Note: audio begins at about 12:45 in the above video.
What really happened at PIELC 2018?
Over the first weekend in March, members and allies of Deep Green Resistance (DGR) attended, presented, and tabled at PIELC (Public Interest Environmental Law Conference) in Eugene, OR, as we have for as long as our organization has existed. PIELC (formerly ELAW) has long been a place where disparate perspectives from within the environmental movement—including those of lawyers, radicals, grassroots activists, liberals, and nonprofits—gather to learn from, engage with, and challenge each other.
In general, DGR activists appreciate the opportunity to engage in respectful dialogue, including with individuals who might disagree with our approach to halting the destruction of the planet and misogynist culture.
For several years, however, a small group of individuals has harassed DGR activists at PIELC, ostensibly because they disagree with our radical feminist position. Rather than engage in a productive discussion about patriarchy and its driving forces, these individuals choose to spread rumors and outright lies about DGR, both via social media and in person during the conference.
So what happened this year?
This year was no exception. In the weeks before PIELC 2018, a small group of individuals engaged in anti-DGR rhetoric and actions via social media and other public forums. During PIELC, these same individuals attempted to disrupt our designated tabling space by stealing our materials, holding derogatory signs in front of us and our table, and using incendiary slurs to describe us to passersby.
First, we asked these individuals to respect our materials, our right to table, and our personal space. When they refused to move and began to escalate, we requested support from PIELC organizers—both for our physical safety and to support our right to engage with the public at our informational table. Event organizers responded quickly and professionally.
Did you call the cops?
No. DGR activists notified event organizers about the disruption. As far as we know, they contacted campus security, who then made the decision to call the police.
What did the police do?
The police told the individuals that they had no right to block access to our table (or any table). Police then gave the individuals the choice to move to their own space, or to face trespassing charges.
Eventually, the individuals moved to the side of DGR’s table and continued to hold signs and disparage DGR to passersby for the remainder of the day.
What happened at the library?
On March 4th, Derrick Jensen (one of the co-founders of DGR) held a public talk at the Eugene Public Library. His talk, which was about the destruction of the planet and the patriarchal violation imperative, was met with such vocal and threatening hostility that Derrick was forced to hire security from a private local security firm.
Throughout Derrick’s talk, a cohort of disruptive individuals shouted at and disparaged the speaker, rushed the stage, released “fart bombs,” coughed loudly, and ultimately made so much noise that they violated the library’s free speech policy. In response to these escalating, juvenile violations of Derrick’s right to speak and the audience’s right to hear his talk, library security called the police. The police then removed several disruptive individuals, who violated library policy, refused to leave when asked, and therefore were trespassing.
To reiterate, DGR did not call the police. We held a public event in a previously reserved public venue with its own free speech policies. Individuals who chose to violate those policies, even after multiple warnings from security and then police, are responsible for the consequences of their own actions.
Video coverage of the event is available at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/deepgreenresistance/videos/1741147465944349/.
Letter of Support
This is one of the many supportive letters, messages, calls, and comments that have been coming our way in the past few weeks. It is published anonymously, as the woman who wrote it believes she would be targeted for harassment otherwise. Many more supportive comments can be found on the videos of the talk on YouTube (linked above) and Facebook.
Subject: Eugene Public Library re: Support for Derrick Jensen’s presentation at EPL on March 4
Date: 2018-02-26 11:23
From: “Name” <email redacted>
To: Eugene library
Cc: DGR contact email
I am writing on behalf of REDACTED, an independent media & activist-arts organization in Canada, with a social justice mandate for over 20 years, to express our full support for Derrick Jensen, after seeing him again being attacked on social media by so-called “activists” who are demanding that Eugene Public Library cancels his presentation on March 4, simply because they disagree with some of his personal opinions.
We have not worked directly with Derrick, however, based upon what we know of him through mutual friends & colleagues in the activist community, and my personal interactions with him in private groups on facebook, we know him as a committed environmental activist & pro-feminist ally – he is not a threat to anyone, let alone a “virulent transphobe” as charged by his detractors. This is a clear-cut case of ideological bullying in an already-pernicious climate of toxic identity-politics, and it’s ironic that any organization that claims they work for “justice” and “community” would undertake this kind of a smear-campaign against another activist. Dragging EPL into their smear-campaign against Derrick is nothing short of emotional blackmail against the library and there is _nothing_ progressive about it.
For the record: despite operating on a shoestring budget in a Conservative province in Canada, my organization has a long history of transadvocacy: as far back as fifteen years ago we distributed pro-trans zines, broadsheets, books & films; I personally produced our city’s first Transgender Film Festival in partnership with our local Pride Centre, and with funding from Egale Canada, a national LGBT umbrella organization; we mounted trans art exhibits; we have signed countless petitions to our elected officials calling for trans to be included in our Human Rights legislation, which is now coming to fruition across the country. Between the above, our advocacy against the Athabasca Tar Sands & other extractivism, our collaborations against the Iraq & Afghanistan Wars, and for Palestinian rights, and many other ‘unpopular’ activist causes, we were ostracized by both the arts & larger ENGO community. We did it anyway because we believed it was the right thing to do.
All these years later, what we did not anticipate was that all of our unpaid energy & organizational sacrifices (like disqualifying ourselves from funding & grants due to supporting ‘controversial topics’) would result in a so-called ‘movement’ of privileged young people acting like spoiled-rotten children who have a temper tantrum every time they don’t get their own way. Contemporary transactivism, with it’s no-platforming, silencing, erasure of women, doxxing, threats against individuals & organizations, and other vile behaviour of its so-called community, has regressed to little more than a 24/7 bully-pulpit with no other objective than to elevate their own individuals’ status at the expense of others. It is unconscionable that other organizations are sitting by and allowing them to continue to abuse individuals who work for the collective-good. We are tired of seeing this happen over & over again, and while we will always support our individual trans friends & members (who, incidentally, agree with us on this issue) it has made us reconsider our own commitment to supporting umbrella trans initiatives in the future. When they go after individual activists & pro-feminists who they know have little power to fight back materially, they are demonstrating that the oppressed has become the oppressor. This is not what we fought for. We are now embarrassed for our role in helping grow a movement that now routinely employs such amoral & unethical behaviour.
Despite TrumpCo (our condolences) we in North America still live in a democracy, and activists with integrity know that ideological disputes cannot be resolved by bullying and abusing opponents. Mature, thoughtful activists make efforts to dialogue, but the LCDN and their “allies” demanding Derrick’s presentation be cancelled is the exact opposite. They are compromising the ability of a committed environmental activist to do his work and pay his bills, as well as attempting to deny the public an opportunity to engage. There is no “justice” whatsoever in their actions. We have been assured by other friends in Eugene that EPL is a good venue with decent & reasonable people, so we urge you to take this attempt to no-platform Derrick seriously, but to not cave-in to LCDN’s demands to have the event cancelled. If LCDN truly had legitimate arguments against Derrick’s positions/opinions they would be able to engage with him directly and debunk them publicly, instead of bullying others into silencing him. If you allow LCDN to bully EPL into cancelling Derrick’s event, you can rest assured that it will not be the last time they do this, because once ’empowered’ these megalomaniacs will always look for new fights to pick, and continue their indefensible bullying in the future. Public libraries have always been a bastion of free-speech and Derrick Jensen’s event should be no exception.
Thanks for your consideration. If you would like to speak in person you’re welcome to call me at the number below (land-line).
Founding Director, Organization redacted