Montréal Contre-information
Montréal Contre-information
Montréal Contre-information

“Cops Off Campus” Anarchists Attack McGill

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Apr 052024
 
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Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Police were invited to campus last week by McGill and pressured to charge someone by the administration just for some graffiti.

When cops are invited onto campus they police and ruin young people’s lives. Universities need to be made places of sanctuary. Denunciations and the lessons of history have not worked so far.

Yesterday, at night, we anarchists, armed with tools that anyone can find, committed our first acts of revenge, leaving our marks on the McGill administration building.

We wait for no one to act.

For liberation from all authority.

Cops off campus!

How to submit an anonymous communiqué and get away with it

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Mar 192024
 

From No Trace Project

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A communiqué, also sometimes called a reportback or hit report, is a report on (typically) illegal direct actions that is shared online via counter-info sites or in print publications. Mainstream media may suppress reporting about certain tactics or the reason for choosing a target may be unclear, so submitting a communiqué is a way to share news, tactics, and political motivations directly.This guide describes how to securely submit an anonymous communiqué online. It is written for anarchists, but could be useful to other audiences like journalists or dissident groups sharing information while concealing their identities. While some communiqués are signed by a group or individual claiming responsibility, this guide focuses on anonymity.

Nothing you do on computers or the internet is ever totally safe, but you can reduce most technology-based risk by following some simple steps. There are many methods beyond those shared here, but this is a set of instructions that will hopefully help you.

Key terms

Communiqué: A report on (typically) illegal direct actions that is shared online via counter-info sites or in print publications.

Threat model: An analysis of risks that could compromise security, how likely they are to happen, and how they may be mitigated.

Tor: Short for “the onion router.” Tor is a strong anonymity system that routes your internet traffic through a series of random volunteer-run nodes across the planet. Learn more and download Tor Browser at torproject.org.

Browser: The application that allows you to access the internet. In addition to Tor Browser, other common examples include Firefox, Edge, Brave, and Chrome.

Operating system: Software programs that tell the hardware in a computer how to function. Common examples include Windows, Mac, Linux, and Tails.

Tails: An operating system that runs off a flash drive and leaves very few digital forensic traces on your computer. Tails also provides strong anonymity to your browsing traffic by routing all of it through Tor. Learn more and install at tails.net.

Stylometric analysis (stylometry): A forensics technique that analyzes word choice and style to identify authors and guess about their characteristics, for example regional dialect, education level, and unique word choice/phrases/typos.

Metadata: Data about data. For digital media, this is data contained within a photo or video file like camera type and date and time of capture. It can also refer to data about your typical patterns of internet use or date and time an account is created.

Disposable email: An anonymous email account that is temporary or single-use, typically with no login or account information. Also sometimes marketed as “spam email” sites.

Encryption: A method of hiding content in a message so it is only visible to your intended recipient.

The guide

1. Obtain a Tails stick and identify a computer to use

Make or borrow a Tails stick, a USB drive that contains files to run the amnesiac operating system Tails. Install from tails.net or ask a tech-savvy friend to help you with the process. When making your Tails stick, use Tor Browser and space it out from when you send the actual communiqué so as to not leave as strong of a correlation. Making your own Tails stick is recommended over borrowing one since that keeps your digital habits or plans more private and makes it harder to compromise multiple people’s security through one contaminated device.

The general recommendation for most people is to use a personal computer that is only for Tails, on public WiFi. The risks of using Tails on a personal computer that you also use for other tasks are fairly low, but not zero. Avoid sitting where your screen or keyboard would be visible to any surveillance cameras. (If you are fast enough at it, single stall public restrooms or restrooms with tightly closing stalls can be great for this.)

Depending on your threat model, different computer and network options could be better suited to your security needs. Using public WiFi or a public computer (for example in a library or cybercafé) could reveal information about your movements, especially if you are already under physical surveillance. Public computers themselves could be compromised at the hardware level or through intentional collaboration between their owner-operators and law enforcement, and this could be almost impossible to detect. Using a device in your home, on your home WiFi, could leave you more vulnerable to threats like hidden cameras or sophisticated Tor correlation attacks. And, of course, if the place where you store your computer is insecure, the device could be compromised by hardware tampering (like a keylogger) or malicious software (less likely to matter when using Tails). For more information on threat modeling for your specific situation and learning about ways these attacks have been used against other activists, visit the No Trace Project (notrace.how) or AnarSec (anarsec.guide).

2. Boot into Tails OS

Plug the Tails stick into the computer while it is off. Turn on the computer and hold down specific keys to access the boot menu. Refer to the included table (taken from tails.net, which also has more detailed instructions) to see which keys are relevant for your device. If you must search for this information online, use Tor Browser and try to space that search out significantly from when you intend to submit your communiqué.

On startup, you will probably see phrases like “Press [key] to access boot menu” or “Press [key] to access BIOS options”. Some computers tell you to “Press [key] to interrupt normal startup” which brings you to the boot menu. From there, select your USB drive from the list and your computer will boot into Tails.

At the Tails welcome menu, when given the option to unlock Persistent Storage (if you have it set up), do not. Anything saved to Persistent Storage will be impossible to truly delete, short of reformatting and destroying your Tails stick. If you must save data between Tails sessions, use a second encrypted USB that you can destroy afterwards. To learn how to create an encrypted USB on Tails, read “Tails for Anarchists” on anarsec.guide.

Tails comes with many helpful programs pre-installed, including Tor Browser (to access the internet), Metadata Cleaner (to remove metadata from files including photos & videos), GIMP (for photo editing), the LibreOffice Suite (open-source versions of Microsoft Word/PowerPoint/Excel), and more.

3. Open Tor Browser and find submission sites

Connect to the internet and use Tor Browser to identify counter-info sites that may be interested in your communiqué. Here are some relevant sites, sorted by region:

North America:

Europe:

Central & South America:

International:

These sites usually have a “contact” or “submissions” page which tells you how to send information you want published. This can be an email address or a form built into the website. Some offer both options (see steps 5-7).

4. Write your communiqué

(If your action has already been reported in the mainstream media, consider whether publishing a communiqué is worth the risk. Ask yourself: Does it include specific helpful information that will encourage other people to act? Will your intended audience see the already existing reporting? Does the target of the action understand why it happened, if that is important? Sometimes it may be better to submit a mainstream news article to counter-info sites, instead of writing an original communiqué.)

If you decide that writing your own submission is worthwhile, type your communiqué in a text editing program like LibreOffice Writer or Text Editor, NOT in the browser. The timing of keystrokes is very unique, especially for large blocks of text, and tracked by default on many web services. Do not save the document.

Only include information the police already know. Don’t add details like how many of you were involved, your background or identities, where you got supplies, entry or escape routes, or a long and stylistically unique personal political diatribe. These could unintentionally help an investigation against you.

To avoid stylometric analysis identifying you or grouping multiple of your submissions together, keep it short — less than 300 words if you can. If you’re writing with a friend, edit collaboratively to disguise your style. LibreOffice Writer can check for typos and punctuation errors, but will usually try to enforce formal linguistic rules. Unusual or specific dialect choices could help investigators link a communiqué to other writing. Making all letters the same case (upper or lowercase) disguises some style choices, but can be notable as a style choice itself. Some people recommend running text through Google translate or similar software to further disguise specific word choices and phrasing. This can be especially effective when translating between several languages with less online prevalence and/or different translation engines between languages. An English translation of the text “Who wrote that?” from Zündlumpen #76 deals with this topic extensively.

5. Compress then remove metadata from photos and videos

First, seriously consider if posting visual media of your clandestine action, especially videos, is worth it. Such media can give investigators a lot of information they might not have already have. Read up on open source intelligence techniques and video analysis. Details like faces, skin, tattoos, scars, height, gait, or unique clothing or accessories could lead to identification. For videos, things as simple as the hum of the electrical wires in your walls, road noise, or a single leaf can give very damaging information to the police, or any bored person with a laptop and an internet connection (yes really, any). And of course, the sound of your voice or car engine could be damning. Best practice is to use a burner camera (obtained for this purpose only, then discarded) to avoid photos or videos from different actions being linked together based on sensor noise.

If you decide submitting photos or videos is worth the risk, compress them to remove extra details by reducing the number of pixels. Lower resolution media can support your overall message without accidentally providing evidence like detailed reflections or tread marks. As a bonus, this reduces the file size which will make it easier to upload and share. For images, open them in GIMP then go to “File > Export As”. Click “Select File Type” and choose “JPEG” from the list. Use the “Quality” slider to reduce image quality, using the preview to check that it isn’t degraded too much.

Compressing videos is more complicated; look at the Tails OS documentation on sound and video for suggested programs and how to install them. There are websites that compress videos for you, but the most secure option is always something offline. If you upload a high-quality version to any website, that website could retain a copy and/or provide information to law enforcement. If you are in doubt about the potential evidence contained in your video, or are unsure how to remove potentially-identifying information, it might be best to leave it out of your submission entirely.

Once your files are compressed, the final step is to remove metadata, digital information that isn’t visible in the media but can be viewed in the file properties. Open Metadata Cleaner, click the “Add files” icon in the top left, and select your files. Click “Clean” in the bottom right to remove metadata and overwrite the originals.

6. Open the site submission form (if applicable)

As mentioned in step 3, some counter-info sites have built-in submission forms. These are often an easy and secure option to submit a communiqué, especially if you are sending only text. Each site is slightly different, so check the “submissions” or “contact” page for the exact sites where you want to send your communiqué.

Some sites accept media files through their online form, while others suggest specific filesharing sites. If files cannot be uploaded directly, one option is to upload them to file.espiv.net so you can paste a URL into a text box instead of attaching a media file directly to your submission. Note that some counter-info sites may not accept files submitted this way, as it poses a risk to site administrators. Check the relevant submission guidelines and use their suggested file sharing site(s) if available.

Paste your communiqué into the text field, enter fake non-identifying information in any other fields, upload cleaned media files or paste the filesharing URL if applicable, and submit! If that all works, skip to step 9.

If the site you want to submit to just has an email address or you experience technical difficulties using their submission form (including the communiqué not being received, which you might not notice until days later if it hasn’t been posted yet), it may be better to send your communiqué via email, as detailed in steps 7-8.

7. Create a Protonmail account, or other disposable email

If you are not using an in-site submission form, you can send an email from an account created just for this purpose. One option is Protonmail (proton.me) — many submission sites also use Protonmail, making your email end-to-end encrypted by default. Note that this encryption is not as strong as something like PGP through a trusted email provider and Protonmail as a company is not your ally (they previously collaborated with cops and lied about it). However, the contents of your message are intended to be posted publicly. The intent here is not to keep the contents of your message absolutely secret, but to minimize any metadata or personal identifying information you could accidentally send with your message. NEVER send identifying information in connection with a communiqué.

For the username, pick 2-3 random words. The website randomwordgenerator.com can help with randomness. Use a different set of random words for the password (ideally 6+ for good password security). Do not save this login information anywhere.

When using Tor, Protonmail will ask for a secondary method of verification. Enter a disposable email address created on guerrillamail.com, yopmail.com, tempr.email, or a similar disposable email site so you can receive the confirmation code.

If you do not want to use Protonmail, you could try sending your communiqué from a disposable email site. However, many of these sites only receive emails and the ones that let you send an email (tempr.email) are sometimes less reliable, especially with media attachments.

Consider trying multiple methods, or varying methods between communiqués, in order to avoid creating metadata about your submission process.

8. Create and send the submission email

Paste your communiqué into the body of the email. If sending your email between two Protonmail accounts (or another service that advertises end-to-end encryption between accounts they provide), the content of your email will be encrypted. The subject line, however, is never encrypted — for the safety of you and your recipient put something vague in that field or leave it blank.

Photos can usually be attached directly to the email. Videos or other large files can be uploaded to Proton Drive (same account as the email) or file.espiv.net and sent as a link. Note that some counter-info sites may not accept files submitted this way, as it poses a risk to site administrators. Check the relevant submission guidelines and use their suggested file sharing site(s) if available.

Read over everything one last time to make sure there are no mistakes and you attached everything you wanted. Then send the email!

9. Close out, clean up

Close any open programs, do not save any login info, and do not use the email account (if you made one) for anything else. Shut down the computer and remove your Tails stick. It can be safely used again, with no connection to the prior session, on the same computer or a different one.

If relevant, delete any photos or videos then destroy and dispose of any camera or SD card used in the action. Breaking a device into small pieces is best (the NSA recommends pieces < 2 mm), which can be achieved in a good quality household blender. Other options include using a hammer, plumbing torch, or strong acid. Avoid inhaling fumes from burning, melting, or other chemical reactions with metals or plastics.

Consider disposing of this zine if you’re using a hard copy, by destroying it or gifting to a trusted friend. It doesn’t prove you’ve done any crimes, but wouldn’t look great in court as potential corroborating evidence.

Conclusion

That’s it! This might seem like a lot of steps at first, but it’s not that hard and gets easier every time you do it.

Stay safe, be dangerous, don’t get caught.

Relevant websites:

Radio-Canada has blood on its hands: a look back at the windows destroyed on the night of March 12-13th

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Mar 152024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

On the night of March 12-13th, the windows of the Radio-Canada building were destroyed by activists, in response to Radio-Canada’s choice to use its broad platform to amplify transphobic rhetoric akin to that of the far right.

The TransExpress news report aired on February 29th, 2024 is an intellectually and scientifically dishonest attack on trans people and their access to healthcare. It represents an ideological shift that legitimizes the far right’s transphobic demands, and it will fan the flames of violence against trans communities, currently increasingly targeted. Radio-Canada and its journalists have chosen to feed into a moral panic that puts the trans community, and especially trans youth, in danger.

Let’s not be fooled by the pretense of journalistic neutrality and “simple curiosity”:
Pasquale Turbide and the Radio-Canada team have chosen to give the floor to discredited pseudo-experts, like Lisa Littman and the SEGM. Their alarmist speeches have already been linked to an increase in violence in England and in the US. The reporter refuses to do any real research or understanding effort. In the report, she uses transphobic and disrespectful language, and constantly misgenders trans people. Even the passages that pretend to recognize trans realities do so within a framework of psychiatrization of transidentity, inviting more medical control from the state. We do not want the state’s control on our bodies! Everyone should be able to experiment as they see fit, even if it means making mistakes, without having to ask permission from the state’s watchdogs. We will do what we wish with our bodies, rightly or wrongly, no matter how the state and the cultural petty bourgeoisie feel about it.

We can see though Radio-Canada’s agenda and its enthusiasm to capitalize on this moral panic to increase its ratings. How else can you explain bringing Pasquale on Tout le monde en parle without an informed voice to counter her transphobic and sensationalist rhetoric?

As ever, capitalism and the state, faced with repeated crises and popular unrest, are trying to divert the attention of the working classes. Rather than talking about the collapse of public services, the housing crisis, the climate crisis, the rise of fascism, police violence, or the genocide in Palestine, they prefer to focus on an imaginary threat. Our society’s fascist drift is using the trans community as a scapegoat. The increasingly authoritarian and violent state seeks to turn us into an enemy to justify its power and violence. And they won’t stop until we stop them.

Such rhetoric has real consequences on decisions about access to healthcare for trans people, but also on the hostility and violence that trans communities, especially trans youth, experience on a daily basis. It’s not a neutral thing to repeat on prime time the rhetoric pushed by the alliance of far-right forces. How shameful to hear the arguments of the religious far right, neo-nazis, masculinists and the rest of the camp of hate on a public news channel! This misleading report will fuel hate movements responsible for the death, by suicide or murder, of trans youth, just like what happened recently in Oklahoma. When a young trans person will die as a result of transphobia, will the Enquête team take responsibility? Will they do an hour-long report on transphobic violence which, unlike access to care, kills? We see though the game they are playing. We will not let this happen.

There is no “trans problem”, but there are trans people who have a problem with you.
When choosing to participate in a hate and misinformation campaign against our communities, behind a pseudo-scientific veneer that is all the more dangerous, maybe these reporters thought that the trans community was an easy target, small in numbers, isolated, and multi-marginalized.

But understand that we are not alone : Our allies are many and our rage runs deep. We are determined and our solidarity is strong.
This will be neither the first nor the last time that queers bash back!

Baby’s First Synagogue Protest: A Review

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Mar 142024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Yeah, it’s a fucked up title, I know!

But it’s a fucked up world, isn’t it?

THE FACTS

On March 2, there was a real estate event in Thornhill, a suburban community within Greater Toronto. The event took place at a synagogue, and people were there to buy properties in Palestine. So there was a protest. One guy, who I guess we can probably call a Zionist, showed up with a nail gun, shot at people, and landed a few hits. Apart from this guy, there was representation by the Jewish Defense League (a brand strongly associated with the politics and thuggish approach of its progenitor, the rabbi Meir Kahane) in the security detail for the synagogue.

Basically the same event happened on Tuesday, March 4, at Montréal’s Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, starting in the afternoon. I came to the neighbourhood of Côte-des-Neiges (not my usual part of town) for this event; this was the first time in my life that I have ever personally gone to any demonstration targeting an event at a synagogue.

It was a day after another small crowd, on Monday, March 3, just across MacKenzie King Park from the synagogue, blocked access to “a building that also houses Montréal’s Holocaust museum” (as some have been putting it) for a few hours. What was happening there was a talk by IDF reservists that the local Israeli and pro-Israeli activist cohort had initially planned to have happen at Concordia University.

This is a Jewish neighbourhood. In response to the demonstration, which sought to prevent access the building, a counterprotest formed. Dispersing and on the way to the métro station on Monday, there was a physical confrontation instigated by pro-Israeli protesters, in which a banner or a flag was seized; this devolved into a situation where some people were arrested. The next day there was more shit. A presumably mostly Jewish crowd with a bad sound system faced off with a Palestinian and pro-Palestinian crowd with a good sound system, starting around 3 pm. Nearby Jewish schools were shut down early. Nothing stabby happened, but a small crew of proto-JDL goons were present to do security, liaise with the SPVM, etc., and there were certainly many opportunities for some kind of ugly incident to happen on the sidelines – in the park, or at an intersection nearby – especially once the Sun had set.

By now, Memri TV has circulated its supercut of some of the worst lines from the Tuesday event. I want to note that, while obviously this is manipulative, the vibe is not entirely wrong. It’s not taken out of context. You never know with a hasbarist, but I presume they wouldn’t be so bold as to provide blatantly false subtitles for the Arabic.

On Thursday, as I began to write this article, another synagogue in Thornhill was the target of a demonstration. Arrests were made, and I don’t have the details, but I have been told they were pro-Israeli folks. The synagogue was the venue for yet another real estate event, this time, like the event on Tuesday in Montréal, selling properties in the West Bank. The event on Sunday had been mistaken for this one, where none of the properties on sale were in territories occupied by Israel after 1967; that event had gone ahead, however, because the demonstrators also reject the legitimacy of properties in Tel Aviv being sold.

LIKE, MY OPINION OR WHATEVER

I don’t think it’s worth much time second-guessing the actions of others. To everyone in the pro-Palestinian movement right now who isn’t ready to hear this criticism, fair enough. Maybe it doesn’t apply to you – and fuck, you’re certainly dealing with a lot of criticism right now that is bad faith and concern trollish, so I get why your defenses are up.

Although I can’t speak to its tactical execution or to the individual politics of every person who showed up (I wasn’t there), I think that what happened on Monday night, in Montréal, was entirely appropriate. The same building was the target of an occupation of the lobby in 2014, that time by a crowd of actually Jewish activists who, in the context of uneven exchanges of bombardment happening then, opposed the Federation CJA’s (that is, the local Jewish community council’s) position on, and indeed support of, the occupation of Palestine.

But what happened the next day was pretty fucked up. Not for the asinine reason that it is never appropriate to protest at a synagogue as a non-Jewish person, basically for any reason you want to, but because of who was on the mic and how the danger dial got turned up yet again, and this time for no strategically good reason.

I am not involved in these organizing group chats, but what I understand is that, after the events of Monday evening, which were already being widely reported (and to be be sure, lied about), there was a general sense in a large section of the local pro-Palestinian movement – for instance, in both the Palestinian Youth Movement and Independent Jewish Voices – that something needed to happen to oppose the real estate event at the synagogue, but it would have to have very different “optics” than what had happened at the Federation CJA building. This was supposed to look like a “Jewish-led event”. Incidentally, one had already been planned on Tuesday for several days before Monday, since the synagogue was not willing to cancel the real estate event.

What happened, however, is that another group apart from the PYM and IJV, called Montreal4Palestine, swooped in and organized their own event for when the real estate event was actually going to happen, at 3 pm. Their event brought a predominantly Muslim crowd, along with a handful of mostly silent, sign-holding Neturei Karta guys, to the area in the afternoon. I only knew about the IJV event, which started around 6 pm, because I don’t follow Montreal4Palestine’s Instagram account and I hadn’t checked local news.

I do not know what thought process, or lack of thought process, brought this about. I suspect the personalities who operate the Montreal4Palestine didn’t even know that IJV had planned this thing. If they did know, I can imagine one good reason for organizing something earlier in the day, which is that, if the event is happening at 3 pm, there is no possibility of a blockade or a disruption – as had happened on Monday – if the opposition is only showing up at 6 pm.

Beyond that, though – what the fuck?

Sorry for the run-on sentence, but it’s the same vibe as some of what I heard from the mic on Tuesday. At least one of the guys on the mic had some mixed up ideas about the Jews who were living in 7th-century Medina that he got from his religion (who, the hadith tells us, were very bad Jews indeed), modern-day conspiracy theories about Jews “colonializing” Germany that he probably got from YouTube, and some kind of half-baked version of an anti-colonial counterhistory – when he mentions that Jews that “oppressed” and “colonialized” South Africa, this is true insofar as a countable number of individual Jews were broadly speaking involved in or complicit with the consolidation of a settler-colonial and/or apartheid state in South Africa, but of course in a subsidiary and second-order role, as has also been the case with the colonization of Turtle Island (where, so far at least, you don’t see people outside of gurdwaras or in Chinatown bringing up the true fact that Sikhs and Chinese people, or certainly countable numbers thereof, are complicit in the Canadian colonial project) – and I have to ask, Why the fuck does this guy have the mic?

A full discourse analysis isn’t worth anyone’s time, but obviously a lot of what Memri TV highlighted isn’t that bad, in isolation. To offer another opinion: the guy in the keffiyeh who spoke the most in their supercut definitely has some weird ideas, and he clearly let his impulse to be provocative drive him to say a few fucked up things that, well, go beyond his expertise (for instance, when he spoke about who is “the true Jewish”). But whatever, he’s just one guy, and I have no doubt in my mind that in situations where adversarial social movements face off one with another, people are going to get hyped up and say stupid shit.

The question, for me, is why do this sort of thing at all. There was never any realistic possibility of disruption; the SPVM were in force in the neighbourhood by 2 pm, as any dedicated Montréal anti-systemic street activist should have expected. Hence a brawl of any kind over access to the synagogue – which I don’t think would have been a good idea, in the same way that I think that showing up to Montréal’s palais des congrès on April 21, 2012, wasn’t a good idea – would have been resolved decisively in favour of the pro-Israeli side in every respect.

This is not Concordia University, e.g. a downtown battleground, and neither is it a building somewhere in one of Montréal’s industrial parks where work is being done that will materially aid the Israeli war machine. It’s not the port, out of which something might be shipped to Israel. It’s not a lab that collaborates on weapons development with a lab in Israel somewhere. Except insofar as police resources may have been drawn to Côte-des-Neiges, which perhaps somewhat diminished the capacity of the police to respond to new events elsewhere in the territory of Montréal (I do not know of any anti-systemic action that took advantage of this during the hours of the opposing Tuesday rallies), it is clear that this did absolutely nothing to materially advance the struggle for a free Palestine.

Instead, it has rattled some of the shakier solidarity with the movement for a free Palestine that exists in local Jewish communities in a way that the events of Monday had not, and led to all sorts of capacity-diminishing soul searching and anguished exchanges on social media and over text.

There are some who will not be bothered by losing fairweather allies, but this is short-sighted. Whereas the Neturei Karta guys will probably stick with the free Palestine movement through thick and thin, they are also never going to actually do anything. Jewish anarchists, on the other hand, have a range of beliefs, and they might even be willing to hold to their opinions no matter how much you say that that’s kind of a colonial or privileged attitude. It is possible that they won’t be stoked by chants of “Judaism yes, Zionism no” in the full context of other shit that was being said. So perhaps they’re sensitive snowflakes and demanding brats – maybe. What Jewish anarchists (and their friends!) bring to the table, however, is an at least occasional willingness to do direct action that is actually useful, that generates productive conflict, rather than capacity-diminishing mutual acrimony that the police don’t even need to stoke themselves, of the kind that Tuesday’s events brought into being.

In the proper circumstances, like for instance a blockade, I am willing to hold my nose to work with people who don’t think exactly the same way as I do. Anyone who has spent any time in an Occupy encampment or at an indigenous-led blockade has had to deal with someone who believes in run-of-the-mill conspiracy theories, the false dream of international law, or some other kind of distracting inanity – and in the crucible of conflict with a more important adversary, like the SPVM or the RCMP, these differences of ideas don’t amount to much.

But the protest at the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue on Tuesday was different. There was no conflict that the SPVM did not have well taken care of. Even if we took the police out of the equation, and there had been direct conflict with “the Zionists”, I think it is worth asking whether or not it was a good idea to oppose them on their own turf, in a neighbourhood where they are thick on the ground, where the most hormonal, virile, and stupid as well of their youth go to school. Personally, I think that this is not worth it – certainly not a day after another action that was successful, and which therefore, in the logic of the forces of order (who very much still have a handle on things in the local context), cannot be allowed to be repeated the next day.

Of course it would have been a bad thing to let the real estate take place entirely unopposed, but that would have not happened. Yes, the Jewish-led event, scheduled for 6 pm (which, as an outsider, I have to insist was a mistake, it should have been scheduled for earlier), would have been wholly symbolic – but there is clearly some value in anything that creates fissures within the Jewish community of default sympathy for the Zionist cause, that demonstrates the non-identity of Jew and supporter of Israel in a way that cannot be ignored.

That didn’t get to happen. Sarah Boivin might have said some real shit, but the Jewish-led event effectively did not happen at all because Montreal4Palestine had swooped the earlier time slot. And the M4P folks did not cede the mic at 6 pm, either; a number of people who had been speaking in the hours earlier continued to say some dumb shit. A very rusty anti-oppressive framework, sorry heritage of the QPIRG scene and a cliché version of what well-salaried scholars tell us we were supposed to learn from the struggle of Black people in the United States, suggests that this is as it should be – Jews as mere auxiliaries to a Palestinian-led movement, the oppressor class submitting to the leadership of the oppressed.

As anarchists in Montréal, though, I want us to finally catch up with comrades in some other cities’ anarchist scenes and start and identifying this half-baked claptrap as not fucking good enough. Not fit for purpose, if it ever was. These are not ideas that uphold revolt, insurrection, revolution, or “positive change” of any kinds; they uphold the management of those energies that could otherwise produce graffiti, food given away for free at the corner, upside-down cruisers with their windshields smashed in, and disrupted supply chains, including those chains that sustain the Israeli national project.

Every social movement benefits from individuals freely associating, developing their own capacities to struggle, and establishing an independent range of action that doesn’t tie them to the bad decisions of other elements of the movement – for instance, those that content themselves with symbolic actions, lazy provocations, and predictable maneuvers. Like what happened on Tuesday.

Refusing to say these things publicly, out of fear of “throwing our allies under the bus”, is also not a good idea. Anyone who isn’t myopically committed to the growing power of the social movement, which is heterogenous and therefore mostly bad and not good (because fuck this pseudo-Trotskyist “multitudes” bullshit, we need influential minorities and not every asshole we can round up), should be able to come to their own idea about Montreal4Palestine, about how much the crowd as a whole should wear the worst excesses of certain speakers that Memri TV thought it was worth it to highlight, and so on – but they would need to know the story of what actually happened. The public statements available so far, crafted by activists using a consensus process over group chat, have not been up to task of letting people reach their own conclusions.

THE FUTURE OF LOCAL SYNAGOGUE PROTESTS

On Wednesday, March 6, a judge has banned protests for 10 days at the synagogue, the Federation CJA building, and a few other Jewish institutions in the same radius of a few blocks. It expires Saturday, March 16.

On Thursday, March 7, at a small pro-Palestinian event held in another part of town, a certain fellow whose name I shall not disclosed positively mentioned the website of Yves Engler, who is at a minimum annoying as hell, and promoted Assad regime supporter Aaron Maté’s speaking event at Concordia’s Hall building on the evening of March 15, a day when there is pretty much only one evening event in Montréal that’s worth promoting.

This same man, in his pontificating, told everyone gathered that they should oppose the Zionists and defy the injunction.

Personally, I have defied a bunch of injunctions like this over the years, and I generally think it is a good thing to do, because fuck the authority of the courts. But following this idiot once again into the breach – that is, once again into the Jewish neighbourhood around MacKenzie King Park – not even to protest any particular pro-Israeli event that the injunction protects, but simply the injunction itself, is plainly a waste of time and resources. A crowd of angry Jews will form, and some of them will probably be provocative in their own way. The stupidest person in the pro-Palestinian crowd will say or do something fucked up at some point (like how at least one person yelled “Death to Israel, death to Jews” in Arabic during the Monday action), and then a thousand stupid people on the internet will say that what is predictable, what is frankly very human, was definitely just a hasbarist fabrication, an AI-generated deepfake, etc., rather than a real racist thing that a real person really said.

Of course the police, empowered by an injunction and feeling more sympathy with Jews (Zionists, Israelis…) than Palestinians (Arabs, terrorists…), will probably crack heads. They will do so with no discrimination for whichever young well-meaning Concordia University student is there for their very first direct action.

Fuck this shitty plan offered up by this dusty campist.

If actions for a free Palestine continue happening in this corner of Côte-des-Neiges over the next week (or for however long the injunction is extended), or in any other conspicuously Jewish area of Montréal, anarchists should note that – but mostly to note that police resources will be tied up in that area at that time, indicating that perhaps we should be somewhere else, doing something else. Whether that something else is related to Israel, the war, or anything else “on theme” is an entirely different matter.

And people ought to get a fucking clue: we need to fight in our own neighbourhoods; otherwise, we need to fight at sites of production and at logistical hubs; we don’t need to follow the leader when the leader is an idiot (and in fact we should maybe shut him the fuck down); and things are far too serious to let ourselves lose a grip on what we’re trying to do and why we’re trying to do it.

New Sabotage Against Northvolt – No Capitalist is Safe

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Mar 082024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

This week marked the return of migratory birds to the Montérégie region and the start of nesting season for several species. The Northvolt worksite is now racing against the clock to fill in as many wetlands as possible by March 10, before being prevented from doing so by federal regulations protecting migratory birds. While deforestation work has been completed on the Saint-Basile-le-Grand side (8700 trees cut down), similar work is now underway in the eastern part of the land owned by McMasterville. This section contains the last remaining intact woodland, perhaps preserved from felling by the repeated spiking that took place there.

To stop the destruction of natural habitats, activists have targeted the Michaudville group’s Mont-St-Hilaire quarry, which to date has been responsible for filling in over ten hectares of marshland essential to the survival of vulnerable species such as the least bittern, the spiny softshell turtle and the eastern red bat. As a result of land artificialisation and urban sprawl, only 5% of wetlands remain in the watershed today. Not only will this industrial project do nothing to decarbonize our economy (as our ministers claim), it will also be carried out at the expense of local biodiversity. Let’s not forget that the ecological crisis is not just a climate crisis, but also an equally threatening biodiversity crisis. It’s thanks to our relationships with other species that we live, eat and breathe. We are entirely dependent on these ecosystems.

At the beginning of the week, around a hundred studded devices were spread along the road leading to the quarry to target the trucks transporting the earth and gravel used for backfilling. Over the past few weeks, more than a hundred return trips have been made daily, with a truck passing every 3 minutes. Any action that disrupts traffic and obstructs the only access road to the quarry will cause financial losses and affect the profitability of the project. Every hour of work lost is a victory for Northvolt’s opponents.

The Northvolt project will never be green. With the battery industry, the CAQ government is taking advantage of climate change to do business. While the government is currently injecting billions of dollars to save the automotive industry, these investments force us to ensure, for decades to come, the growth of an economic sector just as destructive as the fossil fuel economy. The massive electrification of transport and the car-centric model require the multiplication of mines in the Global South and on First Nations territory. Everywhere, farmland, waterways and the populations that depend on them will be poisoned by toxic waste. Entire forests will be laid waste, mountains torn open. The ecological crisis is insoluble under capitalism: our only way out is through mutual aid, the creation of resilient communities and degrowth.

To the companies that work with Northvolt: no one is safe!

A Call to Gather

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Feb 282024
 

Anonymous submission to North Shore Counter-Info

This morning, the Washington Post published an article about US Air Force serviceman, Aaron Bushnell, who set himself on fire outside of the Israeli consulate in Washington, D.C. this week. The first sentence of the article reads:

Less than two weeks before Aaron Bushnell walked toward the gates of the Israeli Embassy on Sunday, he and a friend talked by phone about their shared identities as anarchists and what kinds of risks and sacrifices were needed to be effective.

It seems, Bushnell, was a comrade.

It says he grew up in a religious cult and, when he got out, he felt called towards defending those more vulnerable than himself. He was radicalized during the George Floyd protests and started reading and made a commitment to opposed state-sanctioned violence of any kind. He had recently moved to Ohio to take a course for servicemembers who were transitioning out of duty as he had decided he would not return to the Air Force after his term was over early this year. He had started doing solidarity work with unhoused people and wanted to find a way to work part-time and organize.

Said of him by his comrades:

He is one of the most principled comrades I’ve ever known,” said Xylem, who worked with Bushnell to support San Antonio’s unhoused residents. “He’s always trying to think about how we can actually achieve liberation for all with a smile on his face,” said Errico.

On Sunday, 25 year old Bushnell sent a copy of his will to a friend and put on his uniform. He walked down to the Israeli consulate, doused himself in gasoline, and live streamed his own self-immolation.

His last words were as follows:

My name is Aaron Bushnell. I’m an active duty member of the United States Air Force. And I will no longer be complicit in genocide.

I’m about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.

As the flames consumed his body, he managed to scream FREE PALESTINE over and over until he collapsed.

Bushnell was an anarchist and he deserves an anarchist send off.
Organize in your communities to honour his memory.

And maybe finish it off with some karaoke, which he apparently loved…

… Some of Bushnell’s friends, including Barboza, said they last saw him in January at his going-away party in San Antonio. It was at a karaoke bar. He belted out song after song, many of which were from “Les Misérables,” which he was known to love. And one was Mandy Moore’s “Wind in My Hair” from the TV series based on the movie “Tangled.”

REST IN POWER, AARON BUSHNELL

AGAINST EVERY STATE EVERYWHERE
FREE PALESTINE

Let’s Attack Northvolt, Always, Everywhere

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Feb 282024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Anarchists again attacked the capitalist machine of destruction at the Northvolt site. Steel spikes were placed on the various paths used by the machinery. In addition, new nails were put into trees, this time without identifying them, to maximize the potential for destruction on the ecocidal machinery. The people who did the action are not afraid of getting caught. Even if they did, they would ask to be judged by their peers. By the spiny softshell turtles, little bitterns and copper redhorses. By all the species that die because the destruction of the planet is profitable as hell.

Indeed, to maintain capitalist economic growth, it takes bigger and bigger pitiful suburban bungalows and bigger and bigger cars. Meanwhile, we close our eyes and let ourselves be lulled by the nursery rhymes of capitalists who claim that electric cars reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the hypocritical pretext of environmental protection, the State and its friends of industry are attempting a desperate rescue of the automobile industry. For it to survive after 2035, the time when the feds will ban the sale of gas cars, they are replacing gas cars with electric cars. Governments then manage to reduce the price of electric cars, through direct and indirect subsidies, so that they remain accessible to the middle class. In short, the battery sector is the plundering of green funds by governments to finance economic growth, to allow the automobile industry to survive the climate changes it has caused. The development of the battery sector is so that we continue to live in noisy, unpleasant, dangerous cities, where city centers have been transformed into highways and parking lots. Anarchists want no part of this world, and that’s why they wanted to grind an extra shovelful of sand into its gears.

And we must remember that it is only in the city that the electric car can claim to be green. All around, there are mines, always on indigenous lands, all over the world. It’s the toxic Rouyn-Noranda refinery. It’s the extensions of ports along the St. Lawrence River. From Africa to South America, it’s executions of trade unionists and defenders of nature carried out in the name of Canadian mining companies. By defending nature here, we do not risk death. Using our privileges to defend the most vulnerable means taking action here. This is a problem caused by white people, and it’s about time we took responsibility.

It was a sad time to take action. At the Northvolt site, barely a few trees remain, including those that were identified as having been the target of spiking last time. This shows that direct action works. Indeed, these nails have probably done more for the protection of biodiversity than COP15, and the whole string of other COPs. We clearly see in action the ridiculous compensation mechanisms for biodiversity: on the one hand, mass deforestation, while in 4-5-6 years, or when they have time, they’ll plant a monoculture of black spruce on 20 hectares, an army of small trees in rows that will be cut down – enough to make toilet paper barely strong enough to wipe yourself with — don’t ask why your fingers go right through it. On the one hand, backfilling wetlands, while in 4-5-6 years, or when they have time, they’ll dig a hole in a patch of sand and put two or three fish and algae there, and give themselves a pat on the back. They’ll create a pond somewhere else for the animals that have already been lost. Dead animals in a puddle are a soup at best and can never compensate for a living ecosystem. And that is if there is actually compensation, because it is the first thing that will be cut if profitability is threatened.

The fight against Northvolt has only just begun. There are still 2 years left before the plant enters service. The profit margins will not be extravagant. Security, public relations and crisis management costs are already starting to pile up. Already, the company’s image is seriously damaged, and it’s a safe bet that investors will become disillusioned. There are still 2 years left to fight, and the enemy is vulnerable. We can still enter the property like a sieve: they cannot protect over a square kilometer with some rusty fences and a stationary security guard playing 2048 and sleeping in his car. Subcontractors risk reconsidering their relationships given the dangers involved. We must not let them go. The Northvolt site had been ransacked for the CIL factory, but nature took back its rights. Let’s continue the fight until life returns.

A Night of Experimentation

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Feb 232024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

In order to function, capitalism and green industry need infrastructure pretty much everywhere, and it is often easy to access. Near the end of December 2023, we set fire to a charging station for electric cars in Mile End. Because these little boxes don’t open as easily as it may seem, we used a mix of gasoline and motor oil that we poured on the rubber charging cables. Unfortunately, when we returned to check the damage a few days later, the station was still, or again, in service. Maybe our technique wasn’t the right one. In any case it was an exciting night between friends that we count as a joyful night of experimentation.

We’ll be back!

Anarchists

Sabotage on the Northvolt Site: Arming the Forest

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Jan 222024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

One of Montéregie’s last natural environments is in jeopardy! The planned construction of the Northvolt battery plant in Saint-Basile-le-Grand is an ecocidal disgrace. If this project goes ahead, 1.4 square kilometers of wetlands and woodlands will be razed to the ground, serving the greenwashing strategy of our governments, and doing so with public funds.

The area is home to a diverse fauna (bats, birds, amphibians, turtles, snakes, etc.), including several species classified as “threatened” or “endangered”. There are even 142 species of birds that frequent the site! At the same time as public transport companies are undergoing a wave of budget cuts, the provincial and federal governments prefer to give $7.3 billion to the private sector to perpetuate the “car culture”. Instead of investing in more environmentally-friendly collective solutions (trains, buses, car-sharing) in the city and the regions, the governments are perpetuating our dependence on the car, hand in hand with polluting industries and the wealthy.

The Saint-Basile-le-Grand plant project is an integral part of “Projet Saint-Laurent”, an economic development strategy championed by François Legault that aims to transform the St. Lawrence Lowlands into a kind of Quebec Silicon Valley, focusing on “innovation zones”. Northvolt is therefore part of a capitalist approach to ecological transition, just like other projects such as the Littoral Est project in Quebec City, the REM or the Ray-Mont Logistiques transshipment platform that citizens in Montreal’s east end are fighting against. Under capitalism, the energy transition, i.e. the move away from hydrocarbons, means the multiplication of open-pit mines, particularly in the global South, to extract the metals used to manufacture batteries, the construction of new hydroelectric dams on First Nations lands, the establishment of mega-factories on the banks of our waterways, not to mention the ambition of many countries to increase nuclear power. Against these false solutions that threaten the ecosystems we mobilize, Northvolt is a project of capitalist capitalism.

We have taken the initiative to oppose this deforestation by inserting steel bars and nails into the trunks of trees endangered by the plant. While having minimal impact on the health of the trees, these pose a significant risk to heavy machinery.

The harvesters currently employed in the field will be severely damaged if their heads come into contact with the metal objects when cutting*.To stop Northvolt, we need to multiply our tactics and hit where it hurts: causing economic risk and uncertainty. Contrary to Minister Fitzgibbon’s claims, we didn’t come across any “three-eyed fish”, but rather were accompanied by birdsong and were able to walk the countless paths made by the animals that inhabit the woodland. We gave the forest weapons to defend itself!

Spiking is a proven method of direct action. It was used in the early 1980s by Earth First! to prevent the felling of redwoods in the US Pacific Northwest, and was popularized by the book “Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching” written by Dave Foreman, one of the founders of the environmental group (the book is available online here).The method was also used against the clear-cutting of primary forests in Clayoquot, British Columbia. This mobilization culminated in the summer of 1993 in the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history, before the Fairy Creek blockades in 2021, where the method was once again used by activists. In May of this year, activists from Soulèvements de la Terre did the same to protect oak trees in the Bord forest east of Rouen in France.​​​​​​​

Today, we are calling for a broad mobilization against the destructive Northvolt mega-plant project. We must attack this destructive machine for crushing life by targeting its weak points. Let’s sabotage the equipment, block the construction sites and harass the industry’s elected representatives. The environmental movement must redouble its efforts.


*Similarly, when cutting, if a chainsaw hits a nail, it will damage or break the chain. The chain will have to be resharpened – a waste of time – or even replaced, and the felling operation resumed at a slightly higher level to avoid hitting the nail again, in the hope of not encountering a second one. Deforestation will be all the more painful, costly and potentially dangerous.

P. S. We are in no way hostile to workers: we are against those who profit from the destruction of the living and who put profit above all else. In this sense, the working class is exploited by our economic system in the same way as the earth, animals and plants that make the land thrive. To ensure that the people hired to clear the forest are well aware of the risks involved, we’ve marked the studded trees with an aerosol-painted S sign, and added posters explaining our tactics. We hope the workers will enforce their rights and stay away from the marked trees.

Solidarity Against Repression – Action Against Indigo

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Jan 142024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

In the early morning of January 13th, we took an action in solidarity with the arrestees of November 23rd, 2023, in Toronto. The Toronto police poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into breaking into homes, handcuffing the elderly, sacking personal belongings, and terrorizing families. Parents were handcuffed in front of their children. One person arrived home to find their door broken down and a patio chair throw into the front garden. Another family was told not to speak in their mother tongue. The arrestees had allegedly taken a normal action of postering an Indigo bookstore and splashing paint on its facade. The action targeted Indigo founder and CEO Heather Reisman, who funnels Indigo profits into the HESEG Foundation, which provides education grants to individuals who emigrate to Israel to enlist in the IDF, aiding and abetting international recruitment for the Israeli military. Reisman is a core proponent of Canadian support for Israeli settlement and military operations. To further punish the activists, to terrorize others in the Palestinian solidarity movement, and legitimate their persecution, the police encouraged a media narrative that these were antisemitic hate crimes. As the vileness of these raids illustrates, if the police were actually interested in stopping hate-motivated attacks, they would have only to simply not go into work.

The police are not able to protect the advocates and accomplices of genocide everywhere or at all times. We used a fire extinguisher filled with red paint to redecorate the interior of the Indigo store in downtown Montreal, after breaking the windows. No one was arrested.

We have taken action to show there is a movement which will not tolerate ruthless political persecution. We want to call attention to these arrestees so that they are not forgotten. Both the police and capitalists like Heather Reisman cannot be allowed to freely terrorize expressions of resistance. Clearly, the law is not our safety and we need to be agents of our own justice.

We are anarchists. We refuse to support any government or party whether it be ethnonationalist, islamist, fascist, colonial or liberal democratic. We deny that the world’s problems boil down to the fault of ethnicity or religion, be it Jewish, Arab, or Muslim. We are for the freedom and happiness of everyone. The governments, media, and capitalists of Israel, Canada, and the US see the siege on Gaza as a chance to grow their own power, wealth, and privilege, and their profiteering disregard for the value of human life, which causes so much outrage to anyone watching, becomes clearer with every slaughter in Gaza. This is clear even to the people living in Israel who have lost their rights to protest or dissent, and to the families of hostages (three of whom had loved ones waving white flags shot dead by Israeli troops), who have seen that even Jewish life is meaningless to the Israeli government’s campaign of collective punishment and land seizure. We have tuned out and ignore the media cycles and their expectations for obedient protests.

We have taken action because it is so easy to cause damage. Our goal is to undermine all acts of political persecution and to build an offensive front against government and capitalists. We hope that this action becomes popular so that others follow us. As these actions spread, whether we are hidden by the night or found in a large crowd, our ability to change the future grows radically. There is no savior waiting in the wings. And we will not wait for nothing to happen. No one asked us to do this action. This is the kind of resistance we want to see so we moved forward with it. If you are reading this, unless you are a cop or a capitalist, we encourage you to learn what our ideas are, how to dress anonymously, and how to act without a digital trace.