On Friday, September 7th, Deep Green Resistance member Max Wilbert was contacted by the FBI in regards to his political organizing.
The agent, who identified himself as “Special Agent Michael” from the Seattle Field Office of the FBI, said he was calling “about something [Wilbert] wrote online” in response to “tips submitted to a public tip line.” The same agent also left a card at a family member’s house over the weekend.
Wilbert followed established security culture protocols, a set of best-practices for activists and revolutionaries, by refusing to answer any questions and referring the agent to contact a lawyer.
This is the third time Wilbert has been contacted by the FBI in regards to his organizing. In prior instances in 2014 and 2016, he also declined to answer any questions.
The earlier phone calls were part of a coordinated operation targeting DGR members across multiple US states, in which more than a dozen DGR members and presumed associates were called on the phone or visited at their home or work. FBI agents also intimidated family members and followed activists in cars during this sweep.
Members including Wilbert have also been detained and then turned away at the Canadian border, where a lawyer working with the group similarly faced what The Guardian called “repeated interrogations.”
As Wilbert said in 2016, “This government uses intimidation and violence because these tactics are brutally effective. For me and the people I work with, we expect pushback. That doesn’t make it easy, but in a way, this sort of attention validates the fact that our strategy represents a real threat to the system of power in this country. They’re scared of us because we have a plan to hit them where it hurts.”
Deep Green Resistance advocates a revolutionary environmentalism and calls for forcefully dismantling global capitalism. The organization is well known to the FBI. In fact, members have been told that the book the movement is based on is on the bookshelves at FBI training academy near Quantico, Virginia.
The organization based on the book was created in 2011 and has members located around the world. Their website is available in more than 20 languages and members have been involved in a wide range of protest, resistance, and ecology movements.
The FBI has a long history of surveillance and disruption of organizations working against capitalism and racism. From intimidation and assassination (MLK, Fred Hampton) to more subtle interventions (see COINTELPRO) to destroy the social glue of resistance communities, the FBI has engaged in illegal and undemocratic activity for decades. This is a global trend as well. State security forces from South Africa to China have worked to undermine movements for justice consistently for decades.
DGR expects further state repression against itself and other groups that advocate threatening strategies, but refuses to be intimidated. In fact, they see state repression as a validation. “When she heard I had been called by the FBI, my aunt told me that my grandfather would have said, ‘He must be doing something right,’” Wilbert says.