Playing Nice In The Sandbox: Feds Try To Inimidate Texas Climate Activists

By scott parkin
Ben Kessler at the Tar Sands Action last August; via We Are Powershift

I’ve been organizing campaigns and non-violent direct actions for a long time. Over ten years now. Most of the time, I hear stories about the screwed up things our government and corporations do and I take it in stride. Every once in a while, something pops and it gets under my skin. A lot.

Case in point.

This week, the Ft. Worth Weekly (Ft. Worth’s alt weekly) posted a follow up story to last month’s Washington Post expose about the FBI investigating Rising Tide North Texas, anti-fracking activists in Denton, TX, my friend and comrade Ben Kessler and his professor at the University of North Texas Adam Briggle.

The reporter, Andrew McLemore, provided more details about the FBI and Dallas Police Dept.’s conversations with Briggle:

“The law enforcement officers asked Briggle about his involvement with the Denton Stakeholder Drilling Advisory Group, a group of residents lobbying the city council to stop issuing permits for gas drilling until potential environmental impacts are studied.

The agent and police officer also asked the professor about Kessler, who took his ethical theory course, and about some of his assigned readings. Oh, and they also asked him about IEDs, improvised explosive devices of the sort used by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“A question like that is so out of left field, it just sort of stuns you,” Briggle said. “It seemed like this was about Ben, not me. …  The Dallas police guy said they just wanted to make sure everyone was ‘playing nice in the sandbox.’ ”

Briggle said the officers seemed mainly to want him to contact them if he observed the potential for violent behavior by a student or activist. The professor described Kessler as an intelligent leader of nonviolent student protests.

“There’s a concern, not just that I get written off as a nutty ideologue, but that Ben and other protesters are written off as crazy, violent terrorists,” he said.”

Ben is marine veteran. He served in Afghanistan. Our government sends people off to participate in these wars. When they return and see how screwed up the government and corporations have made our country and world and begin to speak out about it, they are investigated as “criminals” and “terrorists.”

Adam Briggle is right. Ben is an intelligent leader of a non-violent group of students and environmentalists fighting for a safer cleaner world. It’s the FBI agent and the Dallas police officer that are conducting this “investigation” that carry guns and work for the people dropping bombs, not Rising Tide North Texas.

Here’s McLemore’s article if you want to read it in full.