Update 1/10/10 11:58am: Any comments that were removed were removed because they mentioned full names and contact information. Not cool.
Update 1/10/10 11:53pm: Yeah, working on it. What a massive story! Making sure we are allowed to run some quotes and whatnot to really flesh things out. What we can confirm right now is that we will be standing in solidarity with the NYC Anarchist Black Cross and the rest of the organizations and individuals who stood up against abuse and manipulation from an individual(s) in their communities. There is a line of logic in all of this and we are working on the follow-up piece.
Update 1/9/10 12:05: We are still working on corroborating everything from a staggering amount of sources and information. Sunday, there will be a follow-up post detailing everything we know and are able to disclose at that time. Because of the... ahem... "scene" nature of this whole dispute, this has startlingly been one of the most popular and discussed stories in the history of SnitchWire and hopefully a lesson can be learned in all of this. We will be taking advantage of the traffic spike by directing you here, where you can read all about Scott DeMuth and Carrie Feldman, two grand jury resistors who are staying brave in the face of repression. Please give them whatever support and money you can, as they are two extremely courageous individuals.
Position Update 4:20 PM: For the record, we always will side with the victims and those that saw the inside of a jail cell. Although we are working on getting to the bottom of this story and researching both sides of it, this post will remain up in its entirety for journalistic posterity. If we are wrong, we will concede that and let the world see what led us to those conclusions. Currently, we are offering no further judgment nor are we offering any kind of retraction.
Calling the police is never a good idea unless there are bodies involved. Personal disputes and property disputes, especially among anarchists, should be solved without the State. Some people are offering testimony and words of support for Dennis/Thadeus, but that doesn't change the fact that a large group of people are saying he is abusive and manipulative. Until this whole matter is resolved, SnitchWire will be reserving further judgment. Although we would chastise Burke for calling the police for what appear to be extremely petty matters, the other side of the story can be told but also refuted. Time and further research will tell what kind of conclusions we personally come to, but for now, we will be keeping on this story and updating it as more information comes in. We would encourage readers to keep an eye on this story as it develops and also hold their judgment until there is some kind of finality to the case.
Update 2:55 PM: These accusations are being disputed and we are attempting to get to the bottom of everything. Anyone familiar with the story and subject is encouraged to contact us at snitchwire [at] riseup [dot] net.
Update 2:04 PM: Late to the party a bit, but we've got some word that Burke/Umpster ran the blog Bombs & Shields before it went on hiatus. Came as kind of a surprise to us! We've since removed it. If you're looking for riot porn, check out MAKE TOTAL DESTROY, Social Rupture, Social War Chicago, 'Till it Breaks, and One Direction, because everyone has urges.
The Love and Resistance collective in New York City has asked us to circulate the following statement about Dennis Burke aka Thadeus D. Umpster, a fixture of NYC's anarchist scene since 1999.
Thadeaus D. Umpster, persona non grata
Today the Love and Resistance collective, NYC Anarchist Black Cross (ABCF-NYC), Support NY, Bitches Roll Deep Anarcha-feminist collective, Aftershock Action Alliance, the New School in Exile, Students Creating Radical Change (NYU), and other individuals active in the anarchist and revolutionary scenes in New York City find ourselves in the position of issuing the following statement:
Dennis Burke aka Thadeaus D. Umpster has been around anarchist groups in NYC since 1999, residing in a well-known anarchist house in Brooklyn, NY and part of the largely defunct group A New World in Our Hearts.
While initially considered a comrade by some of us, Thadeaus’ erratic, disruptive, abusive and otherwise troubling behavior caused almost everyone in NYC to disavow him. Thadeaus has been called out multiple times for abusive behavior, by both ex-partners and other women who have come in contact with him, and by survivor support groups. Those of us who have been involved in political projects with Thadeaus have seen his dominating, manipulative and stubborn behavior destroy groups and drive dozens of people away.
Until now some of us have held our tongues on the subject (in retrospect for way too long), but recent events have made it impossible to do this any longer. In the past year Thadeaus has become more isolated, as well as violent and bizarre in his behavior. He has forcibly entered into rooms of other people in the collective house he lives in, and has repeatedly called the police on roommates who confront him about this behavior. Thadeaus recently threatened a roommate who has a pending legal case, with contacting the district attorney's office, and volunteering to testify as a character witness against them. In short, Thadeaus will not hesitate to use the police or the threat of the police to hold power over others.
Weeks ago, residents of the house unanimously decided that they did not want Thadeaus to live there anymore. This was communicated him and he has refused to move out. On December 10, a new resident was moving into a room at the collective house, Thadeaus attempted to physically block their entrance, called the police reporting a “home invasion” in front of several witnesses and began throwing the new resident’s belongings out a second-story window. Thadeaus met the police at the gate, and despite the efforts of another resident present, invited the cops into the house. Thadeaus lied to the cops, claiming that a non-existent roommate was being forcibly evicted, in an attempt to get at least one of his roommates arrested. A long debate ensued, in the presence of the police, resulting in the cops telling everyone present that if they were called again that night, everyone (including Thadeaus) would be arrested.
Four days later, on December 16, he once again called the cops after changing the locks of a housemate's room.
On January 5, 2010, an inevitable confrontation occurred after two roommates (1 & 2) walked in on Thadeaus and two of his associates inside roommate 1's room going through the individual's personal belongings. When confronted, Thadeaus pulled out a video camera and became confrontational. In the ensuing melee, police were called by both parties and they in turn arrested roommates 1 and 2, both people of color. Unlike previous attempts to have comrades and roommates arrested, this call played on the pervasive racism of the NYPD and both of them were jailed facing serious charges.
When another resident returned to the house from the precinct, this resident and another person went to secure one of the arrested roommate's belongings. Thadeaus attempted to physically prevent them from doing so, and then promptly called the NYPD again. After about an hour-long conversation with the police, no arrests were made.
On January 6th, the day after putting our friends in jail, Thadeaus once again called the NYPD to the house on yet another made-up claim.
It pains us that we have to spend our time dealing with a destructive individual like Thadeaus who has been a plague to our scenes for years, instead of using our time and energies to fight for liberation and against capitalism. It is clear that Thadeaus is not a comrade and is instead the kind of violent, abusive individual who will not hesitate to use the police against comrades. Members of the anarchist community have spent months attempting to address his inter-personal abuse history through an accountability process. However, because of his attempts to evade accountability, continuing abuse and now snitching, Thadeaus has effectively removed himself from this community thereby precluding the continuation of that process.
Finally, it should be noted that Thadeaus is persistently manipulative, and will likely try to rationalize, deny or minimize the events described herein. As an example of such, below is a quote taken from a widely seen email, where he was called out for contacting the police years ago in a non-threatening aftermath of an infoshop property dispute:
“I have never called the cops in my life...people are throwing personal insults and insinuating that I am a snitch. That is bullshit and I hope that people take note of who is leveling these allegations.” (Thadeaus, 10/4/09)
Please forward this widely, and fight against snitches, snitching and individuals who prey on radical social scenes. The strength of our movements depends on it. This statement serves as a notification to all that Thadeaus is a persona non grata in NYC and should not be welcomed elsewhere. He is a dangerous, manipulative person and should not be trusted nor tolerated within any social or political communities.
-ex members of the new world in our hearts collective,
January 7th, 2010, New York City
SnitchWire endorses this outing of Dennis Burke after reviewing the information presented by the aforementioned organizations. Anyone calling themselves an anarchist should never call the police to resolve a personal dispute, especially when doing so could land comrades into the clutches of the State. In the future, individuals with abusive histories should continue to be held accountable and watched closely, especially in collective housing situations.
Make no mistake, Burke is a snitch. Using the authorities multiple times to his advantage over the span of a few years is inexcusable, and negates any revolutionary potential Burke may have had. Going through the posessions of somebody else is also a huge no-no, and it would be of interest to SnitchWire to find out who his "associates" in this situation could have been. Wherever he goes, SnitchWire would advise that Burke is shunned from working any further on anarchist projects or campaigns and definitely turned away from any kind of collective living situation. He is a hazard to the radical community and a dangerous liability as a collaborator to the State.
DO NOT call the police. This means YOU.