Racial Justice Summit Organizers Working With Undercover Police

Multiple trustworthy sources have informed Torchlight that the organizers of the upcoming Racial Justice Summit are collaborating with the Pittsburgh police to arrange for the presence of undercover officers during the event. This move is in response to threats recently received from white supremacists, probably the same ones who attempted to disrupt an anti-war protest organized by Party for Socialism and Liberation two weeks ago.

Cooperating with cops to to combat fascists is a horrible idea for a host of reasons. At an event where hundreds of Black people and others who are particularly vulnerable to police violence will be gathered, it’s an even worse one. Just for starters, what happens if someone at the summit with an outstanding warrant is recognized by an undercover detective? Or someone on house arrest who is not supposed to leave their home except to go to work?

Beyond that, we should all remember that cops and Klan go hand in hand. There is a clear pattern in other cities of fascist provocateurs attacking vulnerable members of society – and then standing back and watching the cops arrest their victims. In Pittsburgh, police leaders are more cognizant of public relations than in many other towns, but this attitude does not necessarily extend to the rank and file. Remember the anti-Trump protest when the mayor had to intervene in person to keep riot cops from brutalizing the protesters? If the fascists do show up there’s no guarantee that the cops present won’t take their side.

Even the best case scenario, with no white supremacists and no arrests, inviting cops into discussions and strategic planning will give them information they may well use later to repress the very social movements that the summit aims to develop. There are many individuals and organizations in Pittsburgh who would have been happy to defend the summit against fascist incursions, particularly in light of the small number of potential nazis.

Anyone considering attending this year’s summit should be aware of the danger and take appropriate precautions. Torchlight apologizes for the lateness of this warning, but we were making sure we had the facts straight before we published. Anyone with more information is urged to contact us at torchlight@riseup.net.

Reportback From New Years Eve Noise Demo at ACJ

Torchlight has been pretty much moribund for the last few months, but we pledge to make a comeback in 2020! To kick the new year off, here is a reportback from an anarchist who went to the noise demo at Allegheny County Jail on New Years Eve. Get in touch with us at torchlight@riseup.net.

I got to the jail a little late, so a few folks were already chanting and making noise in front when I arrived. More people trickled in behind me, but I don’t think we ever had more than 20 total. We damn sure made a lot of noise though. There were drums, pots and pans, and one person even brought an electric keyboard.

After spending some time at the jail front entrance, we marched around to the lower level, in front of the courthouse. This is where it really picked up, because we could see prisoners flashing their lights on and off, while dancing and cheering us on. A couple of people brought out a banner, but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it (Ed note: We’ll let it go this once…). Cops coming in and out of the courthouse gave us dirty looks, but they never really bothered us. After almost an hour, we marched again, this time to the back of the building along the bike trail. There’s a guard rail back there that makes a really loud noise when you bang on it.

Not too long after that a few folks clustered up to sing a song, but I was hoarse from chanting, and starting to get really chilly, so I left. I think anarchists in Pittsburgh have been scared of noise demos since the one where a bunch of people got arrested, so I was glad this one happened. Hopefully they will become a regular thing again.

Preliminary Dossier on Michael Kenney


The challenge for the authorities is how to handle activists who subscribe to extreme beliefs, but who express them through peaceful, lawful activism.

Michael Kenney, speaking to the Independent


Michael Kenney is an Associate Professor at Pitt in the Graduate School of Policy and International Affairs since July 2011. Before that he was an associate and assistant professor at Penn State. According to his CV, he has received grants from The Institute of Justice (the research, development and evaluation agency of the United States Department of Justice), and the Office of Naval Research, among other agencies. Journals in which his work has been published include Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, The International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, and Terrorism and Political Violence, among others. Kenney teaches courses at Pitt entitled “Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism” and “The War on Drugs”.

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Torchlight Editorial on Michael Kenney

Let’s start by acknowledging one thing – Michael Kenney is the world’s worst infiltrator. He’s been hanging around the fringes of the Pittsburgh anarchist scene, being awkward, asking intrusive questions, and contributing nearly nothing for well over a year. He has never concealed his name, his affiliation with Pitt, or the fact that he’s doing research, although he doesn’t necessarily volunteer that information. Any anarchist in Pittsburgh could have outed him at any time just by looking at his faculty page on the Pitt web site, but until this week no one bothered.

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Pitt Antiterrorism Researcher Infiltrating Pittsburgh Anarchist Projects

Torchlight has received the following communique form a local anarchist that we trust.

A person named Michael Kenney has been hanging out at the Big Idea Bookstore and attending events who  works for the FBI and has done work with DHS and the Office of Naval Intelligence to research extremism in social movements. For the past year he has been attending  prisoner letter writings and when he came to a  protest I was at he gave me his name and I looked him up. The following is a link to his GSPIA (Graduate School of  Public and International Affairs at Pitt) page which has his resume and picture.

If you see this person at a demonstrations or events, definitely make folks aware and call him out. We think he is doing intelligence gathering work for the federal government on movements in Pittsburgh although we aren’t sure what role GSPIA plays in all of this.

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