The Puget Sound Anarchists is a website that, in its own words, “aspires to provide a space for anarchists and anti-authoritarians in the Pacific Northwest to share ideas, reflections and critiques in order to support struggles and revolts against all forms of domination.”
Puget Sound Anarchists‘ website stresses that, despite previous accounts in the media and misconceptions on social media, it is not a “group” or a “political organization,” but, rather, it operates as a “news website that runs stories by or of interest to anarchists in the Pacific Northwest.” Submissions are often anonymous.
Articles published by PSA circulated on the social media sites of some conservative activists in the wake of the Amtrak train derailment near Tacoma, Washington after the Associated Press reported that the train may have struck something on the tracks. No evidence has emerged of any connection to a PSA contributor (many of whom are anonymous) or the news site itself, and authorities have not even specified a cause for the crash, which claimed the lives of at least three people and sent as many as 77 to the hospital. Indeed, authorities are looking into whether the train was speeding, according to NBC News, and The Seattle Times reported that the train was going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone when it derailed. Furthermore, the FBI now says it is only taking an assisting role to the NTSB and said in a statement that “At this time, there is no information to suggest a federal nexus or elevated risk to Washington residents.”
The PSA website has previously published Antifa-focused contributors’ stories on train sabotage efforts, such as those over fracking (although it publishes submissions on many topics, such as the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.) They did not target commuter trains, and some indicated they provided advance warning. On the other side of the spectrum, also without any evidence, others on social media are blaming the Tacoma-area crash on ISIS or terrorism, pointing out that ISIS has issued propaganda in the past about disrupting rail lines. It’s simply not clear yet what caused the train to derail during its inaugural run from Seattle to Portland, Washington.
All of that has a lot of people wondering what Puget Sound Anarchists is, though, and what it publishes.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Puget Sound Anarchists’ Goal Is to Combat ‘Anti-Authoritarian Ideas’ & Practices
According to its website, the Puget Sound Anarchists’ page operates with the mission of contributing “to the proliferation of anti-authoritarian ideas and practices on the street and in movements more broadly. To this end, we publish report-backs, communiqués, analysis and other written work as well as announcements for events, protests and demonstrations. We accept both signed and anonymous submissions.”
The site includes a legal notice that stresses, “Puget Sound Anarchists publishes original work, anonymous submissions, and material from other websites for educational purposes only. We do not condone or promote illegal, violent, and unlawful behavior or actions, or acts of intimidation against individuals or groups.”
The website continues: “Puget Sound Anarchists is not a political organization. We do not organize protests, demonstrations, or other actions, although we do give space for various groups to report, build, and create capacity for various actions as they relate to social manifestations, struggles, and movements.” Heavy has reached out to Puget Sound Anarchists for an interview via email and to see if the people behind the site have any comment on the social media posts about the site.
2. The Website Has Recently Published Articles About Train Sabotage Efforts
Puget Sound Anarchists has published submissions about efforts to sabotage trains. On November 30, 2017, the website ran a story headlined, “Rail sabotage near Medford Oregon in solidarity with the Olympia train blockade.” The submission was submitted anonymously, according to the website, and contained an image of wire. “A few days ago, inspired by the Olympia train Blockade, we used copper wire to signal a blockage and disrupt rail traffic near Medford Oregon. Railways are easily accessible and everywhere. Sabotage is fun and easy,” the article reads.
Another anonymous post contains what looks like a stock photo of a saboteur next to train tracks and reads, in part, “Dear Olympia commune, Standing in solidarity with your port blockade preventing the transport of fracking supplies we temporarily shutdown train lines throughout the larger oakland area by shorting the track circuits with jumper cables. Stay strong.” It concludes, “In every single town, Until every officer is down, Love and solidarity,The Bay.”
On its website, the PSA explains how it accepts submissions, urging contributors to offer “communiques, editorials, first hand accounts, report-backs, interviews, documentaries, original research, essays, etc. that comes from an anarchist perspective and are specifically about the Pacific Northwest.”
It sometimes cross posts articles from other Antifa-oriented sites, such as a December 6, 2017 article about trains originally published on the site It’s Going Down that reads, “In beginning December we blocked rail lines on the Columbia River. We stopped the flow of coal, oil, lumber and chemicals. Extracting and producing these is murdering the Earth. This action was taken in solidarity with indigenous defenders…Trains were stopped by attaching cables to the tracks at various points.”
PSA also published an article on November 20, 2017 that reprinted a pamphlet called “stop the trains, block the port.”
3. The Website Publishes Stories on Many Other Topics
Articles related to trains are not the only subject the contributors to the website write about or that the website shares from other pages; one recent post discussed a lock down at the Port of Tacoma.
“As reported by The Stranger and Native Daily Network there was another lockdown at the LNG facility in Tacoma, situated on the ancestral lands of the Puyallup tribe,” the article reads. The news site also contains a Zine archive. Many of the articles deal with indigenous rights and clean water and other environmental issues, such as the efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The common thread: Anti-fascist efforts, thoughts, and actions. Rail lines are not the only focus of the ire of contributors. For example, one recent article proclaimed, “On May 9th, in the wee hours of the night some anarchists smashed the f*ck out of a few starf*cks locations. In solidarity with all youth prisoners here on Duwamish land, and our comrades in the Green Hill prison.”
4. There Have Been Major Rail Protests Over Fracking Sand Cargo in Olympia, Washington Recently
The issues that the PSA highlights appear to have a following among different groups and people in the Pacific Northwest and it’s hardly limited to their news site. The news site just gives a platform for various people aligned with what some might call “Antifa” beliefs, and who are operating in the region around Seattle, Washington, to highlight their concerns and actions. According to The Olympian newspaper, anti-fascist protesters have been protesting fracking along railroad tracks as part of something called “The Olympia Blockade.”
Protesters “occupied a section of railroad tracks at Jefferson Street and Seventh Avenue Southeast to protest fracking sand cargo handled by the Port of Olympia. Port officials have said there is no rail shipment of such cargo scheduled,” the newspaper reported in November 2017.
There were several protests at the site. “Last year, anti-fracking protesters set up a similar blockade on the tracks at the same location. Fracking sand, also known as ceramic proppants, has been handled by the port since 2012,” The Olympian reported.
An April 2017 article published on the website called It’s Going Down appears to have mentioned train sabotage and fracking, saying, “Early in the morning of April 20th we poured concrete on the train tracks that lead out of the Port of Olympia to block any trains from using the tracks. We took precautions to notify BNSF (the train company) – we called them and we used wires to send a signal that the tracks were blocked. We did this not to avoid damaging a train, nothing would bring bigger grins to our faces, but to avoid the risk of injuring railway workers.”
Similar to PSA, It’s Going Down identifies itself as a website that allows people to publish anti-fascist communications and articles. It defines itself as “a digital community center for anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. Our mission is to provide a resilient platform to publicize and promote revolutionary theory and action.”
5. The PSA Website Has Targeted White Supremacism By Publishing a Map of Incidents
The Puget Sound Anarchists’ website has made it a goal to expose white supremacism and received news coverage for doing so. According to The Tacoma Ledger, in February 2017, “The website, Puget Sound Anarchists, has compiled a map of over 20 places where white supremacist symbols, stickers and posters have reportedly appeared on campus.”
University of Washington officials had lamented what they call a “fascist crisis,” the newspaper reported, adding, “In addition to a shooting at Milo Yiannopoulos’ controversial speech, UW Seattle has seen a variety of incidents that, according to UW astrophysicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, comprise a ‘fascist crisis.'” Immigration has been a flashpoint in some of the conflicts on campus.