The counterdemonstration, organized under the banner of “Hate Not Welcome: No Unite The Right 2” was removed by Facebook, who loudly accused the organizers of being paid Russian trolls hoping to stoke American divisions. Except these organizers are actually well-known, American activists, posting from within the USA, about an issue they care deeply about.
Among these genuine, American organizers is Chelsea Manning, the US military veteran and heroic whistleblower, who explained that the protest was “real and organic,” adding “We started organizing several months ago. Folks from D.C. and Charlottesville have been talking about this since at least February.”
It really hasn’t been that long since every progressive cause and event was accused of being a front for Russian fifth columnists and Senator Joe McCarthy was hauling anyone who advocated for a better life for all Americans in front of his House Un-American Activities Committee. Not much has changed. I guess the Democratic establishment finds talking about Russian hackers easier than campaigning on a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, and breaking up the big banks and bringing them to heel.
Facebook’s privacy practices and judgement calls have been seriously called into question lately by just about everyone. Although the company has been trying to reassure everyone, with a massive marketing campaign, how it’s changing its ways, it doesn’t seem to really be making any actual useful changes.
But yesterday, its idea of “doing something about it” appears to be shutting down at least one real event page. The reason? You’re not going to believe this; Facebook is claiming that the page was put up by Russian-based conspiracy troll accounts. Yes those accounts; the same ones that influenced the #2016 #Election.
Facebook is making a bad situation worse with its misguided censorship. All we know is that whatever vetting process it’s using is truly flawed. An apology is in order; and the runaway news cycle just keeps repeating the company’s misinformed statements.
Earlier today, Facebook deleted numerous Facebook pages, including one event aimed at promoting a protest against Jason Kessler’s Unite The Right 2, the sequel no one asked for.
The Shut It Down DC Coaliton has been meeting for weeks. We took over the Facebook event created by outside groups, in a desire to keep it accountable to local organizers…We did not promote anyone’s views except our own.
White nationalism and supremacy is not a Russian ploy, it’s a systemic problem. Jason Kessler is not a Russian bot, he’s the foot soldier of the Trump agenda…
Black Lives Matter D.C. and numerous other groups are central to organizing against a real threat to D.C. We do not organize because of a FaceBook account purportedly run by Russia, we do this to make sure our loved ones, communities, and neighborhoods stay safe from fascists in, and out of, uniforms.
We’ve since created a new Facebook event but we know real organizing comes from talking with our neighbors, and that this is a real protest in Washington, D.C. It is not George Soros, it is not Russia, it is just us. Facebook, has left numerous white nationalists pages openly promoting hate up for months at a time, claiming their hands were tied. They regularly suspended Black Lives Matter, Antifascist Groups, and Black Lives Matter member accounts. They have taken down real organizing.
Facebook has taken down 32 fake pages and accounts that it says were involved in coordinated campaigns on both Facebook and Instagram. Though the company has not yet attributed the accounts to any group, it says the campaign does bear some resemblance to the propaganda campaign run by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Facebook is now working with law enforcement to determine where the campaign originated.
In the Wired article, it also explains how Facebook felt pressure to “get ahead” of what it thought was a fake event, and in its haste, neglected to thoroughly investigate the matter:
One event, a protest against Unite the Right in Washington called “No Unite the Right 2 – DC,” was scheduled for August 10th. It was cohosted by other, legitimate pages, and more than 3,000 people indicated they were interested in or planned on attending. The desire to get out ahead of this event, Facebook says, hastened its announcement. The company says it disabled the event on Tuesday and alerted the administrators of those pages. It will also notify those users who were interested in attending the event, but a spokesperson told WIRED it’s “premature” to alert all 290,000 people impacted by the campaign.
Shortly after the announcement, other organizers of the protest took to Twitter to object to Facebook’s suspension of the event. “I cannot believe I have to say this: The Unite the Right counter protest is not being organized by Russians,” wrote one user, Dylan Petrohilos. “We have permits in DC, we have numerous local orgs like BLM, Resist This, and Antifascist groups working on this protest. FB deleted the event because 1 page was sketch.” Petrohilos also tweeted that the event was founded by another group, not the Resisters page.
Also in the Wired article, Facebook’s Cheryl Sandberg admits “they don’t know all the facts” yet:
“We’re still in the very early stages of the investigation, and we don’t know all the facts, including who might be behind it,” Facebook’s chief operating officer said on a call with reporters Tuesday.
What a treat for us, to see this last weekend. We have been hanging out on the Hackaday website generally, since we submitted our Vampire Charger to it’s #PowerHarvesting Challenge. (Update July 25th: We made the Semi-finals!)
It’s always nice to see people finally getting to know the real Chelsea – and truly understand her ideas and techniques.
From the article:
I was lucky enough to get a seat very close to the stage in the main hall. The room was packed front to back. Even the standing room — mapped out on the carpet in tape and closely policed by conference “fire marshals” — was packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder. The audience was alive with energy, and I think everyone lucky enough to be here today shares my feeling that moments like these tie our community together and help us all focus on what is important in life, as individuals and as a society…
Hardware in hand, she started whittling away at the topics necessary to get back into the now. Among these, getting up to speed on virtual machine platforms, advances in network security, new warning systems, and the requisite mailing lists to stay on top of the latest research were on her short list. She mentioned that she thinks a lot of what once were tedious tasks have been tamped down through automation.
All of this, however, is the small part of her readjustment. When Chelsea entered prison she was only 22 years old. She had never lived by herself, and just learning how to find and rent an apartment was a big adjustment. Prison social dynamics do not jive with life on the outside and her discussion took the audience through what it has been like making the mental pivot to rejoin society.
At the end of last year’s annual event (Fifth Annual Aaron Swartz Day – 2017) we decided collectively to keep the momentum going on all of our hackathon projects. Some of us had experimented with VR that weekend, and a group of us decided to keep going with our VR project.
As a result, a small team (Ryan Sternlicht, Bernice Chua, Alex Peake, Tracey Jaquith, Matteo Borri, Kenneth Bryan Smith & Ryan Junell) has been working closely with me on the first exhibit of what will be “The Swartz-Manning VR Museum, Art Gallery, and Fun House.”
We are building everything using the Unity gaming engine, and incorporating 3D art, gaming, history, and storytelling into an interactive virtual reality environment.
We will teach history and technology, while helping folks get acquainted with the basics of being in a Virtual Reality environment. We can help “newbies” get acquainted with VR, while providing entertaining and educational content.
Our hope is to become a premiere location – for artists, historians, educators and VR newbies, as VR gradually becomes more popular and enters into the mainstream – by providing an accessible, educational VR destination, and development platform, that can serve as an example to others.
The Swartz-Manning’s first exhibit will provide a detailed history of Aaron Swartz Day, including the story of how I worked with the Aaron Swartz Day community to provide friendship and support to Chelsea Manning, before she was released from military prison, in May 2017.
The second set of exhibits, displayed in their own “Leary Wing” of the museum, will eventually provide a complete timeline of Dr. Timothy Leary’s life, starting with his birth in 1920. For these exhibits, we are collaborating directly with Dr. Leary’s son, Zach Leary and his Personal Archivist, Michael Horowitz.
There will be numerous other museum and art gallery exhibits to follow, including historical artifacts such as letters, photographs, and audio/video recordings, merged with artistic installations; paintings you can step into and walk around in, to re-creations of historical rooms and locations, journals you can read through, so you can peer into the minds and thoughts of these three inspirational icons.
The Swartz-Manning VR Museum, Art Gallery, and Fun House will include four different types of installations:
1) A “traditional” kind of museum, in Virtual Reality.
“Traditional” museum exhibits (essentially, artifacts presented on walls and displays). (It seems kind of like a waste of VR to us, but we can do it, easily, and there seems to be a demand for it :-)
2) A “Fun House” version of the museum’s archival content.
The Fun House is a VR game that teaches about history while you wander around in different environments made up of the the same art and historical artifacts as the traditional version, all woven into a game, using animations and visually stimulating content and characters to create an ever-expanding game-like learning environment.
You can explore completely anonymously, or keep track of your trip, and share with others as a “flashback.” There is literally a trivia game that can be played with the “TimBot” robot character, or the player can watch videos, look through pictures, or just keep walking around looking at stuff in the house.
3) Art Gallery Installations, Platform & Templates to enable artists to create their own VR worlds.
An experimental Art Gallery platform and installations with “educational zones.” This Art Gallery platform will provide templates to enable artists to exhibit their own creations in VR easily. Artists may wish to exhibit in our gallery or greate a gallery of their own and we encourage derivative galleries – and make our templates freely available for use under a Creative Commons license.
Users can frequent our “Educational Zones” to learn how to quickly build their own VR spaces using CAD templates.These educational areas will explain and teach how the museum itself was built, step-by-step. (Complete with CAD templates.)
A focus on teaching “Solar Survival Technologies” – using VR and special inventions by our team members, to help teach folks that might be temporarily homeless (after a natural disaster, or just from being displaced) how to build devices such as solar cell phone chargers, or a freshly-invented “Vampire Charger,” that actually enables a cell phone to be charged safely from whatever random batteries happen to be lying around after a disaster, while protecting the phone from blowing up from a sudden power burst – for use by the homeless or after a natural disaster. (Technology courtesy of Advisory Board member Matteo Borri, who has just built a chlorophyll detector for NASA’s next MARS rover-like robot.)
We will most likely make the project available for download from the Internet Archive, and will have versions running on all platforms. Ideally, we will have multiple implementations going at first, while we conduct user testing and build out the first version of a framework.
Dr. Timothy Leary, Chelsea Manning and Aaron Swartz have more in common than you might think. All three of these people risked their freedom and their lives to make a positive difference in the world (whether they realized it at the time, or not :-) We will tell these stories, and others, while also creating an experimental art and teaching everyone VR development basics.
We are also experimenting with photogrammetry and 3D scanners, to construct 3-D models of many interesting objects from several historical archives, and also locations in nature, such as the desert.
The goal is to use a 3D scanner for some objects, and use photogrammetry “in the wild” for taking pictures of living objects. (I have a team member in the Imperial Desert, for instance, capturing wild flowers and insects there.) We are looking to partner with 3-D scanning companies and VR haptics companies, and various hardware accessory companies of all kinds. (Contact: Lisa Rein: lisa[at]lisarein.com)
Chelsea Manning: Me personally, I think that we in technology have a responsibility to make our own decisions in the workplace – wherever that might be. And to communicate with each other, share notes, talk to each other, and really think – take a moment – and think about what you are doing. What are you doing? Are you helping? Are you harming things? Is it worth it? Is this really what you want to be doing? Are deadlines being prioritized over – good results? Should we do something? I certainly made a decision in my own life to do something. It’s going to be different for every person. But you really need to make your own decision as to what to do, and you don’t have to act individually.
Caroline Sinders: Even if you feel like a cog in the machine, as a technologist, you aren’t. There are a lot of people like you trying to protest the systems you’re in. Especially in the past year, we’ve heard rumors of widespread groups and meetings of people inside of Facebook, inside of Google, really talking about the ramifications of the U.S. Presidential election, of questioning, “how did this happen inside these platforms?” – of wanting there even to be accountability inside of their own companies. I think it’s really important for us to think about that for a second. That that’s happening right now. That people are starting to organize. That they are starting to ask questions.
Kristen Lum: There are a lot of models now predicting whether an individual will be re-arrested in the future. Here’s a question: What counts as a “re-arrest?” Say someone fails to appear for court and a bench warrant is issued, and then they are arrested. Should that count? So I don’t see a whole lot of conversation about this data munging.
Read the whole thing here. Watch the whole video here.
They spoke together in Ann Arbor, on March 15, at the University of Michigan, and in Pittsburg, on March 20, at the Carnegie Mellon School of Art.
Heather and Chelsea, with illustrator Shoili Kanungo made a beautiful little comic book about Chelsea and Heather’s first collaboration, “Radical Love.” The last frame of the Supressed Images comic book has Chelsea out of prison and looking at her own self-portraits for the first time. It was an emotional moment when it came true, and Heather helps me take a walk down memory lane, so we can bring you all sides of this amazing story :-)
RU Sirius, over at the newly revamped Mondo 2000 asked Lisa Rein if she would write a few words about her memories of hanging out and working with John Perry Barlow, who gave her very thoughtful and enthusiastic advice on all three of her “life’s work” archival projects. (That is, her projects of cataloguing and explaining the lives of Dr. Timothy Leary, Aaron Swartz, and Chelsea Manning.)
We didn’t realize it, but John Perry Barlow really identified with Aaron and was greatly inspired by him. Barlow showed up at Aaron’s San Francisco memorial and read a short prepared statement, the first in a large collection of many other folks who were not part of the “official memorial.” (Brewster and I had so many requests from people that wanted to speak, we figured we’d better open it up afterwards to give people a chance to share their stories.)
It was in part due to John Perry’s words that night that Brewster and I realized we needed to have an Aaron Swartz-inspired celebration every year, to harness the sad energy into something constructive and positive that could reach out and protect future generations of precocious youth.
“I will be brief. My name is John Perry Barlow, and Aaron Swartz was the embodiment and the apotheosis of everything I’ve stood for for the last 25 years. And it is paradoxical that even though that is true, and even though he was profoundly involved with most of my best friends and greatest heroes, I spent almost all the time I ever spent with him, one afternoon in, I think 1996, when he really was a very little kid.
I had been asked by the Headmaster of Northshore Country Day to come and speak to the middle school. And, for some reason, there was this 10 to 11 year old that was among the middle schoolers.
And I spent the afternoon —- and this was a time when I don’t think there were that many people that felt the way I did about this stuff — most of them are in this room now… and I was promoting the idea that we could make a world where anybody anywhere could give his thirst for knowledge and curiosity everything that it wanted to know, and that anybody could know as much as any human being knew about anything in the future.
And, he didn’t say much. He was extremely memorable however. He was much younger. He was all eyes and mind and spiritual radiance, in a way. And I scarcely saw him again.”
So, I see things have changed a little bit since last year. Since I was last out and about in the world.
First off, I’ve “spoken” – actually I’ve had two statements read at this event in the past (2015) (2016), and that’s a little different — I’m actually here.
I want to talk a little bit about where we are today. What we’re looking at and what we’re dealing with.
Because I’ve been out and about for a few months, I’ve obviously seen the sights and I see what’s going on. There’s a lot that’s changed. There’s Nazis and KKK running around. :-( (I don’t remember that being a big deal, whenever I was out.)
So, I think it’s really important to remember – especially at a time like this – that institutions – the institutions we depend on. Institutions that matter to us. Institutions that make decisions over us. Whether it’s a large corporation or a criminal justice system or media entities or whatever, like these large institutions can and they regularly do fail, and I think it’s important to recognize that sometimes institutions don’t work. And when they don’t work, you can’t ask them to work again. You know? You just can’t.
So, what we’re seeing today, I think, is more institutions that are depending on secrecy. More institutions that are depending on cracking down on any forms of dissent or disagreement or even just a hint of potential threat to them. And all of this is surrounded by this notion of power. Institutions have power. They have the ability to make decisions over our lives, and they’ve kind of rigged the systems.
The ways in which we engage in public. The ways in which we engage with our institutions – they are usually very administrative. Like you go to your ballot box and you have an election, or you have a procedure, or an administrative complaint, or a redress request, or something like that. And also, there’s a lot of compromise that happens between institutions and us. And a lot of us end up asking the question “well, you know, this really sucks” you know, “this isn’t working. Maybe somebody should do something about this?”
And I think that’s a really important moment that happens in each and every one of us. Is that moment where it’s like “this isn’t working, but what can I do?” I get asked a lot: “What can I do?” And, I think it’s really important to remember that whenever systems fail, and whenever institutions don’t work, you do have agency. You do have power. And every single person who’s spoken today introduces us to different ways in which we can engage with power and which we can actually have a forceable impact to have the political agency beyond what we see. Beyond the ballot box. There’s more to politics than just elections or court orders or requests or lawsuits. There’s so much more.
I look at the various forms of direct action as an answer to that process. Whether it’s…I engage in a form of direction but it’s different than another form. We all have different ways in which we can engage in political agency, and together as a collective group of people. We have power and we have the ability to make decisions, and we have the ability to make that be known, even whenever institutions ask us not to. Or tell us not to, forcefully.
I look at how each and every one of us has power. Once of the most inspiring moments I’ve seen since I’ve been out is when I watched as a group of people taking down a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, and I found that inspiring. I found that powerful. I relate to that. I feel like that’s very similar. It feels empowering.
We don’t have to engage in direct action. We don’t all have to do these things. We can also support each other and we can support people who do the right thing or make a decision and end up in trouble or whether its facing getting fired or getting prosecuted or going to prison. We can provide support for people. You don’t have to engage in direct action to support those who do.
Prisoner support works. I was a prisoner for seven years. Lisa, she supported me when I was in prison. Lisa Rein. I’ve had many many many hours on the phone with Lisa, and she helped me in times when I was troubled. When I was alone. Whenever I was doubting myself. Whenever I felt I wasn’t being heard or whenever I felt I was being forgotten. And she was there. And she would sometimes pick up the phone in the supermarket. Or pick up the phone, ya know, while running. Or like, as she’s doing live things. So, she was there for me, and that support really mattered.
We can write letters. We can give inmates money for commissary or for legal defense. We can show our solidarity. We can show up to court hearings. We can write petitions. We can actively do things to help people that do place themselves at risk against their institutions. And it’s really important remind people that have been in positions like we have that we’re not forgotten cause it’s really easy to feel like we’re forgotten sometimes.
On a more positive note for the future though. I think it’s really important to remember that we live in a time where we don’t need leaders to tell us what to do, or to guide us in a time like this. I think we need each other. I lean upon people that are closest to me. I learned this in prison that the people closest to you are the people that matter the most. I looked to them when the prison staff was treating me awfully. Or, just as much as I could reach out to Lisa, I had my prison friends across the table from me. Or down the hall. Or in the cell two doors down that I could reach out to. We worked together. We can depend on each other. We needed each other.
That works out here as well. We need each other. We know what our communities need. Each one of us knows what our community needs. Someone that’s way up upon high that makes decisions doesn’t know what our community needs.
I also think it’s important to remember – especially because I’m told a lot: “You really give me hope.”
I don’t give anybody hope. Hope is not something that anyone can give to you. Nobody can give you hope. Hope is something that you already have. You just have to find it, and we have to help each other find it. Nobody gave me hope when I was in prison. I had to find it. I found it and it got me through. And the support helped me find it.
It’s really important to remember that we do have this. “We got this” – that’s a hashtag that I use very frequently on my Twitter, and it actually comes from a phrase that I said many many times to Lisa, whenever we were having troubled moments over the phone. Whenever she was helping me. Even whenever it looked like… Cause ya know, I didn’t think this would happen. I didn’t think I’d be standing here today. I really didn’t. We had moments when neither of us did. But, she worked so hard.
And and one of the things that we used to say was “We got this. We got this.” Even whenever it didn’t look like we did. And I think it’s real important to remember that sometimes, even whenever it looks like you don’t have it, you really do. And so we got this. Thank you Lisa. Thank you everyone. It’s very powerful for me to be here tonight.
Chelsea Manning will be speaking at the Fifth Annual Aaron Swartz Day Evening Event – Saturday, November 4, 2017 – 7:30 pm – TICKETS(Just going to the hackathon? It’s free.)
From October 8, 2017, in New York City (at the New Yorker Festival):
I grew up in central Oklahoma. A small town, Crescent, Oklahoma. And my parents were both voting Republicans and I wasn’t aware there was an alternative. Everybody held those views. And I didn’t really understand them.
I’m trans and I felt different than everybody else. I knew I was different. I didn’t have words to like, describe that. All of my friends. All of my family. All of my teachers. They all knew it as well. It felt like there was something about me that was different. It caused friction. And it caused difficulty for me.
My mother is British, and when my mother and my father split up, my mother decided to move back to the UK, and so I went and I spent four years there. I went to school there, ya know, it was different. I was a kid from the mid west. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t know. It was just a completely different world for me.
My father exposed me to computers at a young age. I learned how to program by the time I was about 8 or 9, although I didn’t fully understand probably till I was about 10. And my parents, we always had a computer in the house. And we always had internet access. So, it was a “normal” thing for me. Even though, at the time, in the early to mid 90s, it wasn’t a normal thing. And there were a lot of communities on the Internet in this time. And so, I was exploring. I was exploring who I was. I was exploring different ways of presenting myself.
I spent more time text messaging and instant messaging my friends than actually spending time with them. The term is IRL (In Real Life), but, ya know, we weren’t spending a whole lot of time IRL. My mother didn’t know how to write checks, so I used the internet to learn how. It ended up being a symbiotic relationship, but also my mother had a drinking problem, and as I got older, I realized how bad it was. And I love my mother. It just, I realized this is not the environment I needed to be in at the time. So I decided to move after my mom, she had a medical problem happen. And it was a scare for me, because I realized, if something happened to my mother, I didn’t have a back up plan. I didn’t have anywhere else to go.
So, I moved back. We didn’t get along. To say the least. I was 17, and I moved back to the states, and it was just very difficult because she (her father’s wife) didn’t like me, and so she was creating all these rules that were impossible to follow. Like, “you can’t leave your bedroom after 8pm.”
So she called the police on me one night, after an argument. It was over a sandwich, because I wanted to have a sandwich. It was 8:30 at night. So, I went out of the room, and I used *her* kitchen, after like 8 o’clock or whatever, to like make a sandwich. It was a swiss cheese and baloney sandwich. And I would cut it with a knife, so I had a knife in my hand. I wasn’t wielding it or anything like that. She had ran off and like, called the police on me. And I’m just like ok that’s weird. And so the Oklahoma Police Department knocked on the door. I’m like “hello,” and they’re like “we’re here for a domestic incident.” And I was like “Okay. She’s in there.” And so, like, the police officer understood what was going on. He basically said “you shouldn’t go back there.”
I borrowed my dad’s truck. I ended up driving to Chicago and living on the streets of Chicago for a summer in Chicago, and here I am living out of a pickup truck, and dealing with that.
My aunt did some detective work, and she asked around all the people that I used to hang out with. She told me that she called about 50 or 60 people, until she finally found somebody that had my cell phone number. So, I get a call from my aunt, and she’s like “come to my house,” and I did. I drove a night and a day, all the way to Maryland. And I lived with her for a year. It was so wonderful for her to be there for me at a time like this, and I realize now, that she really saved my life in many ways, and I didn’t realize it, I didn’t understand it at the time, cause I was so used to being in crisis mode that even whenever I was there, I was like “this is temporary.” So I was scared.
I was trying to re-establish a relationship with my father, and so I’m calling him, and he kept on saying “You need structure. You need the military. I was in the Navy for four years: You should go into the Navy or the Air Force.” And, at that time, the Iraq war was going on. So I saw the images on TV every day of chaos and violence in Bagdad, and I really wanted to do something. And I joined the Army because, ya know, it was Bagdad, where the fight was, and I wanted to help with that. I thought, “if I become an intelligence analyst, I can use my skills or learn something, and make a difference, and maybe stop this. — Chelsea E. Manning, October 8, 2017.