Friday, August 25, 2006

"We publicized civil disobedience and lock-downs..."

Words can sometimes be innocuous. "We publicized civil disobedience and lock-downs..." doesn't sound like much does it?

When I first saw the Pepper Spray incident, I had the TV sound off, and I thought I was watching something from some third world country, until the phrase "Humboldt County" popped up on the screen. I was horrified, along with many others. Those were just idealistic young kids, and that should never have happened, I believed.

I had a conversation with a friend in the news business who had seen the entire video, not just the few seconds that were broadcast around the world. The comment made was that you would not believe how considerate the officers were, and how many times they gave the protestors the chance to unlock themsleves. And that this was all planned, you know. There had been a previous incident in which pepper-spray had been swabbed onto protestors eyes that had not gotten much publicity. That this time, they had gone in to provoke an incident, in the Congressman's office. That it was a planned PR move.

I was unimpressed at the time, adamant in my indignation over what had been done to the kids.

But when I read the self promotional piece below in which the activist PR firm takes credit for publicizing civil disobedience and lockdowns, I knew in an instant that my friend was right. And that we have all been played. Our goodwill has been abused and used.

Worse, those young kids were sent in there to have Pepper Spray applied to their eyes. Activists scream about the torture to this day.

But in my opinion, sending those kids in there is only one step away from strapping suicide vests on them and sending them out to blow themselves up. Using the idealistic youth as pawns in order to gain advantage is unforgivable.

That is the other side of the much publicized Pepper Spray incident. And it is part of this decade long effort to "get" one company, Palco.

That's my opinion. You can draw your own conclusions.


"Once the deal was struck, however, our work was far from over." 
An excerpt from Fenton Communications Website: (since pulled down)

"We built a communications strategy around two key elements: consensus for protecting 60,000 acres of old-growth and casting the redwood conflict as a battle against corporate greed, embodied by Charles Hurwitz, the lumber baron and CEO of Maxxam Corporation, which owned Headwaters.

For the next two years, Fenton provided media strategy and outreach on a broad range of initiatives to mobilize public support and pressure Hurwitz and policy makers to protect the forest. We went beyond the usual suspects - environmentalists - to build influential and newsworthy alliances with religious leaders, local residents, small business leaders, and celebrities such as Woody Harrelson and Bonnie Raitt.

We publicized civil disobedience and lock-downs, lawsuits and high-level government meetings. We drew on the expertise of the state's top scientists, and leveraged the support of law makers to lend credibility and political traction to the cause. As the drama escalated, so did the media coverage, spreading beyond California to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and all the major national TV networks.

In 1998, feeling the heat on their necks, government officials brokered a $380 million deal with Hurwitz to buy the crown jewel of the forest, the 7,500-acre Headwaters Grove.

Once the deal was struck, however, our work was far from over. Part of the agreement involved the Orwellian-titled "habitat conservation plan", which gave Maxxam the green light to log much of the company's remaining 200,0000 acres."

Michael Shellenberger
Communication Works (founder)
( (since pulled down)
Michael Shellenberger, Executive Director

"As a media consultant and strategist, Michael has been instrumental in shaping public opinion on a range of issues, including forest protection, sweatshops, gay rights and the drug war. In 1996 Michael co-founded Communication Works, which is today the largest public interest PR firm on the West Coast.

As the lead media consultant behind the Headwaters Forest Coalition's struggle to save the world's last old-growth redwoods still in private hands, Michael helped focus the message and maintain the onslaught of public pressure that led to stronger protections for California's ancient trees...."

then Shellenberger joined
Fenton Communications (Western Division Director)

then became:
Lumina Strategies
Michael Shellenberger
Co-Founder and President

and that is not all.


  1. I wasn't aware of the prior incident, but I still don't see evidence of a "set-up." And if it was, well, it's the police who played right into their hands. Have any other police departments on the planet used the product this way? The difference between the suicide bombers and these women (one was middle-aged by the way, and I've been on the opposite side of a lawsuit against one of the young women and I don't believe she can be snowed into doing something she doesn't otherwise want to do), is that suicide bombers rely solely on the will of the bomber, not the bad conduct of others.

    Also, I watched the entire video when it was played on KEET, and have seen parts of it several times since. If those women were expecting to be swabbed, they had some excellent theatric training.

  2. The prior incident was mentioned in the North Coast Journal when the covered this event, way back when.

    It's difficult to say who was in on the planning stages, I do not doubt that everyone there did it of their own free will.

    I also have to say that when you decide to participate in civil disobedience, you do it knowing that something will happen, as in, you know you may be arrested, and you are presumably willing to pay that price to stand up for what you believe in.

    They made a choice to pay that price, and sadly, they had to pay it. Therefore to sue for it afterwards negates their supposedly principled stance.

    Prior to my awareness of Michael Shellenberger's involvement, and the USING of these people, we probably would have been in complete agreement, Eric. My perspective on the whole Palco situation changed completely when I realized how much public opinion has been manipulated by spin.


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