Meet The Anarchist Leaders Behind The 'Leaderless' #Occupy Movement – Part One: Lisa Fithian

The #OccupyWallStreet movement that been embraced by Democratic politicians, liberal pundits, progressive groups, Big Labor and celebrities was actually created and is being led behind the scenes by far-left anarchists whose goal isn’t reform, but the total annihilation of the American economic and political system.

“Occupy Everything” is the culmination of a decades-long effort by militant radicals to create and fund a mass movement that has broad popular appeal. With the enthusiastic help of the institutional left, that effort finally seems to be working.

Case in point: Lisa Fithian. Fithian is a career “community organizer” and anarchist who specializes in “direct action” protests, and who has close ties to labor unions. She has been on the ground at the #OccupyWallStreet demonstration since its inception.

Local television station NY1 interviewed her as an ordinary “woman on the street,” presenting her as just another well-intentioned New Yorker who’s worried about the big, mean banks.

NY1 did not mention that Fithian lives in Austin, Texas, and failed to inform its audience about Fithian’s true motivations or her lengthy activist resume.

“Wall Street is certainly the heart of why we’re here. It’s the corporations — the big banks in this country have been destroying this country.”

Lisa Fithian says she’s not part of any official group–that this event is the work of many people coming together with the same message.

“Overfees or high mortgages, student loans–the banks are touching every aspect of our lives.”

She says banks and the wealthy have taken money for their own interests and their own survival.

“And the people here are saying enough of that.”

Inspired by events around the world, she drew the analogy to Tahrir Square in Egypt, and says the power of the people is leading to change.

It doesn’t take much digging to discover the real Lisa Fithian.

Here’s how Byron York described Fithian in his 2005 article on her role in Cindy Sheehan’s anti-war protests near President George W. Bush’s ranch in Texas:

Fithian is a legendary organizer who operates in the world of anti-globalism anarchists, antiwar protesters, and union activists; an advocate of aggressive “direct action” demonstrations, she protested the first Gulf war, played an important role in the violent shutdown of Seattle during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting, was a key planner in protests at the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2000 and 2004, and organized demonstrations at trade meetings in Washington, D.C., Prague, and Genoa.

Fithian went on to try and co-opt volunteer work that was being done in post-Katrina New Orleans, and helped train protestors for the “RNC Welcoming Committee,” an event that led to the widely publicized story of two young men being convicted of making Molotov cocktails and shields with sharp screws that they intended to use to keep Republican delegates away from the convention.

Her webpage shows that Fithian also has extensive ties to the labor unions that have embraced and Astroturfed the #Occupy movement. In the 1990s, for example, she began working with the AFL-CIO and United Auto Workers across the country performing “direct action” protests, such as harassing employers or staging displays of civil disobedience whose intent was to provoke police into arresting hundreds or even thousands of people.

As York noted:

In November 2003, Fithian was profiled by The New York Times Magazine as she prepared to take part in protests at the Free Trade Area of the Americas meeting in Miami. As she did with NRO, Fithian demurred when asked if she was a leader of the demonstrations — she claimed that the movement was “nonauthoritarian” and “nonhierarchical” and had no leaders at all — but the Times was not convinced. “To say that Fithian is not a leader is an admirable political idea, but it’s not entirely honest,” the paper reported.

And she was a tough-minded leader, not at all a peace-and-love type. Her specialty was action; she wanted to break in, cut through fences, and shut things down. “You don’t go to Fithian when you want to carry a placard,” the Times profile said. “You go to her when you want to make sure there are enough bolt cutters to go around.” Asked for a fuller explanation of her role in the protests, Fithian said, “When people ask me, ‘What do you do?’ I say I create crisis, because crisis is that edge where change is possible.”

Last year, in a radio interview, Fithian confirmed these descriptions in talking about her own activist philosophy:

“I am not a pacifist. Part of the way I talk about that is that I was raised in this culture, which is a very violent culture and I understand that I have some violence in who I am.” (about 19:00 in)

In that interview, Fithian also discussed (about 49:00 in) the tactical use of masks, describing how groups wearing black handkerchiefs were deployed during the Seattle protests.

It was many young people, masking themselves, covering their identity and engaging in property destruction…or not. They might just be more aggressive in their energy, right? They have some powerful and effective energy out there. But it has been really hard to build a mass movement because that type of approach is – vulnerable. It scares a lot of people and it makes it hard to do mass building, as well.

In #OccupyWallStreet, that black handkerchief has been largely replaced by the Guy Fawkes / V For Vendetta masks that appear at nearly every major demonstration site.

Fithian’s statement to NY1 about the “work of many people coming together” is her standard line when she is involved in protests: she downplays her own involvement while directing the action behind the scenes.

If history is any judge, when Lisa Fithian shows up in your town and starts saying that she’s “not part of any official group” and that something “is the work of many people coming together”, it’s time to expect riots, mass arrests, and violence in the streets.

That’s the true background of the movement that the Democratic Party and its cheerleaders in the mainstream media have embraced.


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