Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Just The Best Headline, Ever
July 21, 2008
Anarchists' Gathering Surprisingly Organized
Some 150 anarchists from throughout the United States and Canada descended on a strip of private land last week in this Sheboygan County, Wis., village for four days of workshops, including some focused on strategizing for demonstrations at the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions.
The 2008 CrimethInc. Convergence was the sixth annual communal campout organized by CrimethInc. Ex-Workers' Collective, an international underground network that since the mid-1990s has published widely read anarchist texts such as "Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook."
The group also has drawn the attention of FBI agents trying to infiltrate the protest movement. At the 2004 CrimethInc. gathering in Iowa, an undercover FBI operative met Eric McDavid, a California man who was found guilty last year of conspiring to burn or blow up a federal facility.
CrimethInc. texts eschew government, capitalism and conformity. The collective has no members and no leader. But the convergence had plenty of policy and procedure. Decisions are made by consensus, and there are no drugs, drinking, photography or exchange of money allowed. And definitely no police or corporate media.
"The locals are welcome," media liaison and local circus performer Pinkerton Xyloma said. "We have a no-media policy because the media are not considered individuals. It is a concern that people from the media will not respect people's consent or consensus."
Xyloma would not say why the group was gathered in Wisconsin or what participants were discussing. He said they had no interest in violence or terrorism.
On its Web site, CrimethInc. describes itself as a place where "the secret worlds of shoplifters, rioters, dropouts, deserters, adulterers, vandals, daydreamers ... converge to form gateways to new worlds where theft, cheating, warfare, boredom, and so on are simply obsolete."
The collective publicized the event on its Web site and at anarchist social centers around the country - places such as Cream City Collectives in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood, which had fliers for the gathering posted on the door and closed shop on the day it began.
Participants met up between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday at Gordon Park in Riverwest, where they picked up pamphlets, got directions to the campground in Waldo, Wis., or hitched rides with fellow campers. Mostly young, they arrived on bikes, on foot and by car, some lugging packs with tents and camping supplies and others with nothing but a notebook.
Some were tattooed and pierced; some brought their dogs; a few brought young children. One brought a jar of omega-3 fortified peanut butter. People who recognized each other from past convergences embraced.
They traveled about 45 miles north into Waldo, along the village's main street, down a gravel road bordered by shoulder-high wildflowers and grasses.
There, on privately owned land, campers pitched about 75 tents and hung laundry from clotheslines. They built campfires, played board games or lined up for free food at a tent marked "Kitchen."
The focus of the 2008 convergence was on strategizing for action at the national conventions and "longer-range anarchist endeavors," according to the Web site. Among the presenters: The RNC Welcoming Committee, an anarchist group preparing to disrupt the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota.
Participants were also encouraged to come prepared to lead their own workshops. "Projectiles 101" promised to teach anarchists how to build things such as confetti cannons and slings. "Guy-necology" focused on sexual issues for men, such as their role in birth control and acceptable flirtation.
Meanwhile, residents of Waldo, population 485, weren't sure what to make of the anarchists in the woods. Some had assumed the campers were part of a religious retreat or were in town for a nearby vintage auto show.
Waldo Village President Mike Hintz said he didn't know anything about the convergence until he happened to see the campsite Wednesday night when he was driving by. He didn't go into the site, though, because a neighbor told him the group had been behaving themselves.
"I don't know what they're doing back there, but it seemed so far there's no disturbance," Hintz said.
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