The Department of Homeland Security released a report early this year titled, "Leftwing Extremists Likely to Increase Use of Cyber Attacks over the Coming Decade". In it, The Ruckus Society is targeted as an "anarchist extremist" group.
Interviewer: Jake Blumgart, Campus Progress
Interviewee: Adrienne Maree Brown and the Ruckus Society
1) What was your reaction to the Department of Homeland Security memo naming Ruckus Society?
Surprise. Joy. Curiosity. I think it shows how wildly out of touch with reality Homeland Security is, while also exposing their scare tactics. This is how criminalization of dissent works, though: name groups who are doing legitimate organizing work as threats, in an attempt to induce fear, instead of power, in communities.
2) Do you have a comment on the DOHA’s claim that "anarchist extremist groups" are "entities within" Ruckus Society?
My friend Joshua Breitbart (Allied Media Conference) said, "the truly dangerous extremists in our society are mortgage lenders, ponzi hedge fund brokers, and big bankers, not community organizers." Ruckus is a network of nonviolent direct action trainers and action coordinators who are committed to serving communities directly impacted by environmental or economic injustices. The network centers itself around points of unity: a commitment to action, nonviolence, pushing the envelope, and more. There’s a wide variety of progressive political viewpoints amongst the network, definitely including anarchists.
3) How would you characterize your relationship with law enforcement and governmental organizations?
They love us. So much. They even follow us around sometimes…but seriously, we are very respectful of the police and government when they do their job to protect and serve the public. However when they fail in this commitment, it’s our job to help the communities working to hold them accountable.
4) The report mentions that "Key judgments are based largely on field agent reporting considered highly relible…". Are you concerned about police infiltration?
Well, any group that engages people in direct action or civil disobedience should probably assume that someone’s watching. But we treat everyone who comes through our trainings and camps and community the same way – we offer a safe learning environment and an opportunity to experience a powerful action-ready political reality.
5) Has your role or mission changed at all after the 2008 elections?
No. The work we do is supporting the most environmentally and economically impacted communities. We train them in the tools and tactics they want to use to change their situation. 2008 was a major shift in certain ways – a jolt of hope that was felt around the whole world. But the communities we service are still in the same space they were before the election, and still need what we offer. If anything, action is an even more effective tactic under the new administration.
6) Do you consider property damage or the targeting of busniesses non-violent?
In a world where people are being killed, forced to live in inhumane conditions with very little actual say over it, forced out of their homes, displaced so that large corporations can access oil or natural gas or water or land…on a scale relative to the violence we level against people or the planet, living things, I can’t say that I see property damage in the same realm.
7) What are the primary motivations behind Ruckus’ activities? Does the Ruckus Society have an ultimate goal?
It’s the same answer for both: Sustainability and self-determination for all communities. We focus on folks whose sustainability and self-determination are most threatened. These two have to go hand in hand – one community can’t achieve their sustainability at the expense of another – we have to determine how we all move forward together. One major way is action – I can imagine a future where more people take action than even vote, because communities know how to use it so effectively.
9) Does your group have any association with so-called Hacktivist groups or tactics?
Well…we were cyber attacked last year – does that count?