort of pro US right. They invade Vietnam in 1979 in the war that, you know, the, the only war that's more forgotten than the Korean war. Yeah, that's true. It's the side of the Vietnamese war. Yeah. That was a really good Twitter thread to talk me a lot about China's not aggression towards other countries last week. Yeah. It's, it's a good time. I, I, I, we can also talk about like the Sino-Indian war in the middle of this where they just invade India. Oh, no, no aggression. Which is great. Yeah. But you know, okay, but like what, what, what this sort of comes up to is in is like you, you, you, you get a point where the US and China by, by, by the end of the 70s and going into the 80s are very much on the same side. Like, for example, when, when Deng Xiaoping came to visit the US, I, he, he, he, he takes, he takes like an hour out of this schedule to make a secret visit to the CIA so that he can set up a, a joint, like, USC, a listening post in China to monitor the Soviets. We, we talk about this a lot in the Kissinger episodes from last year. But folks should generally be aware that like Chairman Mao and Richard Nixon legitimately got along, like, enjoyed one another's company as did Nixon and Chao Chescu. Like they were, they were all good friends. Yeah. Which is, yeah, something, something one ruling class, etc, etc. Yeah. There's almost a class analysis you could make there. Yeah. But you know, okay, we're going to do it. We're going to do a slightly different class analysis, which is that like, okay, so the US Shunner relations are very good, literally, like basically until Tiananmen. And then everything gets kind of messed up because Tiananmen, Tiananmen's, it's a very, it has a set of like very weird and contradictory effects, right? You know, we talked about some of this in our Tiananmen episodes, but it does two things, right? On the one hand, like in the US, people are horrified, right? You know, the, the, the, the entire media class just like watches this happen outside of their windows. There's just like, it is an incredible uproar. It becomes one of the sort of like central, like, I don't know, like I sort of, I, like, it becomes, it becomes a thing that's like incredibly central to just like the memory of what it is to be a nation-American is to sort of like remember quote unquote Tiananmen. But on the other hand, you know, so okay, what do you expect from there is like the US and China break off diplomatic relations and like the Cold War two starts again immediately with the US and China. And it doesn't happen like that. Because the second thing that that that Tiananmen does is it finally crushes the Chinese working class. And you know, once, once, once the old, once the last the old Chinese working class is just gone, right? And all that's left is an incredibly disorganized and incredibly desperate sort of market working class. Suddenly, hey, look, we have a very highly educated, very poor population that you can, that you can just, you know, just ship labor to. And this is what this is what actually happens in sort of terms of the US and Chinese relations for over the 90s, which is that, you know, you, you, you have these, this double DN industrialization going on. You have a DN industrialization in the US where, you know, the, the, the last of the old rust belt falls apart, the sort of like mining industrial boom that had happened under Reagan just implodes. And you know, some of this is, some of this is decentralization. Some of this is these jobs go to like the suburbs and shit or like places like Decalbe that are just incredibly accursed. And real cool out there, man. I look, I'm sorry, I know what he lives in Decalbe. I wish you best luck fleeing. That goes up to Calb tourist board sponsorship that we've been looking for. Yeah, but, you know, but, but some tendency that there's, there's another way of DN industrialization happening in China too, which is that that old third wave industrial belt that I was talking about, right? Those people had worked in like basically the equivalent of like the Chinese equivalent to sort of like good union jobs, right? They're working for state for state owned enterprises so they have housing, they have health care, they have pensions, and all of that is just destroyed. Like all these people lose their pensions, they fucking lose everything. There are like millions of people who are pushed out of their jobs. And you know, when went both of both of these things happen at the same time. And a lot of companies who are watching the sort of East Asian companies like like economies collapse, who are watching the V and the music. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, who are watching the South Korean economy collapse who are watching the Japanese economy collapse suddenly start looking at China. And throughout the course of the 90s, sort of more and more American capital, I mean, there's already been capital from East Asia sort of flowing in the China. More and more American capital starts flowing in. And what you get here is you get this battle between geopolitics and economics, right? The sort of geopolitics side and the sort of like, you know, the, this, this side that like the media is on and the side is at the sort of like the sort of intellectual, etc., like anti-China classes on is, you know, they don't, they don't want to let China into the World Trade Organization. But it doesn't work, right? Those guys just get destroyed. China gets admitted into the World Trade Organization. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush support China entering the WTO. And they do it because they can, they can see what I'm partially a little bit of it is because they, they for some like they've been drinking the Kool-Aid and they believe that like if you have capitalism, then democracy will follow, which I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, and political data suggestive. Yeah. Okay. Sure. Sure, and the Ocons, like whatever. But you know, but it's also, it's also because these, these, these, these people have financial backers and their financial backers are telling them like, hey, look, we can, you know, if, if, if, if, if, like if all of the sort of weird sanctions regime shit has worked out and they try to fully integrated into the capitalist system, like we can make a lot of money. And they do that. This is what the 2000s is, right? Like Walmart and like Walgreens and shit, like directly integrate all of their supply lines into Chinese supply lines, they may deals with Chinese government in order to do this. And suddenly by, you know, by, in 2001, China's, I think like the fourth exporter of goods in the world, by 2009, they are number one by like an order, what's not an order to magnitude, but they're like very, very much the dominant export, like world's dominant export economy. And this is a problem, right? Because on the one hand, you know, if, if like America Chinese relations get, they're, they're actually really good around 9 to 11. They're actually really good, right? Like the US, like there were, there were guys from Xinjiang who like China sends to Guangtanamo. It's like here take these people in the US to watch us them for China. Like, you know, yeah, like relations are, like relations are good, right? It's like, well, okay, we both have like this, like, quote, Muslim extremist threat that we're like dealing with, you know, and they try to get it on the board terror. But eventually relations kind of degrade. Like you have the whole Olympics thing you have. There's like, in like the 2010s, there's this whole fight over these islands, the Philippines claim. But, you know, but the problem with this is it like, okay, so you get on the one hand, a faction of the American right that is really, and also, and also like, there's actually American right that's really, really hard line anti-Chinese based on sort of racism. There's American liberalism, which, you know, has us thinking about like the rules, space, international order that like China is violating, they're also racist. And then there's like progressives, like Elizabeth Ward who are also racist and also, but you know, who's thing is like, oh, well, workers rights are really bad, so we need to do like competition with them. It's like, okay. That's how you fix it with more capitalism. Yeah, right. And, but they have a political issue, which is that there's another massive section of American capital that has enormous investments, both sort of financially and in terms of where their factories are, where the logistics are, where the supply lines are, that make them incredibly supportive of sort of closer US-China relations. Or the very least makes them oppose any kind of sort of like real, like anything that goes beyond kind of geopolitical poshering that makes it harder to do business for them. And this is something I think people have tendency to forget when they when they try to think about US-China relations in terms of economics is that like, okay, so there is, the US has a military industrial complex, but that's not the, that's not the entire US economy. Like there are other people in the US who have lots of money. There was an entire financial sector. There was an entire tech sector. And those people also have a shit ton of money. And even, even sort of tech companies, right, who have a foot in sort of the American contract, business, also often have a bunch of their, you know, a bunch of the places where the technology is built is in China, right? So you know, even people who could theoretically be brought into a sort of like, like a, I'm being a sort of industrial complex political coalition against China, like have reasons not to do it. And you know, and this works down the board, right? If you look at when Trump did the trade war, he, you know, initially there was a lot of popular support among sort of like American like mid-sized businesses who were like, oh, we can bring industrial capacity back to the US. And then all of them discovered that I, they had to pay like, all of them discovered that like they had to pay more for their Chinese goods. And we're like, wait, hold on. We fucked up. We've made a mistake. He's actually screwed us. And like, you know, there's another kind of guy right who, there's a lot of people who you expect to be really anti CCP who aren't, right? And Elon Musk is the best example of this. Like, he is a guy that like, I think we'd expect Elon Musk to fully support anyone who can fully stamp on the face of their working class because he's about that. But he's, he's the kind of person who you would expect by pure racism to be like a really hard land agency's big guy. And he's not because like he has, there's a class consciousness, I think, which overruns even apartheid boys racism. Well, and, and like he has, there's a Tesla has this like, oh god, it's called the gigafactory, which is a name that makes me want to die. Yeah. But the gigafactory is in Shanghai, right? And like he has even, even during when like the media was like, like pretending to care about the Wigajenicide, like he opened a showroom in Xingjiang, like during that period. So you know, and there's also people like Michael Bloomberg who are for very like, you know, if you, if you read Michael Bloomberg talking about China, like in the media, he was also talking about like how grave leadership in Ping is. And it's, you know, it's because people have financial interest there. And, you know, and this, this means that like, you know, even even the sort of media coverage of this balloon bullshit, right? And like China has been like threatening revenge or whatever for the chewing down of the balloon. But like, this isn't going to turn into anything, right? It's the same in the same way that like the, like the last time I watched like straight stuff, like didn't turn into anything in the same way that like the last 17 god damn of these scandals isn't going to go anywhere. And it's not going to go anywhere because there's an enormous, there's that like faction of American capital who relies on this stuff. I think it serves like the, the military industrial complex and the military specifically to have China be like, Schrodinger's next world war, right? Like, that, they're always a threat, but like, they're not a threat, you know, like we can justify so much spending and allocation of resources if we can always like wave this stick of potential conflict with China. Yeah. And I think there's something that's kind of like this important to understand is that like both the China hawks and the China doves are enemies of both the American and Chinese working classes. Like the China hawks thing is they want to like, you know, they want to pit the Chinese and American working classes against each other in this like national list fervor in order to get everyone to ignore the fact that like both the societies are collapsing around them. And by the way, did we add, we have not, I don't think it, this has really made the news yet, but I norfolk Southern fucking basically set off a chemical weapon in Iowa by crashing, wanted by crashing a train full of toxic chemicals. Yeah. And it's literally exploding like right now as as we're fucking to recording this episode, it's on fire. Oh, good. You know, I love how when you deregulate train industry so that you can have just like one guy working a massive train, hauling huge amounts of toxic chemicals, it works out great. Yeah. Maybe that happens. It's good efficiency, Robert. Yeah. Look, a train crash like this would have normally taken dozens of people to engineer. So we have, we have improved our efficiency markedly. Well, and also in terms of efficiency, Robert, like think how bad it could have been if we hadn't crossed the rail strikes. Yeah. So yeah, it can be disaster. Yeah. There might not be, there might not be a giant poison gas grid. And what is it? Ohio. We can't have that. Yeah. It's an east, Palestine, Ohio. That's it. It's Palestine. They don't say it. No, yeah. You can't call it in Palestine. You know what, it's a solidarity with the Palestinians. With the Palestinians. Oh, free, free Palestine. So what I'm saying, that's been done already. The first, the first Palestinian, this will, this will seem like it's in bad taste if a lot of people wind up dying. But, yes. I don't know. I, I also want to mention here that I'm going to take this opportunity to mention that China is the second largest, Israel's second largest trading partner. And they do like, yeah, and like they, they, they, they, they, they, they do like security exchanges with each other where people trade each other's militaries. It's great. It's great. Yeah. But, but you know, you can rely if someone is oppressing working people, they've done a security exchange with Israel. That is, yeah. It's golden law. Yeah. You can't beat in your head with a stick. It says, don't, never more than two degrees removed from the idea. Okay. There's one last thing I want to talk about really briefly, which is, okay. So one of the things you will see people talk about who are like pundits or like people on the news talk about this thing called decoupling. And the thing you need to understand immediately is at the moment, someone says the word decoupling, you can stop listening to everything they're about to say because they are lying to you. Like it is bullshit. So it's the, the, the, what, in theory, the coupling is this thing where like supposedly like the US and Chinese economy is going to decouple, right? And like all the American firms in China are going to pull out and they're going to pull out the supply chains and they're going to relocate them to the S and B or else in the world. And the US and Chinese economy suddenly will like not be coupled to each other. And I was like, no, they're not like this has never happened. It didn't, it didn't like, if it was going to happen, it would have happened in 2017. It was an 18 when Trump was doing the trade war. It didn't happen then the only time it's ever happened or the only time American companies have ever sort of pulled out of China like on mass or tried to was ironically in 2011. But in 2011, they were trying to pull out because of the Rukon riots and this like massive surge of strikes in China and suddenly all these companies were like, oh my God, China might not be able to keep our, it might be not be able to suppress the working class hard enough and then they did. Yeah, they got horribly crushed. And one, the, the everything that happened was like company, they, like companies tried to go elsewhere and they couldn't do it because no one like no other countries had the combination of like a, like things like a stable electrical grid and like working roads, like an actually highly educated population. So they didn't have all of these things at once. So they all came back and you know, that was, that was supposed to never came to happening. Everyone talks about this all the time. They're lying to you, ignore them. Yeah. It's, it's not, it's not going to happen. The US and Chinese economies are inextrably bound to each other and they're going to continue to be. Yeah, I mean, we can't run like our economy to a large extent on an economy, but our society runs on like providing treats to, to the working class just enough to prevent them from rebelling or from trying to actually change anything. And like we can't keep the constant stream of treats running if we decouple from China, right? Of like cheap consumer goods. Yeah. And also like the Chinese economy relies on like is an expert economy, right? Like they, they've, they've been trying to turn to an internal consumption economy for a decade. It's like not really working because well, it's not working because they don't pay people enough to buy shit. And surely no one will ever do that because yeah, that's the economy. Yeah. So, you know, but yeah, it's great. But you know, okay, I guess like the, the, the, the just of what I wanted to say here is that like, like you, you, you, US China relations are driven by forces that are more complicated than man on TV, yell at balloon. And as, as, as powerful as man on TV, yell at balloon, seems like in the moment, it's not actually the thing underlying what's going on here. And you need to be able to look past man yell at balloon on TV in order to look at the sort of the broader, the broader political and social forces that are, that are going on here. And I think beyond that, what we need to do is recognize that there's a deep emptiness at the center of American society that should have in this case been filled by rich people in cessness and their friends with high caliber precision rifles flying into the sky and the noble cahoteous quest to shoot that fucking balloon down. Just having Sancho Pansa. It's, I have never been so disappointed in this country. I, I expected 40 or 50 people to die, but that balloon to be taken down. That was a time when we had a country. Yeah. Yeah. Our, our founding fathers would have dropped that son of a bitch. Yeah. Joe Brandon has forced him on into retirement. Yeah. Yeah. And China has revealed his gender to the world. Anyway, I hope China sends another balloon. Yeah. What else are we going to do? Yeah. I feel like a Mickey Mouse or fucking frozen balloon. You know, if they do like the, the girl from frozen sure, that'll be cool. I'd like to see that. They should start pranking us with character balloons. I'd fucking love that. Oh, God. But then the US would start sending like we need a poor balloon. And it's a bit of a war in where commission of Moana balloon to like it. If it was illegal for anything fun to happen, we would have like a balloon-based cold war where the United States starts shooting over balloons across China and the Russians start floating. And it's just, yeah, we got a close of balloon gap. I've seen how the Kerkie that comes the number one world power. We're using chili jack boots stamping over the face of humanity. Oh, we never do so many to be capacity. The developers of balloons tower defense get hauled before a Senate committee for supposedly doing the future. God. Yeah. Yeah, we got to nationalize my law production in order to monopolize it. All right. Well, balloon pause, yeah. I think that's our episode. Yep. All right. Until next time, everybody. Go forth and balloon. Yeah, yeah, float a balloon into the airspace of a cyber nation. Just to fight with them a little bit. By Cameron AliExpress, put it on a balloon. Send it somewhere. You can be a flag on it. Be the CIA. You want to see in the skies over a sovereign country. CIA on the balloon. Yeah, sprinted it on the side. Why not? Why not? What's the harm? What could possibly go wrong? Send a film to balloons. Now I'm going to listen on an unrelated note. I'm finally going to listen to the song 99 Red Balloons for the very first time. Now I report back to see if this changes my opinion on what people should do with balloons. All right, everyone. Out. There's no better time than the new year to resolve to protect your identity and finances. Identity thieves can take out loans in your name, take over and drain your banking and investment accounts, and more. It can be dangerously easy to become a victim of identity theft. LifeLock makes it easy to help protect your identity and financial future. It monitors your accounts and credit and detects potential threats to your identity that you may miss on your own. And if you do become a victim of ID theft, a US-based restoration specialist will work to fix it. 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What we're talking about is a case in Ashon North Carolina where a group of people are mutual aid work with and how's people have been charged with felony littering. Now we're going to get a little bit in the episode into what felony littering is. And unfortunately I don't think any of us can explain why that exists as a charge for individuals and not for like you know BP or shell or something but such as the state. And so in the first episode we're going to talk to Sarah Sarah is one of the people facing these felony littering charges. Sarah's also been banned from parks in Nashville and which we're going to talk about. So Sarah will explain a little bit of the process that led up to the felony littering charges what the situation is like in Nashville from Utrell Aid and for unhoused people. And then we're going to talk to Maniba tomorrow. Maniba is one of the lawyers at the ACLU and she will explain a little bit of the legal background to the case and what is sort of the way that the ACLU is helping these people oppose the ban. And so we'll have two separate episodes but we actually recorded them in a different order. So you're going to hear Sarah maybe referring to some stuff. Maniba said and Maniba saying Sarah will say some stuff. Just know that we recorded Maniba first because you had a pressing time commitment. But we felt that Sarah's interview gives you a better setup for listening to Maniba's interview tomorrow. Okay hope you enjoy. We're going to start out talking to Sarah who's one of the people who is a quite a problem child in Nashville. We can be seen. Sarah, did I introduce yourself and tell us for your problem child? Yeah. My name is Sarah Neurus. It's so funny to be called something like a problem child because I'm mostly like what I am is a mom of a little kid. I'm a social work student. I am a career educator. And I am also one of 16 local organizers who has been facing for almost the last year. Melanie Littering charges in conjunction with December 21, December 2021, Arts-based protest. Yeah. I'm sorry that this bizarre thing has happened you. Obviously like on the face of it, felony, this felony lettering is a bizarre charge. And the fact that you are banned from parks is also very weird. So let's maybe start off with like the situations before this. What were you, what were you all doing in the parks that led to you being deemed unsuitable for parks? Gosh, in a way, you'd have to ask those who deemed us. I can talk about what I did in parks for the year prior to being banned. And that's that I was part of a collective who at the beginning of the pandemic did like six times a week meals, coffee, gear distribution, and parks. By the time I came around and started participating in these food sharing in these community gatherings, we were at like three or three times a week. And really what the way I spent my time in parks was Saturdays and Sundays. I brought my daughter to Ashton Park. And we brought food with us, gear with us, art supplies with us, or nothing with us. We just showed up as us. And we hung out and we distributed food, tents, packs, socks, toothbrushes, really whatever we could get our hands on. And towards the end of the year, we got a little bookshelf. And we were in charge of bringing books on this little white plastic shelf and talking to people about what they most wanted and seeing if we could match them up with whatever we randomly had. It was really like sitting in the sunshine and making sure that coffee thing was full. And mostly just talking to people, people who were unhoused, people who are housed, people who walked by and were like, what's this? What's this picnic? Why is everybody like using glitter glue? Like, oh, because there's a five-year-old and that's what we do. So that's what mostly I did in parks. And this activity is in the context of a city who I think in 2021, I think we know there were at least 21 sweeps of homeless encampments. And a sweep, like that name for some of us really connotes violence, but I think it's important to name how violent those are. A camp sweep means that folks have to leave the place where they've been living and very often their belongings are then considered to be trash, are bulldozed over, are at a minimum lost to them. And this had happened over and over again in the city of Asheville. And yeah, there's a way that being in the park weekly felt like a thing that happened in Asheville that was the opposite of the sweep that was like, we're here. We're all here together. Like, here we are. And so the protest itself around which in the context of which like these arrests have come happened in December. And it was an arts-based protest and was really about, was in in favor of sanctuary camping in the city of Asheville with sanitation services. That was the point of it. And there were like kind of standard protest related events on, or sorry arrests on Christmas night. So that's what Asheville police did. And I think it's important just to note that there were not unhoused folks evicted that night on Christmas night. And no one who was there was pretending to be unhoused and was arrested. That's a strange narrative that the city of Asheville police department has set in open court. But there were standards sort of like misdemeanor trespass resisting officer arrest that night, including of journalists. And then these felony littering cases came much later. And in a kind of a different context. But that's what happened around Christmas. Okay, yeah, it's already pretty weird. I think it gets weird. Yeah. So, so presumably of you were not arrested then I went home to see Christmasy stuff. And then at some point, a letter comes to your door saying that you've been charged with like felony littering. So my own experience was that people, organizers in the mutually collective that I'm part of who had been showing up in the parks week after week distributing food and gear started getting arrested in mid-January for what we learned was something you could be arrested for, which was felony littering and or aiding into and abetting felony littering. Which like honestly, exactly. And yeah. And some people had won, some people had the others, some people had both. People were, and this is you know, our understanding is that there's an unstated but generally followed policy by the city of Ashford Police Department that they don't go arrest people at work, but they went to people's work with five cops and arrested them. And this began in mid-January. And it continued into into February and the arrest, I mean, like honestly the charges on the on the charge sheets would read like crazy statues that weren't even felony littering. It seemed like they, it really seemed like they were making it up as they went along just from the what I can say is, I mean, I can't speculate about what they were doing, but there was a strangeness to to even like the the documentation that people who are arrested received. And then at the in the first week of March of last year, the letter that I received was similar to others that others other folks received that day, which was in an envelope from the Ashford Police Department, but was on Ashford Parks and Rec Stationary that told me that I had been banned from all city parks for a period of three years based on the commission of a felony. And this was how I found out that I even had any charges was through this letter. And that's true for more than me, that's true for a few defendants. So, you know, not everybody who is now we understand to be banned from parks has even received one of those letters. But I did. And a few of us did. And there was on there a sort of like if you'd like to appeal this, you have seven days. But the letter had been dated sort of five days before that. And you're like, wow, what are we even doing? And so it's hard to it's hard to really communicate the like level of both like sort of desperation and nonsense that was involved the next day. But you know, so a few of us found this out. We were self-surrendered. And and because we were a lot of us around the courthouse in city hall, we're trying to figure out what does this letter is even mean? Like, what does it mean to appeal this? What does it mean to be banned? And so we traipsed around city hall, city offices, the courthouse trying to get some sort of answer. Like what did here we've got these? What does this mean? And every place sent us somewhere where they're like, we don't know what that is. Parks and Recs, and we don't know what that is. Go talk to the police. Please don't we don't know what that is. Go talk to the magistrate. The criminal magistrate said, oh, this seems like a civil magistrate thing. So there's like a group of five mutual aid workers, you know, sort of this traipsing around trying to find out like, can I do I get to go give out sandwiches and tents in the park this week or not for three year? We go, what is and who can help me figure this out? And no one could. And and what ensued we never got an answer that day. We just had city employees looking at us often with a like, wow, we don't we're sorry, this is happening to you. This seems really dumb. Expression and eventually via email, it became clear that they were like, we don't know what this process is, but we're going to tell you soon. Like thank you for your email, you know, saying you're going to appeal it. And over time, we kind of got a little bit more like, okay, we're going to schedule the hearings. You will have a hearing eventually like, okay, we asked who will be these are like, for what? What is a hearing? And they didn't know. And then like, oh, okay, well, there will be some police officers there and, you know, the city, a representative from the city attorney's office. And you will have a chance to provide information. And you know, at this point, like, none of it, I think none of us had maybe we had admin appearances, but like at this point, we're we're dealing with felony littering charges that we don't understand. We're trying to figure out whether we can continue to provide community care in the way we've been doing for years. And it seems like what the city is offering is a chance to come and maybe intrep ourselves. Like it doesn't make any sense to us. And so, you know, those of us who had representation that we could speak to you said, oh, we're coming. And have you heard the recordings? No. Well, if you would like them, I'm happy to send them. My mind is particularly, I can't listen to mine. I have a huge nervous system response. But mine is my my attorney asking over and over again, questions of the representative of the city attorney. It's not it's John Maddox, whose name didn't you seal you demand letter. Just saying over and over again, like what at that point, we haven't even seen any discovery. Like we don't know what information this is even based on. Like there are two cops in uniform pointing body cams that I assume I have to assume pointing body cams at me. And in this in this hearing, and my lawyer is just asking over and over again, like, upon what evidence is this based? And they just said over and over again, you're here to give information. We are not giving any information. My lawyer asking, what is the standard of review here? Like how upon what is this based? And the parks director just saying like my decision. And the and the and then, you know, what are the what is the remedy if this is if the appeal is denied? There's none. And the appeal is denied. Like, and so it really was for me. One of the moments where I realized like, oh, the city is is pretty hell bent on keeping a bunch of sweethearts who give up 10 some sandwiches out of the park. And they're going to like they're they're up to something here. But I'm happy to share that. Recording, we have all of them. Yeah, I'd like that to be good. What is this our performance of like pseudo legal ceremony? I don't just want to do that. Well, and like, and like, pseudo in a dangerous and extra judicial way. Like, I had no protections there. Right. Yeah. Yeah. It was a strange like, yeah, there's nothing to respond to. Yeah. Yeah. Like these are these are these are star chamber proceedings. Like, like the the the king of France is going to walk out. Like this is a halfway through this. I was just thinking it seems like such a British thing. Like, yeah, you told me this was in Britain and you've been like shooting the Queen swans or something. I'd buy it, you know, but here we are in the land of the free. You know, that's well, and I think the equivalent of shooting the Queen's swans here is hanging out with poor folks in a park in ways that inconvenience or that apparently, inconvenience the folks who go who pay money because you have to to play tennis at a public tennis court that which is like right by a Austin park. And and we can go in in a minute as much as you want to to what you saw as far as like their attempts after their attempts to to pass them to to sneak through an ordinance. Now we know quite clearly from public records directed at at food sharing in Austin Park. Yeah, it's really I keep thinking about that that elder Camaro line. When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint when I ask why they're poor, they call me a communist. It's like they really seem to have blown all the way pet like they didn't even get to put to they were just like wait, hold on, you're giving food to the poor like it is time for a military response. Yeah, it's just just horrible. Yeah. And being banned from parks for three years has a pretty big effect on my on my on my little life, you know, like there there are constitutional aspects to it that matter far beyond me and and which matter in many ways more to me. But the fact right now is that like I can't legally take my young child like to the park by our house without risking arrest for misdemeanor dress. And and to my knowledge, I won't be able to for three years. And you know, they've succeeded in getting us out of the park. They caused the harm to they disrupted community care. They did it. They didn't need the ordinance. You know, it has it does happen. Food distribution happens. But it's in a place that really isn't the same like my daughter can't go there. She has sensory stuff like being in the the loud place that it is right now. Like really doesn't work. So yeah, there's this there's this very like the scopes of all of this from how Asheville as a city views and treats the folks who live on the street here, who the city has most abandoned. There's the legal mechanisms, the like very strange way they are like doubling down on criminalization of folks doing community care. And then there's just like the really day-to-day personal personal bits of this that affect all of us in different ways. And a felony would affect lots of us in different ways. Like it endures professional licensure. Like I'm trying to get a social work license. Like people it endures professional licensure. Of course, our rate to vote, housing and employment. And you know, I'm the like middle-aged, white middle-class mom, second graduate degree person in the group. I am not really representative of our group. Like folks are in a lot less folks are in a lot more precarious and ethereal circumstances than I am. And so much so that like, you know, it feels safe for me to come on. This podcast, it doesn't feel safe for everybody to come on a podcast. It feels safe for me to have my name out. Like, it doesn't for everybody. And I think, yeah, I think that that's something that that has to be named to. I feel like how, what a threat this is to folks future material will be as well as currently. Like folks that have lost housing over this, folks that have lost employment over this. Like Jesus Christ. Yeah, like even if you're found completely innocent or whatever, like this is robbed your time or people at the housing or people's their jobs. Like call this stress. Yeah. And and in that way, you know, it does feel and often to us like the, like the punishment is the process. Yeah. Yeah. It's just harassment. So I don't know if you're a fueler updated on like, there are five of us being taken to trial. Is that something you know? Okay. Yeah. So yeah, but our listeners probably aren't. So it's explained like, so like right after this happened or at some point I was just happy. So I know when we started speaking, I was like, well, I'd PR rate a shit out of all your city council people and you were like, we already have. So can because there was some stuff in there that was just weird. Yeah. Can you explain what you got from like, this is where a problem child Monica come from on other things? Sure. Yeah. I got it. So even talking about it, I have such a reaction and that I can feel. And I should say, you know, I speak about this to my name, not not about the city, the text necessarily, but I speak about the situation to a lot of people because it does feel to us like, you know, they're also, I think they would like us to be ashamed. But you're not ashamed of what is happening to I mean, that's part of the degradation as a quit system. And so, you know, all of my neighbors know what is happening to me, all of the people that I work with, in the various like school related jobs and such that I do. And two a person, everyone in Asheville starts with disbelief. They're like, no. And then I'm like, yes. And then they're just so disappointed. Like they're just they're so appalled. Often people say the number 1984, like often people are like, wow, I really, I didn't know. Some people did know, you know, that the city was like this. But you know, that's that sort of paralleled my experience in a way, just like disbelief and then disappointment. But yeah, we recently, it's intensified recently seeing the publicly available communication between council members. And I think I want to be careful and I don't have it in front of me. And so I don't want to I don't want to misquote it. But what I can say is that anybody can go find on the city of Asheville's public records request. Anybody can go get those now because they've been requested. And so they're publicly available. And we have texts between council members that are kind of debate that are in contemplation of an ordinance that would restrict food sharing in public places to to require permitting. In contemplation of that, like we have we have texts from council numbers calling those who do those who do food sharing ask them park problem children. And saying that it's a shame that the problem children have ruined it for the rest of the class. We have we have one saying like, you know, probably if we go ahead, we said, we said, he council go ahead with this with this ordinance. There'll be a lot of protests and a lot of pushback, which of course there was once it came out. And we have the other council members saying like, yeah, that might be. But if permitting is the only way to get them to stop, then so be it. And I mean, I read that and I have a variety of reactions, but mostly just like a kind of nauseous disappointment. And this is not true about council. Because some folks have tried to like understand that gap being filled by folks who who give out food and gear in a park. And I think some of the council and have recognized it as gap that is being filled. And I think some are are so aware of what it says about the city that folks have to show up in a park and give out food and gear. And there's never enough of either. They're so aware of what that lays bare about the abandonment that the city practices of those who live here. But they can only see that and they can only be angry with us and call us problem children. Like I'm 43. Yeah. Well, you can see the sort of like the kind of just like petty dictatorship mind that they've gotten themselves into were like they can't see the people who like, you know, nominally they're supposed to be serving, right? But like, okay, we know how far that goes, but they can't see it like you as anything other than just like a child because that's the kind of like, this is the sort of dictator brain that they've that they've had it from like holding this power. It's kind of reminds me of like how, usually with the 14, she said, let us in while like the state is me. Yeah. And therefore attacks on my reputation are like attacks against the state. Like, yeah, that's how it feels like you'd be treasonous by making them look bad. And I don't know if you saw this also in there, but on the day that the arrests happened. So those discussions about the ordinance were I think a little earlier in January that we should actually took that. But there's one that came right on the day of the first arrests for felony littering that or someone asks like, can those arrested be banned from certain places? And, and we know now, yes, but it is, it's a lot to see that. It's a lot to see what looks, what looks so deliberately like depriving us of, I'm sorry, to be in a park. Yeah, yeah, hello, hello. And so where is, where's the five you're going to trial? Yeah, I know a number of people are banned from parks in Asheville. Yes, yes. My understanding is that we, someone has been told, oh, we don't keep records of that. Which also doesn't make a lot of sense. Yeah, how do you enforce a ban if you don't have a record of who's a bit like what? Yeah. And I shouldn't be quoted on that. But, but my understanding is that like, is that that has been the, it's like, oh, no, there aren't records that we can, that can be made public about that because there's simply aren't records. Which that just seems like, that's just like incredibly bizarre secret police shit of like, yeah, no, we have like, we have, we have lists that don't exist of people who are banned from spaces. And we won't tell you what they are because they don't exist. Yeah, you'll find out when the SWAT team comes from behind the swings and just yeah, yeah, terrible. So yeah, you're banned from the park, you're facing, you're going to trial. Yeah, five of us have been scheduled for trial and the other folks have been kind of what's called taken off the calendar. So they don't have nothing's dismissed. But, but they're not scheduled. There's no, there's no next court date for them. Okay. So when, when will you, if you don't mind saying, when would your trial date be? Okay. Our trial date right now is that for February 27th. Okay. So coming up. It's coming right up. Yeah. That's tough. We'll make sure we get this out before then. How can people support you, support the work that you are not doing in parks any more? How can people help you through this? I'm sure it's a really stressful trial process. Yeah. Thank you for asking. So we post updates in a few different places. But we don't have our own Instagram right now because we're, we just don't. But our our defendant statements get released in a few different places including at AVL Survival on Instagram. We also have a website where we always post our own statements and also all the press that comes out about us. And that is And we have a Venmo, which is used that those funds are used for attorney fees. And, and frankly, like, you know, when someone loses housing or their car breaks down and they have had trouble finding employment because they have felony littering churches against them. And it's also used for material needs in that way. And that is AVL Defendant Fund. And all that's actually on on the website too. You can find those. And honestly, it matters so much that people just know this is happening. You know, when I tell people in Asheville, like more people know now than did before. When I tell people outside of Asheville, there's very much like, oh, I thought about coming there. I heard it's cool. It's like that. They do want those who make not just like a living from tourism, but those who make tons of money from tourism are certainly invested in you thinking that it's really cool. And coming spend your money here. And it's not cool in the ways that they want you to think it's cool. It is cool because neighbors show up for each other and you can come here and we'll talk about that. But there's a way that like people knowing what this place is really like does matter. And there's a way that honestly, people just like sending us like they're beautiful energy and hope really matters to you. That actually really does matter. So they can send us their beautiful energy and hope and material contributions as they might have. Yeah, that sure people will because it's been horrifically fucked up. I wanted to ask what is the sentence range for family littering? Yeah. So it's the lowest class of felony. As it happens, none of us have any criminal history. We'd be facing felony probation. And so that there's a range there of whether that probation is supervised or unsupervised. There's a range of how long it would be. There's a range of restitution in terms of community service. And I actually don't have the paper in front of me that says what the range of those things are. But I actually get to speak to 12 months on probation. And a lot of that is simply at the discretion of incensing. I think that there are some possible restrictions on just like being able to leave the state. Okay. What? Yeah. Jesus Christ. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, yeah. Sorry. Jesus Christ. Like, this is fully fucking sent me now because a guy, a man called Robert Wilson in San Diego was arrested for hate crimes because he assaulted his gay neighbor. Since he was arrested, he's driven around San Diego and LA dressed as a nuts. He sometimes with horrifically adi-subitics like it has just left the country and is living in Poland. Oh, I'm sure. Because I because fucking like somehow I don't know, sorry, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I love it. This is fully fully sent me now. I need a hinder too. Yeah. Yeah. What is wrong with this shit? Yeah. There was something else you wanted to get to. Yeah. I think I wanted to name. So, you know, people are so in a way like I wish I had a super cut of everyone I've ever said the word felony littering to just like your faces over and over again. Maybe I'll come to Ashville and just Vox pops. Yeah. So there's a way that, you know, of course, that's just like and we're here on eating and a bedding, which we've all been bumped up to to felony littering. But, or sort of, but but but the misdemeanor is conspiracy to commit felony. No. No. What's next? Like a reco charge? Yeah. So, so on its face, you know, it has this ring of absurdity. And of course, like it is, you know, a lot of the press about us, you know, they'll go talk to someone at the school of government who says like, well, this is baffling and at the very least seems like a misapplication of the statute, which is about huge amounts of waste often being like dumped by businesses. But I think it's it's telling that a couple maybe a month or two ago, there was an article in the citizen times, a local paper about us in a company, waste pro, which had dumped entire dumpsters worth of trash. And now I'm it like out somewhere outside of where it should have been like in the in the landfill. And but it was all about like how actually they had followed procedure because there was like maybe a little bit of a battery fire or something there was something going on with it where they should they weren't supposed to bring it in so they just had to jump it. But in the course of this article, they interviewed a lot of people about like, well, what's going on with like litter in general? Like big amounts of litter. And our case was never mentioned, but they did talk to some folks who who do river clean up an organization called green works. And that person said, you know, sometimes there are like huge amounts of dumping that happens. And we call the city. And they say, yeah, that's illegal. But we don't actually prosecute and like, you know, that's the sort of thing also that's seeing in print. I'm just like, what? What sort of strange like dystopian novel am I living in where the city is so up front that like, oh no, why we wouldn't prosecute felony littering. But when it comes to aiming to disrupt a kind of community care and political speech that they don't like, they're willing to extend an incredible amount of resources on it. You know, like the number of resources that have gone into this would have funded like sanctuary camping with sanitation services like for years, for years. And you know, I think you alluded though maybe this is in the future of the podcast like to the way that the city of Asheville or our lawyers have been clear that when you when you look at the city of Asheville's like public pronouncements and the way that they talk about homelessness, it does seem like, oh wow, we're really trying to get on this. But at a recent meeting where a consultant group often refer to as like, yeah, that other because like that consultant group from now, because it's happened over and over again, presented findings about like what should actually be done to end an un sheltered homelessness here presented findings to the city council and the county commissioners. No one was allowed to talk except for this huge meeting. No one was allowed to talk except for council members and commissioners and those who are presenting. But a man who actually has experienced, was experienced with homelessness, got up and talked anyways. And he was interrupted by the mayor. And like that's telling in its own right. That's telling in its own right. Also telling is that later, also not allowed to speak, a local pastor got up and said, you know, I saw that happen. You know, like what we need to be doing is actually listening to the folks who've experienced this and like data, yes, we need data, but we also need to like actually listen to the voices of what's going on. And he used the phrase which I think was echoing the man who had spoken earlier spiritual death and said that he thinks as a pastor that Asheville is in a moment of spiritual death. And in a way, that's why I say like we need your material contributions to us as defendants to collective care. Like when we have extra money in that defendant fund, we just give it away so we can buy more tents. And we need like, we need hope because Asheville is in this moment where it's as a city, it's making choices that seem so misaligned, not just with like the image that it would like to sell to tourists, but like with the people who live here and are actually like about it day to day in a neighbor's caring for neighbors way. Like really misaligned with what we actually want. And what we actually are capable of offering each other. Yeah, yeah, it is deeply sad that like we've created this abstraction of society, which is being entirely anti-social. Like no one wants no one. Yeah, no reasonable person would do that. But we've got the state which in theory acts on our behalf and is doing it. Yeah, but you also it's probably I don't know, I had to editorialize for a second. And often people make this argument, I see it's just different around gun laws, but with other laws to where this law won't always be enforced, they'll only use it if they need it if they have to get a bad person. They will use it if anybody threatens their interest, their shit, right? Like it was extensively mobilized for a ghost gun law here, which made some bizarre things illegal, like the bank stick which you use for spearfishing is now a ghost gun and a felony. And like there were definitely boomers who have dozens of those in their garage, right? And don't keep up on local ordinances and are now in theory at risk of committing a felony. And then obviously the response to that from the councillors, I will we wouldn't charge them. Well, like who are we? We can't trust the state to be benevolent when it's your experience is shown it's anything but. And you know, we and I can say this personally because I've spoken I've spoken to people in city government or in state government who have just said like, hey, do you know this is happening? And and they're clear about how. Sure, it sounds muddy, but the city but like that that we as a group have been painted as particularly dangerous. And that part to me is like, I mean, don't do this to anybody, you know, don't do it to anybody. But the part where where what's going on is like it's is there's strange justification with the idea that that we are dangerous people who deserve to be taken, you know, who need to be taken out of a party need to not be allowed to be in a park, you know, is is particularly easily disproved by anyone who actually like hangs out with us knows what knows who we are and what we've done. But not when it's just like a weird whisper campaign in the in the halls of city government like, oh, no, they're bad, like they're just bad. Like we've heard the the lies that they told about us some of them we have in, in you know, public records requests like that we haven't even talked about, but it's it's a it's a really strange thing to be to be painted that way. Yeah. Yeah, it's designed again. I'm sorry, it's happening to you. So I think to wrap up, if maybe again, you could just give that Venmo's people can support materially and yeah, you know, if there's any other social media accounts where people can follow along, where people can send their support and their wishes. Yeah, I think like that. Yeah, that's great. Our Venmo is AVL defendant fund. And yeah, you can so on Instagram, we're easy to get to through AVL survival. And there's a way to contact us through our website. We have a little we have a little email. I'll be so cute to get some supportive emails. And that website is AVL Amazing. Yeah. Thank you so much. Yeah, thank you for giving us your time. I'm sorry that you're yeah dealing with the fairies state bullshit. All right, so that wraps up our interview with Sarah. Tomorrow we'll be talking to Maniba from the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union. And she'll be giving us a legal perspective and some more insight into this case. We'll look forward to talking to you then. 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Today we're speaking to Maniba with the ACLU about the legal response to some of the bizarre things that the city of Asheville has been doing. If you hear reference to PIP in this episode that's because PIP is another of the activists they weren't able to make our call but we're going to be speaking to them as well and our ongoing coverage of this. So hope you enjoy today's episode and know that we'll keep you updated as this moves forward. All right so our first guest today is Maniba and Maniba would you like to introduce yourself explain your relationship to what we're talking about today? Yeah sure so my name is Maniba Pollister I'm a staff attorney with the ACP ACLU of North Carolina and I represent some of these wonderful folks that you'll be talking to after me and it's unfortunate that we met this way but you know I'm happy to be working with them so basically I can go into it or do you want to ask me questions about it or I think the great if you could start off by sort of walking us through how mutual aid seems to have met with this bizarre prosecution. Yeah of course so we got connected to you know our now clients the group of individuals who you know have been doing important advocacy and racial aid work on the half of unhoused folks in Asheville and we were connected by this other organization called Center for Constitutional Rights and kind of filled in quickly about how this group of people were not only banned from parks but these bands were based on this absurd criminal charge called felony littering which you know it sounds as crazy as it is. So yeah you know I think my colleagues and I at the ACLU we were eager to talk to these folks and learn more about what happened and see what we can do and and you know start talking about some of the legal issues that arise from when a city tries to ban a large group of people from from one of the few places that they have to convene and to protest and demonstrate which you know one of the first things I learned in law school is like out or like one of the first things I think I learned as someone living in the US like you you always hear kids say oh I have free speech like you know free speech and so it's such a central part of being in this or like growing up in this country and being a citizen or a member of this country is just the way that is thrown around sometimes inaccurately but people generally know that that speech should be protected and cannot be restricted except in very narrow ways by the government not by like you know your mom you don't have free speech and kind of your mom like that's not I learned that quick. Yeah when I took my being an American test I took I became a citizen a couple of months ago and there's like only like 50 questions I can ask you and I think two of them are like what is free speech like who yeah yeah can you claim free speech when you get banned from like yeah it's something that's very technical. Yeah and I think I think you know it's it's absurd to criminalize protests of course but it's it's also like equally as troubling to take away this this important public space from people that you know especially in a city like Asheville if you've been there it's one of the few public spaces that people can convene and get together and enjoy each other's company you know that that being separate from also one of the few places that you can protest and engage in discussion about how to fix problems so it's really troubling that the city of Asheville has had taken that route the one that ACLU got involved we thought it would be best to list out some of these legal issues you know I mentioned the First Amendment and free speech but there are also a lot of procedural due process problems that are issues that come up when you ban folks from a park one of you know one of the things that the city doesn't do is provide proper notice so a few of our clients never received notice that they were banned from the park and you know found out that they were banned either through the discovery process in their criminal cases or or by doing like very intense investigation of their own which you know that is not a that's just not okay like a city needs to you need to do at this is like a very basic thing right notice and hearing those are the tenants of procedural due process and the city fails there the city done fails again at providing hearing and providing an opportunity to to appeal these bans like there is no pre-decorvation hearing first of all like the bans once our clients receive them they're banned they're banned from the parks and cannot go and don't have didn't have any opportunity to defend why they shouldn't be banned or be heard about why they shouldn't be banned before that ban happened which is you know it's it's not okay I think a pre-decorvation hearing is really important when you're taking away um an interest like like the First Amendment interest that I laid out and and then the hearing that was provided was problematic in a lot of ways for one these were very short cursory hearing that lasted from I want to say like five to 30 minutes but I'll let Sarah and PIP confirm and they they had people from ashell police department who are you know arguably also involved in uh the criminal cases that that several of our clients are still battling through um they were not allowed to ask questions and you know several of our clients do not have the resources to have proper legal representation so sometimes their clients were there alone and um had to fend for themselves and navigate that tricky area of not saying something that could hurt you in your criminal case and yeah you know the the hearing was just a mess in all of the ways is how does the city like legally justify banning someone from parks like is there a like a way which they can do that so they have this policy called the restricted access to city park policy and it is I think we should call it the park ban policy um it basically allows the city to to ban folks from parks based on certain violations of um I think the categories are city park rules city parks and recreation department program rules city ordinances state laws and federal laws um so what's interesting is there is no um there's nowhere in the policy that says when a person has committed or that defines what the violation of any of these rules are like is that a conviction is that a formal like citation their the policy does not provide that so this is important I think especially here where our clients none of them or actually I shouldn't say none of them three three of our clients have pledged to lesser misdemeanor charges but everyone else has an open case and they have not been formally convicted of anything and and so it's it's strange that you know you can ban someone based off of um the felony charge that hasn't even been fully uh litigated yeah have they banned is is there like a record of the city banning people from parks or have they just like dug this one up from the bowels of legislation to ban these people oh that's a really interesting question and I'd I'd love to know the answer myself we did submit a public records request to try to figure out if they have um but I imagine the city is not going to want to tell us and I think Sarah you you can speak to this later but I don't think they have they I think they've rejected PRRs that you all have done and have not provided that um elusive restricted access list which they have like folks that they've been from the perks and and maybe that list is just you know our clients which yeah I mean I do I don't know what's worse like if they have a parks black list and they're just not notifying people until like they send us what to you after them or if it's if it's only people who are helping unhoused people and they just don't want to admit that both those are pretty dark on the topic of weird legal things what on earth is felony littering I'd love to know I'd love to know what felony littering is because um I'll tell you this when I told my partner like I was like oh did you know there's something called felony littering and he's like I hope that's when corporations get punished for right you know dumping toxic waste into the sea but no it's apparently when community members come together for demonstration and the city's mad about what's left behind which um you know that's uh I think it's really telling that the city has chosen to to prosecute folks on the like felony littering charge which you know has I think in the past 10 years there's only been one felony littering case out of Buncombe County where Asheville is okay so I think that's really telling and I think it's really troubling that city of Asheville seems to be really taking out a position in balancing speech it does not like yeah there's a fellas yeah go ahead no they just seem to be taking like the most bizarre and run around the first amendment that they can yeah it reminds me a lot of run you a lot of like the occupy era stuff where like all of these cities suddenly realized that like wait hold on these people can actually use a park for political activity and then immediately like suddenly there all these like ordinances started appearing where like everyone has to like clear out of the park by 10 p.m.s like clean it or something that eventually is just like was used to force people out and I don't know it seems like there's there's something interesting too about like it seems like it's it's almost whenever like a city government tries to do something it does it seems like they always like immediately reach for sanitation ordinances like yeah I was saying was like that was that was like the big occupy thing like they're doing this here too it is it's I don't know I think all around the country we're seeing the government fish out these weird ordinances and make new laws to to criminalize poverty and and to criminalize unhoused people existing and I think that trend unfortunately carries even in place of like Asheville that are seen especially after COVID you know there's been a rise in unhoused population everywhere and so it's really upsetting but it is the truth that these ordinances and laws that are being fished out are being fished out to target folks and and new laws that lawmakers are creating. Now I was thinking about this I'm remembering there's a whole sort of anthropological literature about like how colonial states used used like sanitation ordinances as a way to sort of destroy like indigenous public spaces in the places they colonize and I guess like yeah I don't know like there's there's a lot of sort of throughput I guess between like the the sort of old like colonial governments regimes and the way that people still use sanitation is like the default way to sort of cleanse people out of public spaces. I think it's interesting how like um an analogy one can make me be said there are people with rights and people without rights even when theory we all have rights and and like this attempt to sort of yeah use sanitation to be like all of these people's rights don't matter or they don't have those rights at all yeah it's not not linked to the way like metropolitan rule colonies. I think also just you know going back to this position that the city of national is taking um what's really troubling is like the different angles that they're coming at this issue with like if you look at you know if you look at some of the press releases and blog posts on the city's website about the unhaused population you might get the sense that they're trying to find solutions to address what they seem to acknowledge as a big problem but then you know on the flip side you see these actions that directly contradict that sentiment and you know these parkans but that's one of the ways that um the city of us will kind of indirectly is like no please like let us do our thing we don't want to hear anything bad about what we're doing like we're trying our hardest you know that's rich on its own but you know there's so there's the felony lettering charges there's the park ban and then you know alongside all of this like a few weeks ago we we followed the petition and Bunkham County Superior Court petitioning for the release of police body camera footage of the rest of two journalists for the release of the footage that shows the arrest of these journalists covering covering the eviction of encampments of unhaused folks in Aston Park on Christmas night in 2021 so around the same time that several of our clients um you know are being hit with these felony charges and then shortly after with parkans and um there was some journalists in a democracy very or should be very rare and should be troubling uh and these journalists like just to give you some context um we're not shy about their critique of the city and how it's handling the unhaused community and um that critique is protected by the first amendment uh the city of Asheville I think is just you know doing its own thing when it's allowing arrests of journalists and and um the release of that body camera footage we think of important to to just show what what happened because that that that kind of strange like just in the same way that felony littering is strange yeah that does seem like there is there is kind of a yet a bipartisan commitment to not wanting journalists to meddle with you harassing unhaused people it seems to be like very much a democratic thing is one of the republican thing what did with those journalists charged anything or were they just arrested? They were also charged with um I want to say second degree trust pass um and they've been pretty vocal about um their arrests and and um and I think what's been happening like their names are uh Veronica, Quite and Mitchell, the Bliss um I I'm not sure if you want to add more to that but uh I think that's that's like another thread that's important to this story is like all of the different ways that Asheville is operating to silence folks and and and to continue doing what they're doing which you know in a like if you look at um just their own narrative where they talk about oh yes we've you know evicted these folks as a success story and you know like they'll they'll maybe list like all of the hotels like free hotel nights that um these folks got for one or two nights but that's obviously not a sustainable solution to um to you know the plight of that community. Yeah certainly and yeah I think sometimes things get done because things look good on a press release rather than because it gives anyone like long term access to housing. So I wonder like what's the situation? Several of your clients are now facing the felony charges as serious right if people may be on it in the US or don't realize maybe you could explain like a felony follows you around for the rest of your life right. Yeah and just to be clear where the ACLU is not defending um the on the criminal charges um I think all of our clients have separate representation for their criminal charges. We've taken on the charge of um addressing these parts and how we think they're constitutional so I'm sure like I can I can speak a little to this but yeah I think um you know maybe getting getting one of the criminal defense attorneys to talk if they can about the criminal case might be more helpful. For sure yeah maybe can you explain this in general terms um I think what a felony would mean for someone living in North Carolina in terms of just how would affect their life going forward. Yeah so there's there's a lot I think you know um right I'm not a criminal lawyer but let me just think about few things um uh you know having the felony on your criminal record just on its own nobody nobody wants a criminal record in a country and state that is still looking and you know allowing background checks um for certain jobs and and having to explain that in any context like I will just you know you know let me just talk from my own experience where I've um whenever I am getting admitted to a bar I've moved a couple of times in the past few years and had to deal with the unfortunate process of being admitted into that state's bar. There is several intrusive questions and many of those involve like what kind of what your background is and that means what your criminal background is like we have to do um like I have gone through the moral character fitness test for three states now and um it's never fun it's you know as someone who is privileged and does not have a criminal history background it's not fun for me because I like the the number of questions they ask you it's like you really like you know I have to dig back into the past like your whole life like they ask all of the addresses that you've lived at in in the past 15 years and if you get it wrong you're lying so you're okay I'm going out on a tangent but the the point is like any any sort of certification or job or um new opportunity that is that is something a criminal record is something that's looked at and and considered and oftentimes in in a negative way and and can resolve and people not getting jobs um it I think Sarah and like other tarantids maybe can explain more about like what the consequences would be like if you've had conversation with your attorneys but I also have some background in immigrants race work and I know that if any any kind of criminal charges slash convictions that you're facing can be used by um can be used by ice can be used by usb I asked to design you immigration privileges and and to deport you to depain you before they deport you and um so you know beyond that like having to have this hang over your head where the the process is not short it's not easy it's mentally taxing and um it's honestly degrading to go through our criminal legal system and it's degrading for everyone um and and see I mean that's that's all I can say is like someone um who does like general civil rights work but if you talk to someone who's doing criminal defense work and in this all the time I'm sure they're they're you know can paint a better picture of how dark that that processes and how dark it can be to have that on um a record I think another thing with this is um I'm about okay I'm not a lawyer I'm also not like your lawyer legal advice etc um but I'm pretty sure the way it works in North Carolina is that if you if you have a felony conviction you can't vote until you serve out the time Jesus so yeah like in country yeah yeah yeah so that's another thing and um I'm fairly muted in North Carolina I moved here in March so almost a year but not quite so but I do know that the the hoops that you have to jump through just to vote are a lot more than other states that I've lived in and um you know of course that is um that is also another thing done on purpose to silence certain voices yeah that's dark um and certainly like you'll lose your second member rights so it'd be jobs you can't do there will be things you don't have access to like yeah your rights will go away potentially forever which is bad when you're just trying to help some people who need some help it's pretty unconstable yeah I think that's the other like really wild thing about all of this is like a lot the folks that are you know being banned and being targeted on this way are providing really important services in in a way that the city hasn't been able to and hasn't and it's filling in this this really important role of like making sure that folks stay alive and and have support and and our feds and clothes and um it's unfortunate to to have that taken away like being banned from a park means being banned from one of the few bases that um our clients had to do this work and where they were able to distribute food and and other aid to folks who don't have a home and it's just it's wild that that kind of action is being taken when when we know that this is a crisis that the city is just not addressing yeah they're like taking actually against people pointing to the crisis rather than the crisis itself which is yeah very sad so what what stages you are and I know you have to go in a second here what stages you're lucky so the ACLU is challenging the park man how is that how's that gone for you so so far we've sent a demand letter to the city the city has responded to that letter with um right now kind of wishy-washy commitments of like reviewing the policy and while while I think that's a great first step I do think the city needs to commit to doing more and um to commit to retracting the balance for all of our clients and and potentially others who have been affected by this policy um they also need to change the policy like reviewing the policy that's a great first step but you know I I want to see like what are the things that they are building in to make sure that folks are getting proper notice that this policy isn't being abused and used by Ashville police to permit and others in an unfair way and that there was like you know basic standard of like when the policy can be instituted like is there a conviction involved and what are the convictions like does it make sense to ban someone from a park for I don't know like I'm trying to think of like something um felony literature yeah yeah it's just so bizarre like it's clown stuff it is bizarre and I think like you know historically park bands from what I know is like they've been used against like people who have committed like sexual offenses and um and so it's kind of it's kind of out of luck to feel to and and I'll just say this that the city like we're in their response they cited to one of the cases that or two cases that involved sexual offenders who are banned from parks which you know yeah it's not really the same peaceful demonstrator is who provided aid to folks who are unhoused so you know it's it's not really there the the comparison is not there and and I think I hope the city can be honest and if they are not willing to put in that work and and to take some of these actions that I've laid out I do think that we will continue to challenge these park bands and um you know we'll continue to prepare to file suit if that's necessary great and how can people follow along with that or if they want to sort of donate or support it is your place they can do that um you know our website is a great base to or our website I think our socials like Twitter and Instagram like our comp team is amazing and they update on our work frequently and often and um and we try to we try to provide updates there but also um kind of engage with our work and what it means broadly for um both the cross-north Carolina and across the U.S. also yeah okay great and that's just ACLU North Carolina there should be their socials yeah we look at our fashion now that's fine so it's ACLU of North Carolina dot org and if you go to our website you'll find our socials but it's probably a very niche gift box yeah wonderful well thank you so much for giving us some of your time thanks so much for having me yeah that was great thank you ready to play some tennis let's do it are you gonna put your phone away now rhodo makes it so easy 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Welcome back to it could happen here once again the folks from it's going down or taking over the show as today we do a deep dive into how autonomous organizers are pushing back against a wave of a far right attacks on reproductive freedom and autonomy across the United States. A no-tor listeners this episode will include discussion on both sexual and far right violence. I'm your host Mike Andrews let's get into it. In May of 2022 Politico first reported on the historic leak from the Supreme Court about the overturning of Roe v. Wade the landmark 1973 decision which ruled under the 14th amendment that a pregnant person has the right to privacy including the liberty to abort their fetus. In June of 2022 the Dobbs decision struck down Roe ruling that the Constitution does not guarantee a person the right to an abortion. Trigging a wave of state governments rolling back abortion rights in access. For many however the fall of Roe only further cemented a lack of access to reproductive health care has already been the norm for millions. As the hill wrote quote as of 2020 six states had only one abortion clinic each and 89% of America's counties had no abortion clinic at all. The cumulative effect of decades of restrictions authored by anti-abortion lawmakers. This is not to say the things haven't gotten worse they have. In the months following the Dobbs decision in states like Ohio where access has been attacked a rape survivor was forced to travel out of state to find an abortion while local politicians including the state's Republican attorney general claimed on Fox News that the story was totally fabricated. In other instances people in Ohio have been denied care even though they face potentially life threatening complications. In Texas one woman nearly died due to sepsis because she was initially barred access to an abortion by doctors. In these are only some of the stories that have made headlines. The deeper impact on this country-wide attack on reproductive health has hit low-income communities of color the hardest. A recent study from the University of San Francisco found that quote a third of American women of reproductive age now face excessive travel times to obtain an abortion while twice as many are being forced to travel more than an hour to reach an abortion provider. In short attacks on abortion coupled with the already exploding wealth gap, lack of access to health care, the rising cost of living, and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic will only expand existing inequalities especially for people of color, the disabled, and queer and trans folks in particular. On the legal front some states have pushed to expand abortion access and many are challenging legal attacks in the courtroom. Minnesota for instance most recently became the first state to enshrine abortion is a right. Meanwhile many continue to donate to abortion funds and non-profits like Planned Parenthood are even launching mobile clinics to provide care and areas hit the hardest due to recent bands. But as our first two guests, Bex, part of a clinic defense group in New York City, and Ash and abortion doula in North Carolina reported many autonomous organizers aren't putting their faith in the courts, the cops, or the state. You know living in New York City abortion is legal and it's legal before a row and it's been legal after a row but that doesn't really necessarily mean anything kind of is what we've seen. So one of the things that we've seen is we've seen anti-abortion protesters and activists coming up from red states to target blue states now. And so you've definitely seen their presence increasing outside of the clinic that we defend and Soho in Manhattan. And so that's I would say is one of the biggest things that we've seen is that they really are targeting blue states or targeting New York City. They're actively trying to recruit people to come to New York City as I think the biggest thing that we've seen and then also in New York City we've been struggling a lot with a really escalatory police presence at our clinics and so that's the other thing that we're definitely really struggling with is the response of the state after jobs. So the first thing that I want folks to know is that people abortion havers people who might have abortions where I am in time and space. They have always already been navigating some of these post-war realities that a lot of folks are just getting hit too like after that fateful Friday and June last year. And so I want to name here that we've always had a 72 hour waiting period in North Carolina which is one of the longest waiting periods in the country. And there's a slew of other things that we find both hostile and restrictive. And I'm using those words to describe a situation and ongoing situation because these are the words that are being used to describe North Carolina now as we're seeing an influx of folks coming to North Carolina. So I'm saying that for the folks who live here always already like they've been dealing with a restrictive hostile climate, becks to share a little bit about like the presence of anti-abortion protesters. So we've always been dealing with that. In 2018 the abortion clinic that I had two abortions at in my life they saw the most anti-abortion protesters in the southeast and we continue to see this. We also continue to see as we see these anti-abortion protesters right, a police presence. And we know or I'm concerned about what that means for black folks having abortions for people who are undocumented and for people who otherwise like don't want the police all up in their business. In addition to what's changed since dobs are not changed right, but changed. We have seen an influx of folks coming to North Carolina from states where abortion is illegal or there are bands kind of early ingestation. And we're seeing those folks come to the clinics and access the services and the support networks that we have here in North Carolina. And I think that one thing with the group that I work with called Advice You for Abortion, right, it's one thing that we've been working really hard on is not only talking about abortion, not only talking about going beyond just legalizing it, but also really focusing on our communities and building mutual aid networks, building reprojustice networks, and also just working overall on community defense. So we work with a lot of mutual aid organizations all over the city of New York. And that's what I think that we're doing like Ash was saying is we're focusing on how do these people who are outside of our clinics are not only anti abortion, but they're also anti-LGBTQ. They are fascists. That is something that we should be saying. They are also pro police. None of these things happen inside of a vacuum. They're all interconnected. And I think that that's one thing that we really, really have to do is talk about how the issue of abortion branches out to so many other things that we can't only fight one issue. We have to fight all of them, but we also have to fight the root of where these things are coming from. And they're coming from this mass conservative movement that's been being built since the 1970s. Groups like focus on the family, like the Federalist Society, these groups have so much influence in our society. And we need to be going after all of it. We can't only be going after one tiny sector of the massive problem. Because like Ash said, it is all interconnected. Here, I'm thinking about some political education that needs to happen. And that is the framework and the theories of reproductive justice. I know that they recognize so many things. But one of the things that grounds me that it recognizes, that RJ recognizes, is that dismantling white supremacy is key to achieving reproductive justice. It also says it posits that we live interconnected lives and not single issue lives. And it also, for me, this yields that we can't rely on the state to provide what we need. I'm seeing abortion duels, clinic escorts, abortion funds, and other organizers and organizations really come together to support people having abortions and resist criminalization and state violence right now. And we need to see more of that. You talk about pro-choice. I think it's so wack. Like the logics of pro-choice, we need to go further beyond the logics of pro-choice and understand that RJ says that there is no choice without access. And furthermore, RJ posits that the key to controlling entire communities is to controlling bodies. So if they're coming for the trans people on their HRT and they're access to gender affirming and medical care, then they're going to come for everyone else, then they're going to come for the abortion average. They've been coming for the poor people. I think that, like, again, when we go back to that reproductive justice framework, we can begin to, like, make these connections. And I'm also saying this as an organizer, like, reproductive justice is my lane, but so is like environmental justice and so is racial justice. And I'm on the front lines of different movements. And I go back to this framework because it acknowledges that, like, black people need an end to anti-black racism, and we need an end to the police and clean fucking water right now. I don't know of a framework that says that, like, we ought to demand all of those things right fucking now, and that we actually can't live self-determined lives without all of that shit. And so I'm ready to talk about RJ, like, I'm ready to do that political education. I think it's ongoing work. And, right, like, you don't have to be an abortion doula or a frontline organizer to help someone get to their appointment, to fund an abortion, to affirm someone's decision and support their decision to have an abortion. And so we really need that, like, we need that vibe right now. We need people to show up that way. I think that my biggest frustration with Democrats is they've been telling us for years, like, oh, you know, vote for us, vote for us. They've been fundraising off of the issue of abortion for decades now. They have done absolutely nothing. And I think then what they've really done is they really made us, made us, as in, like, the general, like, American populist feel as though voting is the only way that we can change things. And that voting is the only way that we can, like, show our impact and, like, help our communities. When the reality isn't, it's going out onto the streets. It's also, you know, doing abortion doula work. It's also, you know, going out, defending clinics. It's doing all of this work. And we don't need the Democrats to do that. And what we need to be doing is we need to be talking about the state and how we can go beyond the state. I also want to say here, like, fuck a row. Like a row is the kind of legal infrastructure that made abortion possible, but it also made it possible for, like, both the Democrats, the Republicans, the Christian evangelicals, anyone who was checking for it to take abortion away. So, like, fuck row, it also gave us the trimester framework, which is, like, really wack. And it also kind of made it more possible for the states and the federal government to put in bans and restrictions on abortion. That's something that we need to get clear about as well as we fight to decriminalize and not legislate further abortion. Stay with us. It could happen here. We'll return after these words from our sponsors. On July 27th, 1996, Eric Rudolph set off a nail bomb during the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. The explosion killed one person immediately, while over 100 more were horrifically injured in a communique claiming responsibility for the bombing. Rudolph denounced the Olympics, abortion, and LGBTQ rights, with talking points that seemed ripped right out of Tucker Carlson's Nightly News headlines. He wrote, The world converged upon Atlanta to celebrate the ideals of global socialism, the purpose of my attack, the Washington government, sanctioning of abortion on demand. Along with abortion, another assault upon the integrity of American society is the considered effort to legitimize the practice of homosexuality. Whether it's gay marriage, homosexual adoption, hate crime laws, including gays, or the attempt to introduce a homosexual normalizing curriculum into our schools, all of these efforts should be ruthlessly opposed. The existence of our culture depends on it. Rudolph would go on to carry out more deadly attacks against abortion clinics in the Queer Night Club, releasing communiques under the banner of the Army of God. A group which endorsed leaderless resistance and was linked to the white supremacist Christian identity movement and the murder of multiple abortion providers. The Army of God was just one formation that were out of Christian identity. A mix of white supremacy and Christianity, the preach that Jews were satanic and people of color were subhuman and need to be destroyed in a racial holy war. Christian identity adherence set up paramilitary compounds, Bible camps, radio stations, and churches from the Aryan nations to the covenant disordered in the arm of the Lord. And they helped usher in a wave of homegrown terrorist groups such as the Order and individuals like Timothy Vey carried out the Oklahoma City Army. Meanwhile, above-ground groups like Operation Rescue cheered on the violence against abortion providers while organizing mass protest at clinics with the aim of shutting them down. In 2015, when a gunman killed three people in a mass shooting at a clinic in Colorado Springs, the far-right anti-abortion movement had carried out eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 186 arsones all targeted against abortion clinics and providers. Wanting to know more about the history of far-right attacks on abortion access, and if they were indeed rising in the current post-ops period, we sat down with Melissa Fowler of the National Abortion Federation. Unfortunately, since abortion was legalized with the Roe vs. Weight decision, there has been a really coordinated campaign of harassment and violence to target abortion providers and try to stop access to legal abortion. And we've been tracking this since the late 70s. There have been a number of escalating events, everything from clinic protests and clinic blockades all the way up to arson's and murders of providers just because they do this work. So when we talk about this, it's very real, it's a very real threat, and it is really terrorism that's happening by a coordinated group of people and individuals who really are aimed at stopping any access to legal abortion care. So we definitely have seen for a long time that there isn't overlap between the people that target abortion providers and the people that are involved in other types of violent and extremist movements, including white nationalists. We've known that for a long time. It's existed many years, in fact, in the 80s. The KKK began creating wanted posters, listing the personal information of abortion providers. And the first provider who was murdered, Dr. David Gunn, who was murdered in 1993, was murdered by someone who was a white supremacist, who had been mentored by someone who was a former KKK member. And so we've seen the overlap of these groups. And in the last couple of years, we've seen that overlap be more coordinated and more public. So on January 6th, at the insurrection, a lot of our members were watching on TV and recognized people, because they were the same people that protest at their clinics. In fact, providers that even noted that day of pulling in the parking lot and not seeing their usual protesters and wondering what was going on, because they saw less people outside of clinics. And we later found out it's because many of them were at the Capitol. And a number of people who are active in the anti-abortion movement have boasted about being at the insurrection, posted video and pictures of themselves at the insurrection. And so it's very clear to us, and we very much see that overlap. We also see more of these right wing groups actually showing up and participating at anti-abortion events. So attending some of the marches around the country in a more visible way than we've seen in the past. Sometimes these right wing groups will do quote-unquote security for the anti-abortion movement. So when they have people who are speaking or they're holding large events to target providers, they'll get security assistance from white nationalist groups. And so it's particularly disturbing to see. It doesn't surprise us, because we've known that there's an overlap in these groups for a really long time. But as we've seen in recent years, as people seem to be more okay being more visible about their membership in these groups or more vocal about their hate, we're seeing it more publicly. The anti-abortion movement is not doing anything to distance themselves from these groups. So since the week happened last May, we immediately saw an increase in harassment and online posts that were threatening toward abortion providers. Even though we got a preview of the decision and we knew what was coming and that it would lead to clinics closing, that wasn't enough for some people. We saw calls for people to go and burn clinics or go and take matters into their own hands and not wait for the decision to go and try and stop abortions for being provided that moment. And so we track those types of online posts. We saw a real spike in May and June around the decision. And we also started immediately hearing from our member clinics that they were seeing an increase in protesters and increase in threats and an increase in the intensity and hostility of those activities. So more really aggressive protesters that were touching patients and staff, yelling at patients and staff, photographing patients and staff. And since the decision, we have seen a number of clinics closed in places that are considered more hostile to abortion rights. But we know from our past experience that when a clinic closes, the protesters don't just give up and go home. In many cases, anti-abortion individuals will travel the same path the patients are traveling and they will go to other states where abortion remains accessible and target the clinics there. So we are seeing an increase in activity in the places where abortion is remaining legal and where patients are going to get care. And we're still, you know, we're just now collecting the numbers for 2022. So we don't, we don't have those yet for a little bit. But we do know anecdotally in what we're hearing from members and what we're seeing on the ground is that there is an increase in that activity. There have been a few art since this year. We're also seeing clinic invasions continue. And these are instances where people might pose as patients. In some cases, they go to a lot of work to try and infiltrate the clinic and find out about their practices for making appointments. And then they will pose as patients, make fake appointments and try to get into the clinic forcibly if they if they have to. And then once they're inside, they're harassing patients. They refuse to leave. And some cases they hand out flowers or sing or yell. In California, they walked through the halls screaming the name of the doctor, ordering the doctor to come out and face them. And it was very traumatic for staff. And they didn't know if this person was armed or what they were doing. And, you know, they had patients in procedure rooms with them or in counseling rooms. And they were, you know, walking the door and sheltering in place. And it was very frightening. And we continue to see these types of invasions happen across the country. Ironically, however, laws passed in the 1990s designed to protect people seeking abortions and reproductive health care have now been weaponized against those who have been taking action in the wake of the dog's decision, most notably under the banner of James R. Venge. A moniker used by anonymous activists taking action, usually in the form of broken windows and graffiti against anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers and beyond. As Natasha Leonard wrote in the intercept, Congress passed the Face Act in 1994, allowing the assassinations and mass clinic blockades, making the physical obstruction of clinics a federal offense, as well as threats of force and violence against clinic workers and clinic property. In its 30 years on the books has been used sparingly. Now this laws being used to prosecute to reproductive rights activists, were allegedly spray painted the outside walls of misleading and dangerous crisis pregnancy centers, known as CPCs, and now face up to 12 years in prison for the graffiti. This use of the Face Act against those fighting to protect reproductive freedom and autonomy by weaponizing laws supposedly aimed at those threatening it. Mirrors, the numerous domestic terrorism charges lodged against forest defenders of Atlanta, made possible by a bill in 2017, following the massacre of nine black parishioners by the white supremacist Dylan Roof. Stay with us, it can happen here over turn after these words from our sponsors. As the culture wars deepen on the right, and even mainstream GOP leaders have embraced white nationalist talking points, many openly neo-nazine white supremacist groups have come to see the anti-choice movement as a lucrative recruiting ground in the point of engagement with the wider right wing base. Again, we hear from clinic defender Bexon New York, an abortion doula ash in North Carolina. In our case in New York City, the group that we defend the clinic from is this Catholic group that gets an armed escort from the NYPD. And so that's one thing that really really scares me, you know, when we talk about if our right is at the NYPD, it has been aiding these far right groups and giving them escorts for a very, very long time. And so I think that kind of goes to a lot of the fears that a lot of us have when it comes to this kind of collaboration and the changing face of anti-abortion protesters. We already know down here that cops and cland go hand in hand. And unfortunately, like newly white radicalized, I don't know if you can call them that, like, politicized white women who want to defend clinics. They saw, they realized these realities, like the cops are not here to defend you or people who want to have abortions. And we actually don't need the cops to have abortions and to make reproductive justice a real possibility in all of our lives. I'm thinking here also about like the need to decriminalize abortion and not legalize abortion. Again, as an abolitionist, as an abortion doula, and as someone who's had abortions, I'm making these connections, and as a trans person, right? I'm making these connections that like the folks who are standing outside of abortion clinics, the anti-choice, the anti-abortion folks, these are the same people who are pro police people. These are the same people who are racist in our communities, who are classes, who are anti-black, who are fascists. And furthermore, like these people who stand outside of abortion clinics, they are the same people perpetuating these rhetoric that like gay people are groomers, but also that like critical race theory, for example, shouldn't be taught in school. I am making these connections, and I'm also going back to that reproductive justice framework that reminds me that like what do we have to do now, is that we have to fight together. And one of the ways we can do that is by making these connections, right? Like these people are Christian evangelicals, they are fascists explicitly. We need to say that, and it behooves all of us to like really fight together along those lines. In the year since the attempted pro-Trump coup on January 6, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and proud boys have ramped up their presence at anti-choice events, the neo-Nazis group Patriot Front has shut up to march alongside various anti-abortion groups, often to be met with handshakes from anti-abortion activists and police escorts to protect them from anti-fascists. Several weeks ago, openly fascist groups took part in the yearly Walk for Life rally in San Francisco, California, as thousands took to the city streets after being bust in from across the state, marching alongside them were proud boys decked out in uniforms, and mass neo-Nazis holding openly racist banners. Wanting to know more about this continued crossover, you spoke with anti-fascist journalists, Fashal Singh, based in Southern California. In the wake of the reversal of Roe v. Way, there was big spike in demonstrations from the right wing where they were targeting clinics, they were targeting any kind of school boards with any kind of reproductive health, anything they were doing it for several months. In places like California, where abortion is still provided and still accessible, that makes a lot of the anti-abortion movement still feel like they're the victim of something, even though they just had this massive political victory. At least in Southern California, I've noticed that they've continued to rally. They've had some pretty large rallies, especially for the pro-life thing that happened recently, where cities around the country, including San Francisco, had some pretty alarmingly sized anti-abortion rallies, and some of them, like in San Francisco, you had some of the more extremist elements, white supremacist elements, showing up quite explicitly, quite proudly. Here in Southern California, I've seen that starting to pick up again. It's almost building off of the momentum from all these rallies targeting drag shows, which have been excellent networking opportunities for different right wing groups to work with more far-right extremists, and even all out white supremacists. Once they get into a groove together, even if these groups don't always get along, they have a revolving door of enemies, and if it's time to target somebody because they think there's an advantage to it in the moment, then they're going to do it. And right now, it does seem like reproductive rights is back in the crosshairs alongside LGBTQ rights. Just a couple of weeks ago, there was a rally in Southern California outside of a wall green shareholder's meeting, where a lot of right wing activists were marching through the hotel, chanting that wall green is killing people because they, because you can get an abortion fell through that. I think this has created a very tenuous situation where there's always someone to go after. If it's not planned parenthood this week, next week, go after your local pharmacy, go after your local clinic, go after your local doctor. The anti-abortion movement is very malleable. It's very fluid, and right now they're taken whoever they can get, and that includes a lot of openly radical militant groups, who they turn to as groups that can do, quote, unquote, security work, you know, because they're afraid of the left coming and attacking. The anti-abortion movement isn't slowing down. As our guests from across the country of discuss, the more mainstream organizations with deep pockets also are attempting to distance themselves from the street level fascist groups, flocking to right wing demonstrations, especially at a time when far-right violence is escalating across the country. In our last segment, IGD Correspondent Marcella, speaks on recent anti-choice demonstrations, which brought together both the mainstream and the fringe, organized in part by progressive anti-abortion uprising, which weaponizes feminist and progressive language, against drugstore giants CVS and wall greens, an effort to stop them from selling abortion medication. Anti-abortion people protested outside like CVS and wall greens this past Saturday, like in multiple places, to prevent pharmacies from selling abortion pills. I'm honestly like really angry at this, not only because these people are trying to make sure they completely take away our rights to bodily autonomy, but because they're also making me have to defend CVS and wall greens. I've also thought about protesting outside CVS and wall greens, but not because I'm obsessed with those evils to productive organs. I'm tired of them putting everything I need behind a glass. Anyway, like these abortion protests outside CVS and wall greens were organized by the progressive anti-abortion uprising. Yes, I will say that again. The progressive anti-abortion uprising, PAAU, which claims to want to dismantle the abortion industrial complex. Honestly, it sounds like the PAAU thinks that you can just add industrial complex to something to make it sound bad, or they're just trying to sound cool to make people forget that they are fascists. Like, one interesting thing about PAAU is they want to be so cool that their lead organizer Lauren Handy calls herself a feminist. I honestly can't believe that I have to say this, but being anti-abortion immediately disqualifies you from being a feminist. Fun fact about Lauren Handy is that she randomly, she didn't randomly, she was caught with five fetuses in her apartment and was indicted for blocking a clinic in Washington DC in 2020. So she's out here blocking clinics, collecting fetuses, just like doing the worst. This is like just the tip of the burg about how like these people are trying to act like their freedom fighters. The PAAU spokesperson literally said, and I quote, they're a vision to turn pharmacies into abortion businesses which will exploit and kill disproportionately low income people and people of color for profit will be met with nonviolent resistance at every turn. That's hilarious. But these people are literally trying to make fascism sound like freedom fighting. Like if PAAU actually cared about low income people and people of color, they would be giving away abortion pills at like every corner not trying to stop people from buying them. And also they'd be boycotting CVS on Walgreens for totally different reasons. They wouldn't be boycotting Walgreens and CVS for trying to sell people abortion pills. What they would be doing is that they would be boycotting Walgreens and CVS for putting toothpaste behind a locked glass which makes it much harder for poor people to get a five finger discount on things that they need. That is going to do it for us today. Thanks for tuning in. 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