WASHINGTON – Participants in the 2002 Green Anarchy Tour vow to "destroy civilization on stolen lands," and with a secret calendar of dates and locations, they could be headed next to a town near you.
"Our world is being destroyed both economically and socially by capitalism, we’re being coaxed along in this march off the cliff. Ecological destruction being caused by transnational corporations, causing chaos," is among the concerns described by one local promoter of the tour who asked that his name and city not be identified.
"There are people who are really concerned about where this planet is going," he said. "This tour is to raise awareness about that."
In fact, according to the tour's Web site, "The Green Anarchy Tour is an attempt to bridge the gap between the punk movement, the revolutionary anarchist movement, the ecological movement, and the prisoners of war that have been incarcerated for their involvement in the struggles listed above."
But the "political prisoners" in need of help listed on the site include Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, 60, who is currently serving time for the murder of three people and the injury of 23 others during a 17-year mail-bomb spree engineered to protest modern technology. Kaczynski was arrested and convicted in 1996.
It also includes a number of American and international radicals who are serving time for everything from arson and vandalism of research laboratories and the logging industry to possession of incendiary devices and conspiracy to commit property damage.
The tour, a mishmash of punk rock performances, pro-environment "direct action" workshops and soapbox prognostications against modern society, has raised some eyebrows with eco-terrorism watchdogs.
Critics say the anarchists in question are nothing more than criminals who should be treated no differently than other terrorists threatening the country.
"The Green Anarchy Tour is very clearly an effort to recruit and train individuals in violent criminal activity," said Kelly Stoner, a spokesman for Stop Eco-Terrorism, which acts as a public watchdog against groups like Earth Liberation Front, Animal Liberation Front and others accused of causing millions in property damage over the last several years nationwide.
"Often it is said that eco-terrorists are non-violent, and that they haven’t killed anyone, but when you look at the actions of the Unabomber, it is clear that he killed and he would kill again," said Stoner. "If that’s what they call direct action, then we can expect that people are going to get hurt."
Just this spring, an article written by Kaczynski from his jail cell was published by Green Anarchy, a radical environmental newsletter that appears to be connected with the tour. The article reiterated the Unabomber’s desire to "eliminate the entire techno-industrial system," by "hitting where it hurts."
Not all anarchists and radical activists agree with Kaczynski’s methods to achieve those goals.
"I personally don’t support violent activity so I can’t support the actions Ted Kaczynski took to harm people," said David Barbarash, the official spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front, who said his home in Canada was raided this week by authorities seeking to tie him with a property damage incident at a gun club in Maine in 1999.
"ALF acts under a strict code of non-violence. They have never broken that code," Barbarash insisted. "They are not terrorists, they save lives."
Because of "the threat of state harassment, intimidation and oppression," exact locations of the tour are being kept secret, as are all contacts for the events. Attempts to reach a national organizer with the tour via the one e-mail address listed was unsuccessful. Even the phone number of the person hosting the Web site has been disconnected.
Nevertheless, the spectacle of anarchy is expected to hit the nation’s capital on Aug. 7, followed by a stop in Baltimore on Aug. 8. A series of shows already occurred on the West Coast in July, the clandestine promoter said.
A Web search has revealed the Baltimore event is taking place at a venue called "The Blood Shed." No one seems to know when or where the Washington, D.C., show is to take place.
"If there is a large gathering we will have a contingent of officers on hand to patrol it," said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a spokesman for Washington's Metropolitan Police Department. Gentile said he had no knowledge of this group coming to town and said no permits had been taken out by the group for an event on public property. The U.S. Park Service, which issues permits for events on federal grounds, also had not received permit applications.
The tour this summer comes on the heels of several years of anti-globalization protests in cities across the world, some of which have witnessed violent exchanges between "direct action" protesters, many of them self-described anarchists, and police. But despite such dramatic demonstrations in Seattle and Washington in 2000, more recent protests have been largely quiet.
"The anarchist movement does not recruit people, ever. They're showing videos that describe eco-sabotage, and that could be construed as promotion, maybe it is. But I don’t think eco-sabotage is bad at all," said the local promoter.
"But it's not a training seminar. We're not neo-Nazis; we don’t have a compound. Most of us live in crappy apartments," he added.