RISING TIDE IN THE U.S. AND ABROAD / FBI SCRUTINY

The international activities of Rising Tide are found on four continents: North America, South America, Europe and Australia. In North America, the organization has established footholds in Mexico and Canada, the New England states, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Utah, Idaho, northern California and Washington D.C. The organization receives funding from a variety of sources, including George Soros’ Tides Foundation.

 

Rising Tide has been on the FBI’s radar for many years, including activities of chapters in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle, Idaho, and Washington.

 

In response to FBI questioning in Portland, the local chapter claimed to be “outreaching, training, and organizing hundreds of Pacific NWers of all age groups to engage in a level of civil disobedience not seen in decades. We are going to do it to save our neighborhoods, our communities, our salmon, and our climate.”

 

Rising Tide activists in Denton also have attracted FBI scrutiny, not surprising since the Denton area is considered by some to be a de facto breeding ground for dissident organizations. The Denton chapter is Blackland Prairie Rising Tide.

 

In early 2012, the FBI questioned UNT student Ben Kessler about his activities as an organizer for Rising Tide and, a month later, the agency visited UNT professor Adam Briggle to discuss ecoterrorism and his class on civil disobedience and anti-fracking activities. Sharon Wilson, a local organizer for EarthWorks, found the tracks from the FBI in her website management system after she posted online details of her arrest in Washington, D.C. in 2011.

 

RECALL PETITION

A professional organizer and trainer for national organizations Rising Tide, Tar Sands Blockade and Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Cindy Spoon was instrumental in initiating the petition drive to recall Denton City Council member Joey Hawkins, District 4.

 

Hawkins ran unopposed for Council in May 2015. In July 2015, a committee of Spoon, three of her neighbors—Theron Palmer, James Carr and Nancy Condon—and Palmer’s mother, Violet Palmer, launched a petition drive to remove him from office. The effort failed. The committee then filed a second petition, which satisfied legal requirements.

 

Despite the reasons stated on the petition to repeal the fracking ban, Hawkins was targeted primarily because, as an unopposed candidate, his race garnered the fewest votes (302) of any race in the 2015 election for single-district City Council members.

 

Since the number of signatures required on a recall petition is based on the number of votes received by the officeholder and his opponents in the most recent municipal election, the District 4 race required the fewest validated signatures (125) on a petition.

 

The recall election in May, if successful, would leave District 4 without district representation for six months, until November 2016, at which time an election to fill the non-partisan District 4 Council seat would be held during the partisan 2016 presidential election.

 

Also in 2015, the same group launched a petition drive to recall Denton City Council member Kevin Roden, District 1, whose contested race in May 2015 had received the second-fewest votes (528) of any district seat. The petition drive was unsuccessful.

 

2016 DENTON CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS

Will Wooten, head of Blackland Prairie Rising Tide is a candidate for Denton City Council in District 5. We urge voters to research fully all candidates in both contested races through all available venues. These include the Blackland Prairie Rising Tide Facebook page, including Likes and photos going back to early 2016, and other Facebook pages websites and published information.

 

RISING TIDE ORGANIZERS/TRAINERS

In 2011, while students at the University of North Texas, organizers/trainers Spoon, Ben Kessler and Will Wooten were among 1,200 individuals arrested in Washington D.C. at rolling sit-ins held in front of the White House to protest the Keystone XL pipeline.

 

In July 2012, as an organizer for Tar Sands Blockade, Spoon led a three-day training camp for 70 attendees near Sulphur Springs, Texas, in preparation for an extended tree sit-in in Franklin and Wood counties in East Texas, to protest the Keystone XL pipeline under construction by Trans-Canada. A description of the camp on the Tar Sands Blockade website includes the following:

 

A realistically portrayed police response was part of that exercise. Although it was controlled and fake, seeing the injustice and injury to which we expose ourselves in defense of the land is shaking. If the brutal police response to peaceful protesters in New York, Chicago, Davis, Anaheim, Appalachia, and other places across the U.S. is any indication, the possibility of criminal injury by the police to ourselves and our dear companions is undeniable.

 

In September 2012, Spoon was a leader of a three-month tree sit-in and equipment lock-down in Winnsboro in Franklin and Wood counties in East Texas. Protesters chained themselves to equipment and lived in trees during the 89-day event. An early summary included vivid descriptions of “rough treatment” by police in Winnsboro, TX.

 

In an interview on ConfrontingthePipedream.com in 2013, Spoon spoke about the Tar Sands Blockade, referencing “more than 30 direct actions” by the groups and describing two in some detail.

 

In October 2013, Spoon spoke in Quebec and Montreal as part of the Tar Sands Reality Check Tour and participated in a panel discussion aired on CKUT-FM in Montreal. Topic was Line 9, a pipeline owned by Enbridge, Inc. that runs across Ontario and Quebec.

 

In July 2014 for Wild Utah Rising Tide, Spoon organized the blockade of a tar sands mine near Moab, Utah. Amid claims of police brutality, she was one of a total 21 people arrested at the site and the police station.

 

In June 2015, when demonstrations and blockades were held at the Vantage Energy well site west of Denton, Spoon was on probation following her conviction for actions at the Tar Sands event in Utah.

 

The next month, in July 2015 in McAllen, Texas, Spoon represented Blackland Prairie Rising Tide as an organizer of a two-day “creative resistance” training session that included Latino youth, ages 15-23, from the Rio Grande Valley (RGV).

 

RISING TIDE ACTIVITIES IN DENTON

A review published by SocialistWorker.org of activities in North Texas in 2011 included a description of various activities in Denton:

In April 2011, members of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), Rising Tide North Texas (RTNT) and others participated in a march in downtown Fort Worth to ban fracking. The action succeeded in shutting down the headquarters of Range Resources for the day. Momentum from the event, along with activist networking, spilled over into further actions in the region.

Despite a statewide prohibition against municipal moratoriums on fracking, Denton activists are drawing inspiration from onerous regulations implemented in the nearby city of Flower Mound, which has effectively halted all fracking there since 2009.

A citizen-formed Denton Stakeholders Drilling Advisory Group (DAG) recently issued a list of recommended regulations, inspired by those in Flower Mound and other nearby cities. The DAG also hosted several well-attended informational sessions to educate concerned citizens about fracking.

 

The Denton branch of the ISO, Occupy Denton and RTNT have made it routine to organize protests at relevant public meeting of city officials. Public meetings of the task force, while rare, draw crowds unanimously opposed to fracking.

 

On December 7, activists described by one blogger as “fracking insurgents” disrupted a meeting of the Denton Planning and Zoning Commission, mic-checking a vote to grant a permit to a company already drilling in the city illegally.

 

In May 2015, Denton activists held a training session at a local church. The event was one of several such training sessions conducted at the church. The event posting notes:

 

On Saturday May 30th, trainings will be offered for anyone in Denton interested in taking action. We are an experienced crew, and now is the time to put our skills together and say “Don’t Frack with Denton!”. Some of the most experienced trainers in the state of Texas will be leading the training. We are lucky to count several of them as Dentonites!

 

This will be a training for everyone on many different types of civil disobedience. What to expect, legal situations, how to stay safe and keep those around you safe. Many Dentonites have expressed interest in learning more. This will be a place where everyone should feel comfortable to participate and learn the ins/outs of civil disobedience.

 

In the summer of 2015, Rising Tide North America launched Flood the System, a national event designed to be “a flood of actions washing over, occupying, blockading, shutting down and flooding the institutions that exploit us and threaten our survival throughout fall of 2015.“

 

In June 2015, in reponse to Flood the System, Blackland Prairie Rising Tide mounted “Frack-Free Fridays” at the Vantage Energy drilling site on Nail Road near SH 380. Participants held demonstrations and chained themselves to, or sat in front of, drilling site gates to prevent vehicles and equipment from entering or leaving the site.

 

Ten individuals were arrested in Denton during Frack-Free Fridays. One was released without charges. As of April 2016, nine are awaiting prosecution by the Denton County District Attorney’s office.

 

Denton Record-Chronicle coverage of Frack-Free Fridays included stories published on June 3, June 12, June 16, and June 19, 2015.

 

On October 10, 2015, the group quietly rented the MLK Rec Center for an event that was part of the Rising Tide “Flood the System” initiative. There, Spoon, et al, trained attendees to oppose Denton’s proposed gas plants, even though the city had no specific plan for the plants at the time. As of April 2106, the city has no specific plan; a consultant is reviewing energy options for Denton.

 

On Nov. 6, 2015, Blackland Prairie Rising Tide rented the City of Denton MLK Recreation Center for a widely billboarded panel discussion that featured organizers from Latin America, Eastern Europe, The Balkans and North America.