As some of you might know, there has been a series of scare-mongeringarticles in New York City and beyond — targeting mainly anarchists andother left-wing political organizers — in anticipation of themobilization against the Republican National Convention (RNC) this weekendand next week. Some of these articles mention me by name (although I wasnever contacted beforehand for comment by any of the reporters, and I’mnot even attending the anti-RNC protests).

Normally, I wouldn’t care toomuch about these negative pieces, based solely on anonymous policesources, but two of the recent articles in mainstream New York City dailynewspapers are just so outrageous and untrue that I need to respondclearly and publicly.

In the New York Daily News of August 26, the front page reads: “Police Intelligence Warning: Anarchy Inc.” The headline inside refers to “Anarchists hot for mayhem.” The supposed “exclusive” by writer PatriceO’Shaughnessy (of the Daily News Police Bureau) begins as follows:

“Fifty of the country’s leading anarchists are expected to be in the cityfor the Republican National Convention, and a handful of them arehard-core extremists with histories of violent and disruptive tactics,according to police intelligence sources. Police said each of the 50 haveup to 50 followers who are willing to be arrested during disturbances atthe convention.”

The article later goes on to refer to me by name:

“Jaggi Singh, a Canadian citizen, is known for allegedly setting off hoaxdevices to detour police resources. He allegedly catapulted teddy bearssoaked with gasoline at police at the Quebec G-20 protest in 2001,according to NYPD reports. A member of the International SolidarityMovement, or ISM, he was seen shooting a handgun, and allegedly receivedfirearms training from Toure, according to a police source.”

(Kazi Toure is referred earlier in the article as “A] Black Panther fromBoston also known as Christopher King, convicted in the 1980s ofconspiracy to overthrow the government, and with arrests for bank robberyand transporting firearms, was observed training younger militants inweapons use.”)

An accompanying article refers to “Potentially violent groups identifiedby the NYPD,” and includes SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty), theInternational Solidarity Movement (ISM), the Anarchist Black Cross, andtwo groups referred to as “The Organization” and “No Police State” (thelast described as a “[f]ringe group of anarchists planning to sparkviolence.”)

On August 16, 2004, the Daily News‘ competitor — the New YorkPost — ran its own scare-mongering piece (isn’t free market competitiongreat!) with the headline: “Finest prep for anarchy: Radicals eye GOPgala” (co-written by Murray Weiss and Andy Soltis). That article includesbrief profiles of activists Lisa Fithian, Starhawk and myself. However,accompanying my profile, under the title “Here’s trouble,” is an undatedphoto of someone who is dark-skinned and vaguely resembles me shooting agun at some sort of outdoor range. I’m referred to as a “key anarchistleader who has become increasingly militant.”

Clearly, these recent articles are not just limited to the usual innuendoand lack of context of most of the usual reporting about protesters oranarchists, and I feel compelled to respond.

In reference to the Daily News article’s claims about me, here isa point-by-point rebuttal (with a bit of editorializing):

  • I don’t have 50 followers. I don’t have five followers. I don’t even have adog.
  • I have never set any hoax devices.
  • I don’t know, and have never met someone named Kazi Toure or ChristopherKing.
  • I have not received firearms training from Kazi Toure, or anyone elsefor that matter.
  • Based on the recent New York Daily News article, out of sheer curiosity,I would now like to meet Kazi Toure.
  • I was nabbed by undercover police from the streets of Quebec City inApril 2001 during an anti-Summit of the Americas protest, and charged withparticipating in a riot, as well as possessing a dangerous weapon — ateddy-bear launching catapult. I was jailed for 17 days.
  • Based on my subsequent knowledge of the catapult, and the people whooperated it, only teddy bears and confetti were launched. Based on thepolice services’ own videos from Quebec City, the catapult only launchedteddy bears and confetti.
  • The teddy bears were not soaked in gasoline (although, knowing some ofthe folks involved, they might have perfumed the bears).
  • The article mistakenly refers to a “Quebec G-20 protest in 2001.” I wasarrested, with many others, at an anti-G-20 protest that took place inMontreal in October 2000, and charged with participating in a riot. I wasacquitted, along with two co-accused, by a Montreal jury in April 2003.Many of the jurors personally congratulated the defendants after thetrial.
  • The charges against me from the Quebec City protests in April 2001 weredropped in January 2004. I always insisted on my innocence but the chargeswere stayed before I could be unequivocally acquitted in front of a jury(actually, the charges were stayed because the courts knew I would beunequivocally acquitted in front of a jury, and a second jury acquittalwould have been embarrassing to the state).
  • Yes, I was a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM),and I’m a member of the ISM in Montreal. I was privileged to be able toobserve firsthand the courage and steadfastness of ordinary Palestiniansas they confront daily injustice and defend their dignity, and to continueto support the work of the ISM from Montreal.

    The ISM is a Palestinian-ledgroup of Palestinians and internationals that are working to raiseawareness of the struggle for Palestinian freedom and an end to Israelioccupation. The ISM uses nonviolent, direct-action methods of resistanceto confront and challenge illegal Israeli occupation forces and policieswhile also recognizing the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violenceand occupation via legitimate armed struggle. However, the ISM itself iscommitted to the principles of nonviolent resistance. The claim that theISM is a violent group, or might potentially engage in violence at theRNC, is ludicrous.

  • Based on the outright fabrications and lies against me in the Daily Newsarticle, all the allegations aimed at other named individuals and groupsare highly questionable. I would like to express my solidarity with them.

As for the New York Post photo on August 16, 2004: it’s a fake. As afriend of mine who saw the photo put it to me by e-mail: “It’s not you. Igot a copy of the article and the photo is not actually you. It is somebrown guy with high cheekbones and a Harry Potter haircut, but it’s notyou.”

By responding publicly, perhaps I’m drawing just more attention to thesmears. But, I do have something of a track record as a politicalorganizer, and anybody who knows me can verify how untrue the tabloidclaims against me are. Instead, I hope I can modestly contribute toexposing the level of corporate media complicity in the police and state’smarginalization of radical dissent, and the extent of their fabrications.

Of course, it’s not a surprise that out-and-out lies are used in smearcampaigns against “radicals” or “anarchists.” Still, we should remindourselves of the proof when it exists.

Good luck to everyone who is organizing and gathering to confront the RNC.In my mind, the best response to these media and police attacks will be tocontinue our open conspiracy to effectively expose and disrupt the RNC,and to persist with our collective and daily struggles for social justice.