Monday, January 11, 2016

Dude, Where's My Stratfor?

We have protested in front of 221 W 6th St a lot. When Free Anons  asked for solidarity events for Jeremy Hammond on his birthday after he was sentenced to 10 years for pleading guilty to one count of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) for all the hacks he allegedly committed as part of LulzSec during the Arab Spring and Occupy insurgence, we knew we could easily oblige.  I sometimes refer to it as the Building of Evil: Chase Bank, Senator John Cornyn’s offices, and of course Strategic Forecasting or Stratfor all reside here. My favorite time was the Occupy Austin street theater action placing Jaime Dimon in stocks in front of Chase Bank. The only time I got “all the way inside” was into Senator John Cornyn’s office to talk to his aides about why people are not corporations. 
Since The End of Occupy I’m usually on this particular street corner to troll Stratfor, where we have done three Jeremy Hammond birthday parties, one South by Southwest action, and a Nobody Fuck Sabu event after the snitch who ratted out Jeremy was sentenced to time served.  I transitioned from doing jail release support for Occupiers to doing prisoner solidarity for Occupiers to PAPS, and it just so happens that Jeremy will be the last of "my" Occupiers to get out - after Jay Chase, last of the NATO 5, all of the Cleveland 4 and Barrett Brown are out.  (Granted, I don’t think Barrett Brown was much of an Occupier, but we all know I support him as an accessory after the fact of the Stratfor hack, even though he’s an asshole who never writes back. But he’s a hilarious asshole, so send him some books and put money on his commissary so he can afford hooch-making supplies and opioids - like Robin Williams, he's funnier when he's high.)  Jeremy’s more of a black block anarchist and hacktivist than an Occupier to most people, but he took up space with Occupy Chicago at the intersection by BOA, Mercantile Exchange, Federal Reserve, Board of Trade - our "wall street" on LaSalle and presumably sparkled his fingers (most likely in a downward direction) while he was there. The least we can do – those of us who were Occupy Austin, and those of us who have joined in writing to Jeremy since - is throw him a birthday party in front of the Building of Evil. 
Our most glorious moment trolling Stratfor at this particular location was when they evacuated their employees out the garage entrance on January 8th, 2014. We marched straight into the front lobby with a vegan-plus-gluten-free birthday cake and a “Free Them All” banner, wanting to share. Our most glorious moment trolling Stratfor period was the Book People signing, where George Friedman decided his friendly neighborhood bookstore wasn't. Which is why I have been treating this year’s action as a bit of a “punch the clock” affair: go in, wish Jeremy a happy birthday, hand out some fliers, get some folks to sign a birthday card, go get dinner and drinks, and eventually get smashed and ignore the fact that I haven’t singlehandedly overthrown the state, abolished prisons, and ended the global intelligence-industrial complex, or even managed to really have good security practices for any of my communications.

“It will be better next year”, I tell myself silently as I accept that my vehicle of comrades will eventually get to the action – when Jeremy calls.  
“I’m half an hour late to your birthday party” I tell him when he asks me how I am. “You’re not releasing actual cats into the building?” he asks, concerned for their welfare. I’m a little annoyed – doesn’t he trust me enough to know I would never piss off the entirety of Anonymous by engaging in cat cruelty, especially in support of a prisoner particularly well known for his love of cats?  I mean, I know that I kick kittens for fun in my own spare time, but I would never do that while representing any member of LulzSec. I am tempted to shout out “Y’all we better turn back and bring these cats back to the lab where we got ’em” to see if I can get the driver to make screeching car noises, but then decide that Jeremy’s getting up there and it might be better not to give him a heart attack. I’m getting to tell him about the Bureau of Prisons hack that happened on the anniversary of the Stratfor hack, and his delight is palpable.  I listen politely as he describes the newest FCI Manchester drink craze: tea, some sort of “milk” product, and soda or kool-aid, depending on the fortitude of the drinker, which Jeremy admits he’s starting to lose now that he’s all of 31.  We agree he will call back in an hour so he can join us in front of Stratfor. 
Our comrades are already there, meowing away with “Justice 4 Bhopal” and “Happy Birthday Jeremy” banners. I was just getting into the swing of things when…
Dude, Where’s My Stratfor? 
Imagine my surprise when a security guard comes out and, effectively, tells us it's his first day and that he doesn't know why we're there. He came back out later and told us that Suite 400 is empty, but wouldn’t let us check for ourselves.  “You might as well go home, they’re not here.
Ingenious! Tell us that Stratfor moved so that we’ll go home.  “I don’t believe you” I shouted out.  Surely this is a joke.  They didn’t move their entire corporate headquarters just to avoid our birthday party, right?
I mean, this is the Building of Evil. I don’t really care which particular reason I’m protesting outside it.  I’m sure Chase Bank finances the prison-industrial complex somehow (though I know if protesting immigrant detention centers, Wells Fargo is a far better target). If not, Senator Cornyn probably had something to do with the CFAA.  Besides, Stratfor was here when Jeremy hacked them on LulzXmas 2011. But, Jeremy’s calling in so we can sing him Happy Birthday in front of Stratfor and I don’t know where my Stratfor is. When a 1%'er loses his truck, he knows he can ask Stratfor to locate it, but as an Occupier who has lost my beloved global intelligence company, what am I to do?
Kit O’Connell jumped on the case post haste.  “Google still lists them as being at this address” he called out, “but their website both claims they have a PO box as an address and that they are open for office hours.”  Kit then began a series of funny calls to Stratfor, attempting to deliver our corporate-purchased cupcakes (we thought the home-made vegan/gluten-free had put them off our first year). This video chronicles Kit calling their tech support trying to get their address. “As you probably know, it’s Jeremy Hammond’s birthday, and we were all thinking of you on this special day so I just wanted to find out if we could what your new address was and if you would like we can bring the cupcakes by this evening” before asking for a tech support ticket number. 
This is embarrassing. We even had a National Lawyers Guild green hat lined up for this action, which is kind of a new thing to have in Austin. And we’re raising awareness in front of the wrong building? 

Our Stratfor cat box was all ready for us to pop a squat. How are we going to take our dump to celebrate Jeremy’s (data) dump in front of Stratfor if Stratfor is playing hide-and-go-seek?  Maybe I should be home answering letters instead of trolling a corporation hired to keep tabs on activists wanting to get Bhopal cleaned up or activists who want the City of Austin to have better banking practices  – what does this have to do with abolishing prisons anyway? Vince Kershaw of the PayPal14 came all the way out here with his cat just to photobomb our action, and we are not even in the right place!
Happy Birthday?
Jeremy called, right on time, and we appraised him of our cupcake flavors, as well as our current inability to locate Stratfor.  But we still sang him Happy Birthday, wherever we were: 
Just wish Jeremy weren’t where he is, no matter where Stratfor is. 
Abolish Prisons! Encrypt Your Shit!  Resist!

1 comment:

  1. To the BOP and anyone else who sometimes has trouble reading: I am *not* advocating that anyone send Barrett Brown drugs. I am advocating people send Barrett Brown money and books, and am making fun of the atrocity that we incarcerate addicts in the first place. It is often easier to get drugs in prison than it is on the streets. Only after he is released will Barrett be given drug treatment. "I don’t mean to be flippant about my on-again, off-again opiate problem, which has been chronicled in assorted magazine profiles and government documents with varying degrees of accuracy, and for which I’m slated to receive treatment upon release" Barrett writes in his hilarious post, which I was attempting to riff: I certainly don't mean to be flippant about Barrett's drug problem. I don't know whether Robin Williams was funnier on coke than he was sober. I don't know whether Barrett Brown is funnier when he's high, either. I have spent too much of my life decrying the stupidity of the war on drugs, and I'm tired of shaking my fist and crying about it. That's what I'm trying to capture in this joke. Don't like it? Think it's offensive? Don't read it or share it. Think I'm an asshole for thinking it's funny? Get in line.