by former members of DGR Portland
We, former members of the Deep Green Resistance Portland chapter, are hereby severing our ties with Deep Green Resistance and especially with Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith.
We want to make it very clear that it is in spite of, not because of, the bullying and harassment we have personally received since last weekend that we are standing by our principles and refusing to devolve into hatefulness. Individuals involved have received personal attacks including rape and death threats and we find that abhorrent and, when disproportionately targeted towards women, misogynistic as well. We renounce trans*phobic statements made by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and other members of DGR. We are in solidarity with the many biocentric and anti-civilization people of any gender who are against all forms of oppression and will not accept bigotry in any form.
We joined DGR because we agree and continue to agree with DGR’s analysis of civilization, its stated anti-oppressive politics, and its commitment to strategic action when the earth is being destroyed. We have grown increasingly concerned with DGR’s decision-making structure which lies exclusively in the hands of the three-person advisory board: Jensen, Keith, and Saba Malik, and a half-dozen hand-picked staff members. The staff members are all young, all lacking in much non-DGR organizing experience, and often reside in Crescent City with Lierre Keith. The process for the selection of staff and board members is unclear, and requests for clarification of the decision-making process have been aggressively shut down.
During the DGR Spring Conference a few months ago that produced this video, it was made very clear to the participants during this presentation and other presentations on gender that dissent or even questions from within the organization were unwelcome.
In the last few days, we have become dismayed with Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith’s insistence on exaggerating and manipulating the facts about what occurred at the Law and Disorder conference in order to gain public sympathy and to aggressively push their trans*phobic agenda. This includes deliberately misgendering people against their wishes in order to spin the event as an act of male violence against women. They have acted at the expense of DGR Portland members’ well-being and reputation and at the expense of the DGR organization’s ability to do work in the radical community. On Tuesday we, along with other members of DGR Portland, issued a statement (see the May 14th post on the DGR Portland Facebook page). Derrick Jensen immediately called that response “horrible” and “victim blaming” and told us to take it down, and proposed this statement instead. On Wednesday, the advisory board made it clear that they maintain centralized authority over DGR chapters, especially in crisis situations.
We’re not against the delegation of authority or against leadership, but we are against unclear centralized decision-making structures and against a climate where questioning authority is discouraged. Unquestioning embrace of a small, centralized authority; member isolation; a climate that discourages member dissent; and an us-versus-them mentality are all characteristics of a cult. We are increasingly concerned about these and other unhealthy power dynamics within DGR.
We think the disintegration of organizations and hostility in communities is in fact a tragedy. We know for a fact there are many wonderful individuals who are involved with DGR and we don’t believe that the rank-and-file of DGR stand behind the hostile and hurtful views of the DGR leadership.
We know that many have joined DGR because the radical environmental movement largely remains ineffective in the face of global catastrophe, and much of the analysis in the Deep Green Resistance book accurately assesses the dire state of affairs. We still support the majority of the writing and analysis of Jensen and Keith and hope their books, as well as the book Deep Green Resistance, will be judged on their own merits. Too few organizations exist that actively denounce industrial civilization and are willing to act with urgency against the biocrisis, and fewer still are willing to do so with an anti-oppressive and especially with a feminist analysis.
To the members of Deep Green Resistance: We invite you to join us, and to reconsider your allegiance to an ineffective and toxic leadership. Your best opportunities to take a stand against civilization are away from the isolating and divisive stances perpetuated by DGR leadership.
To the other former members of Deep Green Resistance who have left the organization and who are speaking out against DGR’s toxic leadership: We invite you to join us. We want to talk and share stories and to heal together. We believe we can build communities of resistance away from DGR.
To the members of the radical community who have acted against DGR: We invite you to join us as well. It’s easy to tear down and harder to build. We invite you to now target those who are killing the planet and to build uncompromising organizations in the face of oppression and civilization with us.
The last few days have been personally hurtful and traumatic and our mental and emotional health and lives have suffered, but it’s clear who our friends and allies are.
We will continue organizing together as Resistance Portland, and invite others to join us. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In solidarity and resistance,
Tessa, Lumen, and Justin