Marcus Mitchell lay facedown on the snowy North Dakota prairie, blood pouring through the gaping wound on the left side of his face. It was just past midnight on 19 January 2017, and a Morton county sheriff’s deputy had just shot the 21-year-old indigenous activist with a bean bag pellet amid a demonstration near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation against the Dakota Access pipeline. The lead pellet entered Mitchell’s left eye socket, shattering the orbital wall of his eye and his cheekbone, and ripping open a flap of skin nearly to his left ear. Click here to keep reading. >>
My first-ever story for The Guardian, co-authored with Sam Levin, looks at recently released documents showing the government tarring pipeline opponents as extremists and details how police are organizing to launch an aggressive response to Keystone XL protests. Click here to read it. >>
During the weekend prior to the publication of this story, four opponents of the Bayou Bridge pipeline and an independent journalist covering their activities were arrested and charged under Louisiana House Bill 727, which makes trespassing on “critical infrastructure” facilities — a category that explicitly includes oil pipelines — a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of $1,000, or both. A total of nine people have now been charged under the law since it took effect on August 1. This story for The Intercept looks at the impacts of the new law, as well as the role of public-private fusion policing in driving this increased criminalization. I traveled to Louisiana to report on this story. Click here to read it. >>
Following a weeks-long investigation, Alleen Brown and I published a story in The Intercept on how US and Canadian authorities are girding for the mobilization against the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion in British Columbia by relying on heightened surveillance and criminalization of the project’s indigenous-led opposition. The story also documents the crisis that has engulfed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration since his decision to purchase the pipeline and associated assets from Houston-based energy giant Kinder Morgan. I reported on this story partly by traveling to British Columbia. Read the story here. >>
Following an emotional hearing in Bismarck, North Dakota, this week, Oglala Lakota Sioux water protector Red Fawn Fallis was sentenced to 57 months in prison on charges stemming from her arrest while opposing the Dakota Access pipeline. Read my story for The Intercept. >>
The feature I wrote for this week’s East Bay Express explores how indigenous people in California’s East Bay Area are working to reclaim land and protect sacred sites, with a focus on the Sogorea Te Land Trust and the struggle to protect the West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site. The Sogorea Te Land Trust is the nation’s first urban indigenous, women-led land trust. Its founders dream of acquiring a patchwork of dozens or hundreds of parcels throughout the East Bay. The West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site is the oldest sacred site and site of human habitation along San Francisco Bay. Developer Blake/Griggs has proposed to construct a housing and retail development in the heart of this city-landmarked site and has applied for fast-track authority under a new state law, Senate Bill 54, to do so. Click here to keep reading. >>
In a story for The Intercept, Alleen Brown and I reported on the latest in a wave of state bills aimed at criminalizing resistance to fossil fuel installations in the US. We focused, in particular, on a Louisiana bill to criminalize the activities of groups protesting the extraction, burning, and transport of oil and gas amid the fight over the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana. And we looked at a Minnesota bill that would create harsh new penalties for protesting such infrastructure just as the struggle against the Line 3 tar sands pipeline ramps up in the state. Click here to keep reading. >>
TigerSwan, the private security company notorious for its work surveilling pipeline opponents at Standing Rock on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners, hit a roadblock last July in its effort to provide intelligence and security services in Louisiana. The Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners determined that TigerSwan was unfit to obtain a license to work in the state based on a lawsuit it is facing for unlicensed security operations in North Dakota. But TigerSwan did not give up on its ambitions to work on another controversial Energy Transfer Partners project, Louisiana’s Bayou Bridge pipeline, as Alleen Brown and I reported in a piece for The Intercept. Click here to keep reading. >>
Last year, I got ahold of several hundred pages of police documents on anti-fascists, “black identity extremists,” and white supremacists via records request and built a story around them, along with other reporting, for Shadowproof. Police agencies downplayed the threat of white supremacists leading up to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last year to focus on “anarchist extremists” and other anti-racist counter-protesters. The police’s surveillance harassment of anti-racists in Charlottesville is also linked to a broader campaign of political repression targeting those who have squared off against white supremacists.
Also, check out my interview as part of a roundtable discussion partly related to this story on the It’s Going Down podcast.
The US is upgrading its entire nuclear arsenal, and the Trump administration has proposed the largest increase in nuclear warhead spending since the Cold War. The core physical package of these warheads, and every other nuclear warhead ever to enter the US arsenal, was developed by labs operated by the University of California. The UC is currently competing for a new contract to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the world’s scientific and ideological centers of nuclear weapons development. I wrote an in-depth feature for the East Bay Express drawing on years of research on this subject. Click here to keep reading. >>