Warrants, Raids & DNA Samples: Indigenous Resistance Under Attack In Vancouver [Interview w/ Zig Zag of Warrior Publications]

warrior publications make-a-stand-graphicEarlier this month a house in East Vancouver was raided under pretext of investigating “anti-pipeline graffiti.” At 9am on June 3rd, the police had their guns drawn and pointed at four residents plus their one guest while removing them from the home one-by-one. These residents happened to be radicals involved in Indigenous resistance and anarchist projects in the city– including Zig Zag, the editor of the Warrior Publications. In this police burglary-by-warrant, the pigs took laptops, books, notebooks, USB keys, cell phones and banners. And of course, as with all raids, they confiscated black hoodies.

 

Last week, the police went even further, returning for a second time to issue a warrant for a DNA sampling from one of Zig Zag’s housemates. They arrested him and took him to the police station where they took a blood sample without his consent.

Read here for the latest update.

The following  is an “interview” between two Bay Area Intifada contributors and Zig Zag of Warrior Publications. Due to time constraints and the fact that everyone in the raided home had their electronics stolen, the interview was done through a mixture of instant messenger and emails over the span of two weeks–beginning shortly after the initial raid. Minor edits were made only to help with flow and readability:

Bay Area Intifada: First, how are you?? It must be a little tense.

Zig Zag: We’re all doing good. The most stress has been trying to work with this old-ass computer I’ve had donated for temporary communications work. We’ve also raised almost $6000 in two days, so we’re gonna be getting new computers and cell phones, turning a negative into a positive…

We don’t expect to get any of our stuff that the cops stole for a very long time. In other raids, people got their computers back months later and they were basically destroyed and unusable.

BAI: On that note of turning a negative into a positive: I hope we can help publicize/politicize what happened to ya’ll by putting more light on these police tactics, repression and the movement going on up there.

Image from Warrior Publications: VPD detective constable Rainey with one of the stolen cell phones taken during the June 3 raid.

ZZ: Well I think the raid has served to antagonize the more radical anti-pipeline movement types here, and has also impacted the more liberal types who see the raid as another example of authoritarian state methods of imposing these pipelines and oil tankers. This trend has been ongoing for a couple of years now, with government officials fear mongering anti-pipeline activists about being radicals, etc.

BAI:  What’s the status on the legal situation? And the person who was taken into custody after the raid?

ZZ: Initially, they told him he was being charged with six counts of mischief under $5000. He was later released without charge, although the cops told him he may be charged later.

BAI: Did they hint at what charge they’d bring up later?

ZZ: At this point, probably the six charges of mischief, unless they can find other stuff to charge him with as a result of their raid.

BAI: For the immediate situation…what can folks do to support?

ZZ: I think by spreading the news, at this point. We’ve raised enough funds for now to recover from the material loss and to get the legal defense going, as well. Part of the publicizing of this raid, I think, can also help prepare others for the potential consequences of resisting projects such as those the state and corporations are determined to push through, despite overwhelming opposition from the population.

BAI: Sounds like there is a lot of popular support then? So why do you think they are targeting the movement so hard?

ZZ: At this time, and for the last two to three years, the anti-pipeline resistance has been dominated by liberal, reformist and basically middle-class personalities and groups. The most radical has been the Wet’suwet’en at the Unist’ot’en camp opposing the Pacific Trails Pipeline [Read more here]. None of the pipelines are being built with the exception of the PTP project, which they have done some preliminary work on. More construction is set for this summer.

I think the state fears the possible intervention of militant resistance into what has been, up to this point, fairly mild and passive opposition. There is also the example of the Mi’kmaq anti-fracking resistance in New Brunswick, which certainly showed the rulers the potential of a militant resistance erupting against their plans for a petro state.

BAI: We were certainly watching when it went down in New Brunswick. It caught people’s attention. Can you update us briefly on what’s taken place with Mi’kmaq anti-fracking resistance since that “showdown?”

Showdown at highway 134 from Franklin Lopez on Vimeo.

ZZ: After the October 17 raid on the blockade camp and up until December, the Mi’kmaq continued to blockade the seismic testing trucks belonging to SWN Resources. At that time, SWN announced it was stopping all testing and survey activity, but it was clear they intended to return at some point. More recently, in May 2014, SWN announced it would be returning to the area sometime this spring and summer. At this time, I believe there are still two Mi’kmaq warriors imprisoned as a result of the 17 October 2013 raid, when they were arrested.

BAI: What, specifically is going on with the pipeline struggle? Can you tell us where the indigenous movement is currently and where you believe it’s going?

pipeline mapZZ: At this time, there are perhaps eight to nine major pipeline projects proposed. [Visit here to see an interactive map of the pipelines, as well as information about each project and its investors.] About five to six of these run from the tar sands in Alberta to coastal BC (Prince Rupert). This includes the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines. There are also two to three natural gas pipelines proposed to run from northeast BC to the coast (at Kitimat). Then there is the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline expansion [read more here] that already exists and runs from Alberta to a terminal right next to Vancouver. The KM pipeline would increase by around several hundred per year, in the amount of oil tanker traffic in the inlet where Vancouver is located.

All these pipelines would contribute to a massive increases in oil tanker traffic up and down the coast. The pipelines themselves would cross hundreds of major rivers and stream systems. People have seen the impact of an oil spill on the coast with the Exxon Valdez spill on 24 March 1989, more recently the BP Gulf of Mexico oil rig spill, as well as weekly reports of pipelines spills and ruptures, all of which has contributed to ever-greater opposition to pipelines and oil tankers in the region. A more nuanced analysis of this also extends to a critique of the Tar Sands in Alberta and the practice of fracking for natural gas.

As for the Indigenous movement, it of course has great potential but up to this point the main anti-pipeline opposition has been orchestrated by the state-imposed Indian Act band councils. In some cases it has been genuine grasssroots opposition that has compelled many chiefs and councils to come out and publicly oppose Enbridge’s Northern Gateway, or near Vancouver in regards to the Kinder Morgan expansion. This is problematic because the band councils are basically collaborators with state and industry. Many of those that opppose the Enbridge lines are partners in the Pacific Trails Pipeline, for example. The band councils also impose a strict legalistic and reformist approach to mobilizations, as was seen with the recent Idle No More protests. This is why examples such as that of the Mi’kmaq anti-fracking resistance are so important, because they break the illusion of strictly legal and reformist means and serve as inspiring examples of direct action.

BAI: Just recently there was tour dubbed the “Warrior Hip Top Tour” that brought together folks from many different native communities as well as other communities of color around hip hop and resistance. [See tour interviews with Savage Family here, Zro Prophet here and Shining Soul here.] It’s clear that these movements are connecting and that this energy is growing. Do you have any thoughts on how important this type of relationship building is?

ZZ: In my opinion it is vital for such alliances to be built, and in fact, I advocate a multi-national resistance against colonialism and capitalism. At the same time, our peoples have a lot to learn and some of this can only come from experience in carrying out autonomous struggles within our respective communities.

BAI: I hear that. To me, it is almost pointless to continue much of the organizing or “work” that we do if a part of the strategy isn’t to build locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. One example of this that we’ve seen on the West Coast is the brigadas going from various cities and spending time at the Escuelita–the Little Schools– held in autonomous Zapatista territories. And recently, we saw this work materialize following the murder of Compa Galeano, with actions –not just all over the West Coast, but globally: a very bittersweet moment. Can I ask if there’s shared affinity and communications between the indigenous folks who are in “BC” and those living in “Mexico?” Or say, with the folks on the US-Mexican border struggling against mining/highways/etc–like the O’odham, for example?

ZZ: Well, there have been delegations to Mexico and the Zapatista communities by radical Indigenous people from North America, but overall I think there’s not that much due to various factors. The language difference and geographic distance are two, but also I think the movements in Mexico and the so-called “Third World” in general are far more organized and experienced than our Indigenous movements here. If there was a more organized movement here, then perhaps there would be stronger alliances made with Indigenous or other social movements in Mexico.

BAI: How will this impact the indigenous struggle in Klanada and the rest of North America?

ZZ: I assume you are referring to the anti-pipeline struggles? I think overall it can help mobilize Native peoples and potentially radicalize them, but this depends on how successful the tribal and band councils are in managing and controlling the struggle. If there is a radical grassroots Native resistance that emerges, and which adopts anti capitalist and anti-colonial analyses, then the anti-pipeline struggle would have a strong impact.

BAI: You said that up until recently, anti-pipeline activism was mostly liberal, reformist, middle-class. What have been the dynamics there in terms of political unity? Are the liberal folks getting behind you?

Bear attacks pipelinesZZ: A lot of the liberal groups will work with the police, not only at rallies but for their civil disobedience actions as well. At some rallies, the cops have been successful in fear mongering and getting organizers to publicly denounce militants. We identify these types as community collaborators, people who will work with the cops against more radical elements. There can be no political unity with collaborators.

BAI: Who would you say is doing the most in terms of indigenous solidarity?

ZZ: I would say the anarchists and more radical environmentalists. They have organized fundraising, gone to the sites of Indigenous struggles and contributed food, money, and labour, etc.

BAI: We know that it’s hard to measure the usefulness of “alternative” or “radical” media. What’s the usefulness of it and do you think it had a role in your being targeted?

ZZ: Alternative and radical media is obviously very important. It’s the primary means by which radical news reports and analyses can be

Image on T-Shirt available on Warrior Publications website (Design by Gord Hill, Kwakwaka’wakw)

Image on T-Shirt available on Warrior Publications website (Design by Gord Hill, Kwakwaka’wakw)

distributed. In regards to the raid, it would be pure speculation at this point as to whether or not that influenced the cops to raid our house.

BAI: Thanks for taking time to share with us. We’d like to continue on these conversations as the struggles in our regions develop. We hope you’ll reach out as well.

[ For More on Pacific Trail Pipelines visit: Unist’ot’en Camp]

2 thoughts on “Warrants, Raids & DNA Samples: Indigenous Resistance Under Attack In Vancouver [Interview w/ Zig Zag of Warrior Publications]

  1. Pingback: Black particularity reconsidered | Moorbey'z Blog

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