LANGELLE PHOTOGRAPHY

Using the power of photojournalism to expose social, economic and ecological injustice

Posts tagged ‘Burning Books’

unnamed-3The ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery is pleased to be able to release the online version of the exhibit that appeared in our gallery last July.  This documentary Multimedia online essay is titled: Free Speech – Earth Liberation Front Press Office April 5, 2001: Communications Equipment Seized by FBI Released 14 Years Later (Returned Objects: A Multimedia Art Installation)

Below is an edited excerpt from the Gallery statement about the exhibit:

Art means many different things

At the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery, the exhibits we choose illustrate and demonstrate the intersection of the realms of art and politics regarding the times in which we live.

Sometimes art should creatively communicate the reality hidden behind the propaganda we encounter in or our daily lives, where most communication is designed to sell something you probably do not need or that makes you feel good about yourself–from McMansions to reality shows, to drugs and/or belief systems with  no mental challenge.

In this exhibit, we demonstrate how art and Free Speech are intrinsically tied together. Fourteen years ago the FBI raided the Earth Liberation Front’s Press Office in Oregon and confiscated their communications equipment. The equipment seized by the FBI, along with related photography, news clips and Federal Agency documents are now on display online in Free Speech – Earth Liberation Front Press Office April 5, 2001: Communications Equipment Seized by FBI Released 14 Years Later (Returned Objects: A Multimedia Art Installation)

A group of artists and activists worked almost a month to turn a pile of obsolete office equipment seized from Burning Books co-owner Leslie James Pickering during the 2001 FBI raid into an installation highlighting free speech, art and state repression.

In addition to the now released office equipment (still tagged as evidence), the show features censored government documents, photographs, first-hand accounts, and statements by Pickering and Civil Rights attorney Michael Kuzma.

It is ludicrous and absurd that the FBI held these objects for fourteen years. If there were any incriminating evidence, it would likely have been found very quickly. The seizure of the equipment, and its confiscation for fourteen years, was intended to squash free speech.

This exhibit is about art, the repression and liberation of free speech and maybe a subliminal or not so subliminal message: In a world where we see more and more potentially apocalyptic scenes, especially with increasingly common climate catastrophes, is “civilization” and the dominant economic system pushing the inhabitants on Earth to the brink?

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Former Earth Liberation Front press officer, James Leslie Pickering unloading a box of items seized in a raid 14 years ago at the EFL Press Office in Oregon. Global Justice Ecology Project's Anne Petermann is on the right. The returned objects will be on display at the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery in Buffalo, NY. through July 26.

Former Earth Liberation Front press officer, James Leslie Pickering unloading a box of items seized in a raid 14 years ago at the ELF Press Office in Oregon. Global Justice Ecology Project’s Anne Petermann is on the left. The returned objects will be on display at the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery in Buffalo, NY. through July 26. Photo: Langelle

Special Gallery Event – Opening July 15th, 6-9 p.m.

Returned Objects:

A Multimedia Art Installation

Earth Liberation Front Press Office April 5, 2001

Communications Equipment Seized by FBI Released 14 Years Later

This multimedia art installation of returned objects, Earth Liberation Front Press Office April 5, 2001: Communications Equipment Seized by FBI Released 14 Years Later, opens on July 15 from 6-9 p.m. The installation runs through July 26th.

On display will be items seized in an April 5, 2001 raid by a Joint Terrorism Task Force led by the FBI on the Earth Liberation Front Press Office in Portland, OR. These returned objects, fourteen years after the raid, include fax machines, computers, a cell phone, phone books, and typewriters. The communications equipment seized belonged to the former ELF press officers, including current Buffalo Burning Books co-owner, Leslie James Pickering. – More on Exhibit
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Formerly with The United Freedom Front

As a member of the United Freedom Front (UFF), Kazi Toure was imprisoned for his role in 20 bombings combating Apartheid in South Africa and United States Imperialism in Central America. The UFF has been called “undoubtedly the most successful of the leftist [guerrilla groups] of the 1970s and ’80s” and struck powerful blows to South African Airways, Mobil, IBM, Union Carbide, & various courthouses and US Military targets. [Source: NYC Anarchist Black Cross]

As a member of the United Freedom Front (UFF), Kazi Toure was imprisoned for his role in 20 bombings combating Apartheid in South Africa and United States Imperialism in Central America. The UFF has been called “undoubtedly the most successful of the leftist [guerrilla groups] of the 1970s and ’80s” and struck powerful blows to South African Airways, Mobil, IBM, Union Carbide, & various courthouses and US Military targets. [Source: NYC Anarchist Black Cross*]

I shot this portrait of Kazi Toure immediately prior to his speaking event at local independent radical bookstore Burning Books in Buffalo, NY on 25 March 2015.

I believe the photograph is very relevant in today’s world. I watched Baltimore on fire last night [27 April 2015] and listened to the media pundits (especially on Fox) saying they had no idea why people are so angry. The pundits were blaming the black mayor and a myriad of other people for what was going on. The racist garbage spewed continuously from the TV screen. Of course they conveniently skipped the root causes of the unrest.

I did hear many black people interviewed explaining why people are so angry – from police brutality, racism, and living conditions, to the incarceration of young black men. The NAACP reports:

African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population…African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.

I have no idea how many people last night were protesters, rioters or agitators – but they were people. And it is evident that many people are angry and not just in Baltimore.

I do not know what take Kazi Toure has on all of these developments, but I felt today was a good day to look back at a not so distant history, as I do not want “history” written by Fox.

In Kazi Toure’s own words prior to his parole:

I am a New Afrikan political prisoner who has been held in captivity my entire life. Every since the mid 1960s when I learned about Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, slave revolts and the history of resistance, I’ve been of one mind in spirit with Afrikan peoples’ struggle for self-determination and freedom.

The u.s government was founded on the genocide of native people, the enslavement and colonization of Afrikan people, and the robbing of Mexican peoples’ land. Our only means of survival is building our New Afrikan nation, fortified by stiff resistance. We must organize our communities and build alternatives to meet that community’s particular needs, and also be able to defend ourselves and our communities. No people have ever gotten their freedom without a fight.

In 1982, I was convicted on federal charges of possession of firearms and sentenced to six years. Later I was convicted on the same charges under state law and sentenced to a consecutive four to five years.  I am currently serving a sentence of seven years for the conviction of Seditious Conspiracy—conspiring to overthrow, put down, destroy by force and violence the u.s. government. I am one of the few, if any, New Afrikans to be charged of this act. I will be eligible for parole in October, 1991. Stand Firm… Amandla.

This was the third of a series of candid portraits I have taken and will continue to take of radical movement figures in collaboration with Burning Books.  The point of this endeavor is to document some of the people who have participated in the making of history in the ongoing struggle for freedom and justice – a history of victories, losses, mistakes and successes, that we can and should learn from.

Personal Note: Richard Charles Williams, a member of the United Freedom Front, died while in prison in December 2005. In the early 2000’s I had the pleasure of meeting his son who was a freshman at the University of Vermont. After his graduation there, he moved to the Vermont countryside. I consider him to be a friend.

* As stated, NYC Anarchist Black Cross was the source for the photo caption.

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When Bob Dylan wrote those words in 1965 for his song Subterranean Homesick Blues, he was not referring to the climate crisis, though these words are certainly appropriate today as we stare down the jaws of the oncoming climate catastrophe.  One does not need to be a meteorologist to know that if we do not begin taking real, effective and just action to address the climate crisis, we are all in deep s#*t.

I shot this portrait of Bill Ayers, former Weathermen and Weather Underground founder, prior to his event at local independent radical bookstore Burning Books, here in Buffalo on 21 May.  This is the first of a series of candid portraits I will be taking of radical movement figures in collaboration with Burning Books.  The point of this endeavor is to document some of the people that have participated in the making of history in the ongoing struggle for freedom and justice – a history of victories, losses, mistakes and successes, that we can and should learn from.

Bill Ayres 1 DSC_0031Portrait of Bill Ayers before he spoke at Burning Books on 21 May 2014 in Buffalo, NY.   Photo: Langelle

From Wikipedia (for what it’s worth):

William Charles “Bill” Ayers (born December 26, 1944) is an American elementary education theorist and a former leader in the counterculture movement that opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He is known for his 1960s radical activism as well as his current work in education reform, curriculum, and instruction. In 1969 he co-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communist revolutionary group that conducted a campaign of bombing public buildings (including police stations, the U.S. Capitol Building, and the Pentagon) during the 1960s and 1970s in response to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

“He is a retired professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, formerly holding the titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar. During the 2008 US presidential campaign, a controversy arose over his contacts with then-candidate Barack Obama. He is married to Bernardine Dohrn, who was also a leader in the Weather Underground.”

More on Ayers in Wikipedia and in The Buffalo News60s radical Ayers still wants a revolution

About the Portrait

I met Bill in 1969 before he went underground.  Before taking his photo, I told him that.   Bill said, “You looked the same then as you do now.”  I returned the humorous compliment.

I was glad to have this chance to take candid photos of Bill, and to talk to and know him better.

I think that a portrait done well is very personal and can bring out the real person – which is my goal.  I want the real image of the real person.  The image of someone who is deeply committed to what they do and provides us a glimpse of why they do it.

This is history and these stories and faces need to be remembered.

About the radical independent bookstore hosting his talk, Ayers commented, “Burning Books stands strong as an essential community space where we can gather, dream big, and act on what the known demands of us.”

How true that is.  And I’m glad to be working with them to collaborate on this portrait project.  Special thanks to Leslie James Pickering and all at Burning Books for making this possible. More information on how Leslie and Burning Books are standing up to the FBI can be found here. – Orin Langelle

And from the archives of the FBI:

 

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