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March 9, 2024 169 mins

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Speaker 1 (00:02):
Zone 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 going to be nothing new here for you, but
you can make your own decisions. Oh boy, howdy, welcome

back to It could happen here? A podcast about it
happening here, and the it is different most episodes, but
today the thing that is happening here is discussion about
the growth of self immolation as a form of protest
from the twentieth to the twenty first century. Obviously, we

are recording this less than a week after Aaron Bushnell,
a twenty five year old serviceman in the United States
Air Force, let himself on fire in front of the
Israeli Intimacy in Washington, d C. And you know, repeatedly
stated free Palestine as he was doing it. He said
more than that, obviously, he wrote, you know, I think

very clearly about why he did what he was doing.
This is something that you'll have heard a lot of
debate about. There's a certain kind of person, particularly in
the media, who feels obligated to say this is mental
illness and we shouldn't discuss it as anything else. I
think that's wrong for the same reasons, by the way
that it's wrong to dismiss, you know, any sort of

mass shooter or whatever as mentally ill not that either
of those are similar in terms of the actions they're not,
but that attempt to dismiss it because it's something it
makes you uncomfortable to consider that somebody could do something
so incomprehensible to you for a logical reason. Now, when
I say a logical reason, that doesn't mean I'm arguing
this is something more people should do. It doesn't mean
that I'm arguing that this was the best thing that

Bushnell could do. What I am saying is that, from
everything that is available, this was a rational act. He
understood what he hoped to accomplish with this, and he
took concerted steps to ensure that he succeeded and that
attention was drawn to it. His reason for doing it
was clear. He took actions like to set up a
will and whatnot. This seems to have been a rational

and principled action, and we are I'm not really primarily
going to be discussing what Bushnell did because I don't
really know that there's much to say. You know, it's
it's everyone here's stants that what's being done to Gaza
is a genocide. I don't know that this will help.
I certainly hope that somehow it does, but we're simply
not at a point where we can say what the

impact of this on the overall you know, situation in
Gaza is going to be.

Speaker 3 (02:45):
Yeah, And I mean I guess, like the thing we
can say off the bat is like whether or not
this matters is to a larger scent up to you
because like, yeah, someone someone like I mean, this is
the thing, right, Like.

Speaker 2 (02:56):
The matters in the sense that it has an impact
on the Obviously, I think it matters because he was
a person.

Speaker 3 (03:01):
Well that too, right, Yeah, but like yeah, in the
in the in the in the sense of whether it
accomplishes political objectives, Yes, that's up to us figuring out
how we're going to run a political movement in such
a way that the sennis I get stopped.

Speaker 2 (03:14):
Yeah, and that is yeah, that's not something I have
a clear answer for you on right now that I
mean to think there. I think so. I think the
thing we're going to try to do that I think
can be helpful in this is a tempt to provide
some context on what is the history of self immolation
as a protest tactic, How does it tend to work
in the past, and and and in the present, and

in what sort of situations has it been more or
less effective as a as an instrument of protest. That's
what we're going to try to cover today. Obviously, this
should not be seen as a totally comprehensive look at
the entire history of goodcast as I'm about to come.
This is this is what we can get for you
in about a week, and I think I think it
will help and provide a broader sense of context as
to how this sort of thing has worked in other

situations around the world and throughout time self and goes
back very far as a protest tactic. There were Christians
who were being persecuted by the Roman government in Nicodemia
in three hundred AD who lit a fire in front
of the emperor's palace and threw themselves into a bonfire
as an active protest in Russia. I think in like

the sixteen hundreds Orthodox I don't know there was an
Orthodox sect. I don't really know much about them, but
they they locked themselves in churches as a protest for
some of the Czar's reforms and then lit those churches
on fire, so like died inside the churches that they
were in. So this is a kind of thing that

goes back quite a while. I'm sure there are other
cases in you know, ancient history that go well before that,
but it's not a new thing. However, when we talk
about kind of twentieth and twenty first century self immolation,
the first sort of really famous case of this, and
the one that gets brought up every single time people
talk about self immolation as a protest tactic, was one

that occurred during the Vietnam War, and it was the
self immolation of a Buddhist monk named tish Quang Duk.
I believe that's Thhich. I think that's how that's pronounced.
I let's do it before we started recording this, But
that kind of stuff slips out of my head, so
I apologize if that is the case. He's an interesting guy.

I think pretty pretty his early life is probably pretty
common for people who become Buddhists, who became Buddhist monks
and kind of Central Vietnam in this period of time.
He left home when he was like seven, He became
a novice at fifteen. By twenty he was a full monk.
And one of the things that's happening during this period
of time is the South Vietnamese government is this guy

he's called a president. The president. He is a dictator.
I think everything but name No Din Dim and he's
a terrible guy. He's a French educated Catholic. And if
you know anything about the French history and into China
right like that, that does not suggest somebody whose role
before Vietnam got its independence from France was particularly great.

His brother No din knew what is the head of
the secret police. And they are despite the fact that Vietnam,
South Vietnam is a Buddhist majority country, they're passing a
lot of policies that are like actively cracking down on
and reducing the right of Buddhist people to worship right.
And you know this is there's a lot of reasons
for this, but they kind of boiled down to the

fact that dim was horrible was just a fucking dog shit. Yeah,
really really trash. Now I've heard it said online when
people bring up this self immolation, you know, within kind
of the context of what's happened recently, like this wasn't
a you know, people are wrong when they say this
was an active protest to the Vietnam War. It wasn't.
And that is technically true because like the thing that

that duke was was protesting was not US involvement in Vietnam.
But he was protesting the US backed government of South Vietnam,
and that government is very livant to why there was
a Vietnam War. So I do kind of think it's
it's not entirely accurate to be like, well, this wasn't
a Vietnam War protest, I.

Speaker 4 (07:07):
Don't know it was.

Speaker 2 (07:07):
It was.

Speaker 3 (07:08):
It was just about the fact that like the Catholic,
theocratic drug dealing fashions government, it was like murdering.

Speaker 2 (07:16):
It seems like you're splitting the hair there, bro. I
feel like the murdering Buddhist thing might have been part
of why there was so many people willing to fight
the South Vietnamese government. Not a zero percent part of
that equation maybe, But yeah, so these guys, these Buddhists,
i mean Buddhist religious leaders in the country get increasingly

angry about what's happening. There are debates i think for
several years kind of within sort of the more highly
ranking kind of leaders in the faith as to like
what do we do about this crackdown on our rights
and like should we They were talking for quite some
time about having a self immolation protest, right like it
was the kind of thing where there was a decent

amount of like discussion earlier. And Duck is actually the
one who I think suggested it initially to like other
leaders in the church. And yeah, while there was like
for a while they tried to push back against this,
eventually the level of prosecution just became so clear that
you know, they basically said, Okay, let's like you can
do this. And Dook is going to be the guy

who is going to like physically, you know, destroy his
body in order to carry out this act of protest,
As is always going to be the case when we
talk about these famous self immolation cases, half of the
story is the guy who does the or the individual
who lights himself on fire, and half of the story
is the reporter who happens to be there, and in

this case it was a guy named Malcolm Brown. He is,
I believe he's an American reporter. He's stationed in you know, Saygone,
and he's he's, you know, doing what a lot of
journalists were doing at the time. And in the springtime
of nineteen sixty three, there start being like these kind
of messages put out by the Buddhist Church that are
sort of he describes it as hinting as some kind

of spectacular protest. His guess was that it would quote
most likely be a disembowlment of one of the monks
or an immolation, and either way, it was something we
had to pay attention to. And like a lot of journalists,
he's got some sources within the church. He gets a
call one day and they're like, you should show up
at this pagoda at this specific time. And here is
how Malcolm describes what he saw. By the time I

got to the pagoda where all this was being organized,
it was already under way. The monks and nuns were
chanting a type of chance that's very common at funerals
and so forth. At a signal from the leader They
all started out into the street and headed toward the
central part of Saigon on foot. When we reached there,
the monks quickly formed a circle around a precise intersection
of two main streets in Saigon. A car drove up,
two young monks got out of it. An older monk,

leaning a bit on one of the younger ones also
got out. He headed right for the center of the intersection.
The two young monks brought up a plastic jerry can,
which proved to be gasoline. As soon as he seated himself,
they poured the liquid all over him. He got out
a man book lighted it and dropped it in his
lap and was immediately engulfed in flames. And yeah, that's

you know what happened that day. Malcolm takes a picture
of He takes a bunch of pictures. You can see
all of them. There's a Good Time article Malcolm Brown,
the Story behind the Burning Monk, that has all of
the pictures that he took, or at least like a
long list of them. And they are worth seeing. They
are I shouldn't have to put a trigger warning in here, right,
these are photos of burning.

Speaker 3 (10:29):
To death like that shit sucks can say from me. Yeah, yeah,
good god, it doesn't look good. It looks really bad.

Speaker 2 (10:36):
Yeah. Now, obviously one of specifically one of the photos
you've probably seen it where like half of the monk's
face looks okay and the other half is just like
wreathed in fire. This goes like the sixties equivalent of
viral right. President Kennedy said of the photograph, no news
picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world.

Speaker 5 (10:55):
Is that one?

Speaker 2 (10:56):
And at the time it may have been true, and
it is. It is number one. It does have a
role in the anti war movement because you know, this
is related to a protest against the government we were backing.
But this is also one of the more successful, maybe
the most like directly successful cases of self immolation I've seen,
because this does play a significant role in the end

of Deem's presidency and his life. Right, So Duck leaves
a note, like a lot of these people do. In
his note, again is very clear minded. He ends it
by saying, before closing my eyes and moving towards the
vision of the Buddha, I respectfully plead to President no
Dndem to take a mind of compassion towards the people
of the nation and admit implement religious equality to maintain

the strength of the homeland eternally. Yeah, when this kind
of happens, as I quoted earlier, Kennedy is like shocked
and furious. He yells to his National security advisor, who
the fuck are these people? Like how did we not
know this was going to happen? He's very angry about
all this.

Speaker 3 (11:59):
Buddhist is like, I feel like, like, that's the kind I.

Speaker 2 (12:03):
Actually have trouble imagining, like JFK having a significant amount
of context as to like what buddhismss.

Speaker 4 (12:13):

Speaker 6 (12:14):
But maybe maybe I'm wrong.

Speaker 2 (12:16):
So I want to quote from this a really good
medium article, the suicide that changed American policy in Vietnam
by a Poorva Tadepali, And this is for a series
they write called near Pot, which is an interactive classroom
tool for students. And I found this a very readable
and concise description of kind of what happened after Dook's

self immolation quote. The publicity of the incident increased pressure
on DM's government to deal with the crisis, but he
did not take the incident seriously enough. His response to
the death was an announcement on the radio later that
day that wildly missed the point. The state of affairs
was moving forward so smoothly, he said, bizarrely, when this
morning acting under extremist in truth concealing propaganda, that's so

doubt about the goodwill of the government. A number of
people got intoxicated and caused an undeserved death that made
me very sorry.

Speaker 4 (13:06):
Okay, I a lot of terrible statements about.

Speaker 2 (13:14):
It is this guy. We need to do the Bastards
episode on him, because damn is like he's horrible. He
causes a lot of damage to a lot of people,
but he's such a fucking scrub, right yeah, like fucking
Stalin would never you know, like the old Geese, very
sad You think Saddam Hussein would have gotten caught up
in that ship? No, not, my man.

Speaker 3 (13:36):
Listen, this is like this is bush ling shit, even
by like fucking like East Asian dictators, Like can you sheck?

Speaker 2 (13:43):
Like noah, no, kay sheck wouldn't have gotten caught up
in this ship.

Speaker 4 (13:46):
Absolutely sheck.

Speaker 3 (13:48):
If someone had tried to do this specifically, chink chanky
sheck would have shot the guy himself.

Speaker 2 (13:52):
Absolutely yeah, Oh my god. So anyway this scrub he makes,
he makes like a prom that they're going to do
reforms and stuff. And like while he's doing this, his family,
including his brother Knew, who's like the head of the
Saigon Secret Police, is basically is saying like like literally says,
if the Buddhists want to have another barbecue, I'll be

glad to supply the gasoline. Is Christ and his wife,
who's like a very merry antoinette figure, Madam Knew who
is it's his brother's wife, but she's basically the first
lady right of South Vietnam. She's like, let them burn,
We'll clap our hands.

Speaker 4 (14:29):
Oh god.

Speaker 2 (14:31):
So it's pretty it's pretty cool. Like DM is actually
kind of the smart one in the family because he's
trying to like tell his sister in law and his
brother in law like nah, bra Or, and his brother
and his sister in law, like, you guys don't understand.
We have to be a little bit careful here. This
could really go badly.

Speaker 4 (14:45):

Speaker 3 (14:46):
It really seems like like they haven't figured out the
playbook for dealing with this yet. No, because like the
successive governments, like everyone has like the same line that
they say when it happens, and these people, it looks
like they're really kind of scrambling here.

Speaker 2 (14:58):
They didn't have any They'd never been considered that something
like this could happen, there would be reactions to their
policies like this. There are a bunch of protests by
monks and nuns of the police arrest a bunch of people.
This continues to draw outrage and make the system a
situation worse new the secret police guy has his his
goons like ransack and destroy a bunch of Buddhist temples.

Basically a lot of people, like fourteen hundred people are
like rounded up and arrested. DM accuses the monks of
being part of the Viet Cong, which is again like sure,
such a.

Speaker 4 (15:32):
Yeah, okay.

Speaker 2 (15:35):
So one of the things that is important to understand
here is that this is at a very different part
stage of the Vietnam War. The US has troops in
the country, but not a lot, like very few compared
to how many are going to be there, and at
this stage DM actually isn't happy that we have even
though it's going to become very clear that like the
US troops the only thing allowing this regime to stay

propped up. He is like, I don't want them here.
They don't even have passports, right, Like, he's he's like
weirdly anti the like, And part of it is because
the US is about to act here finally to take
support away from his regime. So three days after his buddy,
his brother in law or his brother Knu has a
bunch of raids on these Buddhist temples, there's a cable

sent from DC to the US ambassador in Southern Vietnam
that's like, we're not backing this guy anymore. And this
ends with a bunch of South Vietnamese generals who had
already been planning a coup being given the go ahead
from the US basically saying like, we're not Our guys
are not going to take any actions to stop you
from overthrowing this guy. And on November two, DM and

his brother are kidnapped while trying to escape and they
are killed not long after. So this is, you know,
pretty successful self the militia. You have to say, right, yeah, yeah, works,
seems like it works about as well as you could
have hoped for that, right, like the at least I'm
sure as as well as that monk hoped. Because you know,
DM is not just out of power, but is fucking

killed as a result of this.

Speaker 4 (17:05):
So ohough, the problem is the subsequent people he has
put in charge.

Speaker 2 (17:09):
Yeah, also suck. But that's that's also part of a pattern, unfortunately,
And there's like a weirdly there's like a history of
self immolation leading to gme change. We're gonna talk about
Tunisia at the end of the episode, and that does
tend to be the story of like, yeah, we got
rid of the dictator and then a guy who sucked
that's as much came into power.

Speaker 4 (17:29):
Hey, well, the the Tai one one we're going to
talk about in a second.

Speaker 2 (17:33):
Actually, yes, pretty well, yeah, yeah, And before we go
into that, because we're gonna let you take over from
hearing me, or at least for the next couple of
parts of this. But first let's let our advertisers take
over and we're back, all right, Mia, you are on deck.

Speaker 4 (17:59):

Speaker 3 (17:59):
So, I think I think people are kind of broadly aware,
kind of if you know anything about self immolations, about
the self emilations in Vietnam, and then also the sort
of the ones in the US, like as as anti
Vietnam War protests, the ones that I don't think most
people here know and that I only know about, like

because like my mom was born in Taiwan, right, is
the Taiwanese self immalations. Yeah, so this guy's name is
Jan Yong Rong. He is he's also noticed the thing
most people call him is Nylon Jung for reasons that
I guess will become clear when he lights himself on fire.

So Nylon Jung is a very very influential Uh well, okay,
I don't know very very influential is Quator, but he's
like a he's a pretty famous and very influential pro
independence activist in Taiwan during the KMT's occupation there, And
this is something I don't like. Americans tend to not

understand this very well. So okay, So the the KMT
is the Chinese nationalist party. They take power in Taiwan
after just invading it effectively. They when when they when
they lose the civil war, the KMT is like cremating forces,
and a bunch of their supporters like flee to Taiwan.
And there are there are like three groups of people
who the KMT like spend most of their time killing,

and that is communist feminists and Taiwanese independence activists. They
also hate Presbyterians for reasons that are.

Speaker 2 (19:31):
Hey, hey, we all hate Presbyterians, am I right?

Speaker 4 (19:34):
Okay to it.

Speaker 3 (19:35):
Look, look, I am not normally a presbyterianker. The Taiwanese
Presbyterians like legitimately do good work in the sense that
they are like one of the groups that's like pretty
important in bringing down the KMT one party dictatorship. But okay,
so Taiwan has this like really appalling like one party dictatorship.
Nylon jungk is actually born I think I'm remembering, is right.

He's born like during the February twenty eighth incident, which
is this thing in nineteen forty seven actually where we
are two days I think when this goes out will
be two days after the seventy seventh anniversary of it,
where there's there's a giant uprising in Taiwan because the
like people in Taiwan fucking hate the KMT because they
suck and they murder people, and there's this giant uprising

and the KMT eventually like their military forces get reorganized
and they so the initial uprising takes most of the islands,
and then the KMG just come back and kill everyone.
They kill about twenty thousand people in a week. It's
one of the sort of like I don't know, one
of the kind of like defining incidents and what becomes
sort of Taiwanese national culture. It's just this like massacre

and then you know, it's basically it's legal to talk
about afterwards. This is this is the beginning of the
sort of white terror in China, and they're gonna you know,
and this is the start of the KMT kidnapping and
torturing like tens of thousands of people. One of the
things that happens in this this is actually so this
is this was my family's experience of it, is that Okay,
so there's there's this up there's the uprising, right, but
one of the things that starts happening pretty quickly is

these like retaliatory killings against like against Chinese nationals. And
that was stuff my family was like, yeah, we like
couldn't go outside because if you leave your house, like
you're gonna get killed by mobs and that stuff. That
stuff like sucked.

Speaker 2 (21:17):
Yeah, that that does sound like it sucked.

Speaker 3 (21:19):
No, it's not good because it's the thing because it's
it's weird because it's like that uprising like broadly good,
but it turns into like parts of it turned into
race riots or like why it's weird, Like I don't know,
it turns into these like anti Chinese national like riots
and that stuff.

Speaker 4 (21:36):
You know.

Speaker 3 (21:37):
So Jong is from a Chinese like like just from
like a sort of like Chinese national family that like
fled to Taiwan after the war, and his family is
protected by other Taiwanese like like uprising people who are
like no, like we're not gonna fucking just kill these
random Chinese, see, but like what are you guys talking about?
And that's this really formative thing for him, where when

this one that caused him to grow up to become
like the kind of Chinese like Taiwanese independence activist that
he is. Where he's one of these people who is
really big on Taiwan as like like like liberating Taiwan
as a nation but having it be like a nation
of ideals not a nation of blood because his you know,
because he sees how badly this kind of like ultnationalist

bloodline like shit can go. And so he becomes like
a pretty prominent independence activist. He runs one of the
anti party newspapers. Like anti canteen newspapers, and he's he's
mostly doing a lot of this stuff in the eighties,
where so basically like you have two consecutive like like

the Shankai check and then you have like more guys
from that family. By the eighties, you're like democratization is
kind of like slowly moving forward because the Taiwanese ruling
class losing American backing, They're losing backing overseas. But you know,
even even by sort of nineteen eighty nine, which is

in the period in which people are talking about like
wild democratization's happening, like it's going to go forward, the
country still has like they haven't had like real national elections,
and they still have these really really intense what are
called anti sedition laws and so one of the things
that the prone dependence activists. And this is the period

in which like Taiwan's like modern ruling party, the Democratic
Progressive Party like comes into existence or like they're coming
to existence as the anti KMT party. And this is
the sort of milieu kind of in which Dylon Jung
is sort of mobilizing, right, but he's also I don't know,

he's like he's the kind of guy that doesn't exist anymore,
which is like he's kind of like a like like
liberal progressive national liberation supporter. So I actually I found
a really interesting thing translated by jenhan Chan on this
guy a kind of am aware of from Twitter, who
translated this thing that he wrote about Palestine, where he
is a pro Palestine guy. But it's interesting because he

sees Palestine as like another nation that's been like subjugated
in like a similar way to Taiwan has. And you know,
and he's like an anti armed struggle guy, but he's
also very sort of he's very committed to Taiwanese independence
as a national liberation movement and specifically like the thing
that you're liberating it from is the KMT, and so

you know, he he gets into trouble constantly with like
the KMT government. They arrest in a bunch of times,
and eventually, in nineteen eighty nine, he gets charged with
these by these anti suisition laws. He gets charged with
insurrection for like spreading drafts of a potential to do
Taiwanese constitution, and so he barricades himself in his office,

refuses to show up to code. He gives this giant
speech about how like you'll never take me alive, and
the police kind of take him to so he's he's
barricaded himself in like his newspaper offices, and he's there
for like two months, and at the end of month two,
a cop who is the current mayor of New Taipei
City tries to burst down his door.

Speaker 2 (25:20):
That doesn't seem like a job that you should be
able to have.

Speaker 3 (25:22):
No, No, this is one of these things where it's like, okay,
So like the KMT, this is one of the things
about sort of Tony's politics that's weird that the KMT
is the modern sort of pro China promunification faction, Right,
those guys suck like like they're they're not they're not
the same sort of like just desk squad party they
were in the sort of late in like the twentieth century.
But they're also like yeah, no, it's literally they're mayor.

They're mayor of New Pipei, which is okay, I'm not
going to go into what the difference between Uchipei and
ip Pey is here. That's that's the whole thing.

Speaker 2 (25:53):
I'm guessing. It's like the difference between you know, New
York and Old York. Right, it's it's it's closer to
the diference between New York City and New York. Okay, okay,
but that makes sense. Yeah that works.

Speaker 3 (26:06):
Like this guy, this guy who again like was elected
like two years ago, tries to kick down his door
and Nylon Jung likes himself on fire. And this has
a enormous impact on the sort of subsequent course of
Tiwan his politics, because this is a this is a like,
this is a pr disaster for the like for the

ruling for like for the current government, which had been
trying to sort of like do its like ah, we're
doing moderate reforms, blah blah blah, we're doing you have
local elections.

Speaker 4 (26:37):
Now we're doing democratization.

Speaker 3 (26:39):
And suddenly, like their cops break down this guy's door
and he lights himself on fire. And you know that
the cop later says like, oh, yeah, we break down
the door because we were trying to save his life.

Speaker 4 (26:53):
It's like, no, you didn't. What the fuck are you
talking about? Life?

Speaker 2 (26:57):
I love things that have never happened. That's my favorite
kind of thing.

Speaker 3 (27:01):
Yeah, and you know, so there this is one of
these things that and this is actually think that that's
become that's a very very common thing I protests. Like now,
so Nilon Jung has he has this massive funeral I mean,
this is an absolutely enormous funeral march, and the police
attack it. And when the police attack it, another pro
independence activist also lights himself on fire, like in front

of the cops when they refuse to do it. And
this that second guy is like a lot less remembered
than Nlon Jung. But this becomes a massive sort of
rallying cry around, like you know, for the pro dependence people,
but also for the sort of broader fight for like
an actual like actual free democratic elections. Like the big
thing these people were protesting like specifically was free speech

because the thing about the sedition laws is if you
you know again, if you start passing around copies of
the constitution, they try to arrest you and throw you
in prison.

Speaker 2 (27:54):
Yeah, I mean nothing says sedition like the constitution of
the country you're in.

Speaker 3 (27:59):
Yeah, and like changing it, I guess is sedition. It's
like the KMT really sucked, like cannot emphasize that it off.
But the sort of the results of this is that,
you know, okay, like so this is one of these actions.
That's kind of complicated because the the arc of Taiwanese
politics was bending towards democratization in some kind of like

actual electoral system, and it probably would have happened even
without this, but this super charges the whole process. Within
about two years, two or three years, all the position
laws are appealed and within well, it takes a while
before you get I think, I think it's like two thousand.

Speaker 4 (28:40):
I think it's like really when you can what you can.

Speaker 3 (28:42):
Call like the first really free like Taiwanese national election,
when when there's actually like a transition of power between
the KMT and the Democratic Party.

Speaker 4 (28:52):
Sure, but yeah, it was to a large extent very successful.

Speaker 5 (28:57):
Like it.

Speaker 3 (29:00):
No, okay, so it accomplished the goal of knocking off
the KMT sort of one party state. It knocked off
his edition laws. The kind of Taiwanese independence like that's
very very sort of national liberation driven is kind of
not the same one that exists in time one now

it's a bit different. But on the other hand, like, yeah,
they they did it. It was it was really it
was pretty effective, and yeah, I don't know, like this
is this is I of the ones that I've seen.
I think this was the most clear he won. Nolan
Jung's like is sort of to this day a pro
dependence hero. There's there's a there's a statue of him.

Uh so they they I think that I think I'm
pretty surely they turned the office we let himself on
fire like into a into a like into a museum,
and there's there's a there's a very famous sort of
like pictures of these the.

Speaker 4 (29:57):
Statue of his burned corpse. That's just horrowing.

Speaker 3 (30:01):
It's one of the symbols of the sort of Taiwanese
democratic movements, and it's also it's also a sort of.

Speaker 4 (30:09):
It matters a lot. This is also happening in the
same year as Tanneman.

Speaker 2 (30:12):
Like yeah, so there's that kind of like it's in
the air, right yeah.

Speaker 3 (30:18):
Yeah, and his his widow goes on to be a
DPP politician and it's one of it's one of the
things that it's it's like his memories invoked dream like.
So in twenty fourteen, Taiwan had their own version of
occupy that's like shittier called the Sunflower Movement. I'm sorry,
this is this is where we're getting into the Mia
has a bunch of political beefs with people in Taiwan

where I think they're all libs, but it's yeah, like
they have their own sort of they have like this
this large series of street protests and this like he's
one of the figures that's you know, one of like
brought up in as.

Speaker 2 (30:49):
Yeah, that's gonna be the same thing with the guy
in t an Asia. We're about to talk about two
where where they become even to people that they would
not you know, certainly we're not like expressing similar their views,
they still become this like icon that gets sided. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (31:04):
Yeah, and I I think I think the last thing
too is he's the fact that the cop who kicked
at it, who kicked his door down, is now the
fucking mayor of New type A City is just like
oh appalling stuff. Yeah, the KMG absolutely suck uh. And
those are the people who want Taiwan to be reunified
with China. So if that understands who you're making your

bed with, if that's the kind of politics that you
you want to be engaged in, Yeah, So that's that's
that's that's that's the time I want self emlations. I
guess kind of I don't know, not enough bad things
happened to the cops who trigger this kind of stuff,
which although I guess I guess the cops is Southiaknam

didn't do great.

Speaker 2 (31:51):
No no, no, I mean ultimately right, it doesn't immediately
really cause them any problem. One Secret Police a bit.
Speaking of Secret Police, this podcast is sponsored entirely by
the Secret Police, so you know, check that out and

we're back. Yeah, we just got beaten by phone books
because they don't leave any bruises by our sponsors at
the Secret Police. So you know, the Secret Police like
the police. But Secret Mia, did you have another one
you wanted to get into before we talk about Tunisia?

Speaker 4 (32:36):
Do we want to do Tibet first? Or do we
want to do Tuenisia first?

Speaker 2 (32:39):
Why don't we do Tibet?

Speaker 3 (32:42):
Yeah, So I think other than Tunisia, I think the
most famous wave of self im relations was the ones
in Tibet that started in about two thousand and nine.
There is actually a guy into Better Life self on
Fire in the late nineties, but that doesn't have the
same kind of sort of doesn't have the same effect

as the two thousand and nine ones. So one of
the things that's been periodically happening. I guess over the
sort of course of the history of sort of occupied
Tibet is the Dalai Lama. So the Dalai Lama like flees.

There's this whole giant drama nineteen fifty nine. So so okay,
I guess, I guess I should go back to the beginning.
So Tibet is just like straight up invaded by China.
When when the after the Communists win the civil war,
this causes an enormous amount of shit to happen. One
of the things that the Communist Party is trying to
do is they are trying to gain control of the

Tibetan religious system so that they can eliminate the religious
system like they can they can eliminate like the Buddhist
clergy is effectively, like they can eliminate Buddist munks. They
can eliminate like the religious institutions as a source of
resistance to them. They're kind of foiled in this when
the Dalai Lama makes this break and escapes to India.
And this is one of the things that triggers eventually

in the in the sixties China's war with India. But
one of the things that I've been happening for a
while was these kind of negotiations between the Dalai Lama
and the Chinese government to try to like find a
kind of resolution to like how bad things were into Bet.
And in two thousand and nine, Dalai Lama goes, yeah,

none of this is fucking working, like it's not nothing,
Like we're not we're not getting anything. The Chinese government
is not offering us any like any actual deal that
we can live with. And pretty quickly this so, okay,
you get this giant wave of self in relations. The
first guy, this guy named Tape, he is a monk.

He lights himself on fire in two thousand and nine.
There's conflicting reports.

Speaker 5 (34:56):

Speaker 3 (34:56):
So one of the problems with talking about this is
that in this period, the internet is not as widespread
as it is today, and there is a there is
a giant like there was a Chinese like media cordon
effectively on on Tibet in a very similar way to
like West Papua, where they like they won't let journalists in.
It is very hard to get information out. So the

thing that I'm about to say is something that is
reported a lot on the time by people who try
who are trying to smoke the messages out. And the
thing they report is that as this guy is self imlating,
the Chinese police shoot him like multiple times.

Speaker 2 (35:31):
Well, I mean, as we've as we've seen recently, that
is how cops tend to look at somebody like, yeah,
someone has let themselves on fire. Clearly what this situation
needs is a gun.

Speaker 3 (35:42):
And and you know, okay, so like the Chinese police
they there, I don't I don't have any evidence of
them shooting people after that. They absolutely one of the
things that so what happens after this is this wave
of self immolations is protests across the bed. The thing
that they absolutely do a lot is start beating the
person who's on fire the stick, like using like riot
sticks sometimes.

Speaker 4 (36:03):
They have these.

Speaker 3 (36:03):
They have riot sticks with like spikes on them, and
they are absolutely beating people to death while they are
burning to death. The Chinese police are like as psychology,
maybe not quite as like absolutely murderous as the American police,
but they are like they are beating a burning man
to death.

Speaker 4 (36:20):
Right that is.

Speaker 2 (36:22):
Oh god, I will say that is that is definitely
I haven't that certainly, I can't think of anything I've
ever seen US police do that is more violent than
beat a man to death while he's on fire. Yeah,
that's up there. That makes the cut.

Speaker 4 (36:36):
It's really bad.

Speaker 3 (36:39):
And this is the kind of thing that you know,
I mean, this is this is the kind of thing
that that sets off these self in relations in the
first place, which is that to Bet has you know,
like has has a colonial occupation, right it has. You know,
the Chinese government has been attempting to suppress to Bet
and Buddhism. There's been a massive way like systemic, massive
ecological struction of the Tibetan plateau so that the Chinese

government can like mine gold and shit. And in a
way that's very similar to sort of like the ecological
demonstation you get in places like the Amazon. There are
you know, there they are intense police crack downs all
the time. There's another very famous incident that's like kind
of one of the things that leads to this, where
in nineteen eighty nine there's there's a bunch of protests
in Tibet and the cops just start shooting them. They

kill a bunch of people, and so you know, and
people had been like up in twent two thousand and
nine people that kind of had this promise that things
were going to get better because you know, you have
these negotiations between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama,
and then the Dalai Lama turns around and goes, yeah, no,
they're not giving us anything.

Speaker 4 (37:42):
Like they're giving us nothing. The Chinese states policy on
Tibet is that effectively, we're going to like we're we're going,
we're going we're going.

Speaker 7 (37:49):
To like.

Speaker 3 (37:51):
We're going to try to make these people Han effectively.
One of the things they spend and they do this
in change On too, is they spend a lot of
there's a lot of resources invested in getting like settlers
from other parts of China to booths bet you know,
and you know, as as it's you also and change
on like the like the cadre jobs are basically all
like government cadre jobs are basically all Han people. And

so you know, you start getting you start getting attempts
a civil disobedience. There are these giant protests in two
thousand and eight, like attempting to make as sort of
like a giant have a giant thing happened right before
the Olympics in order to get international support and those
turn into riots, and those are brutally suppressed. And once
that happens, people are really kind of they're running out

of options for civil disobedience because you know, and this
is one of one of these things about this kind
of Buddhism is that it's it's very much a like
they're the resistance tradition is nonviolence, right, like these people
sometimes like very very rarely you get riots, but they're
not like they're not going to try or arm struggle,
and so what they have is non violence civil disobedience.

But the problem is that if you try to do
non violence will do obedience in China, what happens to
you is just the cops show up and arrest you all,
and then they rest your families. And this is something
that happens to the people who self emilate, is that
there are like one hundred and sixty of them from
two thousand and nine until now. And when someone lights
themself on fire, what the Chinese government does is well,
a they beat the person to death while they're on fire.

By they start arresting the people's family, they start arresting
their friends, they start arresting people in the monasteries that
they're at they start doing these purges to like stop
like to remove the sort of Buddhist monks they think
are going to be problems. And this fuels this kind
of cyclical wave of this because on the one hand,

you know, there's this incredible repression going on. On the
other hand, it's not possible to like wage really like
wage other kinds of mass so dis obedience campaigns. And
the thing about lighting yourself on fire is that the
government can't stop it, right, Like in theory, you could
maybe trained police to stop people from blighting people on fire.
But the thing is, the actual thing that happens when

you light when someone lights themself on fire, is the
cop goes and beats them. And so it becomes this
sort of it becomes the sort of like the cycle
of self in relations. And also, I mean the other
thing that's worth mentioning too is people. There are a
few other cases of Tibetan Buddhists, like outside of outside

of the better you do it, there's a few people
in India and you let themselves on fire, and I
don't know, I think the Tibetan example is really bleak
because it doesn't work, like they lose and this is
one of these situations where I don't know, like I
legitimately don't know how they could have won, because they

were dealing with a enormous, a very very powerful state
apparatus that was very invested in using all of its
state capacity to trust.

Speaker 4 (41:00):
Them, and.

Speaker 3 (41:03):
It it fails and it it but like the thing
that it mostly accomplishes is a bunch of is like
just a generation of well, I mean some like the
youngest kid who self inlights is fifteen, right, and it
mostly accomplishes a bunch of these kids like themselves on

fire and die and everything is worse now than it
was in two thousand and nine. Yep, I think, you know.
So they're very recently they're been big. They've been protesting
to bed again because the CCP is trying to build
a damn that's going to flood and destroy a bunch
of monasteries. And I don't think anyone's let themselves on
fire over it, but the police just arrested everyone, and so.

Speaker 4 (41:50):
I don't know.

Speaker 3 (41:50):
It's really bleak, And I think the freeze Bat movement
has become much weaker as the sort of like twenty
tens went on to the point where now, I think
like most America, like most of the sort of like
broad American far left basically just takes the Chinese line

on it, which is that like the Dalai Lama was
a slave owner and the Chinese occupation was a gift.

Speaker 2 (42:14):
Yeah. Yeah, Like I.

Speaker 3 (42:17):
Want to take like two, like a couple like a
minute to talk about this because like that a lot.

Speaker 4 (42:22):

Speaker 3 (42:22):
And it's this thing where, like, you know, it's really
interesting looking at a lot of these people who are
who are anti Tibet but pro Palestine, because you know,
if you look at the originators et cetera colonial studies,
like people like Patrick Wolfe, right, who was like the
godfather of cetera colonialism studies, Tibet is one of the
states that he holds up like as the paradigmatic example
of of what cetera colonialism is. It's Palestine and Tibet, right,

And you know, I like the thing about oh it
was because they were trying to like free the Tibetan
search really pisses me off because if that was the
actual thing the CCP wanted to do, they could have
done a thing that happened all over the fucking world
in communist countries, which is they could have moved in,
they could have knocked off the government, and they could
have set up a communist Tibetan state.

Speaker 8 (43:05):

Speaker 3 (43:06):
This happens all over the fucking Eastern Bloc. There's precedents
for it in East Asia, which you know, there's a
president of Mongolia, which was also i mean a very
different Buddhist society, but also in largely Buddhist society, where
the Soviet Union went in, knocked off the government and
set off set up an independent Mongolian state.

Speaker 4 (43:22):

Speaker 3 (43:23):
And I'm not going to say things like went great
form Mongolia, but the thing is, if if your actual
objective is just knock off a theocratic government that you
don't like, you could have done that, and they don't,
they don't do it, it's pretty China.

Speaker 2 (43:37):
It's also worth like stating like, yeah, things maybe not
like didn't work out great in the immediate term for Mongolia,
but Mongolia is a state right now, is not like
the worst. It's not doing as badly as like Tibet
is doing, you know, like it's it's an independent country
that functions more or less. Yeah, and who does better
than functioning more or less?

Speaker 3 (43:57):
Really yeah, Like and this I don't know, and this
is this is the sort of that's and that's one
of the things that like Chinese nationalists tend not to
really use that line. I mean, they use it a
bit when when they're when they're personally like when they
have to like specifically make arguments about the Dalai Lama,
that's something they do. But most of the arguments that

the that the actual like supporters of the Chinese government
in China, the arguments they make is like, oh, well,
these people are like, these people are shitty barbarians and
we have to like we have to civilize them, and
like our invasion was a gift to them because we're
going to civilize these people. And like it's it's literally
it's like identical to the ship that like the Israeli
say about Palestinians. We should also very briefly mention that

a lot of the surveillance technology that's used in Tibet,
like our cameras, that the Chinese government sells to Palestine.
So keep that shit in mind. Yeah, And I don't know,
but it's it's this This is one of the really
bleak examples because the thing about self immolation as of
politics is that like it functions by mobile someone else, right,

And in some cases that's that's you know, that's another government,
in some cases that's your own government, in some cases
that's the people around you. But if you're in a
state where the government does not give a shit about
you and they have the ability to ruthlessly repress anyone
who's inspired by your actions, it just it leads to

a lot of people dying. And I don't know what
this sort of lesson from that is other than it's
really hard for and this is this is the thing
with Hong Kong too, is it's it's really hard for
any one, any one part of China to try to
go into revolt against the government because there's so much

more of the rest of China, and if if you,
if you, if you alone, are pitted against the entire
mighty of Chinese state that has brought popular backing your fucked.

Speaker 4 (45:58):
Yeah, it's really bleak.

Speaker 2 (46:01):
But yeah, yeah, yeah, I don't have anything positive to
say there. Hey, everybody, Robert here. Our discussion ran very long,
So this is going to be a two parter. You'll
be hearing about Tunisia and more in the next episode,
but for now, please continue listening. To our podcasts and
not other podcasts, because how would you do that? Who

would do that? Nobody?

Speaker 5 (46:26):
I like.

Speaker 2 (46:41):
Everyone. Robert Evans here back to introduce it could happen
here Part two of my discussion with me along of
the history of self immolation protests. We'll be starting with
Tunisia in this one and then moving on from there,
so please buckle up and listen in. But I will
of us on to talking about Tunisia, which is the

last place we will talk about self immolation protest.

Speaker 4 (47:06):
Oh, I want to end. I guess a bit. I
want to end after you talk about Tunisia with one
in China. That kind of worked.

Speaker 2 (47:14):
Oh okay, well that'll be nice. So there was a
you know, Tunisia existed for most of the like twenty
first century under a dictator. This state of affairs changed
for unfortunately a fairly limited period of time. On December seventeenth,
twenty ten, when a young man and he was twenty six,

Mohammed was Zizi, went out to sell fruit. And you know,
Mohammed lived in a very poor region, a very poor
part of Tunisia, the city of cd Boozid. It's about
one hundred miles south of Tunis, which is the capital,
and like a lot of people you know, in that
part of the world, it is not uncommon, particularly for

young men, because unemployment is so high, for young men
to kind of make their living doing a mix of
odd jobs and like odd vending, right where you're just
kind of like selling whatever you can get your hands
on and think that you can make a profit on
because there's not jobs in the traditional sense, and because
political corruption was so horrific in the state at that

point in time. It's one of those things where most
everybody who's out there selling shit on the street is
breaking the law by doing it, right, because you can't
get the permit because the permit is basically a bribe
and you can't afford the bribe, right, That's how a
lot of this stuff works. So you know, Mohammed kind
of prior to this, he had been his friends. When
you read interviews people who knew him, he was always
like one of these guys who was like really upbeat

and funny. His nickname basically meant like funny man in town.
And this had started to change, like friends noticed like
a couple of years before, you know, twenty ten, when
he's in hits his mid twenties and starts getting into
his late twenties that he's like, it is impossible to
get by as a young man. There are no jobs

for us, there's no future. I don't feel at all
like I have no nothing to be hopeful for. Right.
I think a lot of people can understand empathized with
where he was coming from. So he goes out to
self fruit and this municipal inspector fight a Humdi sees him,
realizes he doesn't have a permit and takes his shit right,

and there are accounts that he hits him too. Basically
he's like, what the fuck is wrong with you? You're not
paying your god damn bribe and like smacks him around.
So this is kind of the breaking point foruzz Easy.
He goes to the police station because he's got like
this scale that he's using to weigh out fruit and
stuff that he wants to get back it had been confiscated.
He like can't work without it, and they tell him like,

fuck you, you're not getting shit back. So he says, like,
I want to meet with the governor and like plead
my case to the guy in charge, and they're like
fuck you. The governor doesn't want to see you, so
at about eleven thirty am, he takes his cart outside
of the governor's office. He pours I think lighter fluid
something flammable over his head and he lights himself on fire.

His cousin gets a call. Ali was easy gets a
call I guess from someone who was nearby and knew
them both and was like, Mohammad just lit himself on
fire in front of the governor's office, and Ali runs there,
sprints over to the governor's office with his smartphone and
he gets there in time to record his cousin's body
being taken into an ambulance. Protests start up after this,

almost immediately, people take to the street. I think it's
just everyone is living under the same regime. They're living
over all of these like fucking corrupt ass officials. Everyone
pieces together this.

Speaker 3 (50:40):
Yeah, and it's also it's worth mentioning this is also
a period of massive increases food prices, Yes, which are
one of the big Like if you want, if you
want your protest to work, like spark plus rising food prices,
great way to get it to happen.

Speaker 2 (50:55):
Yes, so you know the spark catches fire protests start up,
and they do not calm down. Part of why they
don't calm down is Ali was easy, stays out in
the street. He uploads footage of his cousin's body to Facebook,
and he takes footage of the protests too, and he
just starts sending shit to Al Jazeera. Right, So this this,
all of this footage he's taking like winds up on

television that evening, and by the next day other cities
in Tunisia are holding protests. And this is the kind
of thing where it's like, you know, we all saw this,
you know, obviously with a different cause in twenty twenty.
Sometimes something happens that's so horrible that the whole country
takes to the streets. And that's what happens in Tunisia.
So the president at the time, basically a dictator, Zeen

l Abadin bin Ali, does the normal dictator thing. He
sends out and non dictators, right, we do it here too, Yeah, Yeah,
he sends the cops out to beat the shit out
of everybody. Right, But he's also he's you talked in
when we were talking about Vietnam about like the playbook,
and they didn't quite have it down. Part of the
playbook is down because in addition to sending the cops

out to beat the shit out of people, he it's
Basisi in the hospital because he lingers for a while, right,
And he also has the officer, the guy who Slappedzizi arrested.
You know, he's kind of desperately trying, like maybe this
will call him everybody down. It does not. Waz EASi
dies in the hospital a couple of days later, and
the protests, which are known now as the Jasmin Revolution.

It takes about a month, but they force beIN Ali
to flee the country for Saudi Arabia and you know,
successfully bring an end to his regime and the return
of a democratic system. There are functional elections for a
while in Tunisia. They gain a significant amount of like
political freedom, Like there are some really significant inroads made

in terms of like civil rights during this period immediately
after the Jasmin Revolution, but things also don't get better,
at least not enough.

Speaker 5 (52:53):

Speaker 2 (52:53):
This is generally seen Tunisia as the start of the
Arab Spring, and if you know anything about the rest
the Arab Spring, this was also seen as like kind
of the successful case, right, Like, shit didn't work out
very well. In Syria or in Egypt, but like, yeah, Bahrain,
but here they got rid of the dictator and they
gained a lot of civil rights, and that's great. The

problem is that the other issues, the high food prices,
the fact that unemployment is at a night maarish level,
the fact that corruption was a hideous problem in Tunisia.
This doesn't just go away, right, because it's deeper than
the dictator.

Speaker 4 (53:28):
The culture.

Speaker 2 (53:29):
Whenever you have a culture of corruption like this, which
is by the way, it's not just the Middle East
that has to deal with this, but if you've spent
time in the Middle East, one of the things that
is really depressing is how massive and absolutely different, by
the way, from the kind of corruption that we have
in the West it is over there, the degree to
which and you start to care about this not because

you're getting fucked over as a tourist, because you really
don't notice it much as a tourist. It's when you
make friends in that country and you talk to them about, like,
how many different people are constantly taking a little bit
from them, right, and often not a little bit, like
the degree to which regular people suffer because every single
person who is quote unquote a government official is just

soliciting for bribes. Is that's so much deeper than any
one guy in charge, Right, That's something you can't just
revolt your way out of it. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (54:19):
Like one of my professors in college, I don't know
if you have actually wrote about it, but he's okay,
long story, but he lived in Egypt for a long
time and one of the things he would talk about is,
like that is the concept of like the oddly powerful bureaucrat.
So like the history was like like the guy who
sells you tickets at like the train station in Cairo,

Like that guy, if you don't fucking pay him, he
can just say no and you can't get on a train.
And there's just like so many layers of like this
guy who controls this specific thing and thus can fuck
you over unless you like do what he tells you,
which is usually give money. Unfortunately, we need to go
to ads. We'll be back in a second, and we're back.

Speaker 2 (55:12):
Yeah. And it's part of why it's more durable is
it's not like you know, I think it's South Vietnam.
You know, when DM was around, you had a lot
of you have all this corruption, but a lot of
it is top down, it is people who are loyal
to the president. Right, A lot of the corruption in
places like this is bottom up in that it's not
a situation where all of these men who are so

loyal to the dictator have this corrupt position. I mean,
that's part of it. I'm not saying that it's not,
but a lot of it is that, like, well, maybe
it's technically my job to stop the guy who works
at the train station from denying people entry if they
don't bribe him. But if I do that, then maybe
he's going to make a fuss about how I'm doing
the same thing for like permits to fix your roof

or whatever. Right, Like, it's so much more bottom up
in a lot of way. And so the reason this
matters is that like, shit doesn't really get better in Tunisia, right,
And now that the so while all these problems continue,
corruption continues to be an issue, high food prices continue
to be an issue. Unemployment continued to be an issue,
particularly for young men. Another thing that's changed is that

now everyone has seen what's easy does has done and like,
obviously he dies horribly, but one thing that happens is
like his family moves to Canada, right, like they and
this is I don't think fair to his family. I
haven't seen evidence they were like corrupt or whatever, but
like I think because of how like because they're able
to like get out of this situation, it's seen as like, well,

maybe if I do this, not only will that hurt
whoever whatever, corrupt motherfucker you know, I'm angry at but
maybe shit will work out for my family.

Speaker 5 (56:46):

Speaker 2 (56:46):
This is often not what actually happens, but there have
been hundreds of self immolation cases in the last ten
years in Tunisia. It has become you might compare it
to kind of mass shootings in the United States. Not
on a moral level, you're not doing nearly the same thing.
You're not hurting anyone else, but in terms of the
fact that it is this this really really shocking event

that then becomes kind of routine because people pick up
on it as like, well, this is what you do
in this situation.

Speaker 5 (57:14):
You know.

Speaker 2 (57:15):
One of the articles that I read for this was
an AP News piece that interviews a guy named Hasni Kalea,
who's one of the dudes, one of the many Tunisians
who have attempted or succeeded in killing themselves through self
e malation is an act of protest. Hasney survived, right,
and he did not survive without serious injury. Right now,

he has to he covers his face at all times.
His left hand he's lost a bunch of fingers. His
right hand has no fingers at all anymore. He is
just grievously injured as a result of this. And he said,
when interviewed by the AP quote, I would never describe
the act of self emolation as an act of courage,
because even the bravest person in the world couldn't do it.

When I poured the petrol over my head, I wasn't
really conscious about what I was doing. Then I saw
a flash, I felt my skin start to burn, and
I fell down. I woke up eight months later in
the hospital. And I found that really interesting, because there's
a lot of talk right now, you know, with what
Aaron Bushnell did about like principle and courage or mental
illness or whatever, and like to what do we credit

something that is so incomprehensible to most people. And I
found what Hawsny says here really interesting because what he's
saying is that like you can't even call it courage.
You know, it's almost like someone else is doing it.
You were animated by such rage and hopelessness that it's
almost like someone else is in control of your body.

And I don't that doesn't sound like mental illness to
me for certain. That sounds like someone that sounds like
desperation of such an extent that it's mind altering. I
don't know any other way to describe it than that.
And I'm not saying this is what goes through everybody's
head when they self immalight. But you don't get a
lot of inner use with those people after the fact,

right Yeah.

Speaker 3 (59:03):
Well, like like there's some people who survive into Batan
and it's like, well those guys, the Chinese government will
not let anyone near them, right, Like, no, you know,
and like I guess I should also I should have
mentioned this about the Chinese government line on this is
that it's very similar to what you see in the
American presses like the well, no, you're you're seeing the
terrorist stuff too here. But like the Chinese government line,

and this line worked pretty well, is like these people
were mentally ill, these people are terrorists or they were
like misled by like the Dalai Lama who's like leading
his people to the flames. Yeah, and that's been kind
of the that's been kind of the playbook everywhere for this.
That like the one, the one that kind of works
is that one. It's it's you have to attack the

moral character of the person because it's such an it's
such an act of it's an inherently selfless.

Speaker 4 (59:50):
Selfless Yeah, so the only way to do it.

Speaker 2 (59:52):
You can't describe it anywhere else. They're lighting themselves on fire.

Speaker 3 (59:54):
Yeah, yeah, so and so they like, you know, the
it's it's it's the the Roger Stone rat fucking thing
of attack and where they're strong and you know, so
it's the attack on the moral character that happens. I
think the thing with Tunisia too is it's like, like
the political alternative to this is this like rabid anti
immigrant politics.

Speaker 2 (01:00:14):
Yeah, we're like we'll talk about that in a second,
but yeah, it doesn't end.

Speaker 5 (01:00:20):

Speaker 2 (01:00:20):
One thing I do want to hit on is the
degree to which, again this kind of does function in
Tunisia as like a mametic virus. Hawsny, the guy we
heard from, survives, but his brother shortly thereafter lights himself
on fire in an active protest and kills himself and
his mother attempts to do the same, right like three
members of the family all carrying out self immolation, and

it is one of those things. This is listed as
like an example of the tactic succeeding, and it does
in terms of it, it gets the regime out of power.
But things are not better in Tunisia, especially since so
you know, there is a period of time where there
is at least a functioning democracy and significant gains for
civil rights, but because food still doesn't get affordable, there

aren't jobs.

Speaker 4 (01:01:05):
A lot.

Speaker 2 (01:01:05):
You'll find a lot of articles from around twenty twenty,
especially when people are like, yeah, I guess freedom's nice,
but it's not really worth much if you're starving, you know, yeah,
which you know I anyway, all of this leads in
part to the coming to power of the guy who
is currently leading Tunisia, Kiss Sayed. And as you noted, Mia,

you know this guy is a populist. He is elected
with seventy two percent of the vote. He frames himself
like populis tinma do is like I am. You know,
I'm outside the system. I'm going to help you take
on the elite that have corruptly ruled our country. And
he also is very anti migrant, right Tunisia. A lot
of people who migrate into Europe do so through Tunisia

just for geographical reasons, and he is blaming a lot
of their problems on He does like great replacement shit
that all these black migrants are causing our country's problems.
He inspires a wave of violence against black people in
Tunisia that's pretty hideous and horrific. And he has gained
a significant amount of backing from particularly the Italian government,

I think also the French government, because he's cracking down
on migrants, right, and those migrants come to Italy and
France and that's a problem for those governments. So they're
supporting this guy, who, by the way, has turned himself
into a dictator. All those gains Tunisia had in the
Lake of the Arab Spring he has rolled back. He
has centralized power, he has more or less destroyed the
judiciary is something that's independent, you know, he is if

he's not a dictator, he's not only that far from it,
you know. And he's being supported by these these quote
unquote democratic nations because well, I mean because racism, right, Yeah,
same reason they support a Gadaffi, Like, yeah, when it
comes to the politicians, it's a mixture of racism, and
just like well, racism wins votes, and when it comes
to like why racism win votes, it's back to racism,
right anyway, So those are that's Tunisia more or less.

Speaker 4 (01:02:55):
Unfortunately, we need to go to ads.

Speaker 3 (01:02:57):
We'll be back in a second, and we're back. Yeah,
So well let's end on a slightly more positive note
where well, so the line I was going to give

was one about how like you know, I mean, this
is the thing with Tunisia, right, is like you have
this Tenizia has effectively structural.

Speaker 4 (01:03:25):
Unemployment rates of like thirty forty percent.

Speaker 3 (01:03:28):
Right, Yeah, it's and that's the thing that that's the
thing that can't be solved without changing the economic system.

Speaker 2 (01:03:34):

Speaker 3 (01:03:34):
If you you know, if you you can have your
political revolution without your social revolution, you'll be right back
to where you were in like ten years. The problem though,
the other thing is you can have your social revolution
and also end up in the same place, which is
where we're going with with China. Where So one of
the there's a very famous okay, I guess the place
we should start with this is that one of the

I've talked about this a bit on this show. One
of the ways that labor works in China like structurally
is that so you're a contractor, you work for contracting company.
The contracting company is this like series of shell companies,
and there's like a there's like there's a payday on
like New Years because that's when the like the financial
like the year sort of rolls over and that's when
you get paid. And so these companies are designed to

specifically go out of business like the day before New Year,
so they don't have to pay any of the workers
for the work that they've done. And this leads to
a rash of protests in China, like every single year
on New on like New Year's Day, there's like this
massive there's there's a protests like fucking everywhere because people
have been screwed. It happens a lot with construction companies,

and so there's a very like one of the very
common tactics you see is people like standing on top
of buildings holding banners saying like we're going to jump
unless you guys like pay us. And so that that's
kind of the background of this which is that that's like,
that's a fairly common kind of like workers protests. In
twenty twenty one, there's a delivery driver in Jungsu who

he so something something I didn't really talk about the
ten episodes is that China's economy is increasingly becoming a
gig economy. And this has been this has been happening
for a while now. And so this guy is a
delivery driver for Ali Baba and he's like, he's like
trying to change apps, and the app garnishes his wages
and steals seven hundred dollars from him, and that's an
enormous amount of money.

Speaker 2 (01:05:21):
Yeah, I mean the app garnished his wages. As a sentence,
that just makes me want to light something on fire.
So I get why this would far protests.

Speaker 3 (01:05:29):
Yeah, and he like tries to get it back and
they don't give it to him, and he and he
lights himself on fire and this turns into so he
lets self on fire and then like this this is
this is in twenty twenty one. This is the same
year where that Temu employee falls over dead, like like
dies in her bed from overwork, and also the same
year when a Temou employee jumps off of the building

because of over work. And this sets off like a
giant kind of shift in the way that the Chinese
public is thinking about labor, because up until this one,
people have been, you know, like China. It's it's not
it's nowhere near as bad as Anesia, but it also

has this problem of like everyone works.

Speaker 4 (01:06:14):
Harder and harder.

Speaker 3 (01:06:14):
You're working, you're working nine nine six, right, You're working
nine am nine pm, six days a week, and you're like,
you're working more and more and more hours and you're
not getting ahead, right, You're still stuck in your shitty
apartment and your app isn't paying you for the work
you did. And this leads to a whole like a

whole thing that sort of culminates in something I talked
about a bit in the ten of episodes, which is
the Chinese Supreme Court, Like the Chinese Constitution says you're
not supposed to be able to work people for longer
than like thirty five hours unless like special circumstances, and
the Chinese Supreme Court goes like, well, obviously, you're not
allowed to work people like twelve out like twelve hours

a day, six days a week, and that isn't like
in large part and partially it's because of the the
Temu suicide and the Temu thing. But the other huge
contributing factor to this, and the other huge thing contributing
to Chinese society attempting to reckon kind of with their
unbelievable overwork culture is is the self immolation. And it's

it's it's one. It goes viral so fast that there's
no way to sort of like cover it up. There's
it's it's you can't the trade government can't really just
press the racism button like they normally would because this
isn't someone into back where this isn't someone in Chan John.
They can't really do that, and so they kind of are.
They're forced to make at least like some kind of

change because it pisss off so many people in ways
that like can't really be contained. So you know, I
guess the lesson from that, if there is one, is
sometimes very rarely you can back a government into a
corner where the normal things that they would say about it,
or like the normal like mental illness, terrorists, deluded things

don't work because the raw simplicity of what they did
and why just breaks through the media sphere thing.

Speaker 2 (01:08:23):
And it's again very hard to predict obviously, Like this
isn't the first within the last twelve months. This isn't
the first self emolation of the United States, right, and
the last self emolation attacked or not attacks? Sorry I
should geez, do I have a media.

Speaker 5 (01:08:37):
Brain or what?

Speaker 2 (01:08:38):
Well? The last self immolation that we had, which I
believe was was over climate change.

Speaker 4 (01:08:44):
Oh there, there there was a Palestine one too.

Speaker 2 (01:08:47):
Oh there was a past So I guess we've had
a couple like two in the last or three now,
I guess in the last like twelve months or so,
But they didn't the other ones did not really move
the needle. Yeah, right, why Aaron do mean? I think
I think part of it might have to do with
with how to deliver brit It was and how you know,
it got was very quickly picked up by local media
and the national media. I don't know's that's really outside

the scope of these episodes, but I hope you at
least now have more of a grounding and like how
this has gone other times, people have used this as
a method of protest, and hopefully that's of use to
you anyway, have a good day.

Speaker 1 (01:09:24):
Bye, Welcome to Dick It appen here a podcast sometimes occasion,
not even that occasionally, that's about a bunch of not

very functional massurveillance technology that's being deployed against all of us.

Speaker 3 (01:09:51):
I'm your host, Mia Wong, also with me as Garrison Davis. Yeah,
and so today we're gonna be talking more about something
we've talked about on the show like a couple of times,
but that is the shot Spotter program, and there was
there was recently a leak of the locations of all
of shot Spotter's like gunfire sensors, and with us to

talk about it are the people who got the leak
and wrote the article about about where the shotspatter sensors are,
and that is Drew Meirotro who's a staff writer at Wired,
and Joey Scott, who's a freelance investigative journalist and photographer.
And both of you two, welcome to the show.

Speaker 5 (01:10:30):
Thanks for having us, Yes, thank you.

Speaker 3 (01:10:34):
Yeah, I'm glad to be talking to you about this. So,
I guess for the people who don't remember or like
have not listened to other episodes we've done about this,
or have read this article, which you should go read
at wired it's great. Can you describe what ShotSpotter is
and what it's supposed to do versus what it actually does?

Speaker 6 (01:10:55):
Sure, Joey, you want me to take this or do
you want to do it?

Speaker 4 (01:10:57):

Speaker 5 (01:10:57):
Go ahead, sure well. Shot Spotter is.

Speaker 6 (01:11:01):
A sort of controversial gunshot detection system built by the
company Sound Thinking. On the face of it, the tech
is sort of straightforward. The company will basically install little
sensors on street lights and traffic signs and a jurisdiction,
and these sensors are sort of like algorithmically tuned to

detect gunshots. So when one of these sensors here's something,
it basically will send an alert to an incident review center,
which will then like vet the sound make sure it
was actually a gunshot before then forwarding it to dispatchers
who send a cop to investigate the sound. You know,
activists and academics have been basically saying for years that

this tech is inaccurate and primes police basically to go
to low income community communities of color expecting gunshots when
likely they won't find any.

Speaker 3 (01:11:52):
Yeah, and I think the specifically low income communities of
color thing is a big part of this because so
you'll created a map of where the shot Spotter sensors
are from the data you got. And I looked at
Chicago one and immediately I was like, I recognized that map.
That is the map of where the not white people
are in the city's.

Speaker 6 (01:12:14):
Yeah, yeah, it's it's stark. I think a lot a
lot of the responses that I've seen on Twitter and
you know, in my email inboxer essentially that like, look,
this is just a map of where all the not
white people are and whatever city that it's deployed in.

Speaker 4 (01:12:33):
Yeah, and y'all did some analysis of what you found
sort of statistically about where these censors ended up and
like the sort of the I guess like class and
racial composition of those places. Can you talk about that
a little bit?

Speaker 6 (01:12:48):
Sure, I'll take this one just because I worked on
the analysis. So yeah, I mean what we found is
that more than twelve million Americans live in a neighborhood
with at least one shot Spotter sensor. We basically joined
census data onto the locations of every single shots botter
microphone and looked at the demographic composition of those neighborhoods.

And you know what we found is that an aggregate.
Nearly seventy percent of the people who live in a
neighborhood with one set with at least one sensor identify
as either black or Latine. Nearly three quarters of those
neighborhoods are a majority not white, and the average household
income in a neighborhood with at least one sensor is
fifty thousan dollars a year. So these are low income

communities of color. It's kind of hard to describe it
in any other way.

Speaker 3 (01:13:37):
Yeah, And you know, one of the things, and this
has been a thing for so I'm in Chicago. There's
been a huge series of fights over getting rid of
ShotSpotter here. And one of the things you hear all
the time that shot is the shots are People will go, no, well,
we don't use race as a factor for yeah, but
the ShotSpotter insists that they don't use race at all

in indetermining where where they put these sensors. But kabba,
they've still managed to somehow create this map.

Speaker 4 (01:14:07):
And I don't know.

Speaker 3 (01:14:08):
I I'm wondering what you think about like their response
and whether you and I guess this is more of
a subjective think, like how much do you actually believe
them when they say this.

Speaker 7 (01:14:22):
Well, I think when you know, we are investigating this,
we found that the police don't even know where these
locations are, and so they're just given ShotSpot or data
of where to put this stuff. So the police can
kind of wipe their hands of like, oh, we insisted
that they put it in this place or anything like that.

And I think, you know, Drove can probably speak to this,
but you know, the argument is this is where all
the shootings are, and so that's where they are. But
you know, when you investigate that, it doesn't call into
effect like in other parts of the country outside of like.

Speaker 5 (01:14:59):
Chicago or something.

Speaker 7 (01:15:00):
You look at gun violence and where these alerts are,
you know, they aren't just where the alerts are. And
you know, Pasadena is an example. You know, shootings happen
outside of where the alerts are, but they're specifically in
a very specific part of Pasadena that is poor and
non white.

Speaker 6 (01:15:20):
So yeah, yeah, and I think you know, when we
spoke to sound Thinking, you know, I think it's important
to point out here that they did not dispute or
findings or the sort of authenticity of the doc. But
you know, they said what you would expect that the
sensor deployment is not really informed by race. And you know,
the way it works, as Joey says, is that the

company basically asks police department who purchased the systems for
data about gun violence, which Sound Thinking says is objective.
But we have no idea what that data actually looks like, right.
We don't know if it's all crime data, which might
be you know, a subject to enforcement bias, right if
they include things like drug crimes on their drug arrests.
So we just don't really know why Sound Thinking, you know,

makes a recommended plan for their sensor deployment. The other
thing that Sound Thinking had told me is that, you know,
sometimes they'll ask for data and they'll do it this
sort of data informed way, but other times cops will
just say, like, look, we want the we want the
deployment in this area, and that might include like a
stadium or a school or places where people gather. So

you know, it's kind of we don't really know why
exactly Sound Thinking is deploying its centers in any given location.

Speaker 3 (01:16:35):
Yeah, and having them be deployed by cops is like,
he is a spectacular way to have cop brain in
terms of locations which not not not not I don't know,
not an especially good way to get a statistically unbiased
sampling of where you would potentially want these things. So

I guess I guess the a thing we should talk
about in terms of what the issues what the system
is are. Okay, So ShotSpotter claims that it and this
is something I've seen over and over and over again.
It claims it is a ninety seven percent accuracy rate
of detecting gunshots. There's just I don't believe it. None
of the research I've ever seen backs that up. You

talk a bit about a bit about like what it
what it's actually detecting, versus what what they sort of
claim it is.

Speaker 7 (01:17:27):
Yeah, I think, well, I guess the overreaching kind of
theme here is we just don't know. ShotSpotter is very
not transparent about their data. There have been really no
peer reviewed, independent studies of the technology. So when we
make when we talk about, you know, how effective it is,

that that is a claim that ShotSpotter makes based off of,
you know, very little information given to the public about it,
you know, And that's kind of the big issue is
when you start getting down into the nitty gritty of
like what's actually going on. You notice that a lot
of the times what they consider a gunshot, police will

investigate and find out it was a firework, which if
you live in you know, I use Pasadena because it's
next to me. Out here in La you know, fireworks
are kind of how we celebrate and it's a different
kind of language out here.

Speaker 5 (01:18:24):
You know, fireworks happen all the time.

Speaker 7 (01:18:26):
So once you start getting into looking at some of
the data that I have been able to get, you
start seeing that, you know, maybe they claim it was
a gunshot, but when police show up, they don't find
any evidence of a gun crime, and sometimes they find
out it was a car backfiring or construction equipment and
all of that. And that just kind of shows, you know,

their claim that it's effective at identifying gunshots is you know,
very questionable to make that claim.

Speaker 6 (01:18:59):
Yeah, but you know, their ninety seven like the ninety
seven percent figure that they cite in their marketing material
is based on police reporting back to ShotSpotter that there
was a mistake, right like for Shotswatter to count a
the to count like a gunshot or to count of
sound as an error, the police have to report it

back to ShotSpotter, right, So it's almost like by default,
if they hear nothing, they have one hundred percent accuracy rate.
But it is say that you know they're informed of this,
they you know, will adjust that rate well.

Speaker 3 (01:19:33):
And and also I mean that that that's a metric
that relies on the cops telling them, like it relies
on the cops taking an extra step in an investigation.
And these are like, you are dealing with one of
the most notoriously lazy group of people, like in the
entire country, Like I have I have watched these people
on duty in Chicago. They spend like eighty percent of

their time standing around on their phones playing candy Crush, right,
Like this this entire statistics thing requires them to do
another step. It's like, like, what percentage of the time
is a cop going to admit that they ran out
to this thing and like drew their guns and we're
doing their like whole oh there's been gunshots thing and

then there's just nothing there, Like I don't know, it
seems like cast a pall over even this, even even
the sort of potential that their data can be right, right.

Speaker 7 (01:20:29):
I mean we all know that cops lie. Yeah, we've
seen them kind of use shot spotter alerts. You know,
Chicago was one of the examples where they were using
it as cover to make illegal stops and you know, yeah,
that sort of thing. So, you know, if there's room
for that, it's hard to then take what data police

are giving them in this way as accurate. And then
again it goes back to, well, we don't the public
doesn't get to see any of that information. Oh, we
don't get to make that I guess distinction between the two,
and you know, know what's best for people's communities because
of that.

Speaker 3 (01:21:10):
That's one of the things about this program that is
really alarming is that you have this massurveillance technology and
the people in charge of it were like the people
people who would be in charge of sort of like
deciding whether or not you want it. It's like like
both both the general public and like city mayors et cetera,

et cetera, seem to have so little information about whether
about what it's even doing that it's incredibly difficult to
make any kind of like any kind of sort of
database choice. All you have is sort of this combination
of like the company going oh, yeah, well, obviously their
stuff works, and then this sort of well, I mean,

this is the thing that's been happening in Chicago, is
this sort of like crime panic stuff they just that
people just fall back on, and they combine this sort
of crime panic with just the assumption that it works
because that's what it says in the box, and that's
a I think a really alarming combination to me.

Speaker 6 (01:22:08):
Yeah, I mean, I think the fact that city council
members are kept in the dark about the locations of
these things, as are you know, the police departments to
pay for the cities to pay for it. I think
it's you know, something that's really been quite interesting as
after we published is that, you know, I've gotten a
bunch of emails from city council members asking, you know,

asking me if I can provide them data about the
locations because they can't even get them from the company.

Speaker 5 (01:22:34):

Speaker 6 (01:22:35):
So, yeah, there's a lot of transparency issues here.

Speaker 7 (01:22:39):
Yeah, and you know, this is a public this is
a tool being paid with public money.

Speaker 5 (01:22:45):
You know.

Speaker 7 (01:22:46):
Another thing we found in the data was that there
are a list of sensors that are broken or out
of service or anything like that. In talking to various
police departments, ShotSpotter doesn't let them know when that happens,
and you know.

Speaker 5 (01:23:01):
Referred us to talk as the shot spot about that.

Speaker 7 (01:23:04):
So you know, not even the functionality of like how
many sensors are down are really communicated and that's a
huge problem. But like again this data, as a journalist
to investigate it, to request documents, I can count at
least three separate cities where shot spotter intervened and said

the release of the data would be a trade secret.
And so therefore, yeah, so like even any data that
shows transparency of like anything more detailed than just an
alert that many cities have, ShotSpotter won't release because it
is quote unquote a trade secret. Mind you, I have

gotten documents from other cities that are more detailed, and
then when I request those from other cities, shot Spotter
intervenes and goes, no, that's a trade secret.

Speaker 5 (01:23:58):
So it's this kind of.

Speaker 7 (01:24:02):
Trying to hide the transparency that then adds more skepticism
to the effectiveness and usefulness of the product, which the
public I believe everyone would agree, deserves a right to know,
especially if it's taxpayer money.

Speaker 4 (01:24:19):
Yeah, so it's a lot of money too.

Speaker 3 (01:24:22):
So speaking of a lot of money, unfortunately we have
to take an ad break, so we will be back
in a second.

Speaker 4 (01:24:39):
Okay, we are back.

Speaker 3 (01:24:40):
Something I wanted to talk about with the way that
these sensors are used, so about actually, okay, sorry, I
should have actually figured out the exact date after which
the story originally came out, but maybe like four or
five days after your story came out. There was a
story that came out of Chicago about a sort of

effectively the cover up of a case where CPD was
responding to a shot spotter ping and it was just
like a thirteen year old kid shooting off fireworks and
the cop showed up and immediately started shooting, and like,
thankfully cops can't set up a barn, so the kid
didn't get shot, but like, this child had a cop

shoot at him while the kid was running towards the
cop going no was fireworks. Yeah, So I was wondering
what kind like, you know, how many of those kinds
of stories did you run into when you were sort
of like doing this, running into the story, and yeah,
what is the impact of that stuff sort of been?

Speaker 6 (01:25:41):
You know, I think that that example that you bring
up is particularly egregious, But what happens more often, I think,
are these there's sort of like less dramatic events where
you know, sound thinking or shot spotter will detect two
shots and deploy cops to a corner, and you know,

they'll detain someone on the scene, run their name through
their you know, their databases, and find that this guy
has got a bench warrant, or you know, pick someone
up on a misdemeanor.

Speaker 1 (01:26:14):

Speaker 6 (01:26:15):
So, like I think, you know, while there are some
really egregious examples, a thing that that I think about
a lot here is that is just how much unnecessary
how many unnecessary arrests are happening because of ShotSpotter, right,
how many people are being picked up on bullshit essentially?

Speaker 7 (01:26:36):
Yeah, And you know that that recent case in Chicago
with the kid with the firework, and you know, it
wasn't too long ago that you know, Adam Toledo was shot, Yeah,
a thirteen year old kid for the same reason. Cops
were responding to a shot spotter alert. And the Chicago
o i G and their report about it kind of
highlighted one of the things, which is cops are just

primed to be you know, expecting you know, gunfire, somebody
shooting at them and everything. And you know, I think
that's that is a danger, you know, but again to
what Druv's saying is like it also leads to a
lot of unnecessary stops. It opens up people to be
profiled and padded down, and you know, so both options

are not great, you know, when you consider the harm
that this causes. It's just we all know that, Like,
cops are very jumpy to begin with, So you know,
they hear a firework or you know, an acorn hits
their cop car or something. We all know that, Like,
that's probably not what we need police to be expecting
on a call. And so you're just telling people, oh,

gunshots and then then they're going to run in expecting
to be fired upon. And I don't think that's great
for society.

Speaker 4 (01:27:52):
You were talking about that, So I don't know if
there's much more to say. I think that's true. We
dot acorn cop.

Speaker 9 (01:28:03):
I think the a corn incident stands on itself. I
don't think it needs to even be talked about. I
think it I think one sentences speaks speaks a whole
book's worth of possible analysis of police behavior, and no
being the notion of police rushing into every situation thinking

that there's there was there was a gunshot obviously has
its inherent problems.

Speaker 7 (01:28:29):
Now, Like mind you, a lot of the times, you know,
and at least in in other cities, it's sixty to
eighty percent of the time they don't find anything, you know,
which I think is good in the sense that nobody's
being harmed or stopped, but it's also bad when you
consider the effectiveness and utility of the device, you know,

which shot Spatter has kind of distanced themselves from, you know,
this idea of preventing gun crime or lowering croun crime
and more are in terms of like safety and arriving
to a scene quicker to render aid and help police
find shell casinges. You know, you've seen over the years

the kind of switch of focus on what the technology does,
and that most certainly happened around the time they changed
their name to Sound Thinking, Yeah.

Speaker 6 (01:29:22):
I think you know. The other thing I wanted to
mention here is that, you know, from a different leaked
internal report from the State's Attorney's Office in Illinois, in
Cook County, Illinois, it found that like a third of
arrests stemming from a shot spotter alert actually had nothing
to do with a gun In the first place. So
it's not even like you know, there eighty nine percent

of alerts, don't, you know, result in finding a shell casing.
It's that even when there are arrests that occur from
a shot spotter alert, thirty percent of them have nothing
to do with a gun, right, And that just shows
you sort of the criminalization of what happened of people
in areas that have these microphones.

Speaker 3 (01:30:00):
Yeah, and I think the combination of those two things
gets you to this point about Shotspatter's effectiveness, which is
that like, Okay, so we've had ShotSpotter for a while
in Chicago, right, Chicago police do not solve murders like
it's sub it's their murder clearance rate. And you have
to keep in mind that murder clearance doesn't actually mean

they solved a murder. But like even that jacked up
murder clearance rate I don't think has had like I
think they may have had one year in my entire life,
over fifty percent. And that was because murder clearance counts
if two people both shoot each other and they both die,
that counts as a clearance, or they find us their
suspect dies in like another way. So it's it's pretty

clear that it's not actually substantively contributing to Chicago Police
department solving murders. Like you have a better than coin
flip odds if you kill someone in Chicago that like
the police aren't even gonna like really try to figure
out what happened. And so yeah, I think I think
it makes a lot of sense that they've been pivoting
away from even like even claiming that this can do

anything to solve gun violence, because it just clearly hasn't
at all, and it's and instead it seems to be
doing a bunch of other stuff, which is like either
throwing cops around doing is like throwing cops around chasing
like shadows, which either results in them arresting just random
people or like having these really sort of terrifying incidents,

or it just results in straight up nothing.

Speaker 4 (01:31:36):
Yeah, we're gonna go to ads. We'll be back in
however long capitalism dictates, So see you then we're back.

Speaker 9 (01:31:56):
And I think, like looking at the effectiveness, like two
cities that have continued to deny shot spot or contracts
are Atlanta and Portland, two cities that spend a lot
of time thinking about how they equip their police spend
a lot of time like making sure that their police
are able to serve the largest amount of the community possible.

And the fact that like specifically Atlanta with their massive
like flock program of an integrated camera network across the
whole city, like it is one of the most surveilled
cities in the country, if not the most. The fact
that they are turning down this equipment for not being
effective enough and it being too costly is a sign

for like, beyond it just being a sign, it's also
like a look at what why other police departments are
interested in this and like what it allows them to
do and being deployed to these various communities that have
the what like twenty five thousand sensors. But no, I
mean like they've constantly tried to send this stuff to
Atlanta and it's like and it's just it's simply not happening.

And even after twenty twenty that Portland's like, no, it's
it's two super super useful examples to measure how much
this technology actually is going to get used for what
they say it's being used for, versus just having an
excuse to act like there's gunfire all across the city.

Speaker 7 (01:33:27):
Yeah, and you know, I think when we start more
police departments are going to start relying more on technology, sure,
largely because many departments cannot hire more cops. Now, this
isn't advocating me. You know, I don't want police departments
to hire more cops. You know, they've slowly defunded themselves

in that way. But like you know, cities like Los
Angeles are trying to grow their surveillance capabilities for that reason.

Speaker 5 (01:33:55):
They just do not have enough. They say, they do
not have enough cops.

Speaker 7 (01:33:59):
And so this is where kind of the surveillance capitalism
is going to really thrive, is police departments are going
to get desperate and they're going to start reaching out
and getting more invasive surveillance technology. And you know, I
think in some cities, shot spotter is kind of they're
a way of quieting the narratives about you know, the

growing gun violence and everything in their communities. You know,
they're like, oh, look, we've deployed this new toy to
kind of help us without really solving anything, because we
all know cops aren't really good at solving crime. Yeah,
so it kind of gives them cover of like we're
bad at our jobs. So how do we make it
look like we're better. Well, let's you know, invest in

some new technology, so it looks like we're trying something.
But you know, at the end of the day, it's
a waste of money. And then the impacts of that
is harm, you know, greater than the good.

Speaker 3 (01:34:55):
Yeah, it's like we're spending an enormous amount of money
to hurt people for no reason.

Speaker 1 (01:35:01):

Speaker 6 (01:35:02):
And you know, I think ShotSpotter is only one of
Sound Thinking's offerings, right, Like they you know, when they
changed their name to sound Thinking, it's sort of like
reflected this pivot in the company where now they were
going to start thinking more about like resource management. Right,
how do how do we convince departments that our technology

is going to better help them allocate their resources? And
you know, surveillance is the way to do that. We
can measure where crime is, we can measure where gunshots
is and where gunshots are, and we can deploy police there.
And one of shot spot or recently Sound Thinking had
acquired like a notorious predictive policing company called Predpole. That
happens I think earlier this year. So you know, they're

trying to expand their offerings here to be this kind
of resource management solution for departments SEBIA.

Speaker 4 (01:35:53):
Did you have anything else you wanted to bring up here? Yeah,
I guess. I guess there's one more thing. I one
talk about what you said.

Speaker 3 (01:36:01):
So one of the things that I've heard from places
that have gotten rid of their contracts is that shotspotters
not like taking their sensors down even when cities stopped
doing contracts. I was wondering what you two sort of
know about that.

Speaker 5 (01:36:15):

Speaker 7 (01:36:15):
I reached out to Dayton, Ohio, who recently got rid
of their contracts, and I reached out, you know, because
I was like asking departments who had it, like are
you aware of the status of the sensors or do
you know the locations? You know?

Speaker 5 (01:36:31):
Both knows.

Speaker 7 (01:36:32):
And then I asked Dayton, you know, well, now that
the contract's over, what happens to the sensors? And they
basically said, we don't know. That's shotswatter's responsibility, and their
responsibility is maintenance and care and removal and installation.

Speaker 4 (01:36:50):
So who knows.

Speaker 7 (01:36:52):
Obviously somebody knows, because it's not like some person could
just start climbing telephone poles and installing avalance equipment. So obviously,
you know, somebody is issuing permits to install stuff and
put stuff up there. But like you know, as we're
finding out, city council members don't know, police departments don't know,
and so who knows what happens to these devices afterwards?

And then say a city like Chicago, you know, say
they cancel their contracts, Well, a new mayor can come
in and then just instantly turn them back on, you know,
and that way, And so that's kind of the other
thing we're solely starting to learn here. It's more cities
start canceling their contracts or not renewing them. You know,
it is what happens to the technology afterwards, and we

don't know, which.

Speaker 4 (01:37:40):
Is not a great sign.

Speaker 3 (01:37:42):
Like, I mean, you know, it's not good that there's
just a bunch of states surveillance technology around all the time,
but it somehow feels even worse that we don't have
any idea what happens to even if the state decides
it doesn't want to use it. So yeah, I guess
on that a somewhat disquieting note. Do you have anything else?

So you wanted to make sure you get to.

Speaker 7 (01:38:07):
Oh nothing for me, No, I mean this is you know,
thanks to you know, somebody brave enough to send us
the info, and it's the only way this information has
been able to get out.

Speaker 5 (01:38:18):
And I think.

Speaker 7 (01:38:22):
If I implore the public to really research and dig
into this technology, if their cities are thinking about extending
their contracts or bringing a contract in and really questioning
and trying to get shot spatter on the record to
answer for some of these things. And you know, we
know what works and what doesn't work. And I think

most cities are starting to find out that there is
a better use of that amount of money to stop
these sort of gun crimes, interventions and other more community
based solutions rather than just dumping money into surveillance technology.
And you know, you can get a lot done with
an eight million dollars. Yeah, you know, it's just it's

just like there's always money in the Banana Stan sort
of thing, and there's like there's always money for police.
So it's just like, why don't we just retransform that
money into things that actually work in these communities.

Speaker 5 (01:39:17):
And you know, go behind that.

Speaker 3 (01:39:20):
So yeah, and I think, I don't know, hopefully hopefully
this will encourage more cities just stop paying for this shit.

Speaker 1 (01:39:32):

Speaker 3 (01:39:32):
So where can people find you choose work? I mean,
I know, like obviously this one's on Wired, but are
online places et cetera, et cetera, social media places, plug
yourself go yayh.

Speaker 6 (01:39:47):
Well, I'm I'm You can find my stuff on Wired
dot com and I'm on X or Twitter or whatever
you want to call it at d Marrow and on
blue Sky at d Marrow d M E h r O.

Speaker 7 (01:40:01):
And you can find me on Instagram and Twitter with
the user name Joey never Joe. And then my writings
have been in a local press out here in La
La Public Press and Knock La.

Speaker 4 (01:40:19):
Yeah, and thank you to both so much for coming on.

Speaker 5 (01:40:22):
Thanks for having us, Thank you so much, appreciate it.

Speaker 3 (01:40:27):
Yeah, and I'm gonna encourage everyone else to go get
your city to not use this stuff because it sucks.
All right, this has been this has been naked happen here.
You can find us in the usual places.

Speaker 10 (01:40:40):
Goodbye, hello, and welcome to it could happen here. This
is Sharene and today we are talking about you guessed it, Palestine.

I'm also gonna keep talking about Palestine because there has
been a genocide happening for the past five months and
also seventy six years and I refuse to let it
be forgotten about. But I refused to let it be
something that we used to talk about, because it's happening
right now and we need to talk about it. So
here I am talking about it. And while being a
public supporter of Palestine has never been popular in the

United States, since October, we've seen a significant increase in
the silencing of Palestinian and pro Palestinian voices. And this
is happening both online and offline. But let's first start
with the digital sphere, where the censorship of Palestinian voices
and pro Palestinian content can have really dangerous consequences, especially

since the vast majority of US consume our news via
social media these days. Meta, for example, has a long
history of systematically censoring Palestine related content. While the company
has stated that it's quote whenever their intention to suppress
a particular community or point of view, Access Now conducted
a report where their documentation points to the opposite conclusion.

The information in this episode, when it comes to Meta
in particular, will be from the findings of Access Now
in their report. Because I don't think the report got
the attention it deserved when it was published on February nineteenth.
Denying the public from both expressing and seeing content supporting
Palestine is a very dangerous game that only further bolsters
Israeli propaganda as well as silences any criticism against the

settler colony of Israel. This is not okay and it
should concern you because you have the right to know
the truth. This pattern of censorship is no glitch. Soon
after Israel began bombarding Gaza and blatantly committing genocide last October,
Palestinians and people sharing pro Palestinian messages began to report

that their content was being censored and suppressed on social
media platforms, including on Facebook and Instagram. The platforms restricted
and sometimes even suspended the accounts of Palestinian journalists and
activists both inside and outside of Gaza, and arbitrarily deleted
a considerable amount of content, including documentation of atrocities and
human rights abuses committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.

Examples of this online censorship show that it is rampant, systematic,
and global. For instance, Human Rights Watch has documented one
thousand and fifty cases of peaceful content expressing support for
Palestine originating for more than sixty countries around the world
being removed between October and November twenty twenty three. Meanwhile,

the Palestinian Observatory for Digital Rights Violations has documented around
one thousand, forty three instances of censorship between October seventh
of twenty twenty three and February ninth of this year,
including on Facebook and Instagram, from content removals to very
blatant restrictions. The following examples illustrate the main pat patterns

of censorship on Meta's platforms documented since October seventh, twenty
twenty three. Our first example is Facebook's removal of content
that was documenting the explosion at at Heity Arab Hospital.
It removed content shared by people who were on the
ground during the massacre and during the bombing. The automatic
deletion of bystander content with evidentiary value, especially during times

of war, not only violates people's ability to express themselves
and freely access information, it also hinders current and future
investigations into alleged war crimes. At atrocities perpetrated in Gaza
by Israel funded by the United States. There had also
been suspensions of prominent Palestinian and Palestine related accounts. Meta

has banned and suspended scores of accounts that posted content
about Palestine. For instance, October tenth, twenty twenty three, manda
Weis reported that Instagram had twice suspended the account of
les La Wara, its West Bank video correspondent. It was
only after manda Weiss publicized the suspension that the platform
quickly reinstated her account. Metta also suspended the account of

Gaza journalists and photographer Motaz Azza, who gained more than
eighteen point six million followers for reporting on the genocide
in Gaza. This forced him to create a new backup
account under at Mota Gaza, which acquired more than one
million followers within twenty four hours. Meta later did reinstate

Motaz's original account, but several of Azaza's posts showing dead
or injured Palestinians were flagged by Instagram for possibly violating
its policy on adult nunity and sexual activity. Under its
DOI policy, which stands for dangerous Organizations and Individuals. Meta
also permanently banned the Arabic and English language Facebook pages

of Klutz News Network, the largest and entirely volunteer run
Palestinian news outlet. Which has over ten million followers on Facebook.
Other news outlets that Meta has temporarily suspended or banned
include Aigle Radio Network, Breakthrough News, twenty four FM, and
Palestinian Refugees Portal. In addition, Palestinian journalists Fatten, Edwin, Salehel

Jafarawi and Ahmed chiheb Alden have all experienced and continue
to experience content takedowns and account restrictions on Instagram and Facebook.
There have also been numerous examples of restrictions on pro
Palestinian users and content. Here are some examples. Meta blocked
Jerusalem based activist sad Nandberk from live streaming on Instagram.

It restricted Jewish American artists and author Malli Krabapple's Instagram account,
and there have also been documented cases of Meta hiding
Instagram comments that contain the Palestinian flag emoji for being
quote potentially offensive. Many people have reported being barred from
commenting on Instagram posts containing Palestine related content. One user

said that a comment was blocked for over twenty four
hours without explanation. People have also reported being unable to
repost or reshare content related to Palestine in their Instagram stories.
In addition, to the usual screening that Meta imposes on
graphic or violent content, Meta imposed a quote sensitive content

warning before users could reshare Palestine related posts via their
Instagram stories. In some instances, attempts to reshare such content
generated a blank page and a message stating that quote
something went wrong. Following the Arab Hospital massacre, people reported
being unable to reshare a video report that was criticizing

Western media coverage of the bombing, either via their direct
messages or Instagram stories. This video report was conducted by
a Lebanese media outlet called Megaphone. Meta has also repeatedly
discouraged users from following or sharing content from popular Palestini
accounts that we're sharing updates on Gaza, in the form
of prompts saying, quote are you sure you want to

follow or mention this account? And warnings that certain accounts
have quote repeatedly posted false information or violated metas community
guidelines And perhaps the most disturbing incident and one that
I will never forget and I hope you don't either.
And if you haven't heard about this, buckle up. Instagram
repeatedly auto translated the word Palestinian or instances of the

Palestinian flag use alongside the Arabic phrase at haamdula lain,
which means praise be to God on people's bios. But
hamdla lah, by the way, is an extremely innocent phrase
that is used by all people. Let's speak Arabic essentially,
and it's said all the time. It's a very peaceful,
calmly thing to say, ahamdla lah, thank you God.

Speaker 4 (01:48:51):
But guess what they.

Speaker 10 (01:48:52):
Translated this into Instagram translated the word Palestinian, the use
of the Palestine flag along with adamdula la in people's
bios into Palestinian terrorists are fighting for their freedom. Palestinian
terrorists are fighting for their freedom? Are you fucking kidding me?

When a TikTok user uncovered this disturbing pattern, Meta apologized
and fixed the issue, and we all moved on. One
of the most insidious ways that Palestinian and pro Palestinian
voices are being censored and suppressed on Meta's platforms is
via the restriction of certain accounts reach and visibility without

any explanation or notification aka shadow banning. For example, following
the Lebanese media outlet megaphones coverage of the air hospital attack,
its Instagram account at megaphone News was hidden from search results.
Evidence also suggests that on October eighth, twenty twenty three,
Meta hid Instagram content that included the hashtag at uxaflood

from view. Meta's censorship of Palestine voices and Palestinian related
content as far from new. In recent years, however, it
has become increasingly pronounced, with a well documented pattern of
systematic censorship, algorithmic bias, and discriminatory content moderation emerging. During
the twenty twenty one Schechtracht protests, social media content expressing

support for Palestinian rights was deleted, removed, and shadow band
while users who were sharing such content were suspended or
prevented from commenting or live streaming, and pro Palestinian hashtags
were suppressed. These were all serious problems that Meta brushed
off as quote a technical issue. Let's take a little breather,

and when we come back, we'll talk about silencing that
is outside of the digital world, so brb.

Speaker 8 (01:51:00):
Were back.

Speaker 10 (01:51:01):
In addition to digital silencing, we have seen cases of
silencing occurring offline, as Americans are being fired or facing
threats for speaking out in support of Palestine. An open
letter published in art Forum on October nineteenth, declared we
support Palestinian liberation and call for an end to the
killing and harming of all civilians. It was signed by

thousands of artists, scholars, and cultural workers, including the Art
World magazine's editor David Velasco. A week later, Velasco was
fired from the publication that he had worked at for
eighteen years, reportedly after pushback from Martin Eisenberg, a major
art patron, and Ben Batham Beyond Air Wow. At least

four Art Forum editors have resigned in protest against Velasko's firing,
and many many more people have lost their jobs. Just
a few quick examples, A Philadelphia's sportswriter was fired after
tweeting quote solidarity with Palestine and criticism of a seventy
six ers post that offered support to Israel after Hamas's attack.

In another high profile incident, a University of California Berkeley
professor was sacked as editor in chief of the scientific
journal eLife after he retweeted an onion article that he said,
quote calls out indifference to the lives of Palestinian civilians.
A spokesperson for Palestine Legal, a civil rights group, says

it has responded to more than two hundred and sixty
incidents of suppression against Palestinian rights activists over two weeks
of October, more than it did in all of twenty
twenty two. The Council on American Islamic Relations also CARE
or CR, which is a civil rights nonprofit, says it
received seven hundred and seventy four complaints between October seventh

and October twenty fourth, which was the largest wave of
complaints that it's handled since Donald Trump announced his Muslim
in twenty fifteen. This wave has targeted professional activists as
well as ordinary people who have spoken in defense of Palestinians.
It has reportedly also escalated into death threats, as well
as assaults and visits from the FBI to Muslim individuals

and mosques. In surprise to absolutely no one in the
United States, the highest levels of power have long supported
voices backing Israel and its military. In the words of
Justin Sadowski, an attorney at CARE, the swift blowback against
pro Palestinian voices builds on decades of organized efforts to

quote tar Palestinian rights speech as pro terrorists or anti Semitic.
The late civil rights attorney Michael Ratner called this the
quote Palestine exception to free speech. In twenty fifteen, CCR
and Palestine Legal published a report on the tactics used
by pro Israel lobbying groups, school administrators, and public officials

to shut down Palaceesinian rights activists. They included false accusations
of anti Semitism or support for terrorism, as well as
legal threats and criminal investigations, and they often succeeded in
intimidating or deterring Palestinian solidarity activists from speaking out and again,
this pattern of silencing is not new. The prominent Palestinian

American scholar Rashid Khalidi recalls feeling overwhelmingly outnumbered at Columbia
University in two thousand and three when pro Israel advocates
protested against him and other faculty, as well as students
who spoke out against Israel amid intense fighting in Gaza
and the West Bank. News crews hounded him on campus,

and pro Israel students even made a documentary about the controversy.
Khalidi says, I think the narrative was pretty firmly in
the hands of people who supported Israel, but he continued,
there is a generational change taking place, with young people
having an entirely different set of views. They consume different media,

and I think they're more educated, more worldly, and better
informed than their elders. The recent laws against the boycotting
of Israel, in particular, which thirty six states have enacted,
directly stifle political advocacy by making people choose between their
livelihoods and their First Amendment rights. Last year, the Jewish

American scholar Nathan Thral announced that he had been disinvited
from speaking at the University of Arkansas for refusing to
sign an anti boycott pledge that was required of public
contractors by state law. Maybe after all this, you're asking yourself.

Speaker 3 (01:55:40):
So what do we do Now?

Speaker 10 (01:55:43):
We do exactly what they don't want us to do,
exactly what they're afraid of us doing, exactly what they're
trying to deter us from doing. Continue talking about Palestine
and sharing news and images and information that exposes Israel's
crime of genocide against the Palestinian people. The same way
people say to vote with your dollar when it comes

to boycotting certain brands and choosing where your money goes.
You can decide how you want to use your social
media platforms. What do you want to do with your
digital presence?

Speaker 4 (01:56:14):
What do you stand for?

Speaker 10 (01:56:16):
Personally? I think the days of casually and incessantly posting
about your life are behind us, or at least we're
headed in that direction. We're utilizing social media in a
different way now. Seeing how gen Z has utilized TikTok
to share information is a great example of that. I
don't think celebrity culture, unfortunately, will ever completely go away

on social media, but I do think we are demanding
more of our celebrities now, and I think, especially as
we're seeing quote unquote trusted news sources pedal disinformation and
propaganda in an irresponsible and appalling way. To put it
very lightly, we are relying on each other to share
real information, and in this case, our resources are coming

from the people who are directly experiencing the horrors of
genocide for the past five months and seventy six years,
and those voices must be amplified. There are a lot
of solid arguments to be made against social media as
a whole when it comes to whether or not it
benefits humanity, but I am seeing something shift now where
we are able to utilize this tool for our betterment.

If it wasn't for social media, the movement for Palestinian
liberation would not be where it is today. People who
were previously uninformed would never have seen the reality of
the situation were it not for our ability to learn
from each other outside of the limitations of mainstream news.
We are learning to trust the establishment less and trust

each other more. And I think we're able to use
social media in this way. It's actually a net positive
for us. It doesn't have to be empty in mind,
theming in a way to control us or get us
to spend our money to keep the capitalism machine in
good working order. We can decide how we utilize our
digital presence and the good that can come from it,

and to be united in this way is extremely powerful
and it can ignite real change, and at the very least,
it can be our way of spiting the powers that
be and refusing to be sheep. Existing in an age
of mass surveillance is frankly very terrifying. But seeing the
lengths that companies like Meta will not only go to
to surveill us, but to monitor what we consume, it's

extremely revealing of how weak their power actually is. It's
up to us to take back that power, especially now
as we are witnessing a genocide happen in real time
on our silly little devices for the past five months,
and having people become aware of the slower genocide and
ethnic cleansing that has taken place for seventy six years.

So keep talking about Palestine, both in person with your
peers and family and online. I can't guarantee that you
won't face pushback or repercussions, because as we know, that
is a real possibility, but the community of people that
you gain from learning of and speaking the truth far
outweighs any individual fear, and I would rather stand for

something than cower by myself or be controlled by fear.
We do have the ability to change things. I have
to believe that something else is possible, but it starts
with taking the blinders off and making a choice about
how you want to utilize the tools at your disposal,
rather than be utilized yourself. And that, my friends, is

our episode for today. Thank you so much for listening
and repel us.

Speaker 8 (01:59:40):
Tone Hello and welcome back to it could happen here.
I am once again You're a guest host Molly Conger.
Today is our friend Garrison. Hello, excited to get the

Robert Rundo rundown. So you already know what we are
talking about today. It is a guy that you probably
already know more about than you ever wanted to. It
is Rob Rundo, the founder of the Nazi fight club,
the Rise Above movement. You and Robert did a great
two part Behind the Bastards on RAM back in twenty
twenty one.

Speaker 4 (02:00:25):
Which is shockingly three years ago, which does not sound right,
but I guess is the case.

Speaker 8 (02:00:31):
It's been a long three years for you, but an
even stranger one for Rob.

Speaker 9 (02:00:35):
Yeah, he's been really a country hopic a lot the
past few years.

Speaker 4 (02:00:40):
Huh. He's been busy.

Speaker 8 (02:00:43):
So when you recorded that episode back in January of
twenty twenty one, Rundo's federal charges had been dismissed by
Judge Cormack Carney in twenty nineteen. The Ninth Circuit Court
of Appeals overturned that decision in March twenty twenty one,
right around the time the episode came out. I think
at the end of the second episode you had a PostScript,
like an addendum you recorded afterwards, because before it came out,

the Ninth Circuit ruling had been issued.

Speaker 4 (02:01:06):
Okay, okay, but in.

Speaker 8 (02:01:08):
An almost comical turn of events, Judge Carney has once
again dismissed those charges two weeks ago.

Speaker 9 (02:01:16):
Now, so three years later, a few countries later, hopping
from Serbia to the United States to probably other places
around Europe.

Speaker 8 (02:01:29):
Yeah, and we're sort of back in the same position
you were in when you talked about him three years ago.

Speaker 4 (02:01:34):
Times that's circle.

Speaker 8 (02:01:36):
But before we get into one of the sort of
strangest legal slap fights I've ever read, let's back up
for a second. Who is Rob Rundo and what was
he charged with? Yeah, So, if you want a more
robust look at the early days of the Rise Above movement,
I do recommend going back and listening to that Behind
the Bastards two parter on the Rise Above Movement. It
originally aired in March twenty twenty one, So like, really

scroll back in your podcast app. But we'll do a
quick recap here because it's not I can't assign the
listener homework. So so the Rise Above movement first emerged
in early twenty seventeen, after a brief period of being
called the DIY Division Both stupid Dames. I don't know
which one's better, but Ram. We're just going to call

them RAM. In twenty seventeen was a big year for
political violence. It was it was really hot that year.
The group was, on its surface, a mixed martial arts
club for white men. They trained together and bonded over
their shared and abhorrent political views. In their own words,
they are fighting against the modern world corrupted by the
destructive cultural influences of liberals, Jews, Muslims, and immigrants, you know.

Speaker 4 (02:02:43):
And gay people and gay people.

Speaker 8 (02:02:44):
Yeah, I'm just pretty much pretty much everybody.

Speaker 4 (02:02:46):
Except you know themselves.

Speaker 5 (02:02:50):

Speaker 8 (02:02:51):
Essentially, if you were not a member of the Nazi
Fight Club, you are a victim of the Nazi fight Club.

Speaker 4 (02:02:57):
That's the first rule of Nazi fights or whatever.

Speaker 8 (02:03:00):
The first rule of Nazi fight Club was not don't
talk about Nazi fight Club. And I think that's they
shutout it. They cannot stop talking. Like if they had
just followed the first rule of fight club, they might
not be in this position. But RAM quickly became a
staple at rallies in southern California that year. In the
spring and summer of twenty seventeen, they kept showing up

and kept throwing punches In March, members assaulted journalists and
counter protesters at a MAGA rally in Huntington Beach. In April,
they assaulted numerous counter protesters at a rally in Berkeley.
In August, RAM members attended Unite the Right in Charlottesville
and assaulted counter protesters in the streets.

Speaker 4 (02:03:35):

Speaker 8 (02:03:37):
And you know they're not just going to these events
and getting in fights, right, They're not just like showing
up and just like it just happens. They're going to
these events planning on committing these assaults and then bragging
about the assaults publicly and privately. They're using these acts
of violence as propaganda and recruitment tools, right like they're
making little videos they're posting about it. It's not just
about committing the assault. So the violence is not just

about physically hurting people. It's part of the larger strategy
to incite others to join them in this project. And
that's I mean, you already know this. You covered that
in your episode three years ago. This is for everybody else,
and they're still going. Unfortunately, these these they're now often
called active clubs, are more popular than what they were

three years ago. They've they've become very a very big
staple of white supremacist organizing across the United States and Canada,
mirroring a lot of organizational styles in Eastern Europe. There's
probably one in your area that you might not know about.
They are active on telegram, They're actively recruiting. They recruit
from high schools.

Speaker 9 (02:04:36):
Is a big increasing problem as Patriot Front becomes more
and more like fed jacketed between their own Nazi ranks,
we have seen more people plugging into into these active clubs.

Speaker 8 (02:04:51):
Right RAM did not go away, it's just sort of morphed.
And so back in twenty seventeen they said they had
a lot of members. They probably had like twenty But
now these active clubs just they do genuinely have chapters
all over the country. Yeah, but back in the past,
right So after Unite the Right RAM members decided to
lay off the rallies a little bit. You know, being
seen on camera beating a woman into the pavement at

a rally that ended in a hate crime murder invited
some bad press and they weren't looking to get door
knocks at that particular moment, So they backed off a
little bit at the end of twenty seventeen, but they'd
spent most of that year attending rallies and getting into
physical altercations. It wasn't until over a year after Unite
the Right in October of twenty eighteen, that there was
any attempt to do anything about this very obvious problem.

You know, the criminal complaint itself even says that some
of these assaults were committed in plain view of cops
who just stood there and did nothing while these guys
beat the shit out of people in the streets. You know,
they're in each other's dms, bragging about kicking a woman
in the head while she's lying on the ground, but
nobody lifted a finger to stop them. But in October
of twenty eighteen, two cases were filed. One in the

Western Virginia charges were filed against Ben Daley, Cole White,
Thomas Gillen, and Michael Miscelis, And a few weeks later,
in the Central District of California, charges were filed against
Rob Rundo, Robert Bowman, Tyler Loub and Aaron Eeson. So
all eight of them, four in each district. All eight
of them were charged under the Federal Riot Act and
conspiracy to riot. I think it was Robert who said

in the original RAM episode. You know, like if at
any point early on, like if at any point in
those first few months of this happening there had been
any kind of intervention, if anyone had been arrested in
the act, maybe this could have been nipped in the
butt and a lot of what happens later wouldn't have happened.

Speaker 9 (02:06:39):
Or even if they were like beaten up, like if
like if a group of like Eddie fascists like beat
them up, that would discidentivize them from going to future
events to try to beat up other people, right, Like,
violence is actually very good at doing this specific thing,
and if you feel like you're gonna go somewhere to
get b up, you probably don't want to go there.
And even like divorced from the act at the state

like that is that is a demotivating factor which has
been effective against Proud Boys in Portland. Now, obviously some
of these guys, especially the RAM crew, go there with
the express interest of getting into fights, So that's something
you should definitely consider. But yeah, like if as long
as they have a bad time, it makes them not
want to come to these things. But when they're able

to just beat up anyone, they want to without any pushback.
It's like, yeah, it becomes like a fun thing. It
becomes like a large amount of incentive is gained for
going to a rally, whether that's in Huntington Beach or
halfway across the country.

Speaker 7 (02:07:34):

Speaker 8 (02:07:34):
I mean they were having a great time and there
was no there was no movement to stop this, And
it's hard to know why it took over a year
for any charges to get brought. I think you speculated
in that RAM episode a few years ago that it
was public pressure. After that in depth reporting came out
of mainstream press, but I was going back over the timeline,
and that pro public apiece came out in October twenty seventeen.
That was just two months after Unite the Right and

a whole year before those charges were filed. It's not
really possible to know why they waited so long unless
some you know, young US attorney wants to level with
us about it. But I don't foresee that, probably not
just you know what's going on behind the scenes. But
I do have one sort of interesting anecdote. A couple
months ago, I was at an event here in Charlesville.

It was a panel discussion, and one of the speakers
was the US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia,
Chris Cavanaugh. He was speaking to a group of people
about the work that he does, and he was talking
about the work that he did on some of these
sort of extremism cases after Unite the Right. Back in
twenty eighteen, he was the assistant US attorney here. He's
been promoted since then. But he worked on the James
Fields case, and he worked on the Ram case. It

was filed here in Virginia, and he said something really
interesting that I hadn't thought about before. So right after
Unite the Right in August twenty seventeen, a bunch of
FBI agents were assigned to you know, check out what
happened here at this mass casualty event. Right, They had
the resources to investigate and try to develop cases. You know,
I love my documents. I spent a lot of time
in the documents, so I've actually seen you know, they

got some federal search warrants. It was actually an FBI
agent who dug the round that Richard Preston fired at
Corey Long out of the mulch In Market Street park.
You know, they got search warrants for social media for
a couple of guys who ended up prosecuted locally, Alex Ramos,
Richard Preston, and New Borton. So it looks like they
were trying to develop hate crime cases, right, like that
federal warrant they got for Richard Preston's Twitter account said

that they were developing I hate crime case and they
never did so, like right after Unite the Right, they're
getting these warrants, they're developing these cases. But back to
that event that I was at with Chris Kavanaugh, the
US attorney, he said, when the Las Vegas shooting happened
in October of twenty seventeen, they lost their task force.
They had this huge volume of agents working trying to

develop Unite the Right cases. When that shooting happened two
months later, they all got reassigned. He was left with
like a skeleton crew, and they just didn't have the
resources to develop these cases. Like, I don't know how
the FBI is managing their resources internally so badly that
they can only handle one mask actualty event at a time,
or why the Washington Field office was so heavily impacted
by a shooting in Nevada. But that is what he said,

So take that as you will. And I think that
theory is at least in part supported by the fact
that the federal charges against James Fields didn't get brought
until June of twenty eighteen. Right, he'd been charged locally
for the car attack that killed Heather Higher, but the
federal charges didn't pop up until June of twenty eighteen.

Speaker 4 (02:10:25):
So I don't know.

Speaker 8 (02:10:25):
If maybe something shifted in terms of resources in their
office that summer, I don't know, it's interesting to think about.
But then, so back to October of twenty eighteen, right
when these two different RAM cases get filed. Virginia's case
was actually filed first. It was filed a few weeks
before the case in California, So I don't know. I
assumed they were in communication about that, but I don't

have any special insight into what their federal prosecutor was doing.
But it's also possible that it just takes the government
a whole ass year to do anything, no matter what.
Right In a recent filing in the Rondo case, the
government's talking about how this investigation was developed, and it says,
you're gonna shit a break Garrison. It says that the
FBI investigation into RAM only started when a bartender in

LA called the FBI a few weeks after Unite the
Right because he overheard a patron Ben Day quote gleefully
bragging about having caused havoc during the riots. Amazing, and
he also quote bragged about hitting a guy and punching
a girl in the face during protests in Berkeley. So

that first comment was about Charlesville. He had just come
home from Charlesville. He was talking about how he caused havoc.
He's bragging about punching people in Berkeley, and the bartender's like, hmm,
that's kind of that's suspicious, suspicious. This unnamed complainant also
told the FBI that Daily and other RAM members had
come to the bar often and sometimes used it for recruitment.
They were recruiting the patrons at this bar, and based

on what he overheard, he told the FBI that the
group quote did not care about the issues regarding the
statues in Charlottesville, but rather a quote enjoyed going to
protests just to raise havoc, cause trouble and fight. So
it wasn't until a bartender called the FBI to be like, Hey,
this guy's talking about like doing a lot of gang violence.
I don't know if you guys know about this, And

according to that same court filing, the FBI took until
January of twenty eighteen, so a few weeks after Unit
the Right and maybe we're looking at September. It took
them three or four more months until January of twenty
eighteen to discover in the course of their investigation that
RAM was based in southern California.

Speaker 4 (02:12:34):
Great work, great work, everybody, fantastic stuff. They're on it now, Garrison.

Speaker 8 (02:12:41):
And so at this point, the LA Field Office opens
an investigation into members in the area. Now I kind
of hope this isn't true, right, Like, I hope that
this is not a correct summary of these events, because
if it really took someone calling the FBI to say, like, hey,
I heard a guy bragging about doing crime.

Speaker 4 (02:13:01):
That definitely no, that is definitely how this went down.
Absolutely that makes so much sense.

Speaker 8 (02:13:06):
But then it took three months of investigating to figure
out that the guys who recruit for their Nazi gang
at a bar in LA probably live in LA.

Speaker 4 (02:13:15):
Yeah, yeah, I mean that is This is kind of
how the FBI investigates white supremacist groups, but they have
they're too busy investigating teenagers in black hoodies. They can't.
They can't bother to spare the manpower for this. There's
Antifa out there.

Speaker 8 (02:13:35):
By the time they got this tip from the bartender,
that Pro Publica article was already out. Why did it
take them three months to find out that the guys
whose names were already in the newspaper lived in California.

Speaker 4 (02:13:46):
I don't know I trust anyone who lives in Virginia, So.

Speaker 8 (02:13:51):
It took them a few months, Right, it took some time.
I hope that's not true, but it is what the
government has put on the record as the truth. So anyway,
that's how this case starts. Right, So, these eight members
of RAM are charged for in Virginia for in California
with rioting and conspiracy to riot. Just for efficiency's sake,
I'll just say that the cases in Virginia are fully

resolved daily Miss Elliskillen, and White all pleaded guilty. There
were some later unsuccessful appeals where when they after they
saw what happened in the California cases, they're like, ooh,
actually us too, can we But that didn't work, and
their convictions stood and that's all over.

Speaker 4 (02:14:26):
Where is daily?

Speaker 9 (02:14:27):

Speaker 4 (02:14:27):
Is he out again? There? He's out, He's out. Yeah,
yeah yeah.

Speaker 8 (02:14:31):
White didn't get any additional time after his plea because
he was so cooperative, and the other three all got
less than three years.

Speaker 4 (02:14:38):
Yeah yeah, yeah, So they're out.

Speaker 8 (02:14:40):
But these California cases where Roundo is charged, they have
been a mess from day one, so the charge October
twenty eighteen. In twenty nineteen, Judge Cormack Carney dismissed the
charges in California, saying that the Riot Act was unconstitutionally
overbroad and its application violated the defendant's First Amendment rights.

Speaker 9 (02:14:58):
So true, First, I'm a defender here. That's right, travel
across state lines to riot endorsed by this judge.

Speaker 8 (02:15:06):
That's free speech. Garrison like love it or leave it,
go back to Canada. So the prosecutor appealed that ruling
because it was hawk garbage, and the Ninth Circuit agreed.
It takes a long time for things to get appealed.
It's like slower than watching grass grow. So the Ninth
Circuit reversed that ruling in March of twenty twenty one,

reinstating the indictments. Things move really so so you know,
it took two years for them to reverse it and
then another year to enter the order. So it wasn't
until February of twenty twenty two that the case was
formally reopened, in.

Speaker 9 (02:15:39):
Which case, around this time, Rondo's trying to like hide
in Eastern Europe and eventually get sent back to the
United States. Curiously around the same time that Andrew Tate.
Does God imagine an Andrew tape Rob Rundo fight. Oh okay,
I wouldn't pay money because I don't want to support them,

but I would love to watch that.

Speaker 8 (02:16:01):
Actually send them both back to Romania and let them fight.

Speaker 4 (02:16:04):
Yeah, exactly, exactly. So, by the time that the.

Speaker 8 (02:16:09):
California Ram defendants are re indicted on the original charges,
it's January of twenty twenty three, and only three of
them get reindicted because Aaron Eeson has died.

Speaker 4 (02:16:19):
So sad. It doesn't say much more than that a
tragic loss of life. I don't know.

Speaker 8 (02:16:25):
I don't want to, I guess I don't want to
speculate because it doesn't say on the record, and I
was unable to determine. I can't find anything other than
the court record. Dismissing his charges because he was dead.
I can't find any record of his death. It must
have just been, you know, private. But you know, you
were talking about that RAM episode a couple years ago
about how you know they're all about clean living and fighting.

Speaker 4 (02:16:43):
They're all straight edge, except for all of the ones
who do trucks.

Speaker 8 (02:16:47):
A lot of them have really serious drug problems. And
I don't know for a fact what was going on
with Aaron Eesan, but I know Robert Bowman had some
trouble staying out on bond due to a very severe
meth addiction. Yes, yes, so I don't know what happened
to Aaron Eastan, but very very pure. You gotta keep
the blood line pure. So they're reindicted January twenty twenty three.

And as you guys talked about back in twenty twenty one,
Rondo had been living in Serbia for most of this time.
He is overseas making friends, doing fight club, doing Nazi stuff,
hang out.

Speaker 9 (02:17:19):
Making bad T shirts, doing bad graffiti, mostly opening up
T shirt factories. It's really what he spent a lot
of times.

Speaker 8 (02:17:27):
Really about the merch You have to merchandise.

Speaker 9 (02:17:31):
That's the Hey, if you took away. One thing from
Revolt against the Modern World. It's that Ovola loved merch.
That's the biggest through line in that work. It's you
got to sell those stickers, man, You have to.

Speaker 8 (02:17:45):
It's a sort of a pointy shaped operation.

Speaker 2 (02:17:49):

Speaker 8 (02:17:49):
The guys on the bottom have to keep selling the
stickers to the guys, and you have to make new bottoms. Right,
there's there's no bottom. It is a pyramid scheme. Patriot
Ron is a pyramid scheme.

Speaker 9 (02:18:00):
Well, and Patriot Front and Rondo had the same sticker
manufacturer for quite a while. Their websites, well, their merch
websites were identical.

Speaker 8 (02:18:12):
Look, I mean, how many webmasters can these Nazi groups have.
It's gotta be one guy. Yeah, they do not have
a graphic designer. So anyway, so he's in Serbia. In
twenty twenty one, Serbia made a big show of saying like, oh, like,
he's not welcome here. He's deported to Bosnia. He was
still in Serbia. I think Bell and Cat has some
great articles tracking exactly where in Belgrade Rondo was hanging out.

But Serbia was like, no, he's not here, we can't
He's not welcome here. He's in Bosnia. Bonni was like,
he's not fucking here. He was in Serbia.

Speaker 9 (02:18:41):
He kept trying to lie to He tried to like
like make people think he was somewhere else, but he
just couldn't stop posting. And if you ever post anything
outside or really even inside you you can be found.
So like, he couldn't stop posting, and every single time
he'd be like, haha, the CIA asked, it's a belly cat.
Think I'm here when in fact I'm actually over there,

and you're like, no, you're actually right here. It's really
easy to find out where you are. You posted yourself
standing next to this tree. There's only one type of
this tree in this area. It's obvious you're right here,
and it's like you can.

Speaker 8 (02:19:14):
Post all you like. If you have terminal posting disease,
you can keep posting, which is like, don't post photographs
of yourself in a place.

Speaker 9 (02:19:21):
He can't He can't stop, He can't stop, won't stop.
My favorite old Rundo lore is that he had this
YouTube series called Tea Time with Robert Rundo that I
still think about about once a week, where he would
give his Nazi followers advice on how to flee the
country if they have a felony while sitting at like
a European cafe filming on his iPhone. It's the most

it's the funniest thing I've ever seen in the sane world.

Speaker 8 (02:19:47):
Evidence like that would make a judge say, mmm, I
don't think we should let you back.

Speaker 4 (02:19:51):
Out, considering you made instructions.

Speaker 8 (02:19:58):
So finally, in March of twenty twenty three, he's freshly reindicted.
In January twenty twenty three. March of twenty twenty three,
the Romanian police are like, we fucking found him, got him.
He's here in Romania. So he's arrested in Romania and
it takes a few months to sort out all the
paperwork and get him extra dated back to the US
in August of twenty twenty three. You know what won't

get you indicted on federal felony charges that result in
you being extradited from a Romanian prison.

Speaker 9 (02:20:24):
Listening to these ads as long as we declare them
as My FTC training today taught me how to do so. Yes,
these are all paid advertisements. We're not allowed to call
them promoted content to we have to call them ads.

Speaker 8 (02:20:37):
These are advertised I believe.

Speaker 9 (02:20:38):
That was part of my training today. So to make
sure I don't go to prison enjoy these paid advertisements.

Speaker 8 (02:20:57):
Well, I hope you enjoyed those paid advertiste ads.

Speaker 6 (02:21:01):
This is weird.

Speaker 9 (02:21:02):
We're only airing them because they're paying us money. These
are not our sincere belief. Way, we can't say that either.
There's really no way to win. There's no way to
win here anyway. I'm going to the war against the
ftc so so true. So that more or less gets
us up to the current controversy. So we get Rundo
back August twenty twenty three, and then February twenty twenty four,

about ten days ago, Judge Karney dismisses the case again.
So back in twenty nineteen, Karney said, no, there's no
crime here. This is just protected for some m activities.
You can't use the Riot Act. That's unconstitutional, right, And
he dismisses the case, and the Ninth Circus says, no, no,
I don't think so that's not how we're reading this.
You got to take the case back, so it gets

remanded back to the same judge. It goes back to
Judge Karney, but of course Rundo's missing now it takes
a while to get him back. And so he finally
gets his defendant back from his Nazi laer in Eastern Europe,
he has to come up with a new reason why
not street fighting gang shouldn't be charged with a crime.

Speaker 8 (02:22:02):
Okay, So like it's obvious, he just doesn't want to
fucking try this case. So he has to come up
with a new reason. And honestly, I think no shade
to the federal public defender, right, Rendo has a public defender.
It is their job to throw everything at the wall
and see what sticks. They're providing zealous defense to their clients.
So they write up what I would say, in my
personal opinion, was an absolute dogshit motion, and I think

maybe they knew that too. I don't know, they're just
doing their jobs. I think Judge Carney would have agreed
with whatever they put on paper. He gets this motion
and he's like, yes, for sure, dismissed again. So true,
and this time it's selective prosecution that if the government
wants to charge Ram with rioting, they would have had
to charge Antifa too, because otherwise it's not fair.

Speaker 4 (02:22:44):
What should they do all the fucking time?

Speaker 8 (02:22:48):
It's just not fair?

Speaker 4 (02:22:50):
I mean this case does actually like showcase like selective prosecution,
the fact that you wire super willing to drop charges
against a white supremacists but will send and like quote
unquote Antifa gay gay teenagers to prison for going to
a BLM protest, Like yeah, that actually does show exactly
how these cases are very selectively prosecuted.

Speaker 8 (02:23:13):
Right, Like these guys are playing on easy mode, and
as soon as they draw the wrong card, it's like, well,
this deck is stcked, this deck is stacked right, And
so now I'm again we talked about this before a garrison.
I'm not a lawyer, we know this, but I am
an enthusiastic consumer of the law, and I did read
a bunch of law review articles today. Okay, select prosecution

sounds like the kind of thing that could work, right, Like, oh,
it's not constitutional to selectively prosecute based on maybia a
protected characteristic right, like if you're only prosecuting black people
for a crime, Like, of course that's wrong. But here's
the thing. It doesn't work. It never works. This is
not an argument that is effective. I want to say,
it never works. It is generally not an effective argument.

Even when a layperson could look at and say, oh, yeah,
that is kind of fucked up. It just doesn't work.
You can't just walk into court and say, you know, well,
your honor, I was speeding, but so was everybody else
on the interstate. It's unconstitutional to give me a ticket
unless everyone gets a ticket, right that.

Speaker 4 (02:24:13):
It's not how it works. They're picking on me.

Speaker 8 (02:24:15):
It's yeah, you can't just say, you know, other people
did what I did, but I'm the only one standing here,
so it's not fair.

Speaker 4 (02:24:23):
You have to there's an actual structure to this. Oh
Jay got away with it. That means I should too, right.

Speaker 8 (02:24:29):
Right, We're not catching every murderer, so like I should
get a freebee. Yeah, so you have to show not
only that there was a particular other individual who engaged
in the same conduct who was not charged, but also
that quote a federal prosecutorial policy had a discriminatory effect,
and it was motivated by a discriminatory purpose. So in

the speeding ticket analogy, right, you'd have to say, you know,
I was doing eighty in the school zone, but so
were these three other particular women like John Jane, and
we're all doing it too, and we all got pulled over.
But the cop only gave me a ticket because he
hates men or something, right Like.

Speaker 4 (02:25:09):
You would have to show that based miss andres cop right.

Speaker 8 (02:25:14):
So you'd have to show that other people did the
exact same thing you did, and it was possible for
them to have gotten in trouble too, Yeah, but they
didn't because of a particular form of discrimination. So in
order to make a valid claim of selective prosecution, Rondo's
lawyers would have to say, Look, here's Joe Antifa, a
real guy who exists, and here is a materially similar

set of circumstances in which Joe Antifa ran an organized
group that got into fights on purpose, provoked confrontations, chase
people to their cars, beat women in the streets, and
then use that footage to recruit people to his gang.
Right Like, here's Joe Antifa bragging online about targeting members
of a particular minority group for brutal gang assaults at
political rallies. Here's his group actively planning and organizing to
travel to different cities and other states across the country

with the explicit and stated goal of provoking and attacking people.
You can't just say, well, Antifa didn't get charged. You
have to present an actual person who did what you did,
not just some other guy who did something you don't
like or somebody else who maybe did kind of a crime.

Speaker 4 (02:26:14):
You have to say, this is a.

Speaker 8 (02:26:15):
Specific person and he did what I did in a
materially similar way to the same degree that I did it,
and with just as much evidence to support that.

Speaker 4 (02:26:25):
Yeah, And in the Ram case, there's so.

Speaker 8 (02:26:27):
Much evidence because they couldn't stop fucking posting, So they
can't produce evidence that Antifa, to whatever degree that's a
meaningful term here, engaged in similar behavior to what the
evidence shows Ram did. Right, It's not just other people
were fighting, And in this case that's kind of preposterous
because the evidence does show that they specifically bragged, Like

there's a text that was produced from Ben Daaley bragging
about how they were first through the barricades at Berkeley.
So you're acknowledging that you know there was this big
riot and that you hearted it. Sure other people were
fighting in the riot that you started on purpose, So
no one else can be similarly situated to you, because

even if they were fighting you started it, there has
to be a real, actual other person who is similarly situated.
That's an actual legal term that encompasses a sort of
set of criteria. Is there a similar amount of evidence
against this other person? Would it take a similar amount
of state resources to investigate, arrest, and convict this person.

We just don't have an organized militant street gang of
Antifa that sold branded apparel and bragged about crimes online.
There is no similarly situated, uncharged actor on the other
side of this. That person doesn't exist. But it's even
more than that. Even if we did have Joe Antifa,
the gang leader who's bragging online about doing this kind

of stuff, even if he existed, Even then, even then
there is what's called prosecutorial discretion. There may be the
reasons that we just aren't entitled to know about as
to why a prosecutor made the decisions they did about
who gets charged. For a selective prosecution argument to work,
you have to show that this decision was made for
a discriminatory purpose, and that's really hard to do because

they're not going to tell you that right. You know,
in an ideal world, selective prosecution would be an argument raised.
You know about racial bias, because we do know that
there is racial bias, and who is investigated arrested, charged,
and convicted for crimes, like at every step along the way,
there's a thumb on the scale against people of color.
And even then, even when it is so obvious, even

when you have, you know, a prosecutor who is a
member of the fucking clan, even then these arguments don't
tend to work.

Speaker 4 (02:28:44):
This should not have worked.

Speaker 8 (02:28:48):
But Judge Carney clearly just doesn't want this case prosecuted, right.
I think it's it's very obvious that he just like
thinks Rob Rundo is a nice boy who shouldn't have
to go to jail for this is also, I think,
notably about to retire. He hits he hits the minimum
retirement age in May, and he is going to retire

the day that he can. I think Megan Cuniff, who
has a great blog, Legal Affairs, she's been covering this case.
She noted in a tweet a few weeks ago that
she knows that he intends to retire because he in
rescheduling some hearings, said that that was the only day
he could go to the retirement benefits class that he
needs to go to to make sure he can retire

the day he's eligible in May, so he just doesn't
he just doesn't want to deal with this. Right that
this was scheduled to go to trial in March and
he's retiring in May. He just doesn't want to do it.

Speaker 9 (02:29:42):
What's the even the point anymore? What's even what? I
just it's like, why are they even trying here? Like
it just just just like kick the can down to
someone else if you don't want to like deal with this.
I don't know, it's turning this whole like I don't know.
I've read other things from this judge how he's like
he's like very much into like this big like Antifa

conspiracy theory, and.

Speaker 8 (02:30:06):
He's a little bit racist, like there was an issue
he's oh, I'm shocked. He was chief Judge of the
Circuit briefly, but he had to step down. So he's
still a judge in the Central District of California, but
he's not the chief judge anymore because he made a
racist comment to the Clerk of court. So he's I mean,
I think there's some stuff going on with Judge Carney.
So I think he knows when he made this ruling

that like the Ninth Circuit's going to send it back.
But that's not gonna be his problem anymore because he's
out of here in May. So you heard this like
absolute dog shit argument, and he was like, so true, King,
this is not fair. You are free to go go ahead,
and he let him out same day, Like he heard
this argument. He was like, absolutely, that's the one, go

on home, and he let him out that day. There
was attorney made a motion for an emergency stay, saying like, okay, well,
let's just let's not get ahead of ourselves. Why don't
we just hang on to him till we can talk
to the Ninth Circuit about this, because I don't know,
and that's it's pretty normal, that would be normal for
the judge to say, let's give it a day. I mean,
I want him release, but we'll give it a day.
We'll let you get your paperwork in order. No, he

just let him out, just let him out right that day,
and considering his history of fleeing the country, not the
call I would have made.

Speaker 4 (02:31:17):
It is quite the choice.

Speaker 8 (02:31:20):
So the very next day, the Ninth Circuit was like,
hold on, let's get him back in custody while we
think about this. And it makes no sense for CARNEI
to deny the emergency state, that would be really normal
to stay the decision until we have a chance to
sort of think this through. Right, even if he truly
believed with his whole heart that there's no way that
this would ever get kicked back by the Ninth Circuit,

that the case would stay dismissed and Rundo would be
free to go, it would not be unusual to say,
you know, well, this has been pretty contentious. The defendant
has fled the country multiple times, so let's just hang
on to him for twenty four forty eight hours while
we go through the motions of getting that emergency hearing.
But that's not what happened, because Robert Roundo is the
definition of a flight risk. Yes he is.

Speaker 4 (02:32:02):
Like he's the platonic ideal form of a flight risk.

Speaker 8 (02:32:08):
I've sat through a lot of bond hearings and I
know we are definitely not all using the same dictionary
here when it comes to what is a flight risk.
But you really can't find a guy who has done
more to demonstrate than he absolutely can and will flee
the country to avoid going back to court. He does
not want to go to court. So back in twenty eighteen,
when those two prosecutions were initially filed, right, the Virginia

case was filed first, So when Ben Day was arrested,
the charges hadn't actually been filed yet against rob Rundo.
But I guess when they came to get Ben on
October second, so eighteen days before the charges were filed
against rob Rundo himself, they came to get Ben in
La and he's like, m time to get out of dodge, right,
So I think that was the moment he was like

I gotta go. You know, he knew they might be
coming for him next. So first he tries going to Ukraine,
which is a great place for a militant right wing
extremists to go hang out with friends, right, And unfortunately
for him, his flight had a layover in London. I
don't know if it like didn't occur to him that
maybe when they look at your passport, like maybe maybe

the US government like anticipated that you would do this.
But so he throw looks at us at his passport,
it was like mm, the US government says, do not
pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, do not
proceed to Nazi asylum, and they turn him back. Now,
mind you, he's not arrested yet, right, they just won't
let him go to Ukraine.

Speaker 4 (02:33:32):
Interesting, so he he doesn't. He doesn't get to London though.

Speaker 8 (02:33:37):
I think he gets to London and they were like, no,
you can't, you can't go. I don't know how he
got that far.

Speaker 4 (02:33:43):
Yeah, yeah, that is that is intriguing. So back in
California he walked to Mexico. Yeah, which is which is
part of his tea tie with Robert Rundo advice.

Speaker 8 (02:33:55):
Right, So like he literally went on foot over the
US Mexico border to avoid passport control and then he
travel over land through Mexico into l Salvador, YEP, where
he presumably intended to try getting on a plane. Again.

Speaker 9 (02:34:06):
You need you need to get far enough south so
that when you fly you don't cross over American airspace.
Other people in ram have tried this and have not
gone far south enough, and their plane crosses over like
the tip of US airsplace around Florida, and then they
get flagged so that when they land they get they
get like arrested or turned back.

Speaker 8 (02:34:27):
See that's so tricky, Like I pay funny, I'm got
a plane ticket recently for vacation. I'm not fleeing the
country or anything.

Speaker 4 (02:34:33):
Molly's flying everyone.

Speaker 8 (02:34:35):
I actually don't even have a passport, but when you
buy a plane ticket, they do not provide for you
a sort of schematic of the flight path. So I
don't know how they're figuring this out. I guess they're not.

Speaker 9 (02:34:46):
If it's not a Rondo. I think typically tries to
get far enough south that he just gets a direct
flight to somewhere.

Speaker 4 (02:34:52):
In like the Middle East or eastern Europe.

Speaker 8 (02:34:54):
Well, I don't know if it would have worked, because
when he got to l Salvador, the plane that he
got on was not headed to Ukraine. It was headed
back to lax in the company of some FBI agents hope.
So they brought him back and he was formally arrested
in the La airport when they brought him back. Very
funny because in the weeks that he had spent trying

to get away, the indictment against him had come back
and he was also being charged. So after Judge Carney
dropped the charges the first time back in twenty nineteen,

Rondo got his passport back and immediately left the country again,
traveling to Europe visiting other fascist fight clubs, and so
you know, in this time period, the US Attorney is
appealing the dismissal of the charges, like they they want
to bring this case. They're, you know, they're waiting for
the Ninth Circuit to hear them, but they're watching him
cavorting around Eastern Europe and they're like they're filing motions saying, like,

we really got to get him back, Like he's at
an Nazi rally in Hungary.

Speaker 4 (02:36:02):
He's got a podcast.

Speaker 8 (02:36:03):
He's got a podcast where he's telling people how to
evade capture by getting foreign passports, Like, we got to
get him back.

Speaker 4 (02:36:12):
And so when the charges were.

Speaker 8 (02:36:12):
Finally reinstated by the Ninth Circuit in twenty twenty one,
he'd been formally expelled from Serbia, where he'd been living,
and he was eventually arrested in and extradited from Romania.
And then when Judge Corney dismissed the charges again two
weeks ago, and the Ninth Circuit was like, we gotta
get him back. Do you know where they found him?
The Mexican border? Oh curious, who could have predicted?

Speaker 9 (02:36:32):

Speaker 8 (02:36:33):
So, like he really loves leading the country. Time is
a flat circle, right, So Karnie lets him out he
tries to leave the country again. Immediately the Ninth Circuit says,
hold on, let's bring him back. And because this system
works in just the most like insane imaginable ways, Like
I guess when they wrote how this was gonna work,

they just assumed everyone would act in good faith and
they didn't put anything in for when that's not what happens.

Speaker 9 (02:36:59):
You know, I'm pretty sure that's in the Constitution. You
have to assume good faith intentions. I believe the sixty
ninth Amendment. You have to assume good faith.

Speaker 8 (02:37:08):
Everyone's going to be normal about this. We don't need
to build in any contingencies here. So every time the
Ninth Circuit is like, ooh, Judge Carney, that's nuts, they
just have to send it back to him. They it
doesn't get sent to a different judge. It's just they
just keep sending it back to the guy who is
bound and determined to ruin this right. So it gets
sent back to Judge Carney. This case is still in

front of Judge Carney. So the Ninth Circuit they put
him back in and Judge Corney's like, I'm gonna le
him back out, and the Ninth Circuit's like, no, you
really really can't do that. You really can't do that.
And he's being kind of a pissy little baby about this, right,
Like the Ninth Circuit issues an order saying, like, no
one can let him out but us. If he gets

let out, it will because we said so no one
can let him out. You can't do it. The Ninth
Circuit said, so we're up here on top.

Speaker 9 (02:37:59):
This is fash as, this is tyranny, is fascis of,
but the but the bad kind, the kind I don't
like Robert Rundo.

Speaker 8 (02:38:07):
So Carney's on the bench and he's like, well I
really want to though, and so he issues an order
saying like he's released, but I'm going to stay my
own order. I mean, like you know, I'm gonna enter
this order saying he's released, but like it won't go
into effect because technically I'm not allowed.

Speaker 9 (02:38:22):
That's such a such a door key of like pissed
baby tantramoved from a judge.

Speaker 8 (02:38:26):
Like you're being a real baby, Cormac. And he says, quote,
I would like to be in a position to release
him right now and let him walk out the door.
Well you can't, you can't. So it gets like stupid
messy here, right, So the ninth Circuit put him back
in and it comes back to Carney, and Carney's like, well,
this arrest wasn't even legal. I should let him out

because this you can't even you couldn't put him back in.

Speaker 4 (02:38:50):
You can't arrest someone without their being cause for a crime.

Speaker 8 (02:38:55):
Well, it is a little bit messy here, right. So
Carney argues that Roundo's rearrest wasn't legal because he dismissed
the case. So technically, when Rundo was arrested again, there
was no charge against him. There is currently because the
indictment was dismissed. You know, the prosecutor's appealing that that dismissal.

Maybe it'll get reinstated like it did last time. But
like right now, he is not charged with the crimes,
which is which is.

Speaker 4 (02:39:23):
Ridiculous because there's so many other things you could charge
him with, right just like find a different crime. Like
there's like between all.

Speaker 9 (02:39:29):
Of his between all of his passport stuff, between all
of his crossing the border, like there's there's so much
other there's so many other things that you could you
could decide to charge him with.

Speaker 8 (02:39:39):
Surely some FBI agent has been sort of keeping tabs
on his activities and they could come up with something,
but as it stands, when he was re arrested, there
was no charge, right, Yeah, So the Ninth Circuit does
have the authority to stay the release order. So Carney
issued a release order saying let him out of jail, right,
And so the prosecutor was like, we need an emergency

hearing in front of the Ninth Circuit on that release order.
So Carney issues the release order. The prosecutor goes to
the Ninth Circuit and say, we need you to push
the pause button on the implementation of this order. That's
really normal. That should have been what happened. But because
he was released immediately, you know, before they had a
chance to get heard by the Ninth Circuit, Carney's argument,

which I may maybe true here, right, is that by
the time the Ninth Circuit heard the motion to stay
the release order, it was moot. They can't hear argument
on a motion that doesn't mean anything. You can't stay
an order that's already been implemented. So once the release
order was carried out and Rondo was no longer physically

in custody, there was no order to stay so the
Ninth Circuit had nothing to rule on, so they they
rearrested him, saying like, we're staying the release order, but
the order of operations there is kind of key. At
the next hearing, Carney said, I must tell you from
the little things I've read, I'm quite concerned. I feel

mister Rundo is being unconstitutionally detained, and it's messy, and
I don't know what the right answer is here, right, Like,
It's not unusual for someone to stay in custody pending appeal,
especially if they have repeatedly attempted and succeeded at fleeing
the country. And Carney's refusal to stay the release order
kind of makes you wonder if he didn't create this
procedural nightmare intentionally.

Speaker 9 (02:41:27):
Sure, he kind of created this legal dilemma that now
puts Rundo's incarceration in actually like a point of question.

Speaker 8 (02:41:37):
Right Like, he had to know that when the Ninth
Circuit did hear this motion, they would probably reverse him.
He had to know that, and he absolutely knew Rondo
would flee the country before that could happen. And he's
not wrong that it looks a little a little questionable
to issue it arrest warrant when there is no live
charge or the end result that Rundo is in custody

pending some kind of further ruling from the Ninth Circuit.
That's not weird, that's really normal. But everything that happened
in between is a mess. I don't know what the
answer to that is. I mean, I mean, as nuts
as Carney is behaving like, he is probably right that
you can't make a ruling on a moot motion and

you can't arrest someone who's not charged with a crime,
like those things are true. But I don't know what
the answer is here, and I think it's his fault.

Speaker 4 (02:42:30):

Speaker 8 (02:42:32):
So at this point, right the government is appealing Carney's
dismissal of the charges, just like they did back in
twenty nineteen. Remember that it took almost two years from
the original dismissal to the Ninth Circuit ruling reversing and
remanding the case in twenty twenty one, so this could
take a while. At this point, what the government is
asking for is a stay of the release order to

keep him in custody while they work through this appeals process,
because they are appealing the dismissal of the indictment. I
don't expect a lot of movement on that this week.
I think the docket shows that the appellance brief is
due on the twelfth today as we're recording this as
the fourth, so they'll file that brief. They may file
more sort of emergency petitions for his release. I'm not
sure the Ninth Circuit will do that, but is anybody's

guess at this point, because it's kind of.

Speaker 4 (02:43:16):
A big mess.

Speaker 8 (02:43:17):
The only thing that is clear is that only the
Ninth Circuit can let Rob Rundo out.

Speaker 4 (02:43:23):
Well what a what a?

Speaker 9 (02:43:26):
What an enticing Rundo down have the legal events of
this case. Don't want to be in that position.

Speaker 8 (02:43:37):
You know, Garrison, I'm not sure that you'll ever be
in this position. I I hope not, at least not
in this exact one, unless you're running a secret Nazi
gang that I do not know about, in which case, disavow, disavow.

Speaker 4 (02:43:52):
Okay, that's good, that's good. Yeah, sure, that's probably the
right move. But so it'll take some time. I don't know. Yeah,
I don't know what else there is to say.

Speaker 8 (02:44:06):
This is like sort of inciting a lot of active
club activity. You were saying earlier that the you know
ram doesn't exist anymore. It's morphed into these active clubs.
There's these cells all over the country and they are
fired up about this. So I think this has the
potential to incite more political violence, or at the very.

Speaker 9 (02:44:23):
Least incite more T shirt sales, which would be just
as horrified to see one of those things out in
the wild already marketing free Rundo merch.

Speaker 8 (02:44:34):

Speaker 3 (02:44:35):
I bet. Yeah.

Speaker 8 (02:44:37):
I guess even Nazis have constitutional rights.

Speaker 4 (02:44:42):
I guess they do.

Speaker 9 (02:44:43):
Although it does feel again slightly uh insidious at the
selective non enforcement of some of these things where there's many,
many people who are being held, especially like in Atlanta,
it's been many people being helped out bail because they've
been deemed a flight risk for for a long long
time for crimes.

Speaker 8 (02:45:04):
Not because they hold like a Serbian passport.

Speaker 4 (02:45:07):
No, no, just because they attended a music festival. Right.

Speaker 8 (02:45:11):
I mean, it's hard to get like super fired up
about rob Rundo's constitutional rights in terms of this this
sort of like procedural quagmire when it's like people are
actively and intentionally violating everyone else's constitutional rights constantly.

Speaker 9 (02:45:24):
Yeah, like the only thing I'm left to think of
is how this whole system of law does not seem
to work very much, and especially we often point out
how a whole bunch of laws get put in place
that are like ostensibly framed to like combat white supremacist
terrorism or whatever, and in actuality really only get used
against people fighting for like the rights of black people,

people fighting for getting trains people not to be murdered.
Like that's that's really what all these laws get targeted against,
and they face so so much more harsh punishment because
we have a judge who's treating Rob Rundo like a
little a little baby, who's this innocent little creature. Meanwhile,
people I can get constantly locked up for completely bullshit

charges in other parts of the country for engaging it
like actually like pretty pretty valid acts of protest, not
even related to any like alleged violence. Like there's it's
it's it's quite it's quite frustrating to to to look at. Yes,
there is actually a decent case of selective enforcement.

Speaker 8 (02:46:27):
Here, and it's the other way around.

Speaker 9 (02:46:30):
Yeah, it is not in fact that they're letting Antifa
run wild and burn down cities. In fact, these these
these Nazis get treated like little little innocent First Amendment
defenders as they purposely like talk about and brag about
their claims of traveling across the country to assault people

and start riots.

Speaker 4 (02:46:51):
Anyway, Well, that's that's not great.

Speaker 8 (02:46:56):
Things are not good.

Speaker 4 (02:46:57):
I hope only the worst.

Speaker 9 (02:46:59):
For Rundo, regardless of whatever legal thing happens, just like
in general, like I like, I I wish him bad,
just like in life, you know, like I hope you
like trips and falls down the stairs, you know, just
like in general, like stub is toe.

Speaker 4 (02:47:12):
Really bad.

Speaker 8 (02:47:16):
This situation, Like, there are a million outcomes here that
are the dumbest possible ending to this story. So I'm
not holding my breath for you know, some brilliant prosecutor
to save the day here. But I do hope that
that Rob Rundo continues to have a bad day regardless.

Speaker 2 (02:47:32):
Yeah, well, thank you for.

Speaker 4 (02:47:35):
This lovely piece of legal research, Molly.

Speaker 8 (02:47:39):
Now I have to close eighty seven tabs.

Speaker 9 (02:47:41):
That is always the joy of wrapping up one of
these episodes. It's closing the ridiculous amount of tabs that
are open, because at at any moment in my research process,
if any of my friends looks at my computer.

Speaker 4 (02:47:51):
They are horrified by the stress that I'm putting my
own ram through different ram the other than the Yeah
it is computer computer ram.

Speaker 8 (02:48:01):
Not also under considerable strain at this time.

Speaker 4 (02:48:04):
Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 9 (02:48:05):
Well all right, feel like that's that's as bad enough
a joke to end it on as anything else where.
Can people find you online?

Speaker 8 (02:48:11):
Mall Oh gosh, yeah, I am online at Socialist dog
Mom on Twitter, on my newsletter on ghost the Devil's Advocates,
and I don't know my dogs have an Instagram that
I haven't updated lately. It's auto m buck. That's it
for me, How about you, Garrison.

Speaker 9 (02:48:27):
Oh, you can find me documenting my process of slowly
turning my entire apartment into the Black Lodge on Twitter
at Hungry Bowtie. All right, Wow, you can actually see
a little bit of it behind me. It's kind of dark,
but you can see a glimmer of red curtains. Yes,
spooky back there, It is quite spooky back there. Wait
until I turn wait until I turn on the strobe light.

Speaker 8 (02:48:49):
All right, thank you for joining me today, Garrison.

Speaker 4 (02:48:52):
All right, thank you, Molly.

Speaker 3 (02:48:56):

Speaker 2 (02:48:56):
We'll be back Monday with more episodes every week from
until the heat death of the universe.

Speaker 4 (02:49:02):
It Could Happen Here as a production of cool Zone Media.

Speaker 10 (02:49:04):
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
Coolzonemedia dot com or check us out on the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can
find sources for It Could Happen Here, updated monthly at
Coolzonmedia dot com slash sources. Thanks for listening.

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