Mitch Verter

For the past several weeks, an email that has been circulating around the list-serves in our communities that makes allegations of abuse against an old and dear friend of mine, Thadeaus Umpster. I am profoundly concerned by this letter, for many reasons. In response, I would like to offer this email in hopes that it can begin to heal the rifts that threaten to tear our communities apart; that it will make us stronger and more loving.

In our hearts, there is not only hope, love, beauty, a new world waiting to burst forth; but also fear, anxiety, desperation, anger, loneliness, all the scars from past abuses, all the loss from past abandonment, all the fears, all the pain. So many of us have suffered so much. Isn't this part of what drives us towards activism, this intimate knowledge of suffering, the cry within us to make suffering stop? Given that so many of us have so many scars, it is an unfortunate fact that, too often, we wind up hurting each other. The email sent by the and Thadeaus's response are testimony to the fact that, too often, our relationships with each other -- our attempts to love each other, our attempts to find peace in each other -- become hurtful and abusive, causing us to feel drained and destroyed. Reading this email, it saddened me deeply that one of our dear friends had suffered due to the actions of another of our dear friends. In my heart, I therefore nurture the earnest hope that this suffering may be healed and that reconciliation may occur

While I do hope for healing and reconciliation between Thadeaus and the author(s) identified as, I am also concerned about the content of this email and the way in which it was distributed. The email accuses my friend Thadeaus of being a perpetrator of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. These are very very serious allegations. In the past, there have been people in our communities who have perpetrated terrible acts of rape and beating against others in our communities. It is certainly a testament to the strength and compassion of our communities that we have consistently made effort to confront these abusive individuals, and, when necessary, to exclude them from participating in our communities. While I do recognize the seriousness of such abuse, it is not entirely clear to me whether Thadeaus perpetrated any acts of this nature. Reading through the email written by, I was struck at how much the allegations made against him sounded more like acrimonious fights than physical and sexual abuse. It was never claimed, for example, that Thadeaus had ever raped, sexually assaulted, or beaten anyone. Therefore, it concerns me that the charges against Thadeaus may be unfair.

Furthermore, I feel uncomfortable with the way that this letter has been distributed throughout our communities. An anonymous letter has been distributed to several of our list-serves and to many individuals. I do recognize that it is important for our communities to identify serious abusers and I further recognize that the writers of this email feel deeply hurt,. However, I don't know whether the concerns brought up in this email needed to be brought into so many public forums. I would have thought that they would have been more appropriately dealt with through counseling and interpersonal mediation. Making these accusations on community list-serves has publicly smeared the reputation of one of the most committed members of our communities, groups and projects. This approach seems extremely divisive. I worry that it could set a precedent for allowing fundamentally personal conflicts to damage our movements. It further concerns me that, with the renewal of official efforts to clamp down on dissent, the government could exploit these sorts of personal rifts (as the FBI has done before during the 60s and 70s through programs like COINTELPRO) to seriously damage the reputation of key activists and thereby cripple our struggles for social justice.

Despite my concerns regarding the email written by, I do recognize it as a legitimate cry of suffering, one that needs to be honored, respected, and addressed; a pain that calls for healing. I would therefore ask for the authors of this email to enter into some sort of process of reconciliation with Thadeaus, one that will go to to one side and describe the suffering being endured by the other side, and then go to the other side and describe the suffering being endured by the first side. I don't myself know what resources our communities have for providing this type of counseling and mediation, but I do have faith that our communities are strong and compassionate enough to develop solutions that demonstrate our sense of justice and our commitment to caring. I look forward to our discovering and creating these possibilities together, so that we all may learn how to treat each other better and love each other more.

With my deepest wishes for a more compassionate world,
I remain
Your brother,
Mitchell Cowen Verter
March 31, 2009

Before the analysis, a preface and a plea


For a good decade or so, I have avoided participating in anarchist groups because so frequently they are so dysfunctional. For some reason, those who consider themselves “anarchists” and “activists” seem to be incapable of organizing together without tearing each other apart. Someone always has to be put down, put in their place, made a scapegoat.

Instead of working in groups, I have been working in my own isolated & nerdy way to build a better anarchist future: trying to develop anarchist history & philosophy and working on a few other projects.

I know that, by interrupting the lynching of one man, I will also be slipping the noose around my own throat. I do not underestimate the level of hatred and violence within the New York anarchist community; and thus -- before I even begin – I ask for mercy: I am geek. Please just let me study.

Recently, a letter was sent around which argued for the expulsion of Thadeaus Umpster from the anarchist community because he had called the cops and was therefore a snitch.

Here, I just want to raise the question of whether an anarchist should ever call the cops.
Clearly, an anarchist should never snitch on another: “snitching” means “to inform the authorities of an illegal activity done for a political purpose” – for example, Brandon Darby snitched on some kids in NOLA for their organizing activities.

However not all cases of calling the cops are snitching.

I think it's pretty clear that if there is any physical violence occurring – if someone is getting battered or raped or whatever – you should do whatever you can to stop it, including calling the cops.

I don't know exactly what transpired the other night at the John Bosch house, and I don't want to claim guilt or innocence for any of the parties involved.
However, I do know that the two individuals who went to jail broke the fingers of one guy, sliced up the face and back of another guy, and beat a third guy with an iron pole.

It's too bad that this all happened and that two individuals went to jail, but to me it seems sensible to call the cops when people are getting beaten.

That's all I have to say on this topic.

January, 9th 2010