Got Me Some JUSTICE!

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Personal Blog 22/5/2018

First and foremost I want to express my infinite gratitude to all my friends and family for putting up with me these last three years or so. In particular, singular thanks to my excellent solicitor, Anna Thwaites of Bindman’s LLP. for helping me successfully pursue restorative justice. These are my personal reflections on getting nicked, being vindicated at trial and successfully pursuing legal action against the police, who have not accepted liability but have paid a reasonable settlement out of court. 

I am overwhelmingly relieved to discover that there is not only just us, there is sometimes also justice. I feel very privileged to have been born in a country where institutions like the Legal Aid Agency and solicitors like Bindmans LLP exist.

It has been extremely difficult not being able to talk about ‘my case’ these last three years. Ironically now that it’s been settled, I don’t really want to talk about it. I feel obliged and compelled to share my experience though, for my own sanity, for those who care and for those who are interested.

Context

Almost Three Years Ago, I was arrested while livestreaming from Runnymede Eco Village who were hosting the Festival for Democracy, which was a folk gathering of peace activists, environmental activists, students and hippies. The event was intended to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta being signed. I was there to learn some history, to relax, to perform some music with friends and move in for a bit. Runnymede eco-village was an amazing place, which was later shamefully destroyed by bailiffs. I’m gutted that I didn’t get to spend time there before it was demolished.

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As far as I understood it, the organisers of the festival had permission from the local council and the police months in advance of the festival but when we arrived there was a heavy police presence. They had cordoned off the eco-village and were preventing people from attending what they were calling ‘an illegal rave’.  I think it’s most likely that the ‘illegal rave’ was a simple ruse to shut down the festival.

I started livestreaming immediately, to let people know what was happening and to seek advice from comrades online. I was able to broadcast a transmission from Phoenix who reassured people that it was all a misunderstanding and the festival for democracy was going ahead. We did some more broadcasts of Phoenix showing us around and liaising with the police at the entrances.

 

They arrested me while livestreaming Phoenix in discussion with a police officer at the main entrance to the site. The officers who arrived were overbearing and rude. They offered me no opportunity for discussion. They handcuffed, fingerprinted, DNA swabbed and detained me in a cell overnight. They confiscated my phone and refused to return it for months. They released me with conditions to leave the area and not return. I could not collect my belongings from the eco-village. I had just over £1 to my name. If it wasn’t for the comrades who waited all night to help me out, I would have been absolutely fucked.

I was the only livestreamer broadcasting from the site. I later discovered that the broadcast of my arrest had put people off attending – because the over-policing of what was intended to be a peaceful political gathering was so frighteningly disproportionate. It cannot be proven at this stage whether or not it was their intention to discourage people from coming by singling me out for arrest midway through a broadcast but that was the effective outcome.

They took me to court several months later under threat of a prison sentence. I was found not guilty by a prosecutor who expressed their discomfort at my having been brought to trial, let alone arrested. My vindication apparently came by virtue of the footage I had livestreamed before and during the arrest. (Bambuser’s free livestreaming service is sadly offline now but I have saved the footage).

When used effectively, livestreaming inverts the traditional, ‘top down’ technological paradigm. It is ironic that the Orwellian surveillance state now feels so threatened by it’s own technology. “They” clearly don’t like it. Unfortunately, “they” still hold the monopoly on the use of force.

Amongst various other factual inaccuracies in the information the police had on me, they had placed a marker for ‘weapons’ on my custody record. I was not then and do not carry weapons. Understanding how livestreamers are now routinely picked off at protests, demonstrations, actions and peaceful assemblies, I wonder if they categorised my livestreaming phone as a ‘weapon’ in the information war. It’s not that implausible.

They also placed markers for ‘psychosis’ and ‘schizophrenia’ on my custody record. I have never been diagnosed with either of these conditions.

After three years of asking them to correct the inaccuracies on my custody record, they finally agreed to add an amendment. On page 20 something of that document.

Does the State Now See Me As An ‘Arrestable’?

In my few years on various frontlines of UK activism, I have often wondered what happens to all the people who get arrested. A few people I know and know of seem to be in a continuous cycle of getting nicked and then being prosecuted (dragged through the courts) for protesting, demonstrating, occupying, blockading etc. A few have even done time in prison for peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience.

These brave few ‘arrestables’ seem remarkably at ease with the risks they take on a seemingly regular basis. I admire them all for their courage, for the strength of their convictions and for their determination to use their lives to help unfuck the world. They inspire me to do all I can to help. I also wonder which of them are political, corporate, or state plants. I wonder which political parties, which corporations, which states…which agendas…

Many more of the people who get nicked simply vanish from public view altogether. They either burn out and fade away, or go incognito as I have done to some extent recently.

It’s for this reason that I had never voluntarily been an arrestable. I would take part in mass actions but I’d always been too scared to put my hand up for cracking the squat, or doing the lock-on, or the lorrysurf, or the blockade. The unknown was scary. Being arrested was scary. Being taken to court and prosecuted was scary.

The Bad

The last three years have definitely taken their toll on me physically and mentally. I’m not going to detail all of the fuckery that’s gone on because I don’t think that would be very useful or helpful but it has all been very taxing. I’ve struggled to sleep. My physical and mental health have suffered. The legal chicanery was nauseating. My solicitor was cautious about me discussing the case publicly, which was extremely frustrating. By the end of it, the cost budget if the case proceeded to trial would have been six figures. Despite being protected to some extent by the Legal Aid Agency, this was a huge privilege, responsibility and pressure to bear. Channelling the anger and fear, balancing the paranoia and caution has been extremely difficult but…

The Good

It was well worth it. I was not only vindicated at my criminal trial but I got justice afterwards. I feel great now. I’m sleeping better. I’m in a much better place psychologically and materially than I have been for a long time. I’ve got an opportunity to properly recuperate healthwise, to square up with all the people who’ve helped me and to pay some forward to comrades who need help now. That’s also what I’m trying to do here with this bit of scribbling, in a non-materialistic sense…

Perhaps most significantly, I’m a lot less scared of it all. Arrest, trial and litigation are not as unknown and scary as they were. I don’t especially want to go through it all again, but I’m much better prepared if I decide that I must voluntarily or if I’m involuntarily forced to again.

Hindsight

As difficult and counter-intuitive as it was, I now believe it was the right move to self-censor about the litigation. Regardless of the impact on my case, it would have had a detrimental impact on people’s perception of the ‘scary unknown’. Being arrested and prosecuted. Facing trial, possibly prison. Pursuing restorative justice. It was all scary and I was very freaked out by it. I kept a personal blog for my darkest moments, which became thousands of words long. I don’t think any of it would be of much use to share now, though I’ve boiled down some of it here so as not to sugarcoat it.

Three years was a long time to wait, but it is extremely satisfying to have walked this road to the end. I’ve learned a lot about myself, the people around me and about how another pillar of the prostitute state operates.

I feel very privileged to live in a part of the world that still enjoys freedoms that would see you assassinated elsewhere. I’m looking forward to getting stuck back in to using this privilege as effectively as I can to help unfuck the world.

Lastly, again, I am overwhelmingly grateful to Bindmans LLP’s excellent solicitors, Samantha Broadley and legal counsel, Owen Greenhall who helped to vindicate me at my criminal trial, to Anna Thwaites who helped me get restorative justice and to the Legal Aid Agency, without whom I would not have been able to get legal representation at all.

Thanks to everybody who’s helped me out materially and emotionally.

You know who you are and you’re awesome.

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The Extinction Symbol represents extinction. It is quite important to raise awareness of the 6th Mass Extinction, particularly as corporate power invests so much pretending that it isn’t really happening…

 

 

 

 

Voting. [Flowchart]

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I saw this old ‘anti-statist’,  flowchart meme on my prolefeed again recently and it gave me pause for thought.
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Followers of this blog will know that after many years of refusing to participate in party politics (beyond taking the piss out of it all), I was finally persuaded to vote for the first time ever during last year’s general election.

Broadly, I was persuaded by the work of Caroline Lucas, Jeremy Corbyn and others. I wrote extensively about my angst-ridden decision making process at the time.

I used to see the world as simplistically as this meme puts it. “If you vote, you’re a statist”. End of.

Maybe it’s my age showing, but I take a slightly more nuanced view now…

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Not trying to persuade anybody, just sayin…

VoteLabourSquareThe way I see it now, if I’m going to go to the trouble of campaigning, marching, demonstrating, protesting, occupying, blockading etc etc, it can’t hurt to tick one of their fucking little boxes every few years or so. Minimal effort for potentially significant grains of sand up the old mountain. Mutual aid for comrades like Lucas and Corbyn, who have consistently been there on the frontlines of so many struggles with us.

Anyway, I couldn’t really give a fuck if you vote or not, or who you vote for…(though I would have to question the morals of anybody who votes Tory or UKIP….). Whatever you’re doing, (or not doing) to unfuck the planet, keep it lit and be excellent to each other.

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copyleftfontextinctionsymbol

The Extinction Symbol represents extinction. It is quite important to raise awareness of the 6th Mass Extinction, particularly as corporate power invests so much pretending that it isn’t really happening…

 

No More Climate Disaster Martyrs

RIP David Buckel

(This image was  created by Donnachadh McCarthy, who wrote passionately about David’s passing on facebook here.)

Rest in Power David Buckel, prominent US gay rights lawyer and environmental activist, who tragically burnt himself to death this week. He set himself alight with petrochemicals to draw attention to the escalating climate crisis, which the corporatocracy has been persuading people to ignore for decades. In his note, he said “Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather,

Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result — my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.” He expressed hope that his death would serve as a call to action, saying, “Honourable purpose in life invites honourable purpose in death“.

David Buckel is sadly not the deep green movement’s first martyr.

Earlier this year environmental activist, Kavous Seyed Emami, a professor and prominent environmental activist, apparently committed suicide while detained in a Tehran prison.

In late October 2016, Environmentalist Jawahar Kumaran killed himself and left a video protesting about toxic plastic. In the video, he said “I am sacrificing my life in the hope that it will trigger serious concern about plastic use in India. Since all of my peaceful means of protest failed, I’m forced to choose suicide. To save the lives of millions of people affected by toxic plastic, I don’t think it’s wrong to kill myself.”

In July 2016 a pioneering environmentalist couple, Judi and Lou Friedman had apparently also killed themselves. They had been extremely active in educational, environmental, peacekeeping, alternative energy and anti-nuclear efforts locally, nationally and internationally.

In December 2005, ELF environmental activist and animal rights activist, William C Rodgers was found dead in his cell. According to police, he had used a plastic bag to commit suicide.

In September 2003 ecologist and author, Dr Garrett Hardin and his wife, Jane Hardin took their own lives. Dr. Hardin was suffering a heart disorder, and Jane had Lou Gehrig’s disease. They were both members of End-of-Life Choices, formerly known as the Hemlock Society.

Kristin Marie Snyder, a self-employed environmental consultant apparently took her own life in February, 2003. A search for information about her tragic passing certainly raises far more questions than it does answers.

In July 1995: Alexander Langer ended his life by hanging himself from an apricot tree at Pian de’ Giullari, close to Florence. His note read: “Don’t be sad, continue doing what is right.” He was active in the social movements of 1968, a renowned journalist, and the founder and leader of the Italian Greens.

The list goes on and on. I can’t bring myself to keep compiling it. I’ve been trying to remember the name of the first such deep green suicide I heard of, some years ago now. He was an American hermit concerned with overconsumption who had been living a sustainable lifestyle off-grid. I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t remember his name now. If anybody knows who I’m talking about, please remind me. (*update – a kind reader has emailed to remind me that his name was Michael Ruppert, a writer, musician, police officer, investigative journalist, political activist, and peak oil awareness advocate who tragically chose to end his incredible life with a gunshot to the head in April 2014).

With the utmost respect to their individual right to self-determination, all of these climate disaster martyrs could have achieved much more if they were still alive and campaigning with a crew of supportive people around them.

As noble as the motivations for their choices might be, we really don’t need any more conscious, conscientious human beings to go this way. Particularly as there are so few like them and especially as corporate power is assassinating environmental activists in their hundreds across Latin America and worldwide. 200 environment protectors across 24 countries were killed in 2016. That’s four murders a week. If the trend has continued, it should be around one a day by now.

As the overwhelming savagery of the 6th Mass Extinction continues to escalate, we’re going to need to really look out for and help each other cope.

If anybody reading this is feeling so low as to consider doing something so radical as to take their own life in the name of any cause, (or none), please reach out for help first. If you don’t have friends or family you can talk to, I’ll always be here to listen and to help if I can. annnarkeh(at)gmail(dot)com – (remove brackets, insert symbols).

You are not alone, even if it feels like you are.

Don’t burn out. Keep it lit.

Be excellent to each other.

ANM_LARGE_GIF

copyleftfontextinctionsymbol

The Extinction Symbol represents extinction. It is quite important to raise awareness of the 6th Mass Extinction, particularly as corporate power invests so much pretending that it isn’t really happening…

Chancer’s Fudge it Budget is a Stinking Pile [Post Satire]

Erudite #Budget2017 analysis from Ann Narkeh:

Tax cuts for the rich, f*ck all for the poor.
Austerity is a choice. #SackTheTories

Post Satire isn’t funny…

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Santa’s Warning To Humanity: #ShopLessLiveMore [Subvert]

#ShopLessLiveMore

Over consumption is destroying the planet. Our home. But it’s not all ho ho hopeless.

This year, spend time not money.

Shop less. Live more.

Buy nothing.

Terms and conditions do not apply.

Participate by not participating.

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World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice [Short Film]

Signed by 15,364 scientists from 184 countries around the world, the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity, A Second Notice” was published on November 13th, 2017.

This short film was produced by Ann Narkeh for all you internet zombies. Some parts have been paraphrased for legibility. The original text with acknowledgements, references and supplementary materials can be found here.

Keep it lit.

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Buy Nothing Xmas [Subvert]

#ShopLessLiveMore

Consumerism is DESTROYING our planet and there’s NOTHING you can do about it.

Buy NOTHING.

You don’t have to spend money to show that you love your friends and family.

Shop Less, Live More.

Buy nothing this Xmas.

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World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice [Reblog]

Yesterday, over 17,000 scientists from all over the planet warned us for a second time that because of human activity,  we face ‘vast human misery’ in the near future.

I knew things were bad, but the datasets they present are absolutely terrifying.

The message needs to be heard and understood by everybody if life on this planet is to stand a chance of survival. The scientists’ warning should have been on the front page of every newspaper, should have been the top headline for every news network – but so far has only been picked up by 23 news outlets and 5 (now 6) blogs.

It’s incredible that this critical information is competing for attention with the likes of ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’ and the ‘MTV EMAs’…This is why Extra-Terrestrials won’t reveal themselves to us.

Pay attention. Don’t get sad, or mad, get active.

Stay strong. Keep it lit. Be excellent to each other.

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[OP follows]

Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” (see supplemental file S1). These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring.

The authors of the 1992 declaration feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life. They described how we are fast approaching many of the limits of what the ­biosphere can tolerate ­without ­substantial and irreversible harm. The scientists pleaded that we stabilize the human population, describing how our large numbers—swelled by another 2 billion people since 1992, a 35 percent increase—exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realize a sustainable future (Crist et al. 2017). They implored that we cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and phase out fossil fuels, reduce deforestation, and reverse the trend of collapsing biodiversity.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse (figure 1file S1). Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels (Hansen et al. 2013), deforestation (Keenan et al. 2015), and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption (Ripple et al. 2014). Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.

Figure 1.

Trends over time for environmental issues identified in the 1992 scientists’ warning to humanity. The years before and after the 1992 scientists’ warning are shown as gray and black lines, respectively. Panel (a) shows emissions of halogen source gases, which deplete stratospheric ozone, assuming a constant natural emission rate of 0.11 Mt CFC-11-equivalent per year. In panel (c), marine catch has been going down since the mid-1990s, but at the same time, fishing effort has been going up (supplemental file S1). The vertebrate abundance index in panel (f) has been adjusted for taxonomic and geographic bias but incorporates relatively little data from developing countries, where there are the fewest studies; between 1970 and 2012, vertebrates declined by 58 percent, with freshwater, marine, and terrestrial populations declining by 81, 36, and 35 percent, respectively (file S1). Five-year means are shown in panel (h). In panel (i), ruminant livestock consist of domestic cattle, sheep, goats, and buffaloes. Note that y-axes do not start at zero, and it is important to inspect the data range when interpreting each graph. Percentage change, since 1992, for the variables in each panel are as follows: (a) –68.1%; (b) –26.1%; (c) –6.4%; (d) +75.3%; (e) –2.8%; (f) –28.9%; (g) +62.1%; (h) +167.6%; and (i) humans: +35.5%, ruminant livestock: +20.5%. Additional descriptions of the variables and trends, as well as sources for figure 1, are included in file S1.

Humanity is now being given a second notice, as illustrated by these alarming trends (figure 1). We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats (Crist et al. 2017). By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.

As most political leaders respond to pressure, scientists, media influencers, and lay citizens must insist that their governments take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life. With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing. It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita ­consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources.

The rapid global decline in ozone-depleting substances shows that we can make positive change when we act decisively. We have also made advancements in reducing extreme poverty and hunger (www.worldbank.org). Other notable progress (which does not yet show up in the global data sets in figure 1) include the rapid decline in fertility rates in many regions attributable to investments in girls’ and women’s education (www.un.org/esa/population), the promising decline in the rate of deforestation in some regions, and the rapid growth in the renewable-energy sector. We have learned much since 1992, but the advancement of urgently needed changes in environmental policy, human behavior, and global inequities is still far from sufficient.

Sustainability transitions come about in diverse ways, and all require civil-society pressure and evidence-based advocacy, political leadership, and a solid understanding of policy instruments, markets, and other drivers. Examples of diverse and effective steps humanity can take to transition to sustainability include the following (not in order of importance or urgency): (a) prioritizing the enactment of connected well-funded and well-managed reserves for a significant proportion of the world’s terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial habitats; (b) maintaining nature’s ecosystem services by halting the conversion of forests, grasslands, and other native habitats; (c) restoring native plant communities at large scales, particularly forest landscapes; (d) rewilding regions with native species, especially apex predators, to restore ecological processes and dynamics; (e) developing and adopting adequate policy instruments to remedy defaunation, the poaching crisis, and the exploitation and trade of threatened species; (f) reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure; (g) promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods; (h) further reducing fertility rates by ensuring that women and men have access to education and voluntary family-planning services, especially where such resources are still lacking; (i) increasing outdoor nature education for children, as well as the overall engagement of society in the appreciation of nature; (j) divesting of monetary investments and purchases to encourage positive environmental change; (k) devising and promoting new green technologies and massively adopting renewable energy sources while phasing out subsidies to energy production through fossil fuels; (l) revising our economy to reduce wealth inequality and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption patterns impose on our environment; and (m) estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal.

To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning. Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.

Epilogue

We have been overwhelmed with the support for our article and thank the more than 15,000 signatories from all ends of the Earth (see supplemental file S2 for list of signatories). As far as we know, this is the most scientists to ever co-sign and formally support a published journal article. In this paper, we have captured the environmental trends over the last 25 years, showed realistic concern, and suggested a few examples of possible remedies. Now, as an Alliance of World Scientists (­scientists.forestry.oregonstate.edu) and with the public at large, it is important to continue this work to ­document challenges, as well as improved ­situations, and to develop clear, trackable, and practical solutions while communicating trends and needs to world leaders. Working together while respecting the diversity of people and opinions and the need for social justice around the world, we can make great progress for the sake of humanity and the planet on which we depend.

Spanish, Portuguese, and French versions of this article can be found in file S1.

Acknowledgments

Peter Frumhoff and Doug Boucher of the Union of Concerned Scientists, as well as the following individuals, provided thoughtful discussions, comments, or data for this paper: Stuart Pimm, David Johns, David Pengelley, Guillaume Chapron, Steve Montzka, Robert Diaz, Drik Zeller, Gary Gibson, Leslie Green, Nick Houtman, Peter Stoel, Karen Josephson, Robin Comforto, Terralyn Vandetta, Luke Painter, Rodolfo Dirzo, Guy Peer, Peter Haswell, and Robert Johnson.

Supplemental material

Supplementary data are available at BIOSCI online including supplemental file 1 and supplemental file 2 (full list of all 15,364 signatories).

References are cited in the original post.

Supplementary data

Truth, Justice, Freedom and Lulz

As we bear witness to the apocalypse, it’s important to make time for lulz. So, I made my unicorn do a rainbow fart.

That is all.

Music: ‘Focus’ by Angry Band.

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Thoughts and Prayers [Post Satire]

Who needs gun control when you’ve got thoughts and prayers?
Murica’s addiction to guns isn’t funny, it’s Post Satire.

More Post Satire here.giphy (8)

 

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