Lowell Ponte FrontPageMagazine.com August 27, 2004
Leftist Web sites have worried the police in New York City whose job is to prevent radicals and terrorists from disrupting and endangering the 2004 Republican National Convention. These anti-President George W. Bush Internet sites have encouraged protestors to bring slingshots to attack police horses, and marbles that can be thrown beneath those horses’ hooves to make them slip and injure themselves and their police officer riders.
These sites have provided “anarchist cookbook” recipes that tell protestors how to set off sensors used to detect terrorist explosives and chemical weapons. Such detectors sounding an alarm could cause panic, mass evacuations, a disrupted convention and the loss of scarce national television prime time for the Republican message.
During the 1960s, protest as a form of civilized dialogue began to be replaced in America by protest used as political theater, as political warfare and increasingly as political terrorism.
This article examines how one group of today’s uncivilized protestors is undermining our democratic republic. It also explores connections between this radical protest organization and both Teresa Heinz Kerry and a key operative in the highest echelon of the campaign organization of Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry.
The Ruckus Society is a leftwing organization that advocates – and trains radicals from a wide variety of other leftwing groups how to use – “direct action” and “guerrilla communication” to promote “progressive” politics. During the Clinton Administration it was given tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) “charitable organization.”
The Ruckus Society was formed in 1995 in the San Francisco Bay area by two radical environmental activists. One was Howard “Twilly” Cannon, who was on the front lines of seagoing confrontations for Greenpeace. The other was Mike Roselle, a co-founder of both the far-left Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the violent eco-terrorist group Earth First! notorious for spiking trees with concealed 11” nails that caused lumberjack chain saw chains to snap and cause severe injuries to the user.
This and related Earth First! techniques to jam and break the machinery of capitalism are called “monkey-wrenching” by radicals after their canonical text The Monkey Wrench Gang, a 1975 novel by Edward Abbey that glorifies the burning of billboards and terrorist attacks on machinery. The Ruckus Society’s logo depicts two large meshed gears of a machine with a monkey wrench wedged into their teeth to stop them. The early Industrial Revolution spawned its own word with the same meaning – sabotage, from the way French factory workers would shut down machines by throwing their wooden shoes, sabots, into the gears to jam them.
Earth First! begat the domestic terrorist group Earth Liberation Front (ELF), which along with related eco-animal terrorist groups (according to a May 2004 FBI statement before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee) have “committed more than 1,100 criminal acts in the United States since 1976, resulting in damages conservatively estimated at approximately $110 million.” These included the torching of a large apartment complex under construction in San Diego, California and many more violent terrorist acts.
The Ruckus Society played a major role in the 1999 radical assault on Seattle, Washington to protest a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting there. Leftist activists, including ones who learned confrontation tactics and guerrilla theatre techniques at Ruckus training camps, smashed store windows, set cars ablaze and did millions of dollars in property damage.
“Violence to me is against living things,” Ruckus’ Executive Director John Sellers told far-left Mother Jones Magazine. “But inanimate objects? I think you can be destructive, you can use vandalism strategically. It may be violence under the law, but I just don’t think it’s violence.”
Prior to the protests, reported the Chicago Tribune, two Ruckus Society leaders made a deal with Seattle police. The Ruckus leaders promised that if a few hundred protestors could have the media photo opportunity to symbolically break through the security cordon around the WTO meeting, the protestors would then promptly submit to peaceful arrest. Police officials in liberal Seattle naively agreed. But when the moment for this photo-op came, thousands of protestors rushed aggressively through the police security line and refused to submit to arrest. Having been deceived, the police responded with enough force to stop the violent protestors.
“The police response to civil disobedience was brutality,” declared Sellers, who had learned to use such radical tricks when he was head of the Washington, D.C. office of another far-left organization Greenpeace. “We had discussions with them and they were not supposed to use physical force unless there was a life-threatening situation.” But after the dust settled Sellers boasted to USA Today: “We kicked the WTO’s butt all over the Northwest.”
At the 2000 Republican Convention in Philadelphia, Ruckus-trained leftists planned to bring the city to a halt with rioting. Well-prepared police stopped them, and in the process seized improvised weapons, gasoline-soaked rags, and piano wire that the protestors intended to string across streets to trip police horses. In the melee 23 police cars were damaged and 15 officers were injured.
Even the Executive Director of the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Larry Frankel said of the Philadelphia protestors: “We believe that vandalizing property, turning over trash cans, assaulting persons and shutting down the city by blocking traffic are not activities protected by the First Amendment.”
More than 400 of the Philadelphia anti-Republican protestors were arrested. John Sellers (who during years of “civil disobedience” has been arrested more than 40 times) was charged with “obstruction of justice, obstructing a highway, failure to disperse, recklessly endangering another person, and conspiracy.”
“We think it would be terrible public policy for us to have people come, joining in what appears to us to be a very well thought out, well-planned conspiracy to shut down the city of Philadelphia and disrupt the convention that was here,” said Democratic Mayor John Street, “and at the end of the day we say all is forgiven, go back where you came from. That will not be the case.” But as typically happens with property-destroying leftwing activist lawbreakers, all criminal charges against Ruckus Society leader Sellers were dropped three months later.
According to the Ruckus Society’s Action Planning Training Manual, what it calls its tactics of “non-violent” destruction of property and disruption of other peoples’ lives is as American as apple pie. “One of the most famous direct actions ever, the Boston Tea Party,” it reads, “is patriotically taught in school.”
The Ruckus manual argues that such lawbreaking is justifiable. “It is also illegal to break into a home. But if that home is on fire and you fear someone will be hurt, it is OK – in fact it is your responsibility – to break in. This is the argument of competing harms: A smaller harm is accepted if it prevents a greater harm from occurring."
Such twisted sophistry is based on the arrogant aristocratic assumption by leftists of their own moral and intellectual superiority to everybody else. Such leftists believe that their radicalism makes them as noble as Mahatma Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and entitles them to impose their superior ideology on the rest of us at gunpoint. The Ruckus manual to teach radicals how to manipulate the news media almost says this outright: “As activists we often have a more sophisticated understanding of an issue than the general public.”
The same kind of belief in his superiority led demonic megalomaniac Adolf Hitler to propose that, for the “greater good” of the human race, he had to set aside civilized law and commit the “small harm” of eradicating the Jews. The Ruckus Society’s rationalization for lawlessness and destroying the property in which others have invested their lives is no better than that of their fellow socialist Hitler.
The Ruckus Society’s “action camps” have also provided training to thousands of radical activists in the techniques of agitation, disruption and how to select targets. Those it has trained have come from many different leftwing groups, including RAN, Earth First! and ELF. “Nearly half of Ruckus’ roster of camp ‘trainers,’” according to research by the Center for Consumer Freedom, “proclaims membership in Earth First! as well.” Among the topics taught at these boot camps for radicals have been “street blockades,” “police confrontation strategies” and “using the media to your advantage.”
Activists who have undergone Ruckus training are to ordinary protestors as a Navy Seal commando is to an ordinary foot soldier. Ruckus graduates have been armed with a huge toolbox of ways to goad police into overreaction, exploit situations, and cause problems for those they target. Ruckus has become the military academy where dozens of leftwing groups send their elite shock troop protestors to learn the skills of waging guerrilla street warfare against capitalism.
One such leftwing activist is Zack Exley, who was trained by and has worked as a “workshop facilitator” for The Ruckus Society.
Since April 2004 Exley has been the Director of Online Communications and Online Organizing for the John Kerry-John Edwards 2004 presidential campaign organization. Are Senator Kerry (and the Secret Service agents who protect him) aware of Exley’s training with and for this law-breaking violent anarchist group, and of its links to members of domestic terrorist organizations?
Now that FrontPage Magazine has made the public aware of this, when will Senator Kerry (or the Secret Service) demand Mr. Exley’s resignation from the Kerry-Edwards campaign staff?
Can Senator Kerry be trusted to fight terrorism if he knowingly employs as one
of his highest campaign staffers an extremist who has been involved with the Ruckus Society, whose leader was arrested for alleged activities involved with trying to disrupt the 2000 Republican National Convention, and that has trained radicals planning to disrupt the 2004 Republican National Convention?
Although Ruckus leaders say they teach only non-violence (i.e., violence against property but supposedly not people whose lives, blood and sweat are invested in that property), the chairman of one of their targets, the tree-farming company Boise Cascade, has said that what the Ruckus Society calls “direct action” is just “a euphemism for violent intimidation and aggressive harassment.”
“The Ruckus Society has taken on the task of turning radical left wing political demonstrations, and repackaging them, into benign but wacky, media-friendly events,” one anonymous internet blogger opined. “But a disruptive freak show is still a disruptive freak show no matter how big the clown shoes are. Behind the big banners….remain the same old messages of anti-Americanism, anti-capitalism…. Go ahead and paint a happy face on the Earth Liberation Front…. The FBI still knows that they’re a domestic terrorist group. Go ahead and give members of the Communist Party USA a shave and a haircut. Maybe you can even teach them how to smile. Doesn’t matter.” (“Anarchism,” Ruckus leader Sellers declared, “has gotten a really bad rap, like communism.”)
After John Sellers was arrested in Philadelphia amidst law-breaking protestors near the 2000 Republican National Convention, his bail was initially set at an unprecedented $1 million because, said one prosecutor, Sellers “facilitates the more radical elements to accomplish their objective of violence and mayhem.”
In 2004 the Ruckus Society planned no protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Boston, but it has planned for powerful protests against the 2004 Republican National Convention in 9/11-terrorist-ravaged New York City. “Everybody,” Ruckus leader Sellers told the Boston Globe, “is concerned first and foremost with getting the Bush Administration out of office.”
The Ruckus Society is a coalition member with United for Peace and Justice (UPJ), the main group organizing these anti-Republican protests. One of the leaders of UPJ is Medea Benjamin, who also played a key role in organizing the 1999 Seattle protests. Visiting Communist Cuba for the first time during the 1980s, the Nicaraguan Marxist Sandinista supporter and Fidel Castro acolyte Benjamin declared, was “like I died and went to heaven.”)
The Ruckus Society has over the years been given $150,000 by the Turner Foundation, endowed by leftist Cable News Network (CNN) founder Ted Turner. Ruckus has also accepted more than $23,000 from the leftwing Tides Foundation, which has been given at least $400,000 by the Heinz Foundation, which is controlled by Teresa Heinz Kerry, who is the wife of 2004 Democratic Party presidential candidate Senator John F. Kerry. Money being fungible, it is reasonable to infer that some of the cash that has bankrolled Ruckus Society protests and the training of confrontational radical protestors at the 2000 and 2004 Republican National Conventions has come via the family of Democratic candidate John F. Kerry.
And at Ruckus Society training camps some of those protestors might have learned their skills alongside or from the man who today sits at the center of the Kerry campaign’s web operations, Zack Exley.
Every monkey wrench thrown at Republicans between now and election day should be checked carefully for Democrat fingerprints and DNA.
Mr. Ponte hosts a national radio talk show Saturdays 6-9 PM Eastern Time (3-6 PM Pacific Time) and Sundays 9 PM-Midnight Eastern Time (6-9 PM Pacific Time) on the Liberty Broadcasting network (formerly TalkAmerica). Internet Audio worldwide is at LibertyBroadcasting .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-866-GO LOWELL (1-866-465-6935). A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.