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Greenpeace plans to control the message during the G20

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.
Greenpeace activists hang around
Greenpeace activists hang around

Below is an email forwarded today from the Greenpeace newsletter list. Does anyone else think it's kind of (just a little tiny bit) odd that they're telling folks what to carry and what to wear?

Begin forwarded message:

Hello volunteers and activists!

As many of you know, G8 / G20 meetings are taking place in Huntsville and Toronto in late June. There is a people's convergence happening in resistance to these closed door meetings, as well as beefed up security to restrict alternative views.

KUMI NAIDOO & GREENPEACE G8/20 RALLY

On Saturday June 26 at 1pm, Queen's Park, There is a public rally and march, which Greenpeace is sponsoring/supporting along with the Canadian Federation of Students, Canadian Labour Council, Oxfam and the Council of Canadians. Greenpeace International's Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo will be speaking on behalf of Greenpeace, and we will be present as an organization with banners and placards.

Kumi will be visiting and speaking with Toronto volunteers and activists BEFORE this rally from 11:30am to 12:30pm at the Toronto office. He (and our gang of Greenpeacers) will then march to the G8/G20 Rally at Queen's Park together. This is a REALLY special occasion, so we are hoping to have as many volunteers present for this as possible. Please join us!
To RSVP, contact Vanessa.

*We are also planning a volunteer social on the Saturday evening after the rally, stay tuned for more details coming soon! This will be a cool opportunity to connect with other Greenpeace volunteers and activists who have come in from around Canada.

We want to remind you that Greenpeace is a non-violent, peaceful organization. We do not promote nor condone violence in any form and expect our volunteers & activist to follow that value and avoid any violent activity.

Outside of this rally, we are asking all staff and volunteers not to identify as Greenpeace (by carrying banners, wearing T-shirts etc.) for any other activities other than the rally mentioned above.

While Greenpeace is participating in the rally, we as an organization are not participating in any direct actions during this period. As activists many of you may have greater participation with G8/G20 events taking place – this is your business as long as it does not reflect poorly on Greenpeace or potentially confuse the public about Greenpeace’s role in the G8/G20.

GREENPEACE ACTIVISTS WITH “CONDITIONS”

If you are an activist who currently has bail conditions, we'd like to provide some reminders and recommendations to you, especially as we lead up to the G8 / G20 meetings and protests.

First and foremost, we recommend that you adhere to the conditions that have been placed upon you. This is for your own benefit, to ensure that your charges do not worsen. But it is also for the benefit of other Greenpeace activists doing work in the future, who could end up with stricter sentencing if we do not adhere to our conditions. In short, if you break your conditions, you put yourself and others at risk for harsher sentencing now and in the future.

Many of you have 'keeping the peace' as a condition. From this definition, a breach in your condition of 'keeping the peace' is very vague and open to various interpretations in the courts. It could be something as simple as attending an “illegal” rally, demonstration, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Due to the expected scale of the G8 / G20, we recommend simply NOT attending any unsanctioned activities, and definitely do not recommend participating in any direct actions until your record is cleared.

Of course what you do is your own choice, but we do reiterate that if you are arrested for participating in an action or protest, or if you willingly breach your conditions, Greenpeace will not be able to support your legal case beyond what we have already committed to. In other words, we would not pay for additional legal fees incurred to 'get you out of further trouble'.

If you have any questions, concerns or need clarity on anything, please feel free to contact Kenneth Lowyck kenneth.lowyck@greenpeace.org 647-274-0637 or Aspa Tzaras aspa.tzaras@greenpeace.org 416 995 4422.

We thank you again for putting yourself on the line and for your patience as we work with our lawyers to settle all outstanding legal cases.

That's for now!

See you at the rally ...

Many thanks,
Greenpeace Canada

You have received this email because you are subscribed to the greenpeace.canada Volunteer email list. To remove yourself from this list, visit this link. To update or modify your personal settings, visit this link.
For more information, visit http://volunteer-action.greenpeace.ca/

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Comments

Sad to Hear that this side having Communications problems too

Public Reports Window not responding @ http://2010.mediacoop.ca/ this morning ?

&

Thanks for your message re: equipment, we no longer need anything for
the MDC Legal Office as it's all set-up already ...

MDC Legal office

Not sure who this message is for, but I've not been in touch with anyone regarding the legal office.

Cheers.

Logic?

I don't think it's odd that Greenpeace is telling people not to identify as belonging to Greenpeace outside that one rally.  Greenpeace would lose its legitimacy as an organization if a bunch of people wearing GP shirts went rogue and acted violently.  

I also think the title is extremely misleading- Control the message?  Where did you get that from? 

"going rogue"

Asking folks only to identify as Greenpeace at one particular rally during over a week of public actions including environmental justice & Indigenous sovereignty focused events/rallies seems off to me. Is everything outside of flanking Kumi Naidoo at the union march on Saturday considered "going rogue"???

Please!!

Dawn Paley needs a new hobby

Dawn, you really need to get another hobby other than trying to spin greenpeace materials all the time to make them look bad. Your accusations are unfounded and don't make sense half the time. Go report on something useful.

Dear Keyboard Warrior

what accusations are unfounded, and which half don't make sense? I'm quite curious.

greenpeace is an

greenpeace is an authoritarian organization with little connection to the grassroots and this 'directive' only reaffirms the top-down corporate structure they use.  only the politically naive and inexperienced would submit to such a regime.

Greenpeace does good work

Its funny, because Greenpeace seems to get more done than a lot of smaller groups that just continuously whine about how hard off they are. Critics like Dawn don't actually know all the facts and spread rumors because they're bitter that they can't make any real change. When's the last time Dawn actually made a ripple in the pond? If I had to chose between self rightgeous angry yapping or organizations that do good work and direct action (like Greenpeace) I'd side with Greenpeace any day.

Why anonymous?

Arguing about ttactics and effectiveness is one thing, but if people are proud of their work why are all the criticisms of Dawn anonmymous, especially when they turn personal? You may disagree with what she has to say, but at least she puts her name to her beliefs.

thanks

comments like yours let me know that the story I'm on to is an important one. Thanks.

Fox news styles...?

I don't think it should be much of a surprise why personal attacks are anonymous.... but I don't think anonymity of the commenter, or the use of ad hominems, are grounds for ignoring the legitimate points people are making; that stifles debate, and frankly is just another form of ad hominem.

The fact is that the there's nothing in the e-mail to suggest that "Greenpeace plans to control the message during the G20", only that Greenpeace plans to control their message during the G20. These two things are very different. Thus the headline of this story misrepresents the e-mail (and is an example of an unfounded accusation), and I can see why the story's author is accused of 'spin'... and to be honest, the headline does sound like 'spin' to me.

Now it seems to me that if someone has a problem with Greenpeace wanting to control their message during the G20, they should come out and say that, and make their argument openly. Reading Dawn Paley's reply to the "logic?" comment, I think I can see where she's coming from. But I can also see where Greenpeace is coming from. The reality is that there are a lot of people in the media who shamelessly spin the facts to create the perceptions they want people to have; for example, I can easily imagine photos/footage of Greenpeace activists wearing Greenpeace shirts who are present somewhere where there are clashes with police being used to generate a headline like "Greenpeace involved in rioting during G20!". No one's really sure how the G20 protests will unfold, so I can understand Greenpeace being concerned about this kind of stuff happening, even for people who are entirely peaceful. I mean, just look at how Greenpeace continues to get credit for things which were actually done by the Sea Sheppards, just because the head of the Sea Sheppards is 'Greenpeace founder' Paul Watson. In light of this I have to say it seems to me that Greenpeace isn't doing anything wrong here.

if you think

my provocative headline is "fox news styles" then you're not watching enough fox news!

Any Fox is too much!

Lol, I never thought someone from the media co-op would suggest I should watch more Fox News! ;)

But seriously, if the headline were just provocative, that would be one thing. But it's false and misleading. (Though I would agree that is certainly provocative as well).

Control the message vs. control their message

small difference, in reality. Extrapolating from that headline that I am suggesting Greenpeace plans to control the message of the entire G20 is ridiculous, as you'll see when you open any mainstream paper or turn on the TV during the summit. They do however plan to own their brand, just like a bunch of corporate sponsors advertising during a soccer game or something. It saddens me that a once defiant organization is suggesting that its volunteers are not free to wear greenpeace shirts and banners whenever they please. That is the point of this blog post, and I think my headline captures that quite well.

Case in point: Did you even know that PETA was at the oh so controversial Heart Attack march in Vancouver on February 13 when an HBC window was smashed? Do you think that destroyed their brand? Or that higher ups even wasted a breath to tell them not to wear PETA shirts on specific days of the summit? Do you think the media even gave a shit? It's important to reflect upon these things as we assess actions like Greenpeace's latest, which I am simply calling attention to as odd.

My argument above is only that if you even watched fox news for a period of 15 minutes, you would realize that one headline that you disagree with on the VMC is a far cry from "fox news styles." That's a point so redundant it barely even merits repeating here.

Anyways I hope we can agree to disagree and as always if you have any complaints about the *substance* of my coverage, as opposed to it's alleged "fox news styles" I'd be open to hearing it.

Over and out.

As a GP activist

As a GP activist I am happy to hear they are instructing people not to wear their shirts outside of the peaceful rally that's planned. The media misrepresent us all the time, and the last thing I would want is for all the thousands of security personnelle at the G8/20 to think we are a violent organization. If some people who were affiliatig themselves with Greenpeace (by wearing one of our shirts or carrying a banner) committed a violent act, it would affect my future criminal record as police would come down harder on us. Like it or not, keeping our tactics nonviolent let's the police know that we are willing to cooperate with them.

I think (and I apologize in

I think (and I apologize in advance for making presumptions) one of the key points that Dawn was trying to point out is that there is something fundamentally flawed about any organization claiming the title of environmental or climate justice which also operates in a top-down manner such as this.

The issue at play here is indicative of a larger debate about the power of ENGO and NGO organizations to dictate the terms of engagement for what is (for better or worse) a large portion of self-identified environmental activists. Like it or not, Greenpeace does monopolize a large portion of the global "environmental consciousness", for lack of a better term, and thusly needs to be held accountable for the power that comes with that. This power includes controlling the messaging coming from the streets of Toronto, even if it is accidental or passive. Neutrality on a moving train (to blatantly steal from Howard Zinn...) fundamentally places ones momentum in the same direction of that train, and this situation is no different. By not supporting more confrontational actions, these organizations support the corporate media and government narrative (even passively) that these actions are the work of a few malcontents, instead of the manifestation of the discontent of many.

Of course it is well within the rights of Greenpeace, as it is with any other top-down organization, to request that individuals who they are responsible for the legal costs of not exasperate the situation. The question that should be asked though, is does it help the larger movement – be it for large scale social change in Canada, confronting the climate crisis, etc – for organizations such as Greenpeace (and by no means is Greenpeace alone is this manner) to march in circles and remove themselves from the frontlines of these struggles? And what does it mean for these movements, given that these organizations – who are the only ones with access to resources that even comes close to that of the political and corporate structures which we all aim to confront, challenge and bring down – expend energy maintaining a public image instead of using that to add a constructive voice to what is inevitably a confrontation.

All this being said, I have a lot of respect and love for individuals within Greenpeace, and know the amount of work, within and outside the organization, that they put it in. Those people who are dedicated to the principles of justice, be it climate, social, migrant, gender or otherwise, will still be on the streets, the Rainbow Warrior just wont be, and that's whats disappointing.

I wish greenpeace had been

I wish greenpeace had been more transparent when they signed the Canadian Boreal Forest agreement, specifically when it came to consultation with first nations.  I just hope the context (ie. urgency of the situation, neccesity for closed door talks with logging industry) motivated these upper management of greenpeace to make these seemingly out of character decesions.

 

BUT....this article is an internal email call out to specifically Greenpeace supporters and is intended  to protect the organization from being liable to independant actions by individuals, whom do not share the collective agenda of peaceful direct action. Completely routine (as any organization would do).

 

Would it be better for Greenpeace activists to be violent and trash the credibility of the orgnization, impacting the legitimacy of the entire movement?

 

 

I wish greenpeace had been

I wish greenpeace had been more transparent when they signed the Canadian Boreal Forest agreement, specifically when it came to consultation with first nations.  I just hope the context (ie. urgency of the situation, neccesity for closed door talks with logging industry) motivated these upper management of greenpeace to make these seemingly out of character decesions.

 

BUT....this article is an internal email call out to specifically Greenpeace supporters and is intended  to protect the organization from being liable to independent actions by individuals, whom do not share the collective agenda of peaceful direct action. Completely routine (as any organization would do).

 

Would it be better for Greenpeace activists to be violent and trash the credibility of the orgnization, impacting the legitimacy of the entire movement?

 

 

violent?

I am not quite understanding the logic that some commenters use here. I read people saying things like "If some people who were affiliatig themselves with Greenpeace (by wearing one of our shirts or carrying a banner) committed a violent act" etc.

Well, then why is the directive not 'don't wear your shirts when committing violent acts'. What I see here can be interpreted as 'every non-greenpeace action will be or has great potential to be violent' so trust only greenpeace sponsored events. It looks like they want to distance themselves from every other action because of the potential for violence and what that says to the public is that every action has the potential for violence and you should probably avoid it if you don't want to face sound and water cannons.

Greenpeace is employing a divide and conquor tactic. So whose agenda does that serve? The 'environment', or the government/industrial/corporate destroyers of the environment who would love to see Greenpeace be the main voice of the movement and the rest of us marginalized and labled terrorists. Greenpeace has been working hard to marginalize the grassroots and hijack the message. As per their obligations to the forest industry with the BFA, they now have a responsibility to provide counter-media to grassroots criticism of Canadian forestry practices. So you have to look deeper here to the larger story that this latest bit of news is part of.

Dawn, I think you have the wrong idea about Greenpeace

"While Greenpeace is participating in the rally, we as an organization are not participating in any direct actions during this period. As activists many of you may have greater participation with G8/G20 events taking place – this is your business as long as it does not reflect poorly on Greenpeace or potentially confuse the public about Greenpeace’s role in the G8/G20."

I think this quote from the call out to Greenpeace volunteers and activists says it all. Greenpeace is in no way telling people how to behave, live, etc, they just dont want to be associated with any potentially violent acts that may occur at the G8/G20. This is legitimate. Greenpeace is the biggest environmental organization in the world and the media is ALWAYS on us. Its understandable why we would ask activists to just not identify as Greenpeace while they are (as individuals) participating in actions that may not fall in line with Greenpeace values. Everyone is free to do their own thing, but not as a Greenpeace representative. Other groups (and coaltions) do this as well. For instance, in Vancouver during the Olympics, olympics organizers had messaging they wanted to stick to and if you were representing the Welcoming Committee or ORN etc you needed to abide by those messages. 

In terms of the activists with conditions and the legals issue, all we are doing is suggesting that activists abide by their coniditons because it could be to their detirment if they don't. Police don't take it lightly when activists (espceially GP ones) break conditions, especially during something like the g8 protests, and we don't want to see our activists going to jail for indefinite periods of time or potentially their actions affecting other activsts (as some of their conditions are inter related). GP supports their activists to the end of any legal case, but it would make our work terribly difficult if all our activists went to jail at the g8 and didn't get release with other activsts because they were on charges from previous Greenpeace actions. Its common sense. However, its up to them, because they are their own free agents and we are not trying to control anyone.

Also, specifically to Dawn, I really find it upsetting that you took an internal e-mail being sent to Greenpeace volunteers (by what means you got this, I don't know) and posted it to the wider community. How do you think it makes those activists with bail conditions feel when you go around saying Greenpeace is trying to control the message when all we are doing is trying to be legally resposible? I really don't think its your place. And quite frankly I'm getting tired of the attacks on Greenpeace. Greenpeace activists and staff are good people with great hearts and are trying to make a difference in the world- and we are. Our tar sands campaign put the tar sands on the map in Alberta. Our oceans campaign is getting red list fish REMOVED from supermarkets. We are making a difference. And of course, we have issues to work on, all of us know this, you aren't saying anything new. But Greenpeace does good work and as a staff member and activist who spends my life trying to fight for the environment, I find your attacks divisive, misleading, and even cruel sometimes.

Personally, I have been invlolved in many actions with Greenpeace and I love how their legal support system works, I always feel supported and valued as an activist putting myself on the line for what I believe in. 

Lastly, here's a personal anecdote I'd like to share....I was involved in last years action at the Shell Mine in the tar sands. I blockaded giant tar sands trucks and a monlithic crane for over 32 hrs. At one point, one activist (who had an phone and was communicting out of the mine) told me to climb to the top of the crane. Curious, I said ok and climbed from the cabin to the top of the cranes arm. I stood up there and looked around. The entire mine (all of Albian Sands) was still. All activity had come to a halt. I was shoked. As far as my eyes could see, all the trucks, equipment, the biggest machines in the world, were as if dead. No movement anywhere. We, Greenpeace, had literaly stopped part of the the tar sands. This lasted for over 6 hrs and costed the company millions of dollars.

No one else has done anything like that. It was probably one of the most amazing moments in my activist career. This (among many other reasons) is why I am a proud Greenpeacer.

who are you?

Thanks for your comment. Being told not to write about things is always a good sign that I'm on to something bigger than I thought.

That said, I'll admit I am curious why if you are so proud, you chose to write your comment anonymously?

misguided

Being told your spinning news articles and mischaracterizing an issue is not evidence of good journalism Dawn 

 

 

attacks will stop when integrity restored

if you are tired of attacks on greenpeace then quit, or work to get your bosses to denouce the Boreal Forest Agreement.

Any postive changes that GP has made are overshadowed by this agreement, which strips the entire organization of whatever legitimact it might have had. It is something that we as activists need to be attacking because it is a huge scam.

I too have been involved in actions that have temporarily held work up on a project, but guess what, you haven't stopped the tarsands yet.

As an employee or volunteer or whatever of Greenpeace you are being used. Your organization is a PR machine for industry, a very slick imitation of what it once was. Any victories you may have had now reak of the possibility that they were engineered to create the false sense that GP are actually an environmental organization, and all part of the grand confusion that the forest industry is created.

Anyone who can't see through the bullshit of the BFA is not paying attention to what is really going on.

Making a better world...

YES! Greenpeace hasn't stopped the tar sands yet, so let's get rid of them. They got a bunch of logging companies to agree to do conservation planning in a huge area of the Boreal Forest and to pressure governments to make it permanent. We can't tell what impact this will have (in fact we are ignoring this part of the agreement), so LET'S TRASH THEM. Down with Greenpeace! Whew. I can really FEEL THE CHANGE I'm making in the world when I bash this organization. In fact, this is going to create the new world we need! YEAH, that feels good.

Read up

Before you start trashing Greenpeace, maybe you should read this:

http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/3450

Then at least you'd know why you were doing it.

 

Hey

Hey Dawn,

I'm not asking you not to write, I think its great to challenge issues through writing and alt media. I just think you publish a lot of writing thats pretty reminiscent of slander, that's what I don't appreciate. I'm tired of the onslaught on Greenpeace, to be quite honest. We do awesome work, I see it on a daily basis. I don't agree with everything Greenpeace does for sure, but I've been involved in many types of activism with many different groups and Greenpeace is pretty kick ass.

As for who I am, I don't know why you care so much. The reason I posted anonymously was because I didn't really think it was relevant. There are a few other anonymous posters defending Greenpeace on this page, and I think its fair if people want to say what they want to say without having their name on it.

Also, considering how you use documents, Greenpeace names, confidential recordings, and post them all over the internet and attach your own version of a story to it, doesn't it kinda make sense why I wouldn't be so forthcoming with my information?

Peace.

 

Another anonymous comment, another uninformed sentiment

Is anyone willing to defend Greenpeace's secret deals publically? Gotta respect Tzeporah Berman for that if nothing else: she defends her deals and puts her name to her word.

Greenpeace does a ton of stuff every day that could be construed as being solid.

But: if direct action feeds into a crappy secret deal negotiated by people who don't consult with the activists who did the work to get them to that point, then what's the point?

All the work that GP does on the tar sands is nominally great. But if all that work ends up feeding into some kind of offsetting deal (already in the works, apparently), then guess what? All that solid work has become ultimately damaging to the stated goal: to shut down the tar sands. In that kind of structure, you can't just take the good with the bad.

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