All Episodes

February 10, 2024 234 mins

All of this week's episodes of It Could Happen Here put together in one large file.

You can now listen to all Cool Zone Media shows, 100% ad-free through the Cooler Zone Media subscription, available exclusively on Apple Podcasts. So, open your Apple Podcasts app, search for “Cooler Zone Media” and subscribe today!

http://apple.co/coolerzone

 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mark as Played
Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Also media.

Speaker 2 (00:03):
Hey everybody, Robert Evans here, and I wanted to let
you know this is a compilation episode. So every episode
of the week that just happened is here in one
convenient and with somewhat less ads package for you to
listen to in a long stretch if you want. If
you've been listening to the episodes every day this week,
there's got to be nothing new here for you, but
you can make your own decisions.

Speaker 3 (00:26):
Welcome, Dick. It appen here at the podcast that we're
starting as if it was a NOL podcast instead of
doing some terrible thing like we normally do. I'm your host,
Bia Wong. This is a podcast about things falling apart,
and this is a putting it back together again episode. Yeah,
and I'm I'm here with two workers from Donut Workers United,
specifically at Loostar Donuts, Lydia and Ben, to talk about

(00:49):
unionization efforts and some really terrible union busting stuff. So, Lydia, Ben,
welcome to the show.

Speaker 4 (00:56):
Thank you, thank you for having us. Super excited.

Speaker 3 (00:59):
Yeah yeah, I'm really excited to have you two here.
So all right, So Blue Star Donuts is a donut
place in Portland's for people who are not in Portland's
question work, which is probably a lot of you. I
don't know, I don't know where you are right now.
So I guess the place I wanted to start with
talking about this is how how did you two get

(01:21):
involved with this campaign?

Speaker 5 (01:25):
You know, it's actually for me, it was right before Halloween.
I went to a coworker's house and you know, we
had some drinks and hung out and she just sort of,
you know, the conversation just sort of organically led to
work and talking about work and you know, this is
messed up at work, this is frustrating us. And then
she was like, hey, like, what's your opinion on you know,

(01:47):
union stuff? And I actually had when I worked at
Starbucks in Texas, I had tried to unionize my location
and it didn't.

Speaker 6 (01:55):
No one was interested, but I you know, they she.

Speaker 5 (02:00):
Asked us if we wanted to sign a union card
or union authorization card, and I was all for it.
You know, I'm very into it. So that's that's how
it started for me.

Speaker 4 (02:11):
Yeah, So bouncing off of that, it was I would
say a couple of days before that Halloween party. For me,
I'm pretty close friends with the woman who started all
of this, and so I was visiting her and she
just kind of briefly mentioned She's like, hey, do you
know what's going on with Blue Star? And kind of

(02:32):
open ended question, and you know this company almost every
day something happens, so I was like, I mean, maybe
maybe not what's going on? And she's like, well, like
are you good with unions? And I'm like, oh, girl,
of course i am. I was actually involved with a

(02:54):
union and a previous job that was more higher end,
like government board specific instead of an individual and I
was like, yeah, it hit me what's going on. And
she's like, okay, cool, we have a couple of people
interested trying to unionize Blue Star. And I was like, oh,

(03:15):
sign me up, Like let's do this thing. And then
at that Halleen party when we were all kind of
gathered there, we briefly talked about it and how messed
up things were, swalk stories and it just kind of
click that leads to my brain of like okay, yeah,
let's do this. So that was that was my end.

Speaker 3 (03:39):
Yeah, it seems like it was a really a pretty
quick campaign. I know you all had an election. Oh
how many weeks ago?

Speaker 7 (03:47):
Was that?

Speaker 6 (03:47):
Likes ago? Yeah?

Speaker 3 (03:52):
I guess it'll be like three when this goes out. Yeah,
so that that's that's a very very quick campaign. How
many people like ish are are at the shop.

Speaker 5 (04:04):
It depends on if you're adding like all the satellites
and versus like the regular Flagship store. I think we
have thirty something at Flagship, which is the location on Jefferson,
and then I think there's maybe fifty one employees total.

Speaker 4 (04:19):
Yeah, we're pretty scapared around all of Portland with one
shop in Lake Oswego, but majority of us are in
headquarters at Flagship.

Speaker 7 (04:30):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (04:30):
That's something I think is pretty interesting about this campaign
and about a lot of the independent campaigns, is that, yeah,
it's shops are it's shops that are pretty small shops
that are split around, and it shops that, like you
know it shops with high turnover. Now I was wondering, well, actually,
I don't know. I'm assuming you get SiGe turned over because.

Speaker 4 (04:53):
There is a lot of turnover in the satellite shops
for sure.

Speaker 5 (04:57):
I mean I would even say that there was a
fair amount of turnover at Flagship. You know, we had
a time where in our kitchen, which is the wholesale kitchen,
which makes the donut bites. We referred to it as
Red Kitchen. We had four people quit in four days.

Speaker 3 (05:15):
Jesus ghost.

Speaker 5 (05:16):
They didn't Yeah, they didn't replace those people. They expected
us to continue working the producing the same amount with
four less people. Yeah, but there were you know, a
lot of like poached wororker like temporary workers that were
coming and going while I was there.

Speaker 6 (05:33):
And yeah, some pretty serious turnover.

Speaker 4 (05:36):
That kind of happened with me last year. I was
working at Blue Star for like about eight months. Oh
it's the new year, I guess two years ago.

Speaker 3 (05:45):
And then I quit.

Speaker 4 (05:47):
I left, and then unfortunately last year I hit a
little unemployment zone and I'm like I need a job.
So I came back to Blue Star for about three
months and this is when everything was going on. But
long story short, Sorry, last time I was there, we
kind of had a little bit of turnover as well.

(06:07):
A lot of people were not great, and we had
a lot of meetings and got some people fired. Granted,
like Ben was saying, is that no one replaced them,
and so it's very much of like we have to
cover them and a lot more quantity.

Speaker 3 (06:31):
Yeah, so has the sort of speed ups from that
was that one of the main things that was driving
the unionization or like what other kinds of things were
like driving people into this.

Speaker 6 (06:42):
There were a few things, a few main things.

Speaker 5 (06:46):
Pay and inconsistency of pay was a real big issue.
For instance, there was a person in our kitchen who
me and her started around the same time. We had
very similar previous experience. Neither of us were cross trained.
We did the same exact job. She was making three
dollars an hour more.

Speaker 6 (07:03):
Than I was.

Speaker 5 (07:04):
And so that kind of thing happens a lot at
Blue Star. And there's one of the biggest things for me, honestly,
was the point system, what they call the point system
the disciplinary system at Blue Star. Basically, you get a
certain amount of points that you're allowed to hit.

Speaker 6 (07:27):
If you go over that.

Speaker 5 (07:28):
Amount of points, you're done, you're fired, and you can
get you know, I don't remember the numbers exactly, but
it's like one point for calling out of a shift,
half a point for being ten minutes late. See, there's
all these things that you can earn. Yeah, there's all
these things that you can earn points for. And it
you know, if you reach that number eight, it doesn't
really matter how good of an employee you are you're fired.

Speaker 4 (07:51):
Yeah. And on top of that, with the point system,
it's incredibly unfair because you get points due to things
you can't like the thing.

Speaker 6 (08:01):
It's very able.

Speaker 4 (08:02):
Yeah, And the main issue was traffic and crashes. If
like a car crash happens and you're stuck in that
you and you're like late to work because of it,
even when you like let your managers know and let
your team know, you still get punished for it and
you get points and that counts to the eight point total.

(08:25):
So that was a main part of the point system
that really really had us upset and very unfair, honestly.

Speaker 6 (08:34):
Well, and it's it's very it's a very abless system.

Speaker 5 (08:37):
I mean there were multiple people in our kitchen alone
that had chronic illness issues, myself included. And I there
were two nights when in the three ish months that
I was working there, two days where I had not
slept it all the night before and I was literally
not seeing straight, like I was seeing double. I couldn't
walk in a straight line like, I was not okay.

(09:00):
And you know, there's some heavy machinery and like some
really hot oil in the kitchen and I was like,
I really don't think I'm safe to come to work.
And they're like, that's fine, you know, stay home, get
some rest. But you are getting a point what Yeah,
so you know, a very ablest system.

Speaker 4 (09:18):
Yeah, and going off of that as well, the whole
thick time and PTO was a mess. And when we
get like paid time off, it won't even cover a
whole shift. We'll be lucky to get four hours.

Speaker 3 (09:35):
Yeah.

Speaker 4 (09:36):
No, it's it's insane really and so I'll never forget.
Like just recently, our special Christmas prize thing, our grand
prize on the twelfth day was two hours PTO.

Speaker 6 (09:54):
Two hours ye, congratulations ye.

Speaker 4 (10:00):
And sick time too, yeah, they were super problems. Are
like we were so hard for this, you deserve this,
blah blah blah. And with sick time, it like will
barely cover a day. And on top of that, if
you're like sincerely sick, I got bronchitis on my birthday

(10:21):
and I had to leave work for like a week,
And around the like second or third day, my manager
is like, okay, well for you to be excused properly,
you have to go back and get a doctor's note
from them, and to prove that you are not able
to come into work and you know, I could ramble

(10:45):
on like they they don't handle COVID. Well, they're like,
if you can stand up, you can slap on a
mask and come into work. And COVID specifically spread so
quickly there because people were so scared aired of not
coming to work that they would get punished and get points.
This than the other that sick people will come into

(11:08):
work and get other people sick. It happened, yeah, all
the time.

Speaker 5 (11:13):
I mean I can think of specifically. We had a
coworker who, you know, kind of young. This was you know,
she was kind of getting her feet wet in the
working world, and she had had some issues with illness
and she came to work with strep throat. Yeah, because
she was so afraid of getting I mean she literally

(11:34):
was like in tears, like having a breakdown to the
managers because she was like, I can't get fired, Like
I need to keep this job and I'm afraid that
if I don't come in, I'm going to get fired.
And that's the kind of culture they create there with
that disciplinary system.

Speaker 4 (11:52):
Yeah, it's it's really rough because majority of these workers
rely on this job, like this job is their income
and they can't really do anything else, and it's so
incredibly toxic there where they're just so afraid to not

(12:15):
come into work because they will be punished over it.

Speaker 3 (12:19):
It kind of goes without saying, which means you should
say it, which is like it is unbelievably discussing to
literally put people's lives in danger because you don't want
to let someone take like a few days off because
they have fucking stripped. Like that's unbelievable.

Speaker 4 (12:36):
Yeah, over like peace and love to Blue Star, but
over donuts like donut bite.

Speaker 6 (12:41):
Yeah, like yeah, well.

Speaker 8 (12:45):
Like like I don't, I don't, I don't think.

Speaker 3 (12:48):
I don't think it's okay to make like nurses go
in when they're sick, but like donuts, like this is
oh my god.

Speaker 5 (12:56):
Like you know, as you know, who cares if we're
suffering as long as they make their bottom line?

Speaker 7 (13:03):
You know.

Speaker 3 (13:04):
Yeah, it's really one of those things. It's like, yes,
like they will survive if slightly less donuts are produced,
Like they will be fine. However, Comma all over here
are getting terribly sick because of all the shit that
is that is terrible.

Speaker 4 (13:23):
Yeah, no, like I laugh all the time about it,
and I you know, my roommate and I are like
best friends. I come home almost every day from those
shifts being like you'll never guess what happened over like
the most craziest, hilarious things, and like I can't believe
this is real, Like I'm experiencing this.

Speaker 3 (13:44):
Yeah, and we're we're going to talk more about the
absolutely wild stuff that happened here. Unfortunately, after we come
back from this ad break that pays some of the
bills question.

Speaker 1 (13:56):
Mark, we are back.

Speaker 3 (14:09):
So yeah, I wanted to ask about some of the
other stuff that's been happening at this shop because everything
that I've ever heard about is just like, I don't know,
just deeply weird. And it's well, I guess, I guess
one place we can sort of start. It's like it
seems like it's one of these places where they, I

(14:29):
don't know, it has this very sort of like progressive
eveneer around it, and then when it comes time to
like you know, like like even sort of live up
to those ideals, you just get this. Everyone's forced to
come home with COVID.

Speaker 5 (14:46):
Yeah, and it's it's so funny because you walk in
and you know there's there's pride flags there, you know,
all all of the workers are you know, queer and
cool and progressive, and you know they're supporting the Shortland Teachers' Union.

Speaker 6 (15:01):
And yet you know, and this story is just disgusting.

Speaker 5 (15:06):
We had a worker in our kitchen, actually in Lydia,
in an I's kitchen, who sexually assaulted two of our coworkers.

Speaker 3 (15:14):
Jesus Christ.

Speaker 5 (15:16):
Yes, these women brought it forward to management. Management victim blamed.
They thanked them for keeping it quiet and not letting
it interfere with their work. Yeah, it was not handled well.
That was specifically the manager of Red Kitchen, Brittany Bergner.
A lot of just really like callous and inappropriate mishandling

(15:39):
of that situation. Yeah, and it was really disgusting.

Speaker 4 (15:43):
Yeah, it was disgusting. And I was so so grateful
that I wasn't there when this happened, because I would
literally tour this man apart. But the thing with that
manager is that him and her got all really well.
And what I've heard I wasn't there. I heard that

(16:06):
there was some favoritism towards him, and so when these
allegations came up, that's when she got She mishandled it
a lot, and it was not dealt with properly at all,
and it seemed very much swept under rug kind of

(16:27):
very much. So, yeah, he did.

Speaker 6 (16:30):
Nobody talked about it.

Speaker 4 (16:31):
Yeah, he did get fired eventually, but eventually that's the
main thing. Yeah, it was handled right away.

Speaker 5 (16:39):
And the you know, the effect it had on these
women that came forward that this happened to. I mean
I I hung out with them outside of work where
they would talk about, you know, what happened and how
it was handled, and like, you know, they were sobbing.
They were you know, their lives were torn apart over this.
I mean, it's a very serious thing, as you know,
we all know, to be sexual assaulted and then you know,

(17:01):
to have it treated this way by someone who's in
a position of authority over you, it's you know, I
can't help but keep using that word disgusting. It's just
it's inhumane and honestly, like that's Bluestar.

Speaker 4 (17:15):
Yeah, especially by a company that reaches how open and
awesome and close family we are, and then behind the
scenes they're actually mistreating their workers literally every single day.
So it's it is, it is disgusting. I have no
other word to describe it.

Speaker 3 (17:38):
Yeah, I mean, that's like someone's sexually assaulting you, and
then them not being fired means you can fucking run
into them at your job, which is like the fucking
just absolute nightmare shit. That is like the worst fucking
shit that can happen.

Speaker 6 (17:53):
And we all worked in the same kitchen.

Speaker 5 (17:55):
We all worked in the same kitchen, so we were
guaranteed to see each other for most of the day
every day. And it's like, you know, you expect these
women to go to work and stare at this guy
and and you know, talk and laugh with this guy
who assaulted them, Like that's crazy.

Speaker 3 (18:09):
Yeah, that's absolutely fucking terrible. And I hope, I hope,
like I hope fucking like some shit happens to these people,
because like God.

Speaker 4 (18:20):
Oh yeah, don't worry. We got him banned from some
bars because classic thing is drugging drinks.

Speaker 3 (18:28):
Christ.

Speaker 4 (18:28):
So we've spread the word and got flyers, and I'm
pretty sure he's banned I know for sure too bars,
but I think others as well, I'm not sure.

Speaker 3 (18:39):
Yeah.

Speaker 4 (18:41):
Yeah, don't get me wrong. I will definitely go out
of my way to destroy a man's life.

Speaker 3 (18:47):
Yeah, And so I guess, like you know, with with
just like the absolute fucking horrifying shake going on, and
also with YouTube, like you know, people doing organizing outside
of the workplace to go after these people. It may
it makes it makes a lot of sense that, you know,
the unionization campaign has been going, and I wanted to ask,
I want to well, I guess I wanted to talk
about sort of the vote and the stuff leading up

(19:11):
to the vote and the things that happened to YouTube,
because oh my god.

Speaker 5 (19:15):
Yep, yeah, you know, we we had our vote on
January seventeenth. There were seven votes that were left unopened
that were challenged by Blue Star management. Three of them
because the employees were no longer active employees, and four
of them for honestly just like completely bullshit reasons, like

(19:39):
they had to get a new envelope.

Speaker 6 (19:41):
You know, they they were there before the vote, but.

Speaker 5 (19:44):
Like seven minutes after the cutoff that you know that
Blue Star wanted one person had to get a new ballot,
and you know, it's like, these are these are technicalities
that really should not prevent someone from having their vote counted.
And so we as DW Star, objected to six of
those challenges. The four that were very ticky tacky for

(20:07):
obvious reasons, and that was the week end.

Speaker 6 (20:09):
That was the week of the big snow snowstorm as well.

Speaker 3 (20:12):
We should talk for people who weren't in Portland for this. Okay,
so the city of Portland, this is the thing I
have heard. I am a Chicagoan, so like I grew
up in snowstorms, right, but the city of Portland, like
this is I get, this is this is this is
this is the this is the the Mia rants about
the city of Portland for about five minutes thing because
oh my fucking god, the city of Portland does not

(20:32):
actually substantively do any kind of like street clearing. They
don't do salt, they don't really. I think they might
have like two snowplows. And this means that, you know,
when it, for example, snows, and then the temperature goes
back up, goes freezing, and it goes back down below freezing,
the entire city is covered in a sheet of ice.
And this lasts for days and days and days and days.

(20:53):
It is terrible. I came into Portland's like in the
middle of this, like you you walk three steps and
you're just going flying on this ice. It is terrible.
It is dangerous to drive it is dangerous to walk,
it is it is dangerous to school on your butt,
like terrible. I don't know, Like if you did this
in Chicago, if the city of Chicago failed to clear

(21:15):
the streets sufficiently that this was happening, the government would
be would fucking collapse in a week. Portlander's you deserve better.

Speaker 4 (21:23):
I personally would have preferred snow, like six feet of
snow over a half in ice, the ice over nane.
The whole entire city shuts down, and it's it is
incredibly dangerous, for sure, and the city does not prepare
for it. The city, like landscape itself is not prepared

(21:46):
for it. And yeah, it's awful. I tripped and fell
like three times within a week, and my room and
I were literally locked into our house for days, like
four maybe five days. We could not leave. And on
top of that, we had to turn our water off,
like it was a whole night.

Speaker 3 (22:07):
There so many, so many people lost power, so many people's.

Speaker 4 (22:10):
Like yeah, growth and the NLRB building itself was shut
down for I don't remember how long, but it was
shut down, and.

Speaker 3 (22:20):
So it was.

Speaker 5 (22:21):
It was shut down for most of that week leading
up to the vote. Our vote was on a Thursday,
and I think Thursday was the first day that the
actual office was open. There might have been some people
there on Wednesday, but the office itself was closed the
you know, Monday was Martin Luther King Junior Day, so
that it was close closed. But you know, I tried
to take you know, I in my little hatchback with

(22:43):
two two wheel drive hatchbag, tried to drive across Portland
to take people to the office to turn in their
their ballots and because we were doing a mail in ballot,
but some people had left it at the last minute,
you know, as human beings do. And we we get
you know, we drive across this ice and snow. We

(23:04):
get to the NLRB office. There's security guards in the
lobby and they say, well, you can't go up there
as closed. I'm like, okay, uh, what about tomorrow. They're like,
we don't know, we'll be here, but we can't guarantee that,
you know, the nler B office will be here.

Speaker 6 (23:19):
Yeah, And so I.

Speaker 5 (23:21):
Call up our rep at the NLRB, Michael Moles, and
I say, hey, like, what's the deal. When can we
drop these off? And he goes, well, actually, you know
you can drop them off. When we're not there. You
can slide them under the door, you know, as long
as it's the person, you know, as long as the
person whose ballot is being turned in is turning in
the ballot, like, you can't send someone else to do

(23:42):
it for you. So we go back up on Wednesday
and get some turned in. And you know, at this point,
the people who wanted to turn in on Tuesday, they've
got you know, they've got work, they've got other things
going on. They have to find a time to get in.
So we're going like Thursday morning, Thursday afternoon, right before
the vote. And that's why all of these votes were

(24:02):
you know, missing things or you know a little bit late.
Is because the whole city was shut down for half
a week, almost a week, and things got you know,
mess up.

Speaker 3 (24:14):
Yeah, Like the fact that the City of Portland doesn't
does not like refuses to buy snowplows and doesn't know
that you can use beat juice as an anti ice thing.
Like the fact that the fact the fact that the
fact that the city leadership is utterly incompetent, like should
not should not be a reason why your union vote
doesn't your votes don't get counted. That is absolutely absurd.

(24:36):
It's also like, you know, I mean, like okay, like
I get like the responsible thing to do. Dream this
storm was to close and a lot of places were
fucking open, and that is a disaster. But the fact
that the LRB is closed and all before workers are
still happy to go to work is like, just oh god.

Speaker 6 (24:58):
Well.

Speaker 5 (24:59):
And I I emailed or I called Michael Moles again,
our rep at the NLRB, and I was like, hey, like,
this is kind of unprecedented, like can we push the
vote out like a week just to make sure that
everyone can safely get their ballots in? And he told me,
in no uncertain terms that we would not be doing that.

(25:20):
He gave me this, you know, long speech about how
hard it is, how difficult it is, how you know,
we have to get all these permissions. And you know,
I'm fairly new to all the legal avenues and legal
parts of union and stuff, and so I didn't really
have a counter argument. So I was just like, you know,
throw my hands up, Okay, whatever, we'll do our best.

Speaker 3 (25:40):
Well.

Speaker 4 (25:40):
At the time, people are literally risking their lives. Yeah,
and to drive cars, they're risking their cars. They're risking
their lives trying to get these votes in. So that's
why this appeal to these challenges are so important that
it's not fair if we don't count in ice storm

(26:01):
and the actual you have to.

Speaker 6 (26:03):
Account for that.

Speaker 4 (26:04):
Yeah, So like all these things matter and should count,
and that's why we're really pushing that these votes be
counted well.

Speaker 5 (26:13):
In two of the votes where people who had quit,
and one of those was was Lydia, and she was
straight up intimidated into quitting.

Speaker 6 (26:22):
And you can Lydia if you want to talk about it.

Speaker 4 (26:24):
Oh my gosh. Okay, So they I use this word
pretty loosely, but the more I talk about the more
it's true. They forced me to quit, point blank. Period.
They pulled me into this meeting where at Blue Store
they have these every thirty day check ins and meetings

(26:48):
to talk about like how you're doing and how's the work,
et cetera. So on our ninety day check in, we
are promised a raise after working here for ninety days,
but first we have to go through a whole meeting,
and this whole like spectrum one through five. They rate

(27:12):
you on different topics. So I come in and not
only as my manager there, but hr and our head
chef is there, and last time I did a ninety
day that didn't happen, it was just my manager. So
immediately I'm like, what is going on? This is weird.

(27:35):
And we went through the normal stuff until chef interrupted
and brought up my schedule. So at the time, I
was working two jobs, Blue Star and another bakery. And
before any of this, I checked in with my managers

(27:56):
and chef to make sure that this was possible and
okay to put me from full time to part time
at Blue Star. And there they were thrilled. They were like, oh,
that's so great for you. Congratulations. Yes, we can totally
work with you. This is not a problem at all.
I'm like, okay, great, awesome. And so they brought up

(28:19):
my schedule and they're like, so we're gonna change some
things with Red Kitchen and we're going to change production
times and we're gonna bump everything up a couple hours.
Totally fine, Okay, I get it. And I said I'm like, okay, well,
you know I work until one pm, so you know

(28:41):
I'm not available to be here until like two. And
apparently that was an issue because my schedule, my availability
is no longer working for them, which doesn't make sense
because a closing shift still exists. And I'm I told them,

(29:02):
I'm like, you can use me. I am part time,
you can use me for like four hours closing, Like
I am okay with that, and they shut me down.
Chef kind of clicked her teeth and was like, you know,
that's not really worth it for us, and what are
you doing over the holidays because this is right before

(29:25):
our Christmas break and I I was kind of confused.
I was like, oh, nothing, I'm just at home. And
she's like, okay, well you should really take this time
to think about your future here with us, and like
kind of me like stared at me, and I'm like what, Like,

(29:45):
I what do you mean? And she's like, you know,
we're changing some things around here and we don't want
to get rid of you, we don't want to fire you,
but you should really think about your future here and
really leaned in and emphasized that and kind of like

(30:05):
everyone was kind of like looking at me as if like, hey,
we want you to quit, but we're not allowed to
like say anything like that. And I asked my manager.
I was like, it kind of sounds like you're not
giving me any options here? What am I supposed to

(30:27):
just leave? And they looked at each other and they
look back at me. You're like, you know, we can't
really say one thing or the other, so you know,
we need your decision by the first and I'm like
what I It was very it was very tense. It
was very weird and awkward, and I was very confused

(30:47):
because I never thought my job was on the line,
never thought it was gonna be jeopardized. And I kept
offering them different options. I was like, put me in
front of house. You know, last year I was trained.
I was actually supposed to be a manager in our
other kitchen, but they kind of screwed me over on that.
That's a whole different story. Like I know how to

(31:10):
handle purple kitchen. Put me there, like I'm okay going
from one job immediately into here to save time. And
with every single option I was giving them, they shut
me down and would not work with me at all.
And then on top of that, they extended my ninety

(31:31):
day period and from doing that, I was no longer
allowed to get a raise. And yeah, like you have
to finish ninety days and you get a raise, And
I'm like period. That's the policy. Everybody knows that. But
because my ninety days was extended like probation period, I

(31:54):
was no longer allowed to get a raise.

Speaker 5 (31:56):
And what's funny is they extended my ninety days as well.
I can talk about that more later, but this is
it's just it's just odd because Red Kitchen, our kitchen,
which at that point was made up of I think
six people, all vocal union supporters, wore buttons every day.

Speaker 4 (32:12):
Yep, we were the most vocal people about it. We
wore our union buttons every day. We like everybody knows
that we were firm believers standing up for this union.
And that kind of segues into the furlough situation where
they all shut down our kitchen. They our whole entire

(32:35):
team are six people of vocal union supporters suddenly no job.

Speaker 9 (32:41):
It's incredibly messed up. And we're going to come back
from more unbelievably messed up stuff after this ad break,
and we're back going.

Speaker 6 (33:00):
Back to the votes that were challenged.

Speaker 5 (33:03):
The other person who quit was one of the main
organized She was her and one other person. Where the
people who kicked off all of the organizing at Blue
Star and basically she they changed around her schedule so
much to kind of force her into quitting. She was

(33:24):
very stressed with school and like just the way that
they kept messing with her made her quit. Basically, she
was afraid that she was going to be fired, so
she went ahead and quit. And so that that was
that other challenged vote. But yeah, the furlough situation is wild.
And I also got my probation extended. I actually filed

(33:46):
a unfairlyabor practice because of that, Because the reason they
gave me for extending my probation was that I was
bringing their words on paper, bringing the vibe down by
complaining about working conditions. Bringing the vibe down by complaining

(34:06):
about working conditions, and.

Speaker 4 (34:11):
This is how ridiculous this company is. Third reasons where
I'm like, this must be the Truman Show, Like this
is not real. Where are the cameras well?

Speaker 5 (34:23):
And first of all, complaining about working conditions is a
federally protected act. I can do that and I cannot
be punished for that. It is against the law, which
is why I filed the ULP. Second of all, the
reason I was complaining is because they had taken us
down from three to four people opening shifts to two

(34:43):
and the way two people work, Yeah, the way two
people operates for opening shift in Red Kitchen is one
person is mixing the dough and loading it into the fryer,
and that is a constant thing. Like you you mix
batches for like four hours like on like back to
back to back to back to back, and the other

(35:04):
person has to stand at the end of the conveyor
belt and take the glazed bites off of the conveyor
belt and put them onto trays. This is a non
stop job. You cannot even walk away for a few seconds.

Speaker 6 (35:15):
And when you know.

Speaker 5 (35:17):
Typically, like the best practice that was done the entire
time I was there up to this was that you
did not do that position for more than an hour
because it was physically difficult to stand in one place
like that and do that and do those repetitive motions.

Speaker 6 (35:33):
And two, it's like fucking.

Speaker 5 (35:34):
Psychological torture because you're in the corner of this room.
You're not speaking to anybody. You're literally just staring at
your own hands. I mean, it's it's not like nobody
likes to they call it catching. Nobody likes to catch.
And I was doing this for up to three hours
a day, uninterrupted and I have sciatic nerve issues with

(35:58):
my leg and I you know, I made them aware
of this multiple multiple times. I cannot catch for more
than an hour at a time, and you know what
I was doing catching.

Speaker 6 (36:08):
For three hours every day.

Speaker 3 (36:09):
So they're just trying to injury.

Speaker 6 (36:11):
So that's what I was, yes, and that's what I
was complaining about. I was saying, I'm in pain.

Speaker 5 (36:16):
I'm literally having to go on muscle relaxers every single
day because of the effect that this is having on
me physically, Like I I can't sleep at night because
my leg is so tense and it's in so much
pain from fucking catching these donuts and putting them on trays.

Speaker 6 (36:34):
It's insane.

Speaker 5 (36:35):
And so you know, they're yet they're penalizing me for
having the gall to voice the fact that what they're
doing is literally ruining my quality of life.

Speaker 4 (36:47):
Really and going off that every single issue we bring
up to management, they have the tone of like, well,
that sucks, that's a bummer, deal with it, and literally, yeah,
literally just like okay, and we're like, okay, fix it,
because we are human beings with nerves and bones and
we cannot stand on our feet for this long, like

(37:11):
it's it's wild, it is.

Speaker 5 (37:14):
And you know that that kind of also segues into
the furlough thing that we were all very vocal on
union support. You know, I had filed at this point
two ulps because of the extended probation and because they
suspended me for three days for something that was absurd,

(37:37):
and I had filed two ulps, and this came like
right on the heels of that second ulp. They you know,
we had Christmas Day off and I had taken the
next day, the Tuesday off, so I was visiting family
in Dallas, and I believe everyone else had that Tuesday
off as well. And we come back on that Wednesday,

(37:58):
and you know, we're working a red deer's shift.

Speaker 6 (38:01):
About halfway through.

Speaker 5 (38:02):
The shift, they say, okay, you know, we're having a
red kitchen meeting. Everyone come into the office, which that
had never happened before. We never had an all kitchen
meeting like that. They pull us in and you know,
we're all looking at each other on the way in, like,
oh fuck, what are they going to do? Like are
they going to reduce our hours? Are they going to
fire one of us? You know what's happening? And we

(38:23):
get in there and head chef Stephanie Thornton says, okay,
so you know, we've had an issue happen. What's happened
is our distributors have told us that they are returning
a bunch of our product. It's you know, some of
it's expired, but most of it is just fine, but
it's nearing its expiration date, so they're returning it. I'm

(38:44):
saying that m okay, sounds fake, but okay, And then
they say, unfortunately, because of this, because we don't have
space in our freezer to continue to put product in
the freezer, to continue to make product and put it
in the freezer, we are having to put you guys
on indefinite furlough. You know, we don't have a return

(39:05):
to work date. We don't have a plan for bringing
you back. You know, we asked, can we get you know,
those of us who are cross trained, can we work
in other areas? Can you cross train those of us
who aren't, so that we can work up front or
work at a satellite store. You know, they are literally
hiring for satellite stores. But they furloughed us, and we

(39:25):
were asking can we do these other things? And they
said no, point blank no, So all of a sudden,
you know, six people who had jobs, you know, a
minute or two ago. All of a sudden, we're facing
For me personally, I'm facing homelessness. That's the reality, you know.

(39:46):
And we have too our two shift leads. They are
a couple and they live together and like that is
their entire income. Yeah, and it's just on a kind
of more personal note, it's wild. And maybe this is
me being a little bit naive, but it's wild to
have spent months in company with these people and have

(40:09):
them pretend to care about me and then have them
do something that quite literally puts my life in danger,
especially because I had just signed up for healthcare with
them and I have multiple chronic illnesses. I have to
go to doctors regularly, And all of a sudden, I'm like,
holy shit, my life has completely changed in thirty seconds.

Speaker 3 (40:31):
You know, this is the day after Christmas? What?

Speaker 6 (40:35):
Yeah, the day after Christmas.

Speaker 5 (40:37):
We were given two days notice, gez in two days
starting on January first. You don't have a job, and
we don't know how long, but you know, we'll let
you know if we ever are going to do production again,
and we can bring you back even just for a
little bit, which they didn't. They started up production again
and we were not told or called in or anything.

Speaker 4 (40:59):
I touch a little more on our shift leads for
a second.

Speaker 7 (41:03):
Yes, there are a couple.

Speaker 4 (41:05):
They live together, but much like them, they are basically
they're facing houselessness as well. And luckily they do have
another roommate who can someone cover them, but that can't
last forever. Yeah, and just the other day I had
to run them groceries. They can't afford anything, and it's

(41:30):
it's a huge buck over for them because they love
they are so passionate about this job and like they
rely heavily on it, and they got their pay raises
and their higher positions and more responsibilities, and to be

(41:52):
so betrayed like that from a company quite literally destroyed them.

Speaker 7 (41:58):
Are lead.

Speaker 4 (42:01):
He had a full breakdown and stormed out and walked out,
and it affected them so heavily and so emotionally and
still mentally, and they keep trying to, you know, find
other jobs, and you know, still in contact. Just yesterday

(42:22):
they sent me a screenshot of them talking to chef
and being like, hey, is there any updates? Is there
you know, any way we can come get our job
back because you know, we're still waiting for you to
tell us literally anything. And Chef said, oh, we don't know.
We can't give you an answer right now, and just

(42:44):
kind of brushed it off.

Speaker 5 (42:46):
And one thing that's particularly insulting is that they ended
this meeting with us where they were telling us we
were losing our jobs by giving us a sheet of
paper on how to file for unemployment in Oregon. And
the thing with an indefinite furlough, if you don't have
a return to work date, then you have to go.

(43:07):
You have to jump through the hoops of applying for
jobs while you're like in order to get unemployment. So like,
if you're if you have a return to work date
and it's within four weeks of the uh, you know,
the day that you got furloughed, you can get unemployment
for that time.

Speaker 6 (43:23):
And you don't. You can just hang out and get unemployment.

Speaker 5 (43:26):
If you don't have a return to work date, you
have to treat it as a layoff and you have
to be making at like conscious efforts to job hunt
every single week. You have to record those efforts. If
you get an interview, you have to take it. If
you get a position offered, to you. You have to
take it, and it has to be in the field
that you got that you got furloughed from, and there's

(43:47):
all these very specific rules and it just makes it
incredibly difficult, you know, all these hoops you have to
jump through. It's dehumanizing, it's fucked up, and it's insulting, and.

Speaker 4 (43:59):
There is no support other than that. If you support,
there's no severance package. There was no like short in
the meeting, they're like, yeah, sorry, guys, this sucks, but
like it just didn't feel real, like this full situation
was not empathetic at all.

Speaker 3 (44:17):
And like obvious, and you know, you could tell their
excuses bullshit because like okay, like let let let's say
what they were saying was real that like, okay, they
got a bunch of stuff return and they don't have
room in their freezers. It's been a month. They should now,
there's no way that they now still do not have
room in their freezers.

Speaker 5 (44:35):
Like what Well, and here's the here's the kicker is
that we were for maybe them a month, maybe over
a month really since we filed the union petition, since
we handed them the petition, we had ramped up production
even though we were in the slow season, and we
were not actually like the bites that we were making

(44:58):
were not ordered by anyone. We were just putting. We
were making extra to put in the freezer.

Speaker 4 (45:05):
Not only the freezer, but they rented a whole entire warehouse.

Speaker 3 (45:10):
We have a strategy.

Speaker 5 (45:13):
Yeah, So they they did this, you know, I don't
want to say they did this on purpose, but it
is mighty suspicious to me that they're that they're building
up these these you know, bites in the freezer when
they didn't need them, when they didn't have orders for them,
and now all of a sudden, oh, we don't have room.

Speaker 6 (45:30):
In the freezer, we have to let you go, you know.

Speaker 4 (45:32):
Yeah, yeah, oddly convenient.

Speaker 6 (45:35):
It is. It is.

Speaker 5 (45:36):
And that really ramped up when they when we gave
them the union petition November seventeenth.

Speaker 3 (45:42):
Yeah, which is just really very blatant retaliation.

Speaker 4 (45:48):
Yeah.

Speaker 5 (45:48):
Yeah, And I have filed an unfair labor practice for
it's called what they call a lockout for the you know,
us being furloughed, and it, like you said, it really
is blatant, especially given that you know, even walking.

Speaker 6 (46:05):
Into that meeting, all of us were wearing our union buttons.

Speaker 5 (46:08):
I just why would you lay off an entire department,
especially when that department is what is keeping your business afloat,
Like that is the money maker for Blue Star is
those wholesale bites, and we've.

Speaker 4 (46:22):
Been told that all the time. It's like these donut
bytes make the money. So make that makes sense? Then
why are you shutting down that money maker? And the
other kitchen and front of house are like are still
there still during production, like not touched by this at all.

Speaker 3 (46:43):
Yeah, And that's one of these things you get with
employers all the time where it's like, well, okay, so
employers very very clearly and obviously know where the money
is made. They know exactly where the money is made,
literally up until the moments that you start asking for
more of the money you're making them, at which point
suddenly like, oh who knows money comes from? Yeah, yeah,

(47:03):
you have.

Speaker 4 (47:04):
No money, even though the CEO has like at least
three Tesla's totally oh.

Speaker 5 (47:09):
My god, yeah, like Katie Pope can't take a little
bit of a pay cut so that you know, we
can all keep our jobs and you know, survive.

Speaker 6 (47:19):
It's wild.

Speaker 3 (47:20):
Yeah, and like, and I mean this is one of
the other things too, is that like businesses, you know,
this is this is the the way capitalism works, is
that business businesses would rather fucking lose money than have
their employees have slightly like not be intobilitating pain, not
be sick, and get slightly more money.

Speaker 5 (47:42):
Yeah, it is crazy to me because this whole you know,
they're they're hiring all these lawyers to to you know,
you know, handle the union stuff, and I'm like, you
shut down Red Kitchen, you hire these lawyers, You're doing
all these efforts, and I'm like, you would have saved
so much money if you just recognize our fucking union,

(48:03):
Like that's how easy it is, you know.

Speaker 4 (48:05):
And not only that, we have what five shops in Portland,
we have a shop in la as well, Los Angeles
where prices are extravagant, like they have money. We know
they have money, and we're honestly at the point, I'm
at the point of show me your books, show me,

(48:25):
prove to me that you do not have this money,
because then that would be a different discussion. Like it's
just it's frustrating. It's typical corporate business, and I'm over it.
And the I'm over it for how they treat me.
I'm over how they treat my friends, my team. It's

(48:47):
it's ridiculous and they should know better, honestly.

Speaker 10 (48:53):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (48:54):
Yeah, So is there anything else that you two want
to make sure you get in?

Speaker 6 (48:59):
Maybe just the gofund me?

Speaker 10 (49:01):
Yeah, yeah, how.

Speaker 3 (49:02):
Can people support you support the union?

Speaker 5 (49:06):
Yeah, so we have a go fund me set up
for the six furload workers to provide a month's worth
of income two weeks for the employees who quit early,
and that is it's called Help Loose our Employees Fight
Union Investing. And right now we're at just under one
thousand dollars. Our goal for all six of those people's

(49:26):
incomes for a month is fifteen thousand, just under sixteen thousand.
You know, I don't know if we'll ever reach that goal,
but you know, the as much as we can get
is great because right now, you know, I'm surviving on cereal.
I know that the shift leads we were talking about earlier,
you know, they're getting.

Speaker 6 (49:44):
Groceries from lydia. People are struggling.

Speaker 4 (49:47):
Yeah, yeah, I was definitely in my Survivor era on
rice and beans. It was it's really tough, and you know,
it is a big goal realistically, it is, but yeah,
you know not to sound desperate, I think, but truly
every little bit helps. If you can really only afford
five or ten bucks, we'll take it. That is, we're

(50:07):
so grateful for anything. And it's it's people's lives. It's
literally people's lives. Multiple people are facing not being able
to have a roof over their head because of this company.
So truly, any little bit helps.

Speaker 3 (50:25):
Yeah, so please go help them out. I I don't
know this it it's just really really brutal too and
especially like again, like this is also a fucking terrible time,
Like there's there's never a good time to like be
at risk of losing your home. Winter is especially fucking

(50:46):
bad for that. There are yeah, so there there's so many.
There are so many sort of terrible compounding things that
these union that these union busting companies are sort of
relying on to screw over and intimidate and hurt the
people who make them all their fucking money.

Speaker 6 (51:03):
So well, and that's what it did.

Speaker 5 (51:04):
It scared a lot of people into unfortunately voting no.
It scared a lot of people who were really involved,
you know, in the organizing process to step back and
you know, not respond to our text messages and not
continue to advocate for the union. It you know that
us getting furloughed really fucked with our whole union campaign.

Speaker 3 (51:25):
So yeah, go go, go, give, go, go, give these
workers your supports. They really need it, and yeah, go
you know, and one thing again like that needs to
sort of we need to sort of emphasize, is that
this is illegal. They cannot fucking they legally cannot do this,
but you know this is this is one of the
things that is fucking hard about union organizing is that

(51:47):
the law, assuming the law does like ever fucking catch
up to these people. It takes time.

Speaker 4 (51:54):
And yeah, there is one little thing I do want
to make sure people know about because we just found
this out pretty recently. While we were doing shop visits.
They have jars for tips that say tips are shared
with the kitchen. They're not.

Speaker 6 (52:11):
Yeah, that's not true.

Speaker 3 (52:12):
That's not true.

Speaker 4 (52:13):
We saw no tips, and there was an instance where
we accidentally got tips, and one by one we were
sent to the back to sign a form saying this
was an accident, you are not gaining tips. Sign this,
and they took our tips away. It's not fair. And

(52:34):
on top of that, they're lying to the public. They're
lying to their customers that kitchen is gaining tips when
we're not.

Speaker 5 (52:41):
Yeah, and I will say, in addition to the GoFundMe,
we do have you know, if you're not able to
support monetarily, we do have a Twitter and an Instagram
where we post updates if you want to follow along
with our progress and see you know, how our election
goes and everything. It's just on both Twitter and or
excuse me and Instagram. It is at DWU Underscore Blue Star.

Speaker 3 (53:05):
So yeah, well we'll have we'll have links to all
this out of the description.

Speaker 4 (53:08):
Awesome. Word of mouth is really the biggest thing, even
going off again, like, if you can't support us financially,
you can just share the go fundme through friends, family, whoever,
and just spread it out there.

Speaker 3 (53:23):
Yeah, and so go go go do that. Yeah, go
help any way you can. And yeah, go go go
fight your own bosses because they're screwing you, like screwing
you in very similar ways. What's happening here two? Yeah,
and this is the spy nicket up in here. You
can find us at Twitter and Instagram at happen here
pod and you can find more clos Obdia shows at

(53:44):
closeid Media. Yeah, go go go into the world and
make life worse for people who do terrible stuff.

Speaker 10 (54:05):
Hi, everyone, and welcome to it could Happen here podcast
about how things are falling apart and people trying to
put them back together. Today, more in the how things
are Falling apart category. We are talking about the border
again and I'm joined by Gen Budd, who you've heard
from before, but just a reminder. Jen is a former
senior patrol agent with the Border Patrol and now an
immigrant rights activist.

Speaker 7 (54:26):
Welcome to the show, Jo, Thanks for having me again.

Speaker 10 (54:29):
Yeah, you're welcome. So we're gathered here today, I guess
to talk about this ridiculous spectacle of the Texas National
Guard occupying some border adjacent land. The border as right
down the middle of the river there, so they're not
actually occupying that the physical border, right, they're occupying that

(54:51):
the nearest land spot to it is that right.

Speaker 7 (54:53):
Correct, The border in that area is in the middle
of the river.

Speaker 10 (54:58):
Yeah, and preventing Border patrol from accessing the river. And
I think, like we were just talking before we recorded,
but the reporting on this has been a bit kind
of slap shot. A lot of it have just been
social media posting so I was hoping that you could
help us understand, like a this isn't like like a
standoff between Texas and the Border patrol, right, but it's

(55:22):
not like Texas kind of swept in and suddenly they
were there and they weren't there before it. Border patrol
had to allow this to happen. To agree, is that
fair to say?

Speaker 7 (55:33):
I think it's fair to say. I mean, at the moment,
I think the administration is trying to portray that, you know,
the Border Patrol tried to come out there and rescue.
I think the latest I've heard is that reportedly there
were six people in the river that were surrounding and
they went to go rescue them, and the Texas Military

(55:57):
the I guess Texas National Are ended up blocking them
and saying they can't go. Now, this park is a
very well known park that during the Trump administration they
were trying to build a wall. They've been wanting a
wall there, but the people in that city, I believe
it's equal pass is that they you know, they don't

(56:17):
want a wall there. That's the city park and they
just don't want a wall right there. And so Greg
Abbott has sent in Texas National Guard to put up
all the razor wire, all the you know, plotation devices
with she would call it a sal blade on the

(56:38):
middle of it that they claim saves lives. All this
stuff apparently is rescue technique stuff, and they claim it
it saves more lives than it hurts. And so the
people that put out this stuff to injure people or
claiming that they didn't allow people to drown. So I

(56:58):
find that hard to believe. But at the same time,
the Border Patrol is the Border Patrol is always silent,
you know, they are always silent about this. They let
CBP talk to talk for them. They'll let the administration
talk for them. The Union is claiming that Greg Abbott
is the best thing in the world. They think it's
great that he stopped their own agents from rescuing a

(57:22):
woman and two children. So apparently three of the people
got back to shore on the Mexican side, and then
the woman and two children ended up drowning and their
bodies were found on the Mexican side. Texas military is
claiming that when they were notified that people were in
the river, they went and they shined lights and they looked,
but they didn't see anything. We did have the I

(57:47):
don't know if it was Texas military. It was in
the area of the state of Texas on the same
Rio or Grande, where some either National Guard or Texas
National Guard or military or somebody just was sitting in
a boat in front of a woman with a child
and she was starting to sink into the sand because
it's like quicksand over there, and they wouldn't rescue her,

(58:11):
and Border patrol drove by really fast and put away,
So it's not surprising that they wouldn't go rescue them.
This is the first time that they publicly said that
they've had a confrontation with a border patrol. But I
don't think the Border Patrol tried very hard to rescue them.
I mean they do have boats and stuff.

Speaker 10 (58:28):
Yeah they have yeah, yeah, they're there are many way helicopters. Yeah,
they have lots of equipment to rescue people sometimes just
let's desire, shall we say?

Speaker 7 (58:42):
Yeah, And I mean it's to me the interesting thing
is watching democratic politicians point their fingers at Greg Abbott,
and rightly so for this, for this scene, but yet
at the same time, what the Border Patrol does every day,
their deterrence pulse these every day kill people every day,
so the Border Patrol is not doing anything different. So

(59:04):
to act like, oh my god, we didn't get out
to save these migrants and we really wanted to is
kind of like, well, I mean, people die probably every
hour crossing that river and you haven't cured before, and
we've been doing it since nineteen ninety four. So it's
kind of it's kind of hard to get really upset
at Greg Abbott, who's doing nothing but what the National

(59:27):
Border Patrol has done for, you know, thirty something years.
And at the same time, the victims are always the
migrants that you know. That's what we should be upset about,
is that our policies, whether federal or state, are killing
people who are seeking asylum and seeking safety. That's what
it is.

Speaker 10 (59:45):
Yeah, exactly. I think like this attempt to make it
like Republican governor is killing migrants thing is an attempt
to like distract us from the fact that democratic president
is killing migrants in much greater numbers just by virtue
of the amount of land covered by you know, Biden's
jurisdiction compared to Abbots. But yeah, I think it's very hypocritical.

Speaker 7 (01:00:10):
And it's it's funny to you in that or I'm
not funny but ironic, and that the Border Patrolley Union
is putting out the numbers of when Trump's last year
as president of death on the southern border, and these
are just the ones that they find, not yeah, the
actual number, which is usually three to four times as many.
And then they're saying, oh, look in Biden's year, this

(01:00:32):
has been twenty twenty three was the most deadly year.
But it's like, you know, you guys never cared about
how many people were dying before, and now the sudden
you're like, you're killing more Miran than anybody else.

Speaker 4 (01:00:44):
Are you jealous? What's the deal?

Speaker 10 (01:00:46):
Yeah, like the idea that these people that can send
that they're like in a cumba. They keep people in
open air attention for up to a week and in
the freezing cold. You know, in San Diego Santasedro, people
are two people have died Santa Sedro, one person has died.
In the number probably dozens more people have died crossing
in other routes that we haven't seen this year. It's

(01:01:07):
it's been not as wet as previous winters. But just
in my just in this week, I've seen people in
extremely dire medical distress. And I've seen border patrol scream
at those people and scream that people trying to help
those people, and not do anything to help. So I'm
finding it hard to buy that this is all Greg
greg Abbott's fault, not that Greg Abbott is't a piece
of shit. Yeah, I think we're in agreement on that,

(01:01:32):
but like, yeah, the the attempt to lay all the
blame at Greg abbots feet and suggests that there is
a complete bipartisan agreement it seems, on killing migrants even
like we don't see in the Trump era, we saw,
you know, AOC turn up and cry at the you know,
unaccompanied children or the other separation of family separation attention,

(01:01:54):
and we don't even see that anymore, Like we don't
have any ear of that. And that's reflect in the press, right,
we don't see anywhere near as much coverage of the
brutality at the border as we used to. One thing
that you've mentioned before we started with that you had
there's some like there's pretty clear case law or Supreme
Court decisions at least about like what BP could have

(01:02:15):
done or what their rights are visa VI. The National Guard,
could you explain some fat well as.

Speaker 7 (01:02:22):
Clear immigration precedent. So in eighteen seventy five, so prior
to the Civil War, a little bit after the Civil War,
states had always done their own immigration. So if you
showed up in a boat on New Orleans in New
Orleans Harbor, they would have their own immigration. You would
have to pay a lot of times. In the California area,

(01:02:43):
California was charging, especially Chinese migrants who were coming over
for the railroad and the gold Rush and things like that.
When they brought groups of Chinese women over, then California
would label the ball as prostitutes and no good people,
and then they would put them in jail and then

(01:03:04):
find the captain of the ship like five hundred dollars
a person, which is by today's standards it's like over
fourteen thousand dollars, such a lot of money. Yeah, yeah,
And so one of the one of the female migrants
in eighteen seventy five, So you had no right to
hold us in jail. You don't have this right. There's

(01:03:25):
nothing that says that you have this right according to
US law back then. And so the case is called
Chai cchy Lung Lung versus freemen. And in eighteen seventy five.
The Supreme Court decision was that immigration is solely the
federal government's right to enforce and not the states, simply

(01:03:49):
because of diplomatic relations. Also that we have treaties with
other countries, and we have relationships with other countries, and
they believe that while allowing states to do their own
immigration would then hurt the United States in diplomacy with
these other countries. And then the other thing that they
mentioned was that there have been no due process given

(01:04:11):
to the migrants during the time, and that's sufforded to migrants,
whether they're undocumented or not, based on the Constitution. And
then recently in two thousand. The most recent time that
it was brought up was in twenty twelve when Arizona
sued the United States. The Supreme Court upheld in that
case that law enforcement can question citizenship during a legal stop,

(01:04:35):
but denied other parts of the Arizona law SB. Ten
seventy which allowed their peace officers to act like immigration officers.
And they said, the reason why they can't do that,
which is what greg Abbott is doing. The reason why
Supreme Court said they can't do that in twenty twelve
was because of Article six clause two, which states that

(01:04:56):
the Constitution federal laws treaties made under federal authority take
priority over state laws. So it's, you know, the supremacy clause. Basically,
it's what it is. And so it's kind of like
what Trump did when he was in office, where he
starts separating children, and he starts putting everybody he crosses

(01:05:19):
the border, whether it's for asylum or for nefarious reasons,
in between the courts. He we'd take away their children.
And I mean, that was in violation of the nineteen
eighty Refugee Act, and yet nobody really fought it on
that basis. I'm not sure why they didn't find it
on that basis. I'm not an attorney, so I can't
tell you, but at least you know this this decision

(01:05:41):
Chai Lung versus Freeman, It's been around since eighteen seventy
five and was brought up in twenty twelve, and the
Supreme Court awesome used Chai Lung to make its argument
of why Arizona couldn't have certain parts of SB ten
seventy out. So what Greg Abbott is doing is the
same thing Trump is, and is like, oh, will break
the law, and you can take me to court and

(01:06:04):
we'll see if this court agrees with what the last
court said. So they're just breaking the law and then
enduring people to take them to court is simply what
they're doing. In in the middle of this. Obviously the
migrants are caught, the humanitarian organizations and everybody's caught. It
causes chaos, basically, is what it's doing.

Speaker 10 (01:06:21):
Yeah, it's causing an absolute mess at the border. And
I think understandably what you hear from migrants is like,
the people who are better informed, who have access to information, resources, finances,
are telling me that they don't want to go to Texas,
right because right, it's a mess, and it's a mess

(01:06:42):
that kills people. And that's exactly what it's supposed to be.
It's supposed to be uncertain, and it's supposed to be cruel,
and so people who have the chance to you will
come here. People who can't afford to right that they're
coming north directly and it sort of takes us is there,
you know, if they head directly north, but that that's
where they end up. Texas has a huge amount of border.

(01:07:03):
Of course, then they're the people who tend to be
the ones who are forced across there, and unfortunately that's
realotten the much higher as you said, at much higher
death rate. Right, Nick, it's do you have a sense
of like I suppose it will be hard to tell
because we have very little and were proper statistics, but like,
what is the most fatal kind of part of the border.

Speaker 7 (01:07:27):
It's difficult to tell if it's the Sonoran Desert or
if it's the Rio Grande River. And I say that
because we don't see half the bodies, or we probably
don't see ninety percent of the bodies.

Speaker 10 (01:07:42):
Yeah, I know a lot of deaths are on the
t reservation to reservation in there's.

Speaker 7 (01:07:49):
The bombing very goldwater bombing area that nobody's allowed in,
but when they are occasionally allowed in, they find like
groups of thirteen fifteen skeletons.

Speaker 3 (01:08:00):
And stuff like that.

Speaker 7 (01:08:01):
So I think it's a tassa between the Sonoran Desert
and the Rio Grande River. The other problem with Texas's
border is that primarily the majority of the property on
the border in Texas is private property, and they tend
to be very large ranches which may be no ranch

(01:08:21):
hand or anybody goes out, you know, through the acres
to see this, and they might never ever find the bodies.
It's kind of like the Sonoran desert and po nation
and then the bombing range and then just the fact
that the desert will just destroy the bones pretty quickly,
especially once the winds cover thinks up that we have
a fair amount and Campo, as you know, in the

(01:08:44):
Hakamba Campo wilderness area and the mountains and the Laguna Mountains.
But I don't think it's near as bad because you
can look at those mountains and see how bad they are,
and most people don't want to dare across those mountains,
but many still do. Obviously I worked up there. You
you're familiar with that area, and so we have more

(01:09:04):
than our fair share for certain. Yeah, but I would
say I would say probably it's between Texas the Rio
Grande and then the Sonora doesn't.

Speaker 10 (01:09:16):
For sure, Okay, yeah, yeah, I think I think that
makes sense. It's probably a good time for us to
break the border. Is getting people. These adverts probably aren't,
but they're still not great. So you enjoy these products
and services. All Right, we are back, and Jen, I

(01:09:42):
wanted to ask, like, with regard to these I think
there's a couple of things that people might not be
clear on. We've tried to explain them on the podcast before.
The first is like Border Patrol will always say that
all the BP agents are first responders, right, It's this
line that they have, and like do they like in
terms of rescues, are they sort of like technically obliged

(01:10:05):
to make rescues. I mean, I've seen people in very
great stress and I've seen Border Patrol do nothing more
times than I can count, So like I'm wondering, like
is there some kind of like technical obligation that they
have that they're just ignoring or is it sort of
at the discretion of the agent whether they think it's safe.
What's there like official policy there?

Speaker 7 (01:10:25):
Well, if you're an agent in the field and you
come upon a migrant drowning in the water or you know,
has slipped and broken their leg and you're trying to
decide if you should go down into this area or
jump in the water and stuff, it is up to
the individual agent to decide if they can handle that.
So what you find most often the agents who are

(01:10:45):
in the boats and working on either the oceans and border.
They work on the ocean in California and they work
on the ocean. Yeah, and then obviously along the Rio Grande.
All those agents have specific training obviously and swimming. All
agents have training and swimming, but not at the level
that the agents who are working on the water deck.
So you have to go through extra training when you
take that position. It's like being on a horse patrol.

(01:11:07):
You have to go through horse training and so forth.
But all agents are trained in just basic CPR, just
basic splinting, that kind of first aid stuff. But not
all agents are what they call it, not Vortech, but
four Star, the rescue organization that they have now, and
that's didn't start until like the late nineties. And I

(01:11:30):
didn't even see him when I was an agent, even
though I was there until two thousand and one. I
didn't see him out in Campo whenever we had a
call about a rescue in Campo, at least the old
Campo station that was on four Skate Road before they
changed it all around. We had to go out in
teams and that's the only time we worked in teens.

(01:11:51):
Otherwise we hiked alone is if we were doing a rescue,
especially in the wintertime, because it was even more dangerous
and movie hiked all night until we found them. So
US regular agents just on the line would just move
our positions and keep going. And we didn't necessarily have
any specific training. We didn't repel a lot of helicopters

(01:12:13):
back then and do all that stuff. What I think
that they started for was because we had a lot
of attrition in the nineties, and it was more about
getting US regular agents that patrol the border away from
the border because we were having that's when our massive
suicide started, because of all the death that we were seeing.
And I think it was an effort to keep the

(01:12:38):
average agent from seeing the brutality of what they were doing,
quite honestly, and so like I as an agent had
lots of experience with dead bodies and so forth. But
agents today who are on the line, they don't. They
sit in their trucks, they watch the cameras, and then
when a dire thing comes out that somebody needs to

(01:12:59):
be rescued forced our handles handles it. They might go
do perimeter things and help out a little bit, but
they're not involved in the actual rescues. You know, in
my day, I didn't know. I didn't know that many
agents who had never seen who had never experienced that,
And I kind of think in a weird way that
that's what makes today's agents so non caring, so non

(01:13:23):
sympathetic to the migrants. We didn't call them invaders. And
it's not to say that we weren't racist and we're brutal.
It's just it's gotten even more brutal and more racist
since since I was an agent, And certainly I would
say that the brutality that may have happened that would
have happened maybe on an individual basis or with certain

(01:13:45):
groups of agents. It's now policy throughout the whole agency,
and you're expected to be that brutal. And if you
can't be that brutal, then you can't hack it. So
but the idea that they're all first responders, that just
means they wear a bad and have a gun and
have a car with you know, red and blue lights
on it. But they're not all necessarily trained in like

(01:14:07):
the type of rescue that we're talking about in the
Hakamba area in the mountains that takes very physically. I
could do it when I was younger, but obviously I
can't do it now. Yeah, Yeah, we would have to
get our best best agents, and especially if we went
north at the checkpoint north of I eight up into
the Lagunas, we would have to get our best fit
agents up there to do that.

Speaker 10 (01:14:29):
Yeah, and it seems like that I don't see them
as much, certainly, like when there's a search and rescue now,
just like everything else at the border very often falls
on volunteers and community groups and people who are willing
to give their time and take the nonnegtible personal risk
to rescue people.

Speaker 7 (01:14:48):
Because he I think we might have rescued more people
back then, even with half the amount of agents, simply
because when we got the call, we went and we looked,
and sometimes we'd meet the federal allies right at the
border and they show us this is a group, and
so we looked for the sign and then we could
you know, frog it and get ahead of it. Whereas

(01:15:08):
today if you call a bors Star, will all the
Boord store agents have to get their gear on and
then they have to get in the helicopter and then out.

Speaker 10 (01:15:18):
Yeah, and I mean that's even if they're willing. So
like I know with a group that made a call
this weekend for a gentleman who was in distress and
had been suffering very greatly from exposure, and the agent
in the office said it would be hours, maybe days
before they arrived, right, So like if you can get through,

(01:15:41):
if you can get them to come out, like you
know that this and that that's very common. That's something
that that's not unusual at all. The disdain for coming
to right, the disdain for people's lives, right for coming
to rescue them. It is extremely obvious, really, and like
that's a that's not someone haves to be located. Like

(01:16:01):
I can give you a GPS reading down to you know,
I think it's twenty figures, you know, extremely accurate location.

Speaker 7 (01:16:08):
It's just oh, yeah, we didn't have that in our day.
I mean there was GPS, but we didn't have GPS capability.
I never worked with GPS, so I worked with a
compass that was pretty much.

Speaker 10 (01:16:18):
Yet, Yeah, it's yeah, I mean they have more technology
than you know.

Speaker 7 (01:16:24):
I know, the agents today tell me they can see
each other in the field. So they have something or
their GPS system to tracked each other and so they
can see where each other is. We never had.

Speaker 10 (01:16:36):
Yeah, they did to military technology, just like everything else
that trickle down to the border patrol and sometimes trickles
from the border patrol down to the military actually with
a lot of the surveillance technology. Like, I think another
thing that people might not be aware of, and this
is something that I think has happened recently but being

(01:16:57):
young for several years now, is the deployment of the
National God to the border. I think people know that
that is happening in Texas, but I think people probably
aren't aware that there's also a federal mission to the border,
right that the encompasses much more than Texas. And what
are they National God, Well, I mean they I know
they sit outside detention camps in Ukumber shouting at me,

(01:17:20):
but what is their mission in theory at the border?
What are they doing there?

Speaker 7 (01:17:26):
Well, in theory their mission at the border is now
they have these giant processing tints, you know in San
Diego and in Cheese on ane of the things. So
in general, what they're supposed to be doing is not
actively arresting or apprehending people, because that, according to the law,
would violate it. What they're supposed to be doing is

(01:17:47):
is maybe sitting in a stationary spot operating the scope
where they can tell border patrol at night. You know,
there's a group over here, DA DA DA, and then
the rest of the time they're mostly supposed to be
work working in the processing centers, assistant people if they
need to go to medical or if they need this
or that, and so they're just supposed to help so
that the agents don't have to sit around and babysit

(01:18:10):
so much so that they can be back in the field.
That's what they're supposed to be doing. And I mean
lots of presidents have done it. Barack Obama did it,
you know, so it's not unusual unusual. What is unusual
is that in Texas you have Texas DPS and the
military Texas National Guard actually pretending like they are border

(01:18:32):
patrol agents and running around and apprehending people even though
they do not have that legal authority. The US government
has not given it to them. And then the other
thing I think which is legally the most dangerous is
where they push the migrants back into the water. Number one,

(01:18:53):
The law is that if you set foot on US soil,
then you're entitled to an immigration hearing if you so choose,
and you cannot turn somebody back. Agent cannot legally turn
somebody back once they've crossed, so once they're across that
middle part of the river, they're in the United States
and they're your problem now. So you have to deal
with that, and you have to process them. You have

(01:19:15):
to figure out who they are, you have to friend
and records checks and all this other stuff. It'd be interesting.
You know. The Biden administration has it pressed Abbot on this,
and I've always wondered, why are they allowing him to
do this and take over immigration as a state authority. Yeah,
I think they just don't want to fight it.

Speaker 10 (01:19:35):
Yeah, they don't want to be attacked on like this,
like this idea that Biden's like, there's this myth of
Biden's opens borders, which is actually ridiculous, and be like,
as Erica reminded us last week, like we all as
US passport holders, have open borders to us all over
the world. It's very problematic. We think other people shouldn't.
But yeah, I think the idea of like looking weak

(01:19:57):
or like, you know, he wants to himself against an
attack from the right.

Speaker 7 (01:20:02):
So's the same reason why he won't get rid of
the Border Patrol Union, because you know, the Border Patrol Union.
Now that Donald Trump, before he left Diet, he gave
them what's called security designation, So there are they are
a security organization now, which means they're like the FBI,
they're like the DA and all this other stuff, and

(01:20:24):
so they can't have a bargaining unit. So the Border
Patrol Union is actually illegal under five USC seven one
one two, little b little sixth. But Biden is weak
and he doesn't want to look like he hates unions.
He always wants to look like he's strong on unions
because he's a union politician, and he refuses to get

(01:20:45):
rid of them. But the fear and the reason why
that law exists is exactly what we see them doing now,
where the union representatives who are Border patrol agents, they
have national security information and they're actively working against this
current administration.

Speaker 3 (01:20:59):
Yeah, so that's why we have it.

Speaker 7 (01:21:01):
But he's just weak and he won't do anything about.

Speaker 10 (01:21:03):
It, right and it certainly I think whoever wins next time,
they're not going to do anything about it now. Yeah,
I think either way. You like also pattention to the

(01:21:26):
VP union and I think it's one of the worst
accounts on Twitter dot com. But I also like, I'm
in the event of a Republican victory which at the
moment it's looking like Trump might be then nominee. Right, Certainly,
it seems for support for Trump kind of these people
seem to have his ear on immigration and they seem

(01:21:47):
to want the same things. Right, So I'm wondering Biden
has been bad. His border policy has been objectively bad,
and it's very hard for me not to see it
as racist. Like it's very hard for me not to
see his immigration specifically favoring white people and specifically disadvantaging
black people. And I don't think I could be persuaded
that's not the case. What do you think, Like it

(01:22:10):
seems that immigration policy only moves one way and it
just gets worse and worse, and border policy does the same.
What are they like demanding and what do you think
is sort of at stake in the upcoming election this
year's election regarding the border.

Speaker 7 (01:22:25):
So I was paying attention to what Speaker Johnson was
saying before we logged on to talk, and he was
saying that there was going to be no deal for
the border unless Donald Trump was the one doing the deal.
So he doesn't want to even fund the border patrol
right now. So, I mean, my impression of what the
border patrol, and what the Union is trying to do

(01:22:45):
at this moment is that they are trying to make
the border as chaotic as absolutely possible, and that is
their goal. They want bodies, black and brown bodies coming
over that fence, and they want the optics of it.
That's what I think is going on, and that's why

(01:23:07):
I think that they're picking specific cities to have a
lot of the migrants come through. I think that that's
the reason why they have like specific cities, because you
saw like a couple of weeks together, they're like, oh
my god, the border's being overrun and oh my god,
what are we going to do? And this and that,
and then you realize it's just like three or four sectors,

(01:23:28):
and even within those sectors, it's just one or two areas.
It's not the entire border. Is it problematic? Is it chaotic?
Is it a human rights disaster for the minents? Yes?
Is it that for the border patrol? No? I think
the border patrol is adding to it. And in fact,
when I do the numbers and you compare like the

(01:23:48):
staff that we have back when I was an agent
and the staff that they have today, they're not even
apprehending half the amount that each agent apprehended when we
were in the patrol back in the day. And so
you know, for them to apprehend the group now, when
I see them apprehend a group of life, even ten people,
twelve people, they will take five agents to apprehend twelve people.

(01:24:12):
I have apprehended one hundred people by myself, and that's
not safe. I shouldn't suggest that people do that, but
I have apprehended It is normal for a border patrol
agent to apprehend twenty to thirty people by themselves, including
a female agent who's at the time was super skinny
and super small. And the reason why is because the
vast majority of migrants aren't criminals and they're not trying

(01:24:36):
to hurt you. So that's why a single agent can
apprehend so many people. But today they use like six
or seven agents to apprehend groups, and so I'm not
sure why they're overwhelmed. Quite frankly, they should be able
to handle three hundred and four hundred thousand people a
month in the border patrol if they have to.

Speaker 10 (01:24:59):
Yeah, even though a world without the border patrol would
be better, in a world without this bloated and violent
and overfunded and really terribly just just a mess of
quality and violence that we have now would be a
lot better, but things could get a lot worse for
those people, like even the time it takes for them

(01:25:20):
to be processed, and that the time it takes for
them to have their hearing. Immigration law could change for
the worse very quickly if either person wins presidency. And indeed,
like it seems that Biden has floated like a return
to Title forty two as a as a compromise to
get funding for Ukraine. So like, yeah, this inefficiency doesn't

(01:25:43):
just like even when people are apprehended, their failure to
do their jobs hurts people right like it it puts
them at greater risk.

Speaker 7 (01:25:53):
It does. And I mean a lot of the things
that the Border Patrol has done has created it and
made these things worse. A lot of the areas out
near Sasabe, a lot of people never even crossed until
Trump put that wall out there because they didn't have
road access to a lot of that area. And if

(01:26:13):
you did have road access, you had to have a
very serious four by four to get out there. You
can't do it in a regular car, and you can't
do it in a kind of city type of four
by four. You need a serious four by four to
get it into some of those areas. And then just
our policies are deterrence policies. You know, when I was
an agent in the nineties, it costs you know, probably

(01:26:34):
somebody from Central America costs about eighteen hundred dollars to
get here. Now it's ten thousand or more dollars. So
we've made it profitable for people to smuggle people in
and cross them illegally. Illegally, We've created this entire situation ourselves.
I mean, I don't have any doubt that other countries

(01:26:57):
that maybe don't like that, you know, all the migrants
coming across, the destabilization that will cause with people who
are racist or who don't know anything about the border,
they all see that as a bonus. But the fact
of the matter is is that people who are crossing
they still need asylum, they still have serious needs. Just
because you know, I've seen some people floating around that

(01:27:20):
people are pushing migrants across our southern border to destabilize US.
I don't know if that's necessarily true. We don't have
any proof of that. But even if they are, isn't
the better attitude to have because asylum is legal, isn't
the better attitude to have? Well, how can we better,
you know, help these people and not let this destabilize

(01:27:42):
who we are and make them part of our communities
and so forth. I think that's a better choice than
sending them out to the desert or to drown in
the rivers.

Speaker 10 (01:27:51):
Yeah. Absolutely, And I think it bears. I mean, people
listening to this will probably be in agreement that, yeah,
these people should be treated preticunanty and respect adless. And
I generally don't buy that they're being shipped on mass
to destabilize this country. But I think even if you
don't care about their rights, every single advance advance is

(01:28:13):
around word, right, But increase in surveillance, every single increase
in state violence, every single incursion into individual rights starts
at the border, but it doesn't stop there, right, Like,
if you've protested in twenty twenty, you were surveilled by
technology that came from the border. You were sometimes targeting
by Leslie for weapons that were first issued to border patrol,

(01:28:34):
Like you're the intelligence that police now gather began with
border patrol. Like so much of the even the stuff
that we see used at the border today or the
stuff that we see using surveillance today overwhelmingly comes from
either border patrol or the Israel as a border. And
also most of these things are the same companies, right,

(01:28:56):
Companies that do one also do the other. And so like,
I guess if people are talking to people who don't
seem to care about the rights of migrants, which is
a worryingly large amount of our society, like this will
come and bite someone else in it, like to include
the people who decided to storm the capitol on January sixth,
twenty twenty one. Right, Like, lots of this effectant technology

(01:29:18):
that bit them in the Ayes came from the border
and the people they hated.

Speaker 7 (01:29:22):
And that's absolutely true. And I mean, you know it's
the Border patrol says this, but they mean it in
a different way. They say, what happens at the border
doesn't stay at the border, and they mean that because
they try and portray migrants as all criminals. So they're
trying to tell people, oh, see, these criminals are going
to come to Iowa or Illinois and so that. But
I say, in the fact that the surveillance has come

(01:29:44):
into you because you know, I mean you know, in
San Diego, we got street lamps out here that can
listen to US and video US YEP and track wherever
we're going down the street, from lock to block. And
it's ridiculous. You can't even walk your dog without being
surveilled around here. And yet we're far from them, twenty
miles from the border, north of the border, and it's

(01:30:05):
still surveilled around here. And so all of that surveillance, yes,
that's being used on American citizens. And when you go
to places like McCallan, so the Rio Grande Valley sector
right now, it's really slow. They're getting about a little
over one thousand, maybe two thousand apprehensions a week, which
is really slow size of the sector. And they're like,

(01:30:28):
you know, they have so much surveillance, Like you can
see there's a tower, there's a tower. There's a tower there,
and it is all this Israeli technology and they can
listen to cell phones and that usually needs a warrant.
But apparently down here on the border, and I've had
current border patrol agents tell me the Fourth Amendment doesn't
exist down here. It's like, what is that one they're

(01:30:51):
teaching here in the academy now doesn't exist down here,
and apparently that's what border patrol agents think, and they
think they have to do I do anybody that they
see and all this other stuff, and it just it's
it's interesting how much this is spreading, how much the
checkpoints are spreading. And you know, like in mind, we

(01:31:14):
didn't do invasive searches if it wasn't obvious, we didn't
stop them. And nowadays they'll do on full body cavvy
searches at a checkpoint and I'm like, what I heard that?
And so all this stuff is just gonna it's just
getting further and further into the interior of the United States,

(01:31:36):
like we saw in the trip nutrition like you said, yeah,
it's going to be brought back out for sure. Yeah.

Speaker 10 (01:31:41):
Yeah. So I wonder, like how do we I mean,
it does seem very bleak, like I which is why
I like to devote so much of my time to
like mutual aid work on the border, because it's a
meaningful way to help. But how do we move the
needle to a more humane place? Like this is one

(01:32:02):
of the places where like I think, like we should
do whatever we can to make this like even if
it's something that would normally be this tasteful to us,
but like, yeah, what is it that we can do
to either, like maybe change people's minds, Like I'm sure
you yourself have changed your mind on what we need
to do on the border and to because the conversation

(01:32:26):
around the border is not only toxic, but it's also
so deeply rooted in ignorance and lack of understanding, and like,
I don't think we were talking about this before we
started back. Like I encountered a three year old girl
the other day who was extremely cold. She had her
feet have been wet and cold for hours days and

(01:32:46):
she was the cold beyond shivering, and we were trying
to warm her up, and it was very disstressing. I
don't think many people have seen that. And I don't
think even you're like sort of hardest border big at
face book uncles would want to look that in the
face and be like, yeah, that's what we should do. Damn,
I'm really proud of this country, So how do we

(01:33:07):
move this to a better place?

Speaker 1 (01:33:08):
Do you think?

Speaker 7 (01:33:10):
I think one of the biggest mistakes that the Biden
administration did was that they didn't, you know, in the beginning,
they hired a lot of really really good people, like
I think Andrea Flores was one of the administration people,
and she knows her stuff, and I think that they
had this idea from what she had said that the

(01:33:31):
people that support immigration and immigrant rights in this and
that she was saying that they were viewed as soft
hearted individuals on immigration and they were too soft and
they didn't understand border security. One of the things that
Biden should have done was start educating Americans about why
the asylum system is so important and what the benefits

(01:33:55):
are that it brings to us. And they have never
done that. There's no about it. There's nothing And I
don't know if NGOs do it on that large environment
on cable news or whatever, because they don't really watch
mainstream news and stuff. But Americans are just astonished it.

(01:34:17):
Like when I started doing the TikTok videos and explaining,
you know, border patroling, the people in green cbps and
Blues people didn't know just the basic things. The majority
of Americans who feel that they have a very a
very specific view on immigration, whether they hate it or
they love it, they don't know much about immigration. They

(01:34:39):
don't know how it works. They literally think people just
get off their couch and go let's just go to America.
And they just hop over the fence and they all
have money and they're all getting free stuff and this
and that. So this administration, the government has done nothing
to explain what is happening and why it happens. And
I always say that the asylum system is essential to

(01:35:02):
national security. What we saw in the Biden administration when
he first opened up the ports of entry to allow
specifically Haitians to apply at the ports of entry, we
saw the amount of Haitians go from the crossing in
between the ports it regularly. We saw it going from
you know, thousands down to like one hundred and something.

(01:35:24):
So the idea is that you have to have a
robust and humane asylum system where you're processing people where
they don't have to wait so long that they're going
to give up across it regularly. Because the vast majority
of people who believe that they have a legitimate asylum.
Clane and I do think that what constitutes the asylum
needs to be revisited because it's outdated, especially now that

(01:35:45):
we have client and change. But is that you want
those people to come and be inspected. We want people
to come and stand outside the port of entry and
wait and be inspected by CBP. If we're going to
have a border, we're going to have all this. We
would want that so that then we could say, Okay,
we've checked them. They appear to be okay, they're going

(01:36:06):
to this place. Now they have an immigration hearing before
a judge. We're going to make sure that they get
the system and you know, and then see it more
as a system that's a benefit to us instead of
creating enemies, which is what we're doing now. Every time
a migrant turns around, even if they do are able
to get into the United States the quote unquote legal

(01:36:28):
way at a port of entry, they're still met with
you can't work for one hundred and fifty days, and
then you can't do this, and you can't do that,
and you have to show up. And so we're constant.
Everything is punishment, Everything is punitive in our immigration system,
and we can't do that. We want these people to
become citizens. We want these people to become part of

(01:36:49):
our our society. We need it, and so we have
to we have to have somebody bold enough to explain
this to the American people. If you close the asylum system.
Everybody's going to cross regularly, just like they did in
Title forty two, and you're going to get tons and
tons of bodies coming across the wall. We need to
be bold enough to say we want a humane and

(01:37:10):
robust asylum system where families can wait together and be processed.
And then, you know, I mean the decision between should
we fund detention centers and home people who are crossing
just waiting for their immigration hearing in detention, or should
we fund you know, humane services, like let's get you
into whatever city you're going to. Let's help you find

(01:37:33):
a school for your kids, Let's help you learn English,
let's help you find a job, Let's help you and
you can hire and pay people to do that instead
of putting people in attention. It doesn't have to be
a punitive system. We've just made it that way because
the people on the for profit prisons before Trump was
supposedly elected, they were lobbying Jeff Sessions and Steven Miller

(01:37:56):
when he was working for Jeff Sessions and so Geo
and all them. They're the ones that decided this is
how we're going to go. And the fact of the
matter is is I know, I think we're on a
disagreement with open border versus you know, or having border
patrol at all. But I always say an open border
is just as dangerous as a closed border. And when

(01:38:19):
when you close off the asylum system, that forces everybody
to then cross in between the ports of entry, and
that is what does overwhelm border patrol. So if you
don't want to overwhelm your border patrol, then you have
to pull them back and you have to start processing
people like they're supposed to be processed at the court
of entry. The other thing people forget about is we've

(01:38:39):
had four years, literally four years of the asylum system
being shut down because of MPP and Title forty two.
Those are Trent policies. It took by no while to
get through all those. But what do you think all
those people that were sitting around for four years are
doing there waiting? They're turning to get over there. So
we have a backlog not just the people in the
United States waiting for the immigration hearing, we have a

(01:39:00):
backlog of people in Mexico waiting to come across. So
they created this whole thing themselves. I find it very
interesting the press never mentions that basically what TRUP did
was close the whole immigration system down and kick the
can down the road.

Speaker 10 (01:39:17):
Yeah yeah, I mean consciously or unconsciously. It's like shaken
up a can of beer and then someone's going to
take a little off at some point, you know, and
it's going to blow out. Oh yeah, and it's been
willing to and so it's still going to get kicked
down the road. I mean, people have come in since
the end of title forty two, but as you say,
there's a huge backlog, and people aren't, as you say,

(01:39:37):
going to stop coming, right because like it's dangerous getting here.
I've walked those trails. They're not easy, and they're certainly
not easy when you're carrying your kid and it's raining
and it's dark, but it's I've also been in Syria,
in Iraq and in other places where these people are
coming from, and I understand why they're doing it, and
I would do it too if I had a family

(01:40:00):
and I wanted to escape that. So I think we're
laughing if we think that we're going to I mean,
we've tried to make our border as unpleasant as those places,
and it's deadly as those places, right, and fortunately we
failed and so that doesn't mean people will stop coming
whatever we do.

Speaker 7 (01:40:17):
We've had thirty years of walls and border patrols, concept
of deterrence policies that they claim will prevent people from
crossing irregularly or illegally, and they've all failed. And I
think it's time to try something new. I think it's
time to stop listening to the people who get all
the money and get all the guns and get all

(01:40:39):
the militarizations saying it has to be this way. It
does not have to be that way. And I think
it's very important to point out that we live in
the United States of America. Even though we have a
lot of problems and we're possibly losing our democracy in
our country right now, it is still far better than
the places that these people are coming from, and we
should be thankful for that and then figure out a

(01:41:00):
way to protect ourselves as just as we can.

Speaker 10 (01:41:03):
You know, yeah, yeah, I think I think that's yeah,
it's a good place to end. Like, we should be
grateful that for now we live in a much more
stable place and that we were able to we have
the resources to welcome people, and we do the benefit
to our communities when we.

Speaker 3 (01:41:20):
Have from us.

Speaker 7 (01:41:22):
Yeah, we need people right now.

Speaker 10 (01:41:25):
So yeah, people forever bitching about not being able to
find people to work and also at the same time
turning away people who would love. You know, every migrant
I meet in the cumber message me on WhatsApps saying, Hey,
struggling to find work because they don't get work authorization.
Right there are a lot of jobs that you're doing,
and a lot of people who want to do them,
and but we're so wrapped up in our bigger trendenophobia

(01:41:47):
that we won't let them do it right.

Speaker 7 (01:41:49):
We've made it as difficult for them as we absolutely
positively can.

Speaker 10 (01:41:55):
Yeah, Jen, thank you for joining us. Is there any
way that people can like follow you on line? You've
done a really good job at sort of cracking some
of the board patrols nonsense recently. So where can people
find that?

Speaker 7 (01:42:08):
They can find it on jin the j E N
Nthudd dot com.

Speaker 10 (01:42:13):
Great mesair, it's a good resource. And well, thank you
so much, jenf. We really appreciate your time.

Speaker 7 (01:42:17):
I appreciate you.

Speaker 11 (01:42:19):
Jeerz bye, Okay, hello, welcome to It could happen here.

Speaker 12 (01:42:37):
This is Sharene today. I am joined by you know
you know him.

Speaker 3 (01:42:42):
You love him.

Speaker 12 (01:42:42):
It's Robert.

Speaker 10 (01:42:43):
Hi, Robert Ah.

Speaker 2 (01:42:45):
Someone knows me and loves me.

Speaker 3 (01:42:46):
That's nice.

Speaker 12 (01:42:47):
Robert is here today to talk with me to Charles McBride.
But I met Charles fairly recently doing just pro Palestine
stuff online, and I really liked his work. He's here
to talk about some things that I think are very
important to like Ukraine, and why helping Ukraine is not
the same thing as aid to Israel and all that
good stuff. And yeah, let's just get right into it.

(01:43:10):
I want to know your experience with Ukraine. Can you
just tell us a little bit about that first?

Speaker 3 (01:43:17):
Sure.

Speaker 13 (01:43:17):
First of all, thank you sharing so much for having
me on. This has been one of my favorite podcasts
for a while. So this is kind of a slightly
surreal moment going into my experience with Ukraine. I double
majored in history in comparative religion in college, and I
was kind of interested in sort of the post Soviet sphere,

(01:43:38):
and I worked on some kind of post Soviet issues
when I lived.

Speaker 10 (01:43:41):
In Washington, d C.

Speaker 13 (01:43:42):
After school, and also was deeply interested in Eastern Orthodox Christianity,
which is kind of why I took an interest in
that region. So I remember in like twenty fifteen, I
watched this Vice video called Russian Roulette that popped up
on my YouTube feed, and it just completely it just

(01:44:03):
put Ukraine on the map for me in a way
that I'd never really thought about before. I thought of
it as the Ukraine. Yeah, Yeah, my Muscovite Russian history
professor had always talked about it as a part of Russia. Yeah,
And she had denied, you know, I was during the Midaan,
the Revolution of Dignity. I was in college, and she
denied that Ukraine had any autonomy. She echoed all the

(01:44:27):
putinesque sort of talking points about CIA intervention and neo
Nazis and stuff, and I didn't really know what. I
didn't know at that point. So then I, yeah, I
got interested in in sort of what was happening in
the lead up to the Russian invasion. And I had
been following this guy who went over to Syria a

(01:44:49):
couple of years ago named Aidan Aslin, And in my
conversations with aid And he'd sort of told me a
little bit about kind of what stuff was like in
going on in Ukraine, and I got very interested. I
was following him and all of his friends and what
they were doing. And at that point, I had, you know,
about four or five years of nonprofit humanitarian experience under

(01:45:12):
my belt as long as as well as sort of
a historical political understanding of the region. And so when
the war happened, when the full scale invasion happened, I immediately
started trying to fundraise, trying to help out, trying to educate,
and mostly to try and cut through Russian propaganda because
there were a lot of people in my sphere who

(01:45:35):
were just retweeting straight up Russian propaganda. They were elevating
you know what you and I know who are basically
Kremlin adjacent individuals in the United States who have sway
and leftist circles, some of whom have re emerged in
the Palestine discussion, much to my chagrin.

Speaker 2 (01:45:54):
Yeah, yeah, I'm sure we'll talk about that more later.

Speaker 3 (01:45:58):
I would love to.

Speaker 10 (01:45:58):
Get into that.

Speaker 13 (01:45:59):
Yeah, And so, yeah, in my hope was to kind
of to do that, and as I was sort of
working with Ukrainian It's one of the things they said is, hey, man,
everything happens here. You have to be in Ukraine to
get anything off the ground, So you need to come here.
And I'm like, are you insane's there's a war going
on in your country. So I said yes, and yes, yes,

(01:46:22):
I am in retrospect. So second week of the war,
I booked a plane ticket, flew over there, a crossed
the train into Poland, scared out of my mind, got
in touch with the Ukrainians I've been talking to previously,
and after a mad hustle from the train station, was
very comfortably drinking tea and a cute little apartment in
Leviv with somebody's grandmother, and I was like, this is

(01:46:44):
this crazy experience. So I spent two months in Ukraine.
At the beginning, my attention was to sort of identify
gaps in the medical supply chain, particularly things that were
going to be initially overlooked in the mad dash of
refugees and reset men and all that sort of stuff.
And one of the things we identified was like prescription

(01:47:05):
medication for people coming from the east to the west.
And yeah, I think it's important that not a lot
of realized that people coming from eastern Ukraine, a lot
of them had never visited cities like Leviv until the
start of full scale invasion, predominantly Russian speakers, and you know,
for them, Leviv was almost like going to Poland, and

(01:47:27):
it was a very new thing for them. But you know,
your medical issues don't stop just because someone invades their country.
In fact, oftentimes they get worse. And so what I
was trying to do initially was find a way to
address that, and that led me into contact with Rostaslov Philippinko,
who's one of my dear friends and the co founder

(01:47:50):
of the organization that we started together called Mission Harkiv.
So that organization worked initially on prescription medications and then
started distributing high end oncology drugs, which are very difficult
to transport, very lucrative to steel, and very difficult to
store because they have to be kept at a constant temperature.

(01:48:11):
So we focused on those things while everybody else was
focusing on tints and you know, and clothes for refugees
and that sort of stuff. And as a result, we
carved out a very interesting niche in terms of the
humanitarian response and are still going strong with that today.
And so that was initially kind of why I went

(01:48:32):
over there for that first two months, and since then
I've been back over to film a documentary, sort of
an artistic short documentary called Note of Defiance, and then
I was involved with another documentary project which is hopefully
forthcoming in the next year.

Speaker 2 (01:48:50):
Nice. Yeah, I don't think I've talked about this on
the show, but kind of my relationship with Ukraine and
eventually going over there and starting to report on what
was happening started weirdly enough as a result of the
fact that I had friends who went to the big
burning Man event in Nevada, and I wound up traveling
with one of them in India, this Ukrainian woman who

(01:49:13):
lived in the Bay and when stuff started in late
twenty thirteen, which is when the Revolution of Dignity is
kind of the common Ukrainian name for it. You'll also
hear it referred to as like the twenty fourteen revolution
of the Madan Revolution. They're all talking about the same thing,
which is when the guy who was the President of
Ukraine trying to make himself into a dictator. This dude,

(01:49:34):
Victor Yanikovich, who is this incredibly wealthy oligarch who literally
built a golden palace for himself with like a fake
lake that had a boat on it, that was a restaurant.

Speaker 10 (01:49:43):
For just him.

Speaker 2 (01:49:44):
For like the level of rich oligarch asshole we're talking
about here, cracked down really brutally on a student protest,
which it kind of culminated in this kind of escalating
occupation of the Center Square in the capitol that basically
got built into an ice fortress and like the middle
of the Ukrainian winter. This very very like pretty epic

(01:50:04):
story of successful resistance because this guy is eventually forced
out the police riot unit, the bearcoot who had done
had been literally killing people by dropping them naked, and
like ice drifts and stuff, are disbanded. It's a really
remarkable story and I just kind of fell into it
because my friend connected me with a couple of people

(01:50:25):
who were on the ground there who were friends of hers,
who were Ukrainians in the tech industry who traveled to
the US every year or so for Burning Man and
so when this occupation of the Maidan started, they were like, well,
we know how to, like we're used to making soup
and food for large numbers of people and like running
little chunks of a camp, so we'll just start We'll

(01:50:45):
just do the thing that we do at our camp
out over in Maidan. They were part of the thing
they were part of was the Automidon, which was this
like mobile unit of resupply where people would like basically
drive supplies to and from different areas of occupation in
the city. It was a pretty dangerous job as things escalated,
but that was my ind and I wound up talking
to like, I don't know, twenty or thirty people like

(01:51:08):
actively the entire time the occupation was going on. There's
like two folks I never was able to get back
in touch with who just kind of like dropped off
at a certain point. Like it was a really sketchy
time for a lot of people. But I wound up
traveling there the year after, right after the early part
of the invasion, started to report from Avdifka, which is,
you know, was had been under siege for a year

(01:51:30):
at that point and is still under siege today, for
an idea of like that's a decade now basically that
this this little town has been shelled.

Speaker 12 (01:51:39):
Yeah, anyway, Yeah, I didn't know that about burning Man.
That's well, it was a weird.

Speaker 2 (01:51:45):
Way to get connected to it. Yeah. I just got
a message from this friend of mine who was like, hey,
somebodies from my camp are like trying to overthrow their government.

Speaker 3 (01:51:53):
Do you want to talk to them.

Speaker 10 (01:51:54):
I was like, well, yeah, that sounds pretty dope.

Speaker 3 (01:51:57):
Yes, that's your remo. That's wild.

Speaker 13 (01:52:01):
You know what burning Man really does apply It provides,
It really connects all, doesn't it. I have some weird
like tangential burning I've never been.

Speaker 2 (01:52:09):
But I have like neither of I actually yeah.

Speaker 13 (01:52:11):
I'd like Burning Man devotees who play a large role
in my life and it's just very interesting.

Speaker 2 (01:52:16):
Yeah, yeah, the weird little connections you get. And I
was kind of disappointed, you know. To me, this was
because the whole time, especially like the late twenty thirteen
early twenty fourteen, as this was going on, I was like, well,
they're probably all going to get killed, right, like just
you know, we were several years in the Syrian Civil
War at this point, Like I was not optimistic, and

(01:52:37):
that's not what happened. And then there was like this
counterpoint of realizing a few years later that oh, a
shocking number of people on the left think it was
a bad thing that they overthrew their government. Yeah, which, yeah,
I guess gets us into like the kind of thing
you wanted to talk about, which is the difference in
providing military aid to Ukraine versus Israel. Yeah, which I

(01:53:01):
don't know. I mean, from my standpoint, it's pretty obvious, right, Like,
one country is fighting a military that has a massive
industrial base, much more powerful than it and is killing
large numbers of civilians, and they have proven their ability
with military aid to react effectively to this invasion. And

(01:53:23):
the other case, I don't think I need to explain
which one, but it's Israel is a country with a
massive arms industry that is fighting people who have no
arms industry of any kind and primarily killing civilians. So
I can very easily justify one of those groups of
people getting US weapons and one of them not needing
any additional weapons.

Speaker 10 (01:53:43):
That's right, ye.

Speaker 13 (01:53:44):
See, Robert. None of that is justified because of the
existence of the Ashok Battalion. There is no right for
any Ukrainian grandmother to get access to her insulin because
there's a couple of Nea Nazis that were stationed in Mariople.
But truly, that is that is about how sophisticated. A
lot of the leftist critiques of the Ukraine of supporting

(01:54:07):
Ukraine are I think a lot of it comes in
one of the things that I talk about, and I
talked with Sharin about this when we went on Instagram
Live together. Is that a lot of leftists seem to
live in kind of a weird, little cinematic universe where
only the US and Israel can be the bad guys,
and by extension, France and the UK, you know, and

(01:54:28):
YadA YadA. But as a result of that, they have
this just really strange view of global affairs that literally
no one in the countries they're talking about share. Somehow,
Russia and Iran and China and Cuba are all aligned
in a sort of anti imperial axis because they oppose
the interests of NATO and the United States. And I

(01:54:50):
think that's just so, that's that's patently ridiculous, but it
plays a big role in conversations like what's going on
in Palestine. Yes, people will invoke, well, why are you
giving all this money to Ukraine instead of giving money
to people the relief for the Maui fires, or you know,
doing why are we doing medical medicare for all? So

(01:55:13):
it's like it's a convenient because it's the military industrial complex,
it's the Iraq War, it's all these things that we
as leftists were taught to hate. But it's they're being
used for good. It's like America is actually being the
arsenal democracy and doing the thing that we did in
World War Two that helped the Soviet Union march into Berlin.

Speaker 2 (01:55:31):
Well, and it's also, I think an important thing to
notice when we talk about the it's always framed as
the US is giving this amount of money to Ukraine.
What's what's happening is we are taking stockpiles of arms
we already have worth that much money, and we are
sending them there like they're not right like that that
is overwhelmingly like the the what kind of aid we

(01:55:54):
are sending over So these are extant weapons that are
sitting in the US doing nothing and being like the Bradley's.
We didn't just build a bunch of new Bradley's. We
had a shitload of them. We weren't using them anymore
because they were not very useful in the conflicts that
we were fighting.

Speaker 3 (01:56:10):
Right that Bradley is Mrs Yeah.

Speaker 13 (01:56:13):
The United States is like really itching to like need
high Mars right now. No, Like, all of this stuff
we're sending to them has been mothballed for basically since
the Goal War, and people don't understand that.

Speaker 2 (01:56:25):
It is funny to me to imagine, like, yeah, let's
send that stuff to Maui for the fires. That's what
they need, is they need long range artillery. That's really
gonna that's really gonna help them heal.

Speaker 13 (01:56:36):
I'm in favor of sending lethal aid to the indigenous
residents of Maui, but I think that's it, that's.

Speaker 5 (01:56:43):
It.

Speaker 2 (01:56:43):
You talked me into it. And I think we have
enough mothballed tanks for both of these causes.

Speaker 13 (01:56:49):
Yeah, I think.

Speaker 12 (01:56:50):
For me, the comparisons for Ukraine and Palestine, it started
with how it was presented in the media. It just
it rought people the wrong way when the Ukraine Median
struggle was presented in a certain way and the Palestinian
struggle was not, and people can draw some draw a
comparison like whiteness and all this stuff. Absolutely, yeah, and
I just it got me, really, it really irritates me

(01:57:12):
because it's not like the Oppression Olympics, Like we're not
trying to compare or demonize Ukrainians. We should demonize the
media for not representing Palestinians in the right way. But
I think that is kind of the origin of the
comparison that I saw.

Speaker 2 (01:57:27):
Anyway, Yeah, and I think that's that's really worth digging into,
because there's a couple of First off, it is absolutely
an injustice that Ukrainian resistance and that light is seen
as inherently just and not just. Palestinian resistance is demonized
or often ignored, But like all sorts of resistance by
people who are being harmed around the world, it partially

(01:57:49):
is or in large part as a result of like
US and other Western countries policies are not seen in
the same light as Ukrainian resistance. I certainly agree with
that stance. That's not the refault of anybody in Ukraine. Right,
this is we are not talking about a country that
exercises power on the global stage. We are talking about
a cash poor nation that has been struggling with Russian

(01:58:13):
imperialism for most of the time that most of the
people listening this, actually all of the time that everybody
listening to this has been alive in one form or another, right, Yes,
And so I think it's perfectly fair to point out
the ways in which the media reports unequally on these conflicts,
on what's happening in Palestine, what's happening on stuff like Buka,
and on the mass slaughter of civilians in Gaza, right,

(01:58:34):
I think that that is worth pointing out, But it's
also not worth blaming Ukrainians over they are not participating
in that just by saying, hey, it's bad that our
civilians are being massacred by rockets, right and other forms
of weaponry. By the way, like that that's not on them, Yeah.

Speaker 13 (01:58:52):
I think so also kind of flip that on its head.
I mean, this part of it is the media narrative.
You know, it's easier. Ukrainians are mostly hot white people
in the eye of the Western media, and it's easy
to cheer for the hot white people who have you know,
everyone everyone. A lot of people have been to Ukrainian restaurant,
they're familiar with some Ukrainian maybe songs, so they have

(01:59:12):
friends if they live in a place like la or
New York, you know Ukrainians, you're familiar maybe even with
some Ukrainian media. And it's and it's kind of like
this accessible thing, you know. And also like there's other
aspects of it to which you're even stranger, which is
that Ukraines produces like a huge amount of the world's
fashion models. Like that's a very accessible thing. For people

(01:59:33):
to get behind in the nice liberal media. And you
could see these in these initial broadcasts being like I've
never seen anything like this with seeing all these European
looking refugees and it's like a right, they're multlearly.

Speaker 12 (01:59:44):
Like that where they're these are not Arabs like they
say it with their chests, you know, like these these
are people like us.

Speaker 13 (01:59:50):
But for the flip side of that is that that
leftists are reluctant to be charitable to Ukrainians because they
also see them as hot white people who don't need
any help. Yeah, and they're unwilling to admit that Ukrainian Ukrainians,
like Gosans, also suffer from a settler colonial state as

(02:00:11):
their neighbor with a history of ethnically cleansing and genociding them.

Speaker 2 (02:00:15):
Yeah, I mean part of the reason for that is
that the neighbor that ethnically cleansed in gen well one
of them, because actually they had several neighbors ethnically cleansing
genocide them. But the Soviet Union like did a significant
amount of that during the Holy Dulmar. Now Germans also
carried out a massive genocide in Ukraine like and by
the way, a huge number of the Red Army soldiers

(02:00:36):
who successfully helped defeat the Nazis were Ukrainians. As a note,
this is you often see this thing where people will
point out there were a significant number of Ukrainians that
fought with the Nazis, and they tend to ignore that, like, yeah,
and there were even more Ukrainians who fought with the
Red Army. Like both of those things happened. It was
a world war and Ukraine was right in the middle

(02:00:58):
of it. It's a very ugly situation, and it kind
of comes down to this inability of a lot of
people to not even nuanced to care about accuracy when
that accuracy is not like ideologically convenient, when it points
to some of the ugliness and messiness of war. I
find that very frustrating. Like I sympathize with because I

(02:01:20):
was reporting on the Syrian refugee crisis from the refugee
trail right after actually I was in Ukraine, and it
is unfair that like Ukrainian refugees were treated differently. But
the people to blame for that is the news media,
not refugees who have lost their homes. In fact, I
suspect that a lot of Ukrainians have a different attitude

(02:01:43):
themselves towards the suffering that they witness during that period
of time because they've now been through it. It's just
like a human thing now, you know what that's like.

Speaker 12 (02:01:52):
Yeah, I mean as a Syrian person who oh, for
the past like over a decade, I really really fucking
got on my nerves every time I would see them
not talk about Syria, or when they did it was
not a good way. And then when they started really
embracing Ukrainian refugees or talking about them in a different way,
I'm not gonna lie, it made me mad, but not

(02:02:14):
at Ukrainians. Like I think even now, we should have
criticized the media back then, but like they're doing the
same thing now with their fucking headlines about Israel and Palestine.
It's always how it's presented versus the people it's presenting.
Like when someone when some dumb newscaster is standing in
front of a group of Ukrainian refugees behind him and
he's like, these are not Arabs, these are white people.

(02:02:36):
They didn't say that he did, so I don't know.

Speaker 13 (02:02:39):
Yeah, And also like I encourage everyone to ask Ukrainian,
particularly Eastern Ukrainians' opinions on the Western media and like
Westerners in general, because two years into this war, they
have a lot of them, and I imagine that they
would you would find a lot of the sentiments shared
by the Ukrainians. They don't always appreciate how they're portrayed
in the Western media, as you know, brave defenders of

(02:03:01):
their country or sook covered refugees coming off of a railcar.
You know, they have a lot of opinions on these
sorts of things. They feel patronized, they feel babied in
some senses, and they feel like they will be ultimately
abandoned by us, which is already coming to pass. Yeah,
and as the attention shifts to things like Gaza, you know,

(02:03:24):
it's difficult for them to feel like they have any friends.

Speaker 12 (02:03:26):
Yeah, no, I want to get into that. But let's
take our first break, and yes, we will jump back
in and we're back. Okay. We had just been talking
about how the support for Ukraine has kind of changed recently.

(02:03:52):
Can you get into that little bit.

Speaker 13 (02:03:55):
I'm not even necessarily sure that it changed so recently.
I remembering over there and it was wall to wall
coverage from the moment I set foot from the moment
it started to really up until the Oscars and the
Chris Rock slap is what we all talked about as
last oxers, like this is yeah, the last Oscars and

(02:04:16):
the Chris Rock slap and all the attention that that got.
Was the moment that a lot of the volunteers talked about,
is the moment where people started to want to forget
about Ukraine. There was still a lot of coverage, but
suddenly it was like, you don't have to be obsessed
with Ukraine. You know, Ukraine's now a second page story
instead of a first page story. That was around the

(02:04:38):
same time that the Russians withdrew from Kiev, So suddenly
there wasn't there wasn't this expectation that Kiev was going
to fall and the capital be taken in Zelensky would
be captured, and it started to slow up. Even then,
you know, the donations dried up, the attention dried up,
and by the time I went there in the winter
of twenty twenty three last year, it was like people

(02:05:01):
already wanted to forget. I mean, I live in Los
Angeles and a lot of people here were saying things like,
oh wow, is that still going on? Really nice, well
meaning people who knew I'd been over there. They were
just like, is that you know, is that still a
war going on?

Speaker 7 (02:05:16):
Yeah?

Speaker 13 (02:05:16):
Here we are in twenty days. It's going to be
two years of this. Yeah, my friends over there are exhausted,
and they don't They're now a page eight story.

Speaker 4 (02:05:26):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (02:05:26):
And it's this comes back to like how Americans like
to think about conflict. We have an enormous appetite for
war and for you know, a particularly what we consider
a just struggle for up to a couple of months, right,
and then people were very excited when, yeah, the Russians
invade everyone. The expectation, both from like military experts in

(02:05:49):
the West and from certainly civilians is that like Russia's
going to crush them immediately, and then they don't. There's
this real upset, come from behind, underdog victory and Americans
love that, but then like it, it's not a total
immediate victory, and in fact, it turns into at this
point and really really brutal, ugly slow war of attrition
and maneuver, which is like what war is, right, Like

(02:06:13):
that that's how any sort of near peer conflict is
going to boil out. And it's not a kind of
thing that is resolved quickly, and it's not a kind
of thing that is resolved without cost. And as soon
as that became clear Americans, it didn't. It doesn't fit
into that like ninety minute Hollywood vision of how a
conflict is supposed to go right. There was no The

(02:06:33):
Ukrainians didn't blow up a death star and end it right,
like I mean, actually that's not what happens in the
movies either, but like it's it's still it was not
the quick, clean end that a lot of people were
expecting and hoping for. And as a result, people are like, well,
now it's a quagmire and now it's like we have
to start looking for some way out of this thing,

(02:06:54):
which by the way, has cost us very little. Like
my stance on like when is this over is like, well,
I guess when Ukraine says it's over, right, Like if
the Ukrainians want to come to the negotiating table and
negotiating into hostilities, then like that's their business. But up
until that point, I think the business of the United
States is to continue to meet our treaty obligations, which

(02:07:18):
we should we should note like the United States and
NATO are obligated to support Ukraine in a war over
its sovereignty because they gave up their nukes with that understanding, right,
this is.

Speaker 3 (02:07:30):
What happened when Retail the country.

Speaker 2 (02:07:32):
Yeah, yeah, we said you give up your nukes and
we got your back, like this is this was the
promise we made And as far as I'm concerned, that's
the only interest I haven't like. My answer is like,
how long should we support them? Well, as long as
they're fighting, and.

Speaker 13 (02:07:45):
We've been keeping that promise for the cost of five
percent of our defense budget. And like you mentioned earlier,
it's it's already stuff that's mothballed since the Gulf War,
sitting around waiting to be used.

Speaker 5 (02:07:58):
You know.

Speaker 10 (02:07:58):
I mean the idea of giving them F sixteen.

Speaker 13 (02:08:00):
Every country in the world, practically, at least in the
NATO Alliance, it seems like everyone has an F sixteen.
I think we're giving them a turkey now too, Like
it's not a big deal to give a couple of
F sixteens to the Ukrainians or a couple of Bradleys
or Abrams or what have you. And I think that people,

(02:08:22):
especially on the right, but also on the left, who
get obsessed over the amount of money that we're sending
or the amount of equipment in personnel. Especially when they
see these stories about corruption, they don't they don't understand
the scale of how small this actually is relative to
the United States other commitments, like to Israel, and they
get sort of myopically focused on this and they use

(02:08:43):
it as a reason to dislike Ukraine. The Right will
never like Ukraine because Zelensky was the guy who made
Trump look bad and got him impeached. I think it's
that simple. Yeah, it's wild that like well, also, I
mean the Russian interference and stuff. You know, the Republican
Party now resembles Russia more. But it's wild that Republicans,
you know, thirty years ago were super anti Russia and
now the Russia's best friend, and they think Ukraine are
sort of Satanist whatever, yeah, to and on corrupt people.

Speaker 2 (02:09:08):
And it's to kind of emphasize how small five percent
of the Defense Department budget is the Pentagon. This is
from like a twenty twenty two story. The Pentagon can't
account for several trillion dollars in assets, which doesn't mean
we don't fully know where they are, but it means
that like Pentagon record keeping has sort of like lost

(02:09:30):
huge amounts of assets over the years. At the moment,
like right now, the Pentagon, like as of November twenty sixteen,
had failed six audits in a row, and as far
as I can tell, I don't think they've actually ever
passed an audit of like all of their resources. Like
there's huge amounts trillions of dollars in assets that like
we can't fully document. It's it's when you think about

(02:09:54):
like the amount of money that we've actually sent over
there as a defense or as a percentage of just
like this stuff that we can't fully account for in
our militaries, like Arsenal, it's a tiny fraction of that,
let alone a fraction of like our Defense Department's total assets.
And it also this gets back to when people talk
about like corruption in Ukraine, and by god, Ukraine has

(02:10:16):
a history of government corruption, which is part of what
the revolution in twenty fourteen was about, right, But it's
particularly silly to complain about that as a reason not
to send them weaponry when we know the US Defense
Department is massively corrupt, a huge amount of corruption involving
not just like not specifically even like military officials, but

(02:10:37):
involving civilian contractors, involving like the agencies we contract to,
involving the money that we've sent over the course of
like the eight trillion dollars or so that we've spent
on the war on Terror. A huge chunk of that,
hundreds of billions of dollars of the money that we
spent on the war on Terror is just gone. Billions
of it disappeared in the form of cash pallets that

(02:10:58):
we just lost, right, Like, this is the amount of
money that it has cost us to support Ukraine in
this war. Is a rounding error of the shit we
lost just as a matter of business, Like it just
adds like it's like.

Speaker 13 (02:11:12):
A rounding earrow of like what we gave to Halliburton.

Speaker 2 (02:11:15):
Yes, you know, yes, to build hospitals that didn't work
in Afghanistan.

Speaker 3 (02:11:19):
Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 13 (02:11:20):
In speaking of Afghanistan, I think a lot of people
look at you, they look at the Afghanistan withdrawal and
they think, oh, this is what Ukraine's going to be like.
But I think that brings up the point of story,
what are we getting for that five percent of defense budget?
You know, we gave a bunch to afghan and we
ended up getting the same situation that we had when
we went in there in two thousand and one, the
Taliban and control. But now they have billions of dollars

(02:11:43):
worth of America the state of the art American military equipment.

Speaker 2 (02:11:45):
And hundreds of thousands of Afghan people died in the
interim exactly.

Speaker 13 (02:11:50):
And then you contrast that with like, well, what is
our five percent of military budget? Get us in Ukraine
and you look at what this is doing to Russia.
Russia gained abou zero point one percent of Ukrainian territory
in the year twenty twenty three, second year of war,
and to do that they lost about one hundred thousand soldiers.
Now there's a lot of people in Russia, and that's

(02:12:12):
always been the thing about Russia is that they have
these this depth of recruiting that they can pull on,
but they're taking out recruiting ads in like Saint Petersburg,
in Moscow, and in like the wealthy that they're going
hard on, like recruiting from wealthy urban centers instead of
sort of the traditional rural areas where they bring in

(02:12:33):
all their recruits, which which is evidence to me that
they're suffering from a manpower shortage in the same way
that the Ukrainians are. Yeah, and that's one of the
things that particularly frustrates me when people say that we're
not what are we getting for our money? Because that's
that's it, Like Russia is on the ropes. People just
don't want to admit it. People see a slight incremental

(02:12:54):
Russian gain or they feel like there's a standstill on
the Ukrainian counter offensive and they think, oh, well, let's
just throw in the It's.

Speaker 3 (02:13:00):
Like, no, can't.

Speaker 13 (02:13:01):
You can't stop the pressure now, and Pudin is finally
kind of ready to come to the negotiating table, it seems,
and the Ukrainians, you know, need our help more than ever.
And that's kind of the frustrating ourspact. I went on
I went on the Hill TV the other day to
talk with someone who said, basically, she said, is there
any hope for Ukraine? Like very already fatalistic about the

(02:13:23):
whole thing, like are they already on the ropes? And
I was like, no, they're not on the ropes. And
this is a narrative that we need to change. We
need to understand that there's a very there's a huge
difference between what military aid gets us in Ukraine versus
what it gets us in Israel and Afghanistan.

Speaker 2 (02:13:39):
And there's it's also like a significant change in like
who is being killed by those weapons, right because even
when we talk about the use of like the US
use of weapons in foreign countries, we are often talking
about these kind of these brush fire conflicts, these insurgencies
in which a great deal of the fighting takes place
in and around civilian populus. Is And obviously there are

(02:14:01):
Ukrainian cities that have been under siege for quite a while.
But when we're talking about like the Ukrainians firing or
giving them him Our systems or giving them Bradley's, we
are talking about weaponry that is being used to break
fortifications on along a line of contact, which isn't as
zero never is a zero civilian casualty endeavor, because those

(02:14:21):
don't exist in war, but is a significantly less involves
significantly fewer civilian losses than the kind of wars that
we have fought for most of the time that I've
been alive, right, because we're simply not using the weapons
are not being used in the same way. Bombarding a
trench line is not the same as firing a cruise
missile at what you're pretty sure is a terrorist hideout

(02:14:43):
in a city, you know.

Speaker 13 (02:14:45):
Right, And we have been reluctant to give them any
weapons that could do that. I mean, some notable exceptions
would be like the strike on the naval command center
in Sevestopol. Yes, some other drone limited but but ansoly.
Most of those are drone strikes from drone factories where
the Ukrainians create their own stuff, And there have been
some limited civilian casualties in their incursions into Russian territory
because we won't we won't give them any weapons that

(02:15:06):
go into Russian territory.

Speaker 2 (02:15:08):
Yeah, they give anything they want, yeah, well shit, anything
else to.

Speaker 13 (02:15:15):
Get everything they want.

Speaker 2 (02:15:19):
I mean, we can't say that's not the case for
whoever comes up next, because a number of our advertisements
are random, but hopefully not and we're back, all right.

(02:15:42):
One of the things you have to keep in mind
when you think about like is what what is the
US capable of doing that is positive and what is
the US capable of doing that's negative? Is that the
United States is fucking massive, right, Our budget is fucking massive.
And we talk on this show, on my other show
about a lot of horrible things our government has been
involved in, which doesn't which does not detract from the

(02:16:06):
fact that US aid, and particularly food aid, is like
a survival matter for tens of millions of people around
the globe. Right Like this is one of those things
when the Republicans are talking about wanting to like cut
all foreign aid that the US gives to basically everyone
but Israel. What that means when you talk about that,
you are talking about like starving populations of people larger

(02:16:28):
than most major American cities. Because the US is massive,
and the aid that we give is you know, usually
not it's not really that significant a chunk of our budget,
but for the countries, for a lot of countries that
receive it, it's like critical to survival food aid and
medical aid that we've given over the years. And I
think that also gets into like one of the things

(02:16:49):
that's important about understanding like how what impact you might
have on what's going on in Ukraine. You don't have
to if you if you have too much of a
bad taste in your mouth, or the idea of supporting
US military aid to anywhere. There's a lot of aid
that's not military that's necessary right as you do, Charles.

(02:17:10):
People need medicine right like you are having a positive
outcome on like the people in Ukraine, if you are
helping to increase their access to food and medicine, and
that's not morally complicated. It's always there's always some moral
complexity in handing out weapons around the world. Handing out
medication is incredibly simple from an ethical standpoint, at least

(02:17:31):
from where you're never a bad guy for giving medicine.
It doesn't even matter who it's too, like.

Speaker 13 (02:17:37):
Well, your bad gut Israel apparently.

Speaker 2 (02:17:40):
Yes, yes they will drone strike you, but I don't know.
I think that like one of the nice things as
an American you don't have to. Realistically, the fight over
Ukrainian aid right now is primarily something that is happening
in Congress, and at this exact moment in that fight,
there is very little URI can do. But there is

(02:18:02):
a lot, as you prove, Charles, there is a lot
that individual people can do to help other individual people.
You may not have access to a Himer system or
any more Bradley tanks to give the Ukrainians, although if
you do, please please give them over they'll appreciate them.
But there are a number of ways in which you
can help, like the actual people suffering on the ground.

(02:18:22):
And I think that that's like, that is right now
what regular people can actually do.

Speaker 13 (02:18:29):
Yeah, I totally agree. I would push back a little
bit and saying that there's not a lot that we
can do in terms of the congressional fund because I
think that people do. I mean, I remember, from back
in my time working adjacent to politics, I remember someone
told me a statistic where it said it took five
phone calls to an office of a congressman for them
to rethink their stance on an issue.

Speaker 2 (02:18:53):
I'm interesting.

Speaker 6 (02:18:53):
I have received.

Speaker 13 (02:18:54):
Texts from AIDS to congressmen Republican and Democrat who sit
on like House Armed Services Committee or you know, Defense
and that sort of stuff, saying like, hey, what's with
this Ukraine? Like what's your take on the Ukraine stuff?
Should we be giving them all this money? I don't
really support it, but you went over there? Do you
think they're using it?

Speaker 4 (02:19:14):
Well?

Speaker 13 (02:19:15):
And I'm like, holy, holy crap, am I actually getting
this text? But yes, absolutely, Like yeah, you need you
need to do that, you need to green light whatever,
you need a green light to send that over there.
And I think if more people, you know, we're especially
now when a lot of congress people don't want to
engage with the gaza issue but are looking for like
good wins with their constituencies, like get to know your

(02:19:36):
local Ukrainian constituency in your area, start a campaign to
go to the regional office of your congressmen, find out
which committees they sit on, and and pressure them for
sending aid to Ukraine. I mean, that is something you
can do. But on the individual level, yeah, you you
can still raise awareness. You can you can connect the

(02:19:58):
decolonial struggle of you Ukrainians to that of Palestinians and
other peoples. Someone who does this extraordinarily well is Yulia Timoshenka.
Not the Ukrainian politician. She's a young Ukrainian influencer and
advocate who went to Nyu Abu Dhabi and sort of
got kind of got pilled on the whole Palestine thing

(02:20:18):
and has really eloquently tied the Palestinian and Ukrainian struggles together.
So you can point people towards resources like that and
let them know that there are at least some people
in Ukraine who see that, who see that connection, and
then you can also, of course, you can support humanitarian
initiatives in Ukraine very carefully. Please just do so very carefully.

(02:20:43):
I would say there's a lot of there's a lot
of people who went over there and started initiatives that
were more or less good, but mostly kind of ineffective
because they did not actually engage and include Ukrainians in
that process. My role with everything involving Ukraine is just
like just to ask Ukrainians about it, Ask Ukrainians what

(02:21:03):
they need, figure out what it is that their priorities are,
and make sure that you're including them on your philanthropy
and your charity. They will understand what is most impactful. Yeah,
my organization has experienced a lot of success by being
entirely run by Ukrainians and being based in Arkiv. And
as everyone else is funding and resources have dried up,

(02:21:26):
Mission Harkiv is being handed projects from larger NGOs who
are leaving the region. Because we focus on a local response,
it also means that you know, donations to organizations like
that go farther because they're going to higher Ukrainians rather
than paying for the flights of some westerner to go

(02:21:47):
back and forth, you know, and do a fundraising, you know,
coming in from New York and do a fundraising pitch
and go back. It's actually going towards This was a
commitment I made to myself and my partner and I
went over there. My partner at Mission Harkive was that
I was never going to expense like a flight or
a meal or anything to Mission Harkive. So you know,

(02:22:08):
all that's come out of my own pocket. And that
means that every donation that we have gets to go
pretty much directly into our programs. So you can still
do that as an individual, you can help in that way.
And the awareness thing is a huge part people are
forgetting Ukrainians feel abandoned, like making even just the act
of putting a Ukrainian flag on your notes or like

(02:22:29):
tweeting about Ukraine occasionally is seen as such a huge
act of solidarity at this stage in the game that
the Ukrainians will love you for it.

Speaker 2 (02:22:37):
I really love that you bring up the kind of
pitfalls of and this is not this is Ukraine right now,
in particular because it was such a huge international story
at the start of the expanded invasion and that always
brings out not just grifters but also well meaning people
who are going to raise money and try to start

(02:22:58):
initiatives in that country, it may not be doing it
in the most cost effective way possible. And I really
like what you said about like the importance of verifying
that where you are supporting is not just doing the work,
but is like doing the work in the best way possible.
And one of the really important things to look at
for is like, well, how much money are they spending
on sending Westerners to and from this place?

Speaker 4 (02:23:19):
Right?

Speaker 2 (02:23:20):
It's one thing if like it's an area that lacks
access to medical professionals and they're flying out medical professionals
to do like trauma work or whatever, like there's really
like that's obviously important, but this is something that like
a lot of my friends in Iraq and Syria also experienced,
like the frustration of like in GEO workers staying in
nice hotels and driving you know, fancy vehicles, where there

(02:23:42):
were local organizations doing things like maintaining refugee camps that
needed the support. I think that's always really important to
try to do your research so that the support you give,
the awareness you raise, and the money that you donate
actually goes where it needs to get.

Speaker 13 (02:23:58):
I think I mean that opens a whole broad category
of maybe this is a subset essay waiting to happen.
But I've been playing with this idea of like the
idea of conflict vultures, these people who sort of descend
on a conflict or a disaster zone for a variety
of reasons. You know, maybe it's fundraising. Maybe they work

(02:24:19):
for a big NGO and this helps get them in
the news, so they fly themselves out there. Maybe it's
a war and they want to be a hero where
they want to present themselves as a hero, and they
end up raising a bunch of money for their equipment
and stuff, and then stay far away from the fighting line,
living in nice hotels like you said. Or maybe it
is like you said, well, meeting people who just take
up air from the people who need it and take

(02:24:40):
They're like sponges that just absorb all this Western energy
because they're they're a relatable face. And I've encountered all
of those people in Ukraine. The reason I went to
Ukraine is because I was like, if I'm going to
fundraise for this initiative, people are going to give more.
They're gonna be more invested if they see an English
speaking American talking to them about this stuff. But I

(02:25:03):
came in with the perspective that I can't be centering
myself on this. The idea is to deflect onto what
the Ukrainians are doing and elevate their stories rather than
saying I'm here, I'm posing with the bach mout entrance sign.
I just delivered seven muffins and a generator to like

(02:25:23):
a place that was cleared out by the Ukrainians, you know,
six months previously. It's more like, Okay, how how do
you take Americans are very generous people. How do you
take American philanthropy, American dollars, American wallets and directed towards
the people who are actually going to change, who usually
are not Americans. These large NGOs they serve a purpose.

(02:25:46):
The UN serves a purpose. Doctors without borders, direct relief,
you know, World Central Kitchen, they do it. They do
a great job in like a specific thing. But a
lot of times, if you're giving to the United Nations
or you're giving to one of these big NGOs, that
sets a fundraiser in the immediate aftermath of something, your
money is going to remodel an office in Rome or

(02:26:08):
New York, or Washington, DC, and you're not really reaching
the people that you're trying to help. And I think
if more Americans understood that, they'd be more responsible with
sort of how they spend their money in a philanthropic sense.

Speaker 12 (02:26:22):
Yeah, Charles, you have been awesome. Thank you so much
for coming on and telling us your experience. And yeah,
where can people find you on the internet if you
want to be found?

Speaker 13 (02:26:34):
Some I go back and forth. Sometimes I don't want
to be found and sometimes I do. But you can
find me pretty much everywhere with at Charles McBride. That's
McBride with a why, except on Twitter at random. I
don't have that handle. And then I just launched a substack,
which is I guess Charles McBride dot substack dot com,

(02:26:54):
and that's where we'll be. I'm kind of shifting towards
more long form content to write about my experiences with
these things and sort of a more digestible long form
wave people engaging with important issues like this Awesoh and
if you're interested in the organization I help set up
in Ukraine, it is mission dot harkive on Instagram or

(02:27:18):
missionharkive dot com and.

Speaker 12 (02:27:21):
I can put all the info in the description for yes,
listeners and everything, but yeah.

Speaker 10 (02:27:25):
Sweet excellent Charles. Yeah, thank you, Charles, Thank you, guys.

Speaker 13 (02:27:30):
I appreciate it.

Speaker 8 (02:27:45):
Hey everybody, and welcome back to you. It could happen
here show about the ways things are falling apart. Well,
welcome back to you the listener. Welcome to me, your
guest host. I'm Molly Conger, filling in for James for
a few weeks. If you're happy to be hearing my voice,
feel free to share that feedback anywhere you post online.
If you're upset about the state of affairs, I suggest
writing your congressional representative or mailing a cryptic postcard to

(02:28:06):
your local ATF Field office. As your guest host, I'll
try to bring you the it could Happen here content
you know and love, dispatches from the front lines of
our dystopia updates on the people trying to unravel society
as we know it, and what's being done to stop
the rising tide that threatens to swallow us all. Today
I'm joined by a Garrison, and I'm going to tell
them a little bit about what's been going on with
Patriot Front.

Speaker 14 (02:28:26):
Hello, Patriot Front, fantastic one of the gayer groups of
Nazis operating in the United States.

Speaker 8 (02:28:34):
It's just guys being dudes, Garrison, You wouldn't understand.

Speaker 3 (02:28:37):
I certainly wouldn't know.

Speaker 8 (02:28:40):
You may remember Patriot Front from such iconic moments as
getting arrested and mass at a gay Pride event in
Idaho in twenty twenty two, having their internal calms leaked repeatedly,
nearly constantly, constantly, including some videos of questionably sensual path downs,
or accidentally giving several members mild carbon monoxide poisoning by

(02:29:01):
forcing them to ride in the back of the U
haul truck. You've probably seen their stickers on a trash
can in your local downtown, or maybe you've driven by
a racist banner drop. But when all is sudden done,
hopefully you'll only remember them as having been sued into
the center of the Earth, which is what I want
to talk to you about today.

Speaker 3 (02:29:18):
Oh all right, that's I I'm unbelievably excited.

Speaker 8 (02:29:23):
We won't be getting into the sensual pat downs. Unfortunately,
this is just court records.

Speaker 14 (02:29:27):
Okay, Well, I can always I can always find that
on telegram.

Speaker 3 (02:29:30):
That's fine.

Speaker 8 (02:29:32):
But before we get into who is suing Patriot Front,
let's get a quick refresher on who they are and
how they came to be scurrying around and matching windbreakers
promoting a white ethno state, because I think their origin
story really informs the way they've backed themselves into this corner.
Patriot Front came into existence in late twenty seventeen when
it's splintered off the now defunct neo Nazi group Vanguard America.
The split was months in the making, with a power

(02:29:53):
struggle brewing between Vanguard America leader Dylan Hopper and a young,
up and coming fascist named Thomas Russo, who was at
that time barely out of high school. In the months
leading up to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville
in August twenty seventeen, Rousseau edged Hopper out of his
own organization in what Hopper called a literal coup. By
the time Vanguard America was marching in the streets of Charlottesville,

(02:30:13):
Rousseau was not only in control of the group's internal communications,
he was calling the shots on the ground. Hopper didn't
even attend, and it was that event, the Unite the
Right rally, that birthed Patriot Front. In those chaotic morning
hours of August twelfth, twenty seventeen, a young man named
James Alex Fields Junior joined the men under Russeau's command.
He didn't ride with the core group from Texas in

(02:30:35):
their rented van, which they called the hate Bus.

Speaker 3 (02:30:37):
Oh my wait, did they really call it the hate bus?

Speaker 8 (02:30:41):
Rousseau was back then he was sort of Asthmador's protege.
I don't know that they'll claim that now, but back
then at like this adult alcoholic nazi was mentoring this
fascist team like he was. He had just GRADUATEDIZ.

Speaker 3 (02:30:56):
Many such cases.

Speaker 8 (02:30:58):
Yeah, so they came up in the hate bus space
all right. Mcfields drove here alone. He drove overnight from Ohio,
but he was wearing the group's uniform, a white polo
khaki pants and carrying a shield bearing Vanguard's logo. He
joined in with the members of Vanguard America as they
loitered around a public park, chanting Nazi slogans. Field stood
shoulder to shoulder and a line of Vanguard members guarding

(02:31:19):
the entrance to the park where the rally was to
be held, preventing counter protesters from entering. A Few hours later,
after the rally had been called off by the State police,
declaring an unlawful assembly, Fields drove his Dodge Challenger into
a crowd of counter protesters, killing heather Higher and injuring
dozens of others. In later litigation, Dylan Hopper, responding for
Vanguard America, was asked about his immediate reaction to hearing

(02:31:42):
about the attack that afternoon. In the group's discord, Hopper posted,
Commi's died. That's good enough for me. This was, of course,
before he'd seen the photos of the murderer mingling with
his hate group. In a deposition three years later, he
didn't disavow that initial reaction. He said heather Hire's death
was a tragedy the same way it would be tragic
if a surfer who knowingly entered shark infested waters was

(02:32:03):
killed by a shark, saying it was that woman's choice
to be there. But he maintained that Fields was never
a member of the group, that anyone could have put
on a white polo and stood near them in the park,
that anyone could have handed Fields that shield. His testimony
was that Vanguard America didn't actually have membership list, there
was no official record who was a member, but he

(02:32:24):
somehow also knew that Fields was not a member. In
that twenty twenty deposition, he claimed that he spoke to
Rousseau in the days after the rally, and Rousseau admitted
that he had been the one to make the choice
to allow Fields to march with them in an attempt
to make the group appear larger than it really was,
and Fields himself never claimed to be a member of
the organization. In his federal sentencing memo, his defense attorney

(02:32:45):
wrote that he'd never been a member of any organized group.
But the damage to Vanguard America was done, and almost
every photo of Fields taken that morning, just hours before
he committed a hate crime murder that would send him
to prison for the rest of his life, he certainly
looks like he's with them. After the rally, as Rousseau
was still trying to make his way home to Texas,
he posted in the Vanguard Discord about the issue with

(02:33:06):
the man who ran into protesters with his car. He
was certainly not a member, and none of us know him.
Our shields were given widely to anyone at the rally,
and we had many extras. There's no criminal conspiracy, but
handing a person a piece of wood and agreeing on fashion. Legally,
we have been in contact with folks with legal experience
and we're fine as far as PR. Yes, it's bad,

(02:33:26):
But last week they called us evil, white supremacist Nazi killers,
and today they're calling us the same thing.

Speaker 3 (02:33:31):
Shrug it off.

Speaker 8 (02:33:33):
When members complained that they shouldn't be disavowing the actions
of the murderer, Rousseau clarified that quote. The statement never
said that what he did was wrong, just clarified that
he wasn't a member. People aren't buying it anyway, So
neither Rousseau nor Hopper were willing to say what Fields
did should not have happened. They didn't disavow the murder.

(02:33:54):
Hopper's comments seemed genuinely supportive of the murder. They were
willing to cheer on the bloodshed, but the way the
blood looked on their own hands was going to be
a pr problem. Now, for me, the whole Nazi thing
is kind of a deal breaker from the start, branding wise, Like,
just from the jump, there's a branding issue. There's an eagle,
there's a fascies, there's the blood and soil thing. It's
just it's not a good look.

Speaker 3 (02:34:16):
Could you briefly explain what a fascianes is. So it
is a bundle of sticks, right.

Speaker 14 (02:34:22):
It's it's an old Roman symbol, right.

Speaker 8 (02:34:26):
Right, it comes from you know, the Roman Empire. So
it's this very you know, return to tradition. Mussolini brought
it back.

Speaker 14 (02:34:32):
Yeah, and like you can break one stick pretty easily,
but if they're all bundled together, then it's then then
it's then it's harder to break.

Speaker 8 (02:34:41):
Apes together strong. Yeah, sorry, just so that the prevy
for the new planet of the Apes. But that's not
the issue for them in this twenty seventeen rebrand, Right,
it's the Nazi thing, not the deal breaker. But it's
hard to shake the association with a hate crime. Murder
was a member, But the pictures of the murderer holding

(02:35:01):
your logo and standing right next to you are going
to follow you. So just three weeks after the rally,
Thomas Rousseau announced in the Vanguard America Discord that he
was launching a full rebrand, calling the new group Patriots Front.
That s gets dropped later, but Patriots.

Speaker 14 (02:35:16):
Front, Yeah, that is a way worse name. Yeah, Patriots Front.
To say that is that it's really hard to say.
They've not possessive either. There's no apostrophe. It's just like
Patriots Front. Oh yeah, that's weird. They made a good call,
dropped in that.

Speaker 8 (02:35:30):
S so they really fine tuned it there in the end.

Speaker 14 (02:35:33):
That was the only the only good thing they've done
besides just keep getting arrested.

Speaker 8 (02:35:37):
But yeah, so the message wasn't changing, The ideology is
not changing. The manifesto got a little fresh polish, but
the real change was optics. Rousseau recognized the need for
broader appeal, for new recruits and for plausible deniability on
the group's surface. You can get away with saying a
lot more Nazi shit if you put an American flag
on the hats and a founding father on the homepage

(02:35:57):
than you can if you're sporting a son and rat
and posting Hitler memes.

Speaker 14 (02:36:01):
Yeah, all of their their kind of outwards visual style
is all very like American.

Speaker 3 (02:36:07):
It is it is, it is. It is American.

Speaker 14 (02:36:09):
There's a bit of like a military kind of kind
of a cleanness to it, but it's very much like
they're going full Americana.

Speaker 8 (02:36:19):
Oh yeah, it's it's it's Americana. It's like Patriot Kitch, right,
Like it's a few ten signs away from being a
fud rockers.

Speaker 14 (02:36:25):
Yeah yeah, yeah, but it's it's it's very much not
like German Nazi. It's like, right, it's like USA with
some like US army signifiers that kind of stuff.

Speaker 8 (02:36:36):
But the you know, the sentiment behind it is the same.
You can take away the black eagle and the fascie
like actually they kept the fascies.

Speaker 3 (02:36:43):
It's just red, white and blue. Now us say all
the way, baby, I mean to be fair, money to
be fair.

Speaker 14 (02:36:51):
The United States of America also uses a fascie.

Speaker 8 (02:36:55):
Right, I'm not like, you know, crying for the sullying
of the of the branding of the Night in America.
But it's clear what the intention was here. Yes, it's
to sort of hide behind that Americana. But in the
six and a half years since that rebrand, Thomas Rousseau
has maintained tight personal control over the entire group, now
called Patriot Front. You can almost read that as a

(02:37:16):
reaction to his first major setback as a white supremacist organizer.
You know, he'd led some smaller rallies in Texas before
Unite the Right, but that was his first big day
out commanding the Nazi group. Right, And as a result
of that day, the entire group was tarnished by the
association of you know, in their telling, some random guy
who was just near them, We.

Speaker 14 (02:37:36):
Just happened to hang out with people who like doing murders,
you know.

Speaker 8 (02:37:39):
Right, you know, like it goes like what Hopper was
saying in his deposition, right, like, well, she was in
shark infested waters. Like, by your own admission, you are
the sharks. Yeah, you're saying you are a flesh eating shark.
But that's not possible anymore now, right, So you can't
just be some guy who's marching with Patriot Front because
their events are never announced ahead of time. You have
to get the official group merch from the group, after

(02:38:01):
being interviewed and vetted. You can't just show up and
march with them unless you're a member, because only members
know when the events are going to be. Yeah, there's
no chance that some unvetted hangar on is going to
be standing near them. And that does solve the problem
posed by someone like James Fields, but it creates a
new problem, real legal liability, by establishing so clearly and

(02:38:24):
so firmly that anybody who's marching with you wearing your
hat and your jacket, following your orders through the megaphone.
You have established that all of those people answer to you,
and you know them, and you approve that they were there.
Now you're responsible.

Speaker 14 (02:38:38):
Yeah, you make the classical mistake of having an actual
official members list.

Speaker 8 (02:38:43):
Right, so now you no longer have the option of saying, well,
that guy wasn't with us, We don't know him. And
that's where the lawsuits enter the picture. So right now
there are three active federal lawsuits against Patriot Front, one
in Virginia, one in Massachusetts, and one in North Dakota.
And the underlying actions and some of the claims vary,
but all three lawsuits are making the same central claim,

(02:39:04):
a Section nineteen eighty five complaint alleging a conspiracy by
Patriot Front and its members to deprive the plaintiffs of
their civil rights. And I think it's really interesting. This
is dry as hell. Maybe that's only interesting to me
that I think it's really interesting to look at the
original context of that statute, right that code section It
comes out of the Enforcement Act of eighteen seventy one.

(02:39:25):
Are you familiar with the Enforcement Acts? Going going into
deep civil war lore, you know, going back to reconstruction,
I'm Canadian.

Speaker 3 (02:39:33):
I don't.

Speaker 14 (02:39:35):
The American legal system is but something I've been learning
the past ten years. It is by no means the
specialty of my research or knowledge.

Speaker 8 (02:39:44):
Yeah, I'm not like a big Civil War guy.

Speaker 4 (02:39:46):
You know.

Speaker 8 (02:39:46):
I have, accidentally and against my will, learned a lot
about the Civil War because we've been arguing about these
statues for a few years. Sure, but reconstruction I think
is really overlooked.

Speaker 4 (02:39:55):
You.

Speaker 8 (02:39:55):
In my own education in public school, there was like
two paragraphs about reconstruction and then we just sort of
like moved on.

Speaker 14 (02:40:01):
I had like a semester on it. It is certainly
one of the more tragic periods of American history, how
we seem to almost have figured something out and then
it all went down the drain pretty.

Speaker 8 (02:40:11):
Quick, like we really whiffed it. But the Enforcement Act
of eighteen seventy one is also called the ku Klux
Klan Act.

Speaker 14 (02:40:18):
Oh oh oh, yeah, these guys, we're a getting somewhere.

Speaker 8 (02:40:22):
So when President Grant signed the KKK Act into law
in eighteen seventy one, support for reconstruction was starting to falter,
and there was genuine fear that the eighteen seventy two
presidential election would bring on a new wave of clan
violence in the South. And that's starting to sound a
little familiar, isn't it. You know, people are getting tired,
People are getting tired of being asked to address deep
rooted systemic inequalities. There's an upcoming and uncertain presidential election.

(02:40:45):
There's growing fear of vigilanti violence by roving bands of
masked racists. You know, like everything old is new again.

Speaker 3 (02:40:51):
That sounds like kind of like right now, Yeah, that's wild.

Speaker 8 (02:40:56):
So you know, there have been other enforcement acts. This
wasn't the first one, but the ku Klux Plan Act
was specifically tailored to address the question of freelance violence. Right, So, normally,
if you are suing over a civil rights violation, there
are only remedies available to you when your rights have
been violated by a state actor, a cop, a government body,
the law itself. The irsu can can really only seek

(02:41:17):
legal remedy when your rights are violated by the state.
This one's a little different because during reconstruction, a lot
of that violence, the intimidation, the actions being taken to
deprive Black Americans of their newly granted rights, was being
undertaken by private actors organizing together. Again, it's starting to
feel familiar.

Speaker 14 (02:41:35):
Yeah, it's not like there could be groups of armed
extremists monitoring voting sites trying to scare people away from
from voting in an election. That could never happen.

Speaker 3 (02:41:48):
Now we've learned no lessons.

Speaker 8 (02:41:49):
Right, So, groups of white men organizing themselves, wearing matching outfits,
conspiring to undertake actions to intimidate, harass, and harm the
people they believe that are standing between them and the
white America they were born to, right. Yeah, So the
statute originally provided for both civil and criminal liability for
these conspiracies. Interesting, and that first year Grant went hard
in the paint with it. Oh like, he he went

(02:42:13):
full hog like. As soon as he signed this into law,
he was red d So in that first year or
two after he signed the act, he broke the back
of the Klan. Hundreds of klansmen were prosecuted in South
Carolina alone. They were arresting so many klansmen so quickly
that hundreds of them just went to their local courthouse
and turned themselves in because they knew it was coming.

Speaker 3 (02:42:32):
Oh my god, it killed the Klan. Wow.

Speaker 8 (02:42:35):
But even before the Supreme Court decided twelve years later
that I mean, when it comes to the crime part
of this, maybe we should let the States handle it, right,
so it no longer has a criminal liability component.

Speaker 3 (02:42:48):
So this just the civil liability left under that law.

Speaker 8 (02:42:51):
But even before the Supreme Court made that ruling in
eighteen eighty three, the Klan Act prosecutions pretty much ended
when reconstruction died, right, it was this brief moment in
time when there was any appetite to do anything about this, Yeah,
and it.

Speaker 3 (02:43:03):
Faded out pretty quickly.

Speaker 8 (02:43:04):
So today it's up to the victim to seek their
own civil remedy when they're terrorized by the sons of
the clansmen.

Speaker 3 (02:43:09):
We couldn't reconstruct well, do you know what we should construct?

Speaker 4 (02:43:15):
Molly?

Speaker 3 (02:43:16):
Oh god, Yeah.

Speaker 8 (02:43:17):
Robert told me that if I don't come up with
a cool way to throw to ads, he's gonna put
me in a dog kennel and air drop me onto
an island where successful podcasters hunt people like me for sports.

Speaker 14 (02:43:25):
So that does sound like something he would say. But
we could construct a compelling ad transition.

Speaker 8 (02:43:32):
Let's take you to the ads, all right, and we
are back Garrison, and I'm going to tell you what's
in these lawsuits.

Speaker 14 (02:43:49):
I'm so excited to hear about Patriot Front having to
read a niche law.

Speaker 3 (02:43:57):
Well, the problem is they're pretending they don't have to.

Speaker 14 (02:44:00):
Oh well, that is also what I would do. I
would be like, no, no way, I am not reading that.

Speaker 3 (02:44:08):
Fuck you. Well, we'll get to that in a second.

Speaker 8 (02:44:10):
So the first case filed was in Richmond, Virginia, so
right here in my backyard.

Speaker 3 (02:44:15):
All right.

Speaker 8 (02:44:16):
So, thanks to repeated leaks of Patriot Front's internal communications
and documents, we actually have video of them doing what's
being alleged in this lawsuit.

Speaker 3 (02:44:24):
Which is inconvenient for them. It's not great.

Speaker 8 (02:44:28):
So the suit alleges and the video literally shows that.
In October twenty twenty one, a couple of Patriot Front
members vandalized a mural in a public park in Richmond.
The mural celebrated American tennis legend Arthur Ash. Ash was
born and raised in Richmond and started playing tennis as
a child in Brookfield Park, which in the fifties when
Ash was a child, was one of the few public
parks opened to black residents. It was also the park

(02:44:51):
that his father was the caretaker of. Right, So Arthur
ash Richmond public parks, like this is a relationship from
his childhood.

Speaker 3 (02:44:57):
R Yeah, it's like a very important place.

Speaker 8 (02:45:00):
You know, one of the best tennis players in American history,
and he grew up his father worked for the park.
He learned to play tennis at that park. That park,
Brookfield Park, actually no longer exists, but the park where
the mural was installed is in a predominantly black neighborhood.

Speaker 3 (02:45:13):
Okay.

Speaker 8 (02:45:14):
In the video they filmed of the vandalism, one Patriot
Front member supportively tells two others to quote, get the
fucking N word.

Speaker 3 (02:45:22):
They say it, I'm not, yeah.

Speaker 8 (02:45:23):
But the N words face as they're covering it up
with spray paint and then play. So they filmed this themselves, right,
They filmed this themselves and used it in later promotional videos.

Speaker 3 (02:45:35):
Videotaping this crime spree was the best idea we ever had.

Speaker 14 (02:45:39):
This is so funny that they just can't stop filming
them doing crimes.

Speaker 8 (02:45:43):
Like they're not just taking notes on the conspiracy, they're
filming themselves enthusiastically participating in it.

Speaker 4 (02:45:49):
Right.

Speaker 3 (02:45:50):
Funny.

Speaker 8 (02:45:50):
You know in the promotional videos there's no sound, but
in the leaked documents. It's the original uncut video like.

Speaker 14 (02:45:57):
Once you have like discovery or something. Also, all all
all that audio exists, that is, it is the privilege
of the court to be able to listen to that.

Speaker 8 (02:46:05):
Well we have so you know when they cut their promos,
you know, they're playing like cool music over it. But
in the leaked version that we got from I think
it was in the Rocket Chat leaks.

Speaker 3 (02:46:14):
It was in the second big leak.

Speaker 8 (02:46:15):
Okay, you can hear them saying, like, you know, get
the fucking N words face as they're spray painting over
Arthur Ash's face and then stenciling over that with their logo.

Speaker 3 (02:46:24):
Sure, they're just like, hey, it was us. They're just
like leaving it fair.

Speaker 8 (02:46:35):
And just so we're super clear about this, this is
racially motivated. Put that on the tape, like.

Speaker 3 (02:46:40):
Uh yeah yeah.

Speaker 8 (02:46:43):
And so this is probably the weaker of the three cases. Right,
the plaintiffs in this suit are basing their nineteen eighty
five claim that you know, this is a racially motivated
conspiracy to interfere with the right of black residents to
enjoy a place of public accommodation, right that a place
of public accommodation is sort of the legal structure for
places where you're not a to fuck with my rights.
In this case, it's a public park. The suit makes

(02:47:03):
a similar and separate claim under Virginia's civil conspiracy law
for racial, religious, and ethnic harassment, and unlike the other
two suits, this complaint is pretty specific about who the
defendants are, because they recorded the planning meeting and the
act of vandalism, and because anti fascist researchers have identified