Oregon Police Obsessively Spied on Siskiyou Rising Tide for Years, Even After Pipeline Fight Ended

cross-posted from The Intercept

Internal emails obtained by Siskiyou Rising Tide and Information for Public Use show police treating even the most placid social justice activities as sites of criminal threat.

Protesters opposed to the Jordan Cove Pipeline project in Coos Bay, Ore., stage a sit-in at the office of then-Gov. Kate Brown on Feb. 20, 2020.

Photo: Andrew Selsky/AP Photo

The activists of Siskiyou Rising Tide are not new to being watched. Founded in 2016 under the name Southern Oregon Rising Tide, the direct action climate justice group was a key player in the yearslong battle to stop the Jordan Cove Energy Project, a 229-mile natural gas pipeline that threatened to be the largest single emitter of greenhouse gasses in Oregon.

Alongside a coalition of environmental and Indigenous groups, Siskiyou Rising Tide faced major police counterinsurgency efforts, including aggressive monitoring funded by Pembina Pipeline Corporation, the Canadian fossil fuel company behind the project. But a dense web of interagency and corporate surveillance was unable to curtail the Jordan Cove opposition: In a rare victory for the climate movement, Pembina canceled the project in 2021.

A new trove of internal police emails, however, reveals that the intrusive and overreaching surveillance practices that developed around the pipeline project have remained firmly in place, even years after Pembina pulled out of the area.

Obtained through public records requests by Information for Public Use and Siskiyou Rising Tide and shared exclusively with The Intercept ahead of their publication, the emails show a policing apparatus that treats even the most placid social justice activities — like vigils and Juneteenth celebrations — as sites of criminal threat.

“As the Jordan Cove pipeline was defeated around 2020, Siskiyou Rising Tide pivoted to focusing on housing and racial justice issues, and these records requests were part of an attempt to understand what the surveillance landscape looked like post-Jordan Cove,” the Information for Public Use said in a statement shared with The Intercept.

The emails show that, from 2016 to 2023, the Medford Police Department coordinated heavy-handed police responses to peaceful rallies and protests, tracked activist groups’ social media pages, and consistently treated typical, First Amendment-protected activity as a potential crime worthy of law enforcement scrutiny.

Sam Becker, a member of Information for Public Use, wrote in a Signal message that the Medford Police Department’s overreach included surveilling a Black teenager’s vigil, pushing back against the Oregon Health Authority’s choice to fund a harm reduction nonprofit, and monitoring a reproductive justice organization after receiving a tip from a member of an evangelical anti-abortion group.

Information for Public Use and Siskiyou Rising Tide believe that the surveillance activities revealed in the email trove constitute a violation of both First Amendment protections and an Oregon-specific law, ORS 181A.250, which prohibits law enforcement agencies from collecting and maintaining “information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities” of individuals, groups, or business, unless the police have “reasonable grounds to suspect the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct.”

“Monitoring social media accounts available to the general public does not violate any part of the constitution or any Oregon statute,” wrote Medford City Attorney, Eric B. Mitton, in a statement to The Intercept. “Law enforcement agencies, including the Medford Police Department, actively look at the public social media profiles of organizations and individuals when there is reported or self-evident concern of a public safety interest.”

While some activists involved in Jordan Cove protests had been arrested in the past, the police department emails do not contain evidence of ongoing criminal conduct. Rhetoric about “usual suspects” is scattered throughout the emails, but the activities which they are suspected of carrying out are peaceful protests, mutual aid projects, and protected political speech. The surveilled events are often described as involving a few dozen activists, gathering to express support for social, racial, and reproductive justice, before returning home without incident.

Oregon has long been a hub for far-right, white supremacist organizing, and Medford is located in a firmly conservative county. As is all too common, and indeed unsurprising, antifascist and left-wing organizers take up an outsized amount of law enforcement focus. The obtained emails evidence both the police’s disconcerting commitment to monitoring the left and an embarrassing squandering of city, state, and federal resources toward activities like picking through social media posts about social justice issues.

In one email exchange from June 2020, Medford Police Department patrol lieutenant Darrel J. Graham asked then-Medford Police Department crime analyst Divya Fisher to identify and investigate Siskiyou Rising Tide’s members after the group condemned local law enforcement officers’ treatment of unhoused people during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response, Fisher and other officers combed through social media posts until landing on a Facebook post of one man, Leonard Higgins, who cited the Rising Tide and encouraged people to email the Medford City Council to urge an end to police harassment of unhoused people. The police then ran a background check on the 68-year-old longtime environmental activist.

In the entire email thread, “there is no focus on addressing the complaints against the police, i.e. remedying the wrong being done to unhoused people,” noted the Information for Public Use’s statement. A member of Siskiyou Rising Tide told The Intercept that at the time of that email exchange, the online information was out of date and Higgins was no longer involved with the group.

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The monitoring of protests and events for racial justice — predominantly after the summer of 2020, when nationwide Black liberation uprisings followed George Floyd’s murder — were particularly egregious in their overreach. The emails show numerous officers across departments dedicating hours of time and research to scrutinize people who attended a vigil organized for Aidan Ellison, a Black teen from nearby Ashland who was shot dead by a middle-aged white man.

Dozens of emails back and forth in late 2020 focus on the vigil and its organizers. One email thread contains an information sheet from the Medford Police Department’s “Tactical Information Unit,” offering a summary of research on the vigil plan. Other emails note that a camera installed by the city the previous summer could be used to watch the vigil, as well as the Facebook feeds of local activists known to the police.

As the vigil for the slain teen began, the cops quipped about the host of the Facebook livestream. “I figured he’d be there,” Jenette Bertocchi of the Ashland Police Department wrote to Medford’s Fisher while tuning in the organizer’s social media feed.

Fisher replied that “it wouldn’t be a party” without the activist in question. (Ashland Police did not respond to a request for comment. Fisher did not respond to The Intercept’s attempts to reach her.)

OREGON, USA - MARCH 28 : More than a hundred anti-fascist activists, Black Bloc, and anarchists are gathered on March 28, 2021 at Salem, Oregonâs State Capitol building to oppose a group of Trump, right-wing, Proud Boy and Qanon supporters who drove to the Capitol, in Oregon, United States. (Photo by John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Police officers stand near the Oregon State Capitol building during opposing demonstrations between antifascist and far-right groups in Salem, Ore., on March 28, 2021.

Photo: John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In another multi-agency email thread from 2022, officers discuss the then-upcoming trial of Floyd’s murderer, former cop Derek Chauvin. “As you know, I believe these officers will be acquitted of the murder charges,” wrote Medford Police Sgt. Jason Antley. (In 2012, Antley was cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury for shooting and killing a man wielding a knife.)

“This is likely to spark another large scale set of protests,” Antley added and asked his colleague to “dig around on social media to see if anyone is talking about this.” No disruptive protests took place in the area.

Following the fall of Roe v. Wade in 2022, the police focus turned toward reproductive rights protests. One group, the Rogue Valley Pepper Shakers, a queer-led organization founded in 2020 by young people in the area, was actively monitored for its reproductive justice activism; the group distributes contraception and reproductive health information, shares information about anti-abortion extremists, supports local queer spaces, and promotes harm reduction. According to an email from Medford Police Department’s Antley, the police were alerted to one planned abortion rights protest by Brett White, a member of the Rogue Valley Saltshakers, a far-right anti-abortion group that galvanized the creation of the Pepper Shakers.

“Seeing these emails has proven to us that the police see us as an active threat to our communities, even in the absence of evidence.”

“Seeing these emails has proven to us that the police see us as an active threat to our communities, even in the absence of evidence,” Sam Strong, a member of the Rogue Valley Pepper Shakers, told The Intercept. “The observation and keeping tabs is no shock to us however it’s extremely concerning.”

In some of the most recent email exchanges obtained, police and city officials expand on their surveillance efforts with an attempt to intervene in a radical health care group’s funding. In March, Stabbin’ Wagon, a harm reduction group that distributes free clean syringes and opioid reversal medications like Narcan, was awarded $1.5 million from the Oregon Health Authority to build a peer-respite center: a community-based alternative to the hospitalization model of recovery and mental health treatment.

In one email, the Medford City Manager Brian Sjothun asks a city lobbyist who they “need to contact at the State regarding this grant,” calling it a “disaster waiting to happen.” In another email, Medford Chief of Police Justin Ivens contacted the Oregon Health Authority directly, expressing “concerns” — seemingly an effort to pressure a state agency out of awarding funds to a legitimate, deserving nonprofit. In a 2021 email between the police department’s former crime analyst, Fisher, and other officers, Stabbin’ Wagon’s founder Melissa Jones was named as one of the cops’ “known protest players.”

The specific emails discussing Stabbin’ Wagon’s funds were already reported by Oregon-based independent news service, The Lund Report, in September. Now, they can now be understood in the context of years of police communications committed to suppressing and criminalizing all aspects of liberatory organizing in the local area — including efforts like Stabbin’ Wagon to provide services to simply keep people alive during an ongoing, deadly opioid crisis. Despite police and city meddling, Jones is reportedly on track to receive the Oregon Health Authority grant.

“City staff expressing opinions about a State grant award or asking State officials questions about that State grant award is not uncommon,” wrote Mitton, the city attorney. “It is routine and appropriate for inquiries to be made to public entities like the State of Oregon about how that public entity is allocating its resources.”

Stabbin’ Wagon is not alone in continuing its work despite the knowledge of consistent police surveillance and targeting; the heavily surveilled activists in Medford and beyond expect little else from law enforcement. Strong of the Rogue Valley Pepper Shakers told The Intercept, “I hope the police enjoy watching us serve our community with dignity and autonomy and even learn something from it, but then again — if they had any dignity, they wouldn’t be cops.”

BREAKING: Massive Banner Hung on San Francisco Bay Bridge! Demands Biden and APEC Leaders End Expansion of Fossil Fuels

cross-posted from Oil and Gas Action Network


Matt Leonard +1 (619) 246-0325  Matt@OilGasAction.org

Hi-res photo and video will be available for download here: https://bit.ly/APECbanner

Coverage will also be shared on Twitter and Instagram.

Massive Banner Hung across Bay Bridge Demands Pres. Biden and APEC Leaders End Expansion of Fossil Fuels

San Francisco – Activists with the Oil and Gas Action Network have hung a massive 75-foot banner across the Bay Bridge during peak rush hour in advance of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco next week. The banner is viewable to motorists traveling west-bound from Oakland towards Treasure Island.

The banner reads “Biden & APEC: End Fossil Fuels” – calling on world leaders to honor their commitments to the Paris climate accord, which makes clear that we must rapidly phase out fossil fuels. The action is part of a wave of protests that will sweep San Francisco next week as the APEC summit brings 21 heads of state, including U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and 1,200 CEOs together to negotiate international trade policy.

President Biden has come under consistent fire for his administration’s approval of massive new fossil fuel projects, including the Willow Pipeline in Alaska and the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Appalachia. Additionally, under President Biden, U.S. exports of crude oil are at historic levels, surpassing the Trump-era record. APEC member countries cover nearly 60% of the world’s energy economy, and proposals such as the controversial Calcasieu Pass 2 (CP2) liquified natural gas terminal in Louisiana are focused on supplying export markets across the APEC region.

Organizers say that the U.S. must end fossil fuel production domestically, and support global efforts to remedy the historic inequities of pollution and exploitation of workers.

“Our collective humanity is at stake. Corporations and global leaders have been exploiting people and the planet for profit with the military as their enforcers. We refuse to allow President Biden and other APEC leaders to continue business-as-usual in the face of record-breaking extreme weather and the existential threats of the climate crisis. They must prioritize a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, and center the voices of frontline communities in building a new clean energy economy,” said Khrizia Velacruz with Oil and Gas Action Network.

In September, 75,000 people marched in New York at the United Nations General Assembly, explicitly calling for an end to the fossil fuel era. The UN Secretary General has stated that fossil fuels were “…incompatible with human survival” and that we must “leave oil, coal and gas in the ground where they belong” – echoing the consensus from the world’s leading scientists

“The Bay Area is taking a stand against the politicians and corporate interests who are directly responsible for the social and environmental ills plaguing our world today. Their greed and self interest coupled with their complete disregard for a vibrant future is the backdrop for the many overlapping injustices we’re seeing today from ongoing genocide, to utter environmental destruction and the persecution of the working class,” said Nik Evasco, Climate Organizer with the No2APEC Climate Bloc.

“Over 40 climate justice organizations have come together to demand Biden and APECleaders take bold action to combat climate change. We need to end climate pollution,globalize climate justice, and stop trade attacks on climate action,” said Will Wiltschko,coordinator of Bay Climate Action.

A coalition of several hundred organizations are expected to protest APEC next week, with concernsranging from climate change, workers’ rights, economic inequality, human rights, and more. Local residentsand the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have raised concerns about the local impacts of the meetingsthat will make significant parts of the city inaccessible. Both the San Francisco and Alameda County laborcouncils have passed resolutions critical of the APEC summit as well. Major protest movements include:

  • November 9th – Rally outside IPEF negotiations (10:30am at Yerba Buena Gardens)
  • November 12th – No To APEC march (12:00pm at Harry Bridges Plaza / Embarcadero)
  • November 15th – Mass Direct Action at the APEC CEO summit (7:00 am at Powell & Market St.)

APEC is a group of 21 member economies, including the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia,Australia, the Philippines and more, aimed at promoting free trade throughout the Asia Pacific region. Amajor focus of the APEC meetings next week is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) – a new tradeproposal that, if enacted, would set rules governing roughly 40% of the global economy. However, civilsociety groups across the region say that APEC meetings are putting corporate profits ahead of concernsaround climate change, workers’ rights, economic inequality and more.

For images and updates about this action and other APEC protests, please visit:

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Pro-Palestinian Protesters Block Israel-Bound Military Ship in Tacoma

cross-posted from Newsweek

Pro-Palestinian protesters descended on a port in Washington in an attempt to block the purported shipment of United States weapons to Israel.

Over 100 protesters gathered at the Port of Tacoma early on Monday morning for a “block the boat” demonstration. An earlier protest organized by the same group, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), also attempted to block the ship from leaving the Port of Oakland in California days earlier.

Protests against U.S. aid to Israel have been ramping up as the Israel-Hamas conflict continues. Israel has come under increasing international pressure to enact a ceasefire or a humanitarian pause since launching a ground assault on Gaza.

The Gaza Health Ministry says that over 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict as of Monday, according to the Associated Press. Israeli officials report that over 1,400 people were killed in Israel, mainly during the initial surprise attack by Hamas on October 7, the AP said.

Videos of the protest in Tacoma shared on X, formerly Twitter, showed a large crowd chanting “free Palestine” and “justice” while marching near the port on Monday morning.

Protesters were reportedly working to cause a traffic jam and block gates that could be used to load the MV Cape Orlando, which AROC claimed would “be loaded with weapons and military equipment in Tacoma” before heading to “a final destination in Israel.”

Newsweek was unable to verify AROC’s claims about the MV Cape Orlando, although the vessel is a cargo ship that is used by the U.S. military‘s Ready Reserve Fleet.

“The Department of Defense [DoD] is aware of the incidents in question—and we work closely with interagency partners, to include the Department of Transportation, the U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement—as appropriate—to ensure the security and safety of military assets and personnel operating at commercial port facilities,” Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Jurgensen said in a statement emailed to Newsweek.

“The vessel is currently under the operational control of U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command and is supporting the movement of U.S. military cargo,” he added. “Due to operational security, DoD does not provide further transportation, movement details or information regarding the cargo embarked on these vessels. We have no further information to provide at this time.”

Newsweek reached out to the Port of Tacoma and the U.S. Coast Guard for comment via email on Monday.

Other images shared from the protest showed demonstrators holding signs featuring messages including “no aid for Israel,” “free all Palestinian prisoners,” and the controversial slogan “from the river to the sea.”

Real Change staff reporter Guy Oron said in a post on X that more than 500 people had joined in the protest.

Another post by the Tacoma chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America advertised early morning “block the boat solidarity shuttles” to ferry protesters to the port on Monday.

AROC executive director Lara Kiswani, a Palestinian-American, previously told San Francisco ABC affiliate KGO-TV that she hoped “workers in Tacoma will not load that military cargo” and that the “people of Tacoma will show up to protest this genocide.”

“We’re hoping… workers around the world will continue to stop ships like this anywhere they may be found,” she said. “We are simply trying to call for an immediate cease-fire and stop the aiding of the genocide of my people.”

Media Release: Thousands expected in SF to opposition APEC summit

MEDIA ADVISORY: APEC Meeting in San Francisco



Scott Parkin, 415-235-0596, sparki@riseup.net

Week of Protest at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in San Francisco; Spokespeople Available to Address Climate Justice Aspect

The No to APEC Coalition, consisting of over 100 community, grassroots, and labor organizations, will mobilize against the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Heads of State meeting in San Francisco November 11 – 15th ahead of the official closing of APEC activities on November 17th.

We encourage media to include APEC’s negative impact on the climate crisis in your reporting. Below are two contacts who can provide quotes and further information on climate/environmental justice and indigenous rights:

  • Spokesperson: International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – Brandon Lee, Mr.Brandon.Y.Lee@gmail.com
  • Expert resource: Climate Bloc – Nik Evasco, Bay Area Climate Organizer, (415) 847-9659, nikevasco@gmail.com

President Biden will meet with global leaders and business executives from 21 participating member economies who expect to establish major “informal” international trade deals that lower labor and environmental standards to dangerous levels for local and indigenous communities around the Pacific Rim.

The U.S. will host this summit for the first time in almost a decade under the theme of “sustainability” and yet participating companies such as Amazon and Microsoft have an ongoing legacy of causing extreme environmental harm. A 2021 report from Environment America found that Amazon destroys unused and unsold products every day by the thousands and Microsoft’s global water consumption increased by 34% according to their own report released in September.  The summit is also happening with the backdrop of increased U.S. military presence in Asia, competition with China, inflation and the next wave of the new COVID-19 strain, creating further hazardous conditions for workers and the environment globally.

Thank you for covering the climate crisis.

See additional resources: https://linktr.ee/no2apec