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Open Letter to the Global Indymedia Network from SF Bay Area IMC

by San Francisco Bay Area IMC Friday, Jan. 09, 2004 at 5:59 AM

It is with much sadness and urgency that we inform the greater indymedia community about the ongoing crisis within the San Francisco Bay Area IMC.

Open Letter to the Global Indymedia Network from SF Bay Area IMC Introduction It is with much sadness and urgency that we inform the greater indymedia community about the ongoing crisis within the San Francisco Bay Area IMC. Previously, we had attempted to resolve internal conflicts among group members by engaging in formal mediation, which ultimately resulted in an official split of the group into two and a list of specific actions upon which each side agreed. This letter is being sent out only after these agreements have not been respected by the new SF IMC collective that has split from us. As many of you know, the SF Bay Area IMC had been using both and since its inception. The SF Bay Area IMC website had been hosted on a server which was operated by the tech members of our collective. Conflict Our IMC has now split into two groups. When a few of the tech members began to have personal problems with other members of the collective, these tech members demanded a split of the collective. The resulting dynamics within the group continued to worsen. It created an environment that made it difficult to continue working together and also discouraged potential new people from joining the collective. While most members of the collective opposed any kind of split, the aforementioned tech members insisted that they would split anyway, because they wanted to and because they could. The tech members who wanted the split also had convinced the rest of the group to agree to move the site to the server. They claimed that this was merely a technical issue which would enable the site to run faster. The members of the splitting group also began making viscious and false accusations about other members of the collective. This even went as far as accusing some members of being security risks and/or police informants. The splitting group began to take control of the server that the SF Bay Area IMC website had been hosted on by kicking off all other IMC members from access to it. At the same time, they also cut off access to other local activist websites (such as the Food Not Bombs News website, and that were being hosted on their server. These other websites were affiliated, to greater or lesser degrees, with members of SF Bay Area IMC with whom the splitting group members were in conflict. When it was clear that this internal conflict had reached a stalemate, a neutral professional mediator was hired to conduct a series of mediation meetings. The continuation of the internal crisis was effectively preventing the group from doing their work and was discouraging new people from wanting to join the group. Most collective members were fed up with having to deal with this conflict. As a result, during the mediation process, the rest of the group reluctantly agreed to split the group and further conceded to the splitting group's demand to give up the domain to them. Also part of the mediation agreement, the rest of the group was to keep (which at the time still pointed to and also to create a new domain of This new domain was to be used along with once was handed over from the splitting group. The mediation agreement was officially finalized on November 13th, 2003. Since that time, members of the new sf.indymedia group have backtracked on their agreement in multiple ways. The DNS was supposed to have been handed over by the Monday following the final mediation meeting, November 17th. But this did not occur until over a month later, in mid-December. And although this "handing over" has resulted in now pointing to the correct site, they continue to refuse to hand over the domain ownership, which they still control. Also, immediately after the mediation, they locked out the group that was now ( from access to In combination, these actions left the rest of the group without a website for over a month. During this period, the new sf.indymedia group has been hiding posts of news stories to the newswire (such as an announcement about a live streaming coverage of the recent mayoral election by Enemy Combatant Radio) made by members of the group, effectively censoring the group. The new sf.indymedia group has also refused to place on their website a link with an explanation about the split, as both groups agreed to do as part of the mediation agreement. Nevertheless, the group put up the explanation and link immediately after the site was up, after the DNS switch. Also, members of the new sf.indymedia group have been engaging in tactics of doublespeak by accusing members of of precisely the kinds of acts that they themselves have been responsible for, such as lying, manipulating, and threatening. In's recent application for status as a new imc that they submitted to the New IMC Working Group, they stated that their "supporting groups were too numerous to mention." While we didn't speak up then, since we had agreed in good faith during mediation not to stop their new IMC process, we now feel, in light of their actions, that they should be asked why they failed to list those groups and to show who really aligns with them. As far as we know, local activists and groups and members of other IMCs who are finding out about the split do not support them nor their actions. List of violations of the mediation agreement by the new group: 1. The group has refused to put up a blurb and links about the split as agreed to during mediation. 2. The group failed to switch the DNS for until over a month after the mediation agreement. 3. Before the DNS was eventually switched over, a member of pointed to a non-existent IP address, causing many people to stop using 3. Immediately after the mediation was over, a member of withdrew half of the money from the imc checking account, and then refused to negotiate the price for stickers and t-shirts advertising the web site address. According to the agreement, the groups would split the money in the bank account after sfbay was reimbursed for the mutually agreed upon price for the stickers and t-shirts, and sf.indymedia was reimbursed for pieces of equipment that sfbay wanted to purchase. 4. The group has deleted the SF-IMC email list and the Enemy Combatant Radio (ECR) email list without warning, before anyone had the chance to back up three and a half years of work and contacts contained in the lists' archives. 5. The group has gone against the agreement by redirecting aliases to their new email addresses. List of actions by the new group that violates the indymedia Principles of Unity 1. Members of the server (which now hosts, other IMCs and activist websites) have sabotaged local activist websites hosted by them that were connected to 2. The group has been repeatedly hiding and deleting legitimate posts to their newswire by local activists whom they see as being connected to The end result of all of this is that techies with positions of power, and a personal vendetta within an IMC collective, have effectively hijacked complete control of the website from the rest of the collective. We believe that the behaviors displayed by the members of the new sf.indymedia group/ are offensive and unacceptable, and that they have abused their powers as tech people within the IMC network to manipulate and bully others to get their way. Proposed Resolution We, the undersigned, request the following from the global tech working group and other IMCs in the network: 1. The ownership of the domain should be handed over to the current members of immediately, and 2. should immediately put up texts and links about the split on their website as they should have already done as part of the agreement. If both of the above requests are not met immediately, then we ask that: 1. The new's status as an IMC should be revoked, and 2. The current members of the new should be denied access and control to the domain, and 3. in the event that the new group should lose control of their domain, that it be handed over to the current members of instead of being destroyed, since it is an established community resource, and 4. the money that paid for the mediation should be refunded to the current members of We also request that all IMC websites update their links to the San Francisco Bay Area as We are hereby challenging the legitimacy of the new group for violating its own Principles of Unity by their abusive and intimidating behaviors. We want to stress that we believe this is an urgent, critical matter that is in the interest of the entire Indymedia network. What has happened here with the SF Bay Area IMC seems to be quite unprecedented within the history of the IMC Network, and we hope that we can depend on the support from all IMCers to help resolve this conflict and maintain accountability within the indymedia network. In solidarity, Sarah Olsen - San Francisco Bay Area IMC, SF Liberation Radio Lisa Sousa - San Francisco Bay Area IMC, AK Press Mark Burdett - San Francisco Bay Area IMC Pauline - San Francisco Bay Area IMC Sunny - Enemy Combatant Radio, San Francisco Bay Area IMC Zachary Ogren - San Francisco Bay Area IMC Wayne Wong - San Francisco Bay Area IMC Peter Maiden - San Francisco Bay Area IMC Karen Martin - San Francisco Bay Area IMC Jino Choi - Revolutionary Anti-authoritarians of Color, SF Bay Area IMC A. Mark Liiv - Whispered Media Ali Dan Mattson - San Francisco Bay Area IMC Pod - Enemy Combatant Radio, Whispered Media Kevin Keating Matt Fitt - San Francisco Bay Area IMC Jeff Taylor - Whispered Media Lani Riccobuono - Enemy Combatant Radio, San Francisco Bay Area IMC Lauren A. - San Francisco Bay Area IMC The San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center collective can be contacted at sfbay at

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 20 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Oh I see - so NOW it's censoring Hex anon w/ encryption Friday, Jan. 09, 2004 at 6:59 AM
DEJA VU? Pierre Talley Friday, Jan. 09, 2004 at 7:05 AM
The commies had it coming. lasdkfjalkdfj Friday, Jan. 09, 2004 at 7:17 AM
The ghost of Cointelpro oak Friday, Jan. 09, 2004 at 8:53 AM
Anarchy, Smanarchy gotchaman Friday, Jan. 09, 2004 at 9:23 AM
splits, anarchy, socialism, etc. Meyer London Friday, Jan. 09, 2004 at 10:40 AM
solid solutions - but will we impliment them ? Hex anon w/ encryption Friday, Jan. 09, 2004 at 12:18 PM
Supporting evidence of's violations indybay member Sunday, Jan. 11, 2004 at 2:35 AM
gotchaman - not infiltration more rational Sunday, Jan. 11, 2004 at 6:06 AM
"This open letter is proof of what it yields... " indeed it is Tuesday, Mar. 30, 2004 at 5:16 AM
who cares? Sheepdog Tuesday, Mar. 30, 2004 at 8:33 AM
sfimc brigg Tuesday, Mar. 30, 2004 at 8:27 PM
what's the matter, brig? Sheepdog Tuesday, Mar. 30, 2004 at 9:50 PM

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