Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 27, 2007
Since his arrest last year on suspicion of federal weapons offenses, Tempe activist Laro Nicol has amassed a large following of supporters.
Nicol, a former air traffic controller, was already well-known in Valley peace activist circles.
Now, typing in Nicol's name on the Google search engine reveals 10 pages of links that exclaim "Free Laro!" and call him a "prisoner for peace."
Widespread support is found on Web sites for Cop-Watch, a group that opposes police brutality, and other leftist political organizations.
On Saturday, the Monsoon Anarchist Collective is hosting a benefit concert with local punk, reggae and hip-hop acts for Nicol and Sherman Austin, "a political prisoner imprisoned in Tucson."
"It's incredible, there�s definitely a large level of support for my cause," Nicol said, adding that he lost his job after his arrest, and his family is just scraping by.
Nicol was arrested March 4, 2003, by agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on suspicion of unlawfully possessing explosives and unlawfully possessing firearms on the grounds that he is an illegal drug user, court records state.
Nicol said that much of the government�s case against him stems from the statements of an informant who was under threat of arrest.
A recent motion to postpone Nicol�s trial suggests that a plea deal may be in the works.
"The parties are now actively attempting to achieve a pre-trial resolution," court records state.
Nicol said he believes his political leanings and past involvement in CopWatch had something to do with his arrest, facilitated under the USA Patriot Act.
"I have a family. I was not out there raising hell," Nicol said. "The government intrusion is so pervasive that no one is safe from it anymore. With as little as an informant�s statement � boom, I was raided."
If Nicol ends up behind bars, his family will need help, and that�s where the benefit show comes in. Proceeds will help Nicol�s family and Austin, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison in Tucson on charges related to publishing information about explosives on his Web site.
What:Benefit concert featuring Bodhisattva, Financial Panther, Joey G, Kitch Kitchen & Queen, Mohammed, FNX Underground & Ill Phonix � Yavin 4, Kindread
When: 6:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday
Where: Kid�s Place, 1245 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix
Cost: $5 suggested donation at the door
The celebration took shape on Mill Ave. as participants took to the sidewalks, targeting corporate business and consumers. Anti-corporate and anti-police chants were shouted by the crowd as they confronted businesses such as Urban Outfitters, Hooters, and Borders Books. As the group circled Tempe City Hall, an onlooker with the protest heard police say they were "targeting for 8 o'clock."
Onlookers stood and watched not sure of why folks were out "protesting." One man said that he thought the "whole thing was retarded..I don't know why they [Mayday participants] are protesting the war, I was in the military for two years and I love my country." When the event was explained to him, he exclaimed, "well it's still retarded, even if it's not an anti-war march."
Mayday celebrants headed up and down Mill Ave. as police blocked crosswalks and followed the march on bicycles. As the celebration headed south on Mill around 8pm, the police began to encircle the crowd, which kept moving along Mill Ave. as a police SUV blocked traffic as a muffled speaker warned protesters to stay "off of the street and the sidewalks."
As the crowd continued to move, police moved further into the crowd, charging with horses as foot police grabbed one woman with a bullhorn at 8:03pm as the march was in full swing. The woman, was charged with "obstructing a public thoroughfare" by Tempe police, though she was in the center of the crowd. None of the surrounding participants were cited or taken into custody.
As a result of the arrest, several people were assaulted and or injured by Tempe police officers, including two female Phoenix Copwatch members who were acting as legal observers. Another woman's glasses were broken and a man suffered a foot injury as a police horse trampled over his foot.
Police attempted to further control the situation by pointing pepper spray canisters into the crowd, though at one point during the march a police officer told an IMC reporter that they [the police] were not prepared to use any chemical weapons. It was apparent that the police were disorganized as various officers reprimanded each other for failing to control the crowd throughout the evening, via verbal shouting and through radio communication.
In spite of the one arrest, the crowd continued to move along unfazed for the next forty-five minutes. Police, which greatly outnumbered the march participants, continued to follow the group as they made their way back to their vehicles after the activities ended. The evening ended without further arrests, though the police continued to monitor the park that had been used as the convergence point earlier in the day.
Mayday is a labor holiday celebrated world-wide, excluding the U.S., who changed the observance of Labor Day to September, after several factory uprisings, such as the Haymarket Square riots in Chicago, at the beginning of the 20th century.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Monday, May 8, 2006
Illegal immigrant demonstrates ease of re-entering U.S.
May 8, 2006 09:04 AM EDT Email to a Friend Printer Friendly Version
An illegal immigrant who was jailed in Arizona and deported to Mexico has since returned to the state.
It took Efrain Martinez, who spent 42 days in jail for lying to police, less than a week in late April to be convicted, deported and return to the country.
Border officials and immigration experts said such rapid border recrossings aren't uncommon.
In March, Martinez was accused of shooting at former Mesa council candidate JT Ready. Ready, a concealed weapons instructor and member of several civilian border patrol groups, said Martinez fired at him first.
Martinez has said he never fired a gun at Ready and was misidentified. He was charged with assault and threatening and intimidation, but those charges were dropped when he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor of giving false information. Authorities say Martinez gave a false name.
While immigration officials don't keep statistics on illegal re-entries, most people know that returning immigrants back to the border can sometimes be like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom.
"Every day there are hundreds crossing, and some of those hundreds were removed a matter of hours before," said Russell Ahr, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "Once they go right back out into Mexico, they are out of (this) country's control, so a lot of them turn right around and try to get back in."
There is a logical reason for the problem, said Nadia Flores, Texas A&M University professor and a researcher for Princeton University's Mexican Migration Project.
"If the person is deported to the border town, and the person has nothing, they have no money or they have nowhere to go, the only thing they can do is to come back," Flores said.
Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors limiting immigration, said some immigrants accept voluntary repatriation because they know they can sneak back into the country again quickly.
"If you weren't just across the border it would be more of a problem to get back," Mehlman said.
Ahr said Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents typically take deportees as far as the Nogales checkpoint and watch them walk into Mexico to make sure they are fully repatriated. Not much stops them from simply turning around and coming right back, he said.
As for Martinez, the 33-year-old is unapologetic for being an illegal immigrant.
All he cares about is moving up the social ladder: Finding a good-paying job, meeting the right woman, having children. He said he wants to go to Florida soon.
"They cannot impede me from trying to have a better life," he said
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
ASU police Cmdr. John Sutton said police are not very interested in interfering with students.
"The biggest impact is going to be some inconveniences related to the debate," Sutton said. "The main thing is to allow some extra time to get where you need to go."
Special Agent Chuck Wolford, in charge of Secret Service for the districts of Arizona and New Mexico, said he didn't expect any student issues except for traffic problems.
Wolford said the Secret Service has always been charged with the protection of the president and any persons the president deems warrants their protection.
Wolford said Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, their families and some staff members qualify for protection.
"Our key role has been as a coordinator between the different local and federal law enforcement agencies," Wolford said. "The closer one gets to the protectee the more the Secret Service is involved.
"When you start looking at the inner and outer perimeters of an event you will see other agencies come into play."
While he would not give specifics about staffing levels or tactical assignments, Wolford denied rumors that there would be snipers on buildings around campus.
"We will have people on rooftops with binoculars looking for anything unusual," he added.
Wolford said federal agencies like the FBI and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency will be part of a collective federal intelligence gathering effort.
"At this time we haven't seen any indications of a terrorist attack from an intelligence standpoint," he said. "But we are well prepared for anything."
Sky Harbor International Airport spokesperson Julie Rodriguez said commercial flights would only briefly be restricted from landing while Air Force One is landing.
She said the delay would likely take a few minutes as the president's flight is given priority to land.
Wolford said the Secret Service had issued a notice to airmen clearing all private air traffic around the debate site, but commercial flights would not be affected.
Wolford also said the Phoenix police will be escorting the motorcades for Bush and Kerry, but he would not divulge their routes to Gammage because of security concerns.
ASU police will be coordinating the various law enforcement groups from a forward command center at Tempe High School located at 1730 S. Mill Ave.
Tempe police Sgt. Dan Masters said ASU and Tempe police would be joined by horseback police from Scottsdale and Phoenix and added that Gilbert police would help with traffic security.
Masters also said the explosive ordinance disposal unit would be using bomb sniffing canines and robot detection systems.
The 91st Civil Support Team of the Air National Guard will also be in Tempe monitoring air quality to detect any biological weapons Masters said.
Civil rights concerns
During the weeks leading to the debate, some students voiced concern about being searched while taking pictures of Gammage Auditorium.
Wolford said it would be neglectful for a law enforcement officer to not investigate such activity.
Sutton agreed and said he hoped that an officer observing someone taking pictures of the site would go over and politely ask them what they were doing.
"It's a situation where we need to ask the question and find out what's going on," he said.
"We know that terrorists do their homework when they make their plans," Sutton added.
Sutton said if the students were not doing anything wrong, officers would only take a minute of their time and nothing else.
Eleanor Eisenberg, the executive director of the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that such activities intruded on the rights of citizens.
"We see that as an absolute infraction of peoples' rights unless police have clear evidence," Eisenberg said.
Eisenberg said she would be holding a "Know Your Rights" forum tonight at 5 at the Gentle Strength Co-op located at 234 W. University Drive to help prepare Tempe residents for the debate.
"Unfortunately, at this point we would advise people around the debate site to obey police orders," Eisenberg said.
She said in most situations there would only be a moment for demonstrators to decide whether or not what officers are asking them to do is legal or in violation of their right to free speech and peaceful assembly.
"If they [demonstrators] don't want to be arrested they would be best off if they complied," Eisenberg said.
Sutton said demonstrators would enjoy their constitutional right to free speech as long as they are peacefully doing so.
"There is going to be a Speaker's Corner set up on the [Student Recreation Complex] fields with a platform and a [public address] system," Sutton said. "It will be an area for people to get their message out if they want to protest."
He said people would maintain the right to be by the Gammage security fence, as long as their actions do not break any laws.
"If officers observe people breaking the law, then they would have to take appropriate action," he added.
Sutton said the University's Emergency Operations Center would be operational during the day of the debate. The center, however, would not be activated unless ASU President Michael Crow or his designated representative orders it.
In such an emergency the police command post at Tempe High School would then be directed by key University officials at the EOC, Sutton said.
Law enforcement agencies also have been doing their homework on groups they expect to see protest this week, Sutton said.
"We know what types of tactics that certain groups employ," he said. "We do know that groups like the anarchists will mingle with other groups and get them charged up to act in ways they wouldn't normally act."
Sutton said disruptive groups have been known to fling urine and paint-filled jugs onto police.
Masters said there would be several hundred mobile field force squad officers from various East Valley agencies on call to respond if necessary to a violent protest.
"These officers are equipped with less-than-lethal ammunition including gas, ballistic shields and batons in the event of a worst-case scenario," Masters said.
Masters said police are equipped to handle a large amount of violent protesters.
"We have solicited support from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, and we will have the use of several city-size buses to transport and book anyone who is arrested," Masters said.
Eisenberg said there would likely be arrests because of the constraints placed on protesters.
"America used to be thought of as a free speech zone," she said. "Now it's a cage or a lawn."
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, March 22, 2003
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 22, 2003 12:00 AM
PHOENIX - Police will beef up security for a war protest this weekend, spurred by concerns about a small group of radical protesters who they say have crashed peaceful demonstrations across the Valley.
"Locally, the majority (of protesters) are very peaceful," said Phoenix police Lt. Jeff Halstead. "We have a small contingent of people who want to show up and cause trouble for us, but we are prepared for that."
The "troublemakers" typically turn out in groups of five to 30 and cover their faces with bandannas to shield themselves from pepper spray and other less-than-lethal weapons, police said.
But many peaceful demonstrators have questioned police tactics at local protests.
"We are concerned that the police presence may actually be causing some of these problems," said Marty Leiberman, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union. "Ninety-nine-point-nine percent want to peacefully protest to make their point."
The concerns stem in part from the March 8 arrest of seven protesters, an incident that activists and police described differently.
To avoid such conflicts in the future, police have met with activist groups and ACLU members to work out plans to keep protesters safe and orderly and avoid arrests.
Police are offering tips for protesters to get their message out without getting arrested:
• Avoid crossing against traffic lights.
• Do not block access to roads.
• Do not lock your body to a fixed object, such as a tree, sign or bench.
"They can still show their support for peace . . . without violating any of our state laws," Halstead said.
Sue Hilderbrand, an organizer with Arizona Alliance for Peaceful Justice, said demonstrators plan to stay on the sidewalks near 24th Street and Camelback during a 48-hour vigil for peace that starts at 10 a.m. today.
"As long as we stay on the sidewalk, we won't get arrested," she said. "Our goal is to be very visible at the intersections. It's all very legal."
Hilderbrand said the police presence has raised questions about protesters' ability to freely question the war in Iraq.
"Since September 11, any sort of dissent has been considered putting America and the American government down, that we're criticizing the government," she said. "And that's not what we're doing. We're being as patriotic as anyone could possibly be because we're expressing ourselves. If we're not allowed to dissent, to question our government, then the terrorists have won."
Reach the reporter at (602) 444-8543.
Sunday, February 16, 2003
and Tracy Kurtinitis
East Valley Tribune
Thousands of banner-waving demonstrators, energized by musicians and political speakers, took to the streets of downtown Phoenix Saturday to challenge America's countdown to war with Iraq.
The peace rally was part of a world-wide series of protests denouncing the looming conflict in the Middle East.
The day started at 10 a.m. with heavy clouds over Patriots Square
Park as nearly 3000 people assembled near Washington Street and Central Avenue for a speakers' rally before marching into the streets.
The crowd included a diverse group of college students, senior citizens, anarchists, Christians, Muslims, doctors and construction workers. They sang, waved signs that criticized President Bush's foreign policy, and expressed sympathy for the Iraqi people.
"I'm for peace," said Dr, David Willbirt of Tempe. "This is the personal agenda for a few people who want to control the oil supply."
The Rev. Scott Ritchy, a minister at the Scottsdale United Methodist Church, was the first to address the protesters and drew loud cheers from the crowd when he proclaimed "war is not a family value."
Alfredo Gutierrez, a former Democrat candidate for governor, finished the ally by declaring the Bush administration has presented no compelling reason for war.
Not everyone who attended the rally agreed with the speakers' agenda. A group of about 20 people gathered on the north side of the park to support the president's policy towards Iraq.
"I believe in the rights of the Iraqi people," said Greg Iannelli, 21, of Gilbert. "We are the most powerful nation and we can't just sit back and do nothing."
His roommate, Eric Sprattling, added, "Saddam Hussein is a dictator who has no right to sit on the world's oil supply."
After the rally, protesters marched about 2 ½ miles along the streets of downtown Phoenix as police closed some intersections to traffic. A contingent from the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition dominated the parade front, wearing all-black clothing and dark bandanas covering their faces.
Beating drums, the crowd chanted antiwar slogans with obscene phrases and wrote statements in chalk on the pavement.
Don Clouse, a photographer from southeast Phoenix, held an American flag upside down with white gloves.
"It's a symbol of distress," the 61-year-old said. "I think our country is in a state of distress."
Clouse said he wore the gloves because he didn't want to show disrespect to the flag.
Phoenix police in riot gear were deployed in large numbers and attempted several times to divert the demonstrators from their planned route. At First Avenue and Roosevelt Street, officers blocked the intersection with motorcycles and bicycles as they tried to direct the crowd east toward Central Avenue.
After a brief pause, the crowd pushed past the make-shift barricade and continued north.
One anarchist waving a black flag led the protesters as they continued to ignore police instructions at two more street corners and ended the march where they planned – in front of a military recruitment center at First and Washington streets.
As officers stood in front of the recruitment center, angry protesters called for an end to the "police state".
"Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day we will shut you down," one man said.
Authorities arrested six people outside the recruitment building for undisclosed reasons.
Most of the demonstrators returned to Patriots Square Park for more speeches and music. But about 25 people danced and taunted police officers near the corner of Washington Street and Central Avenue. Police in riot gear tried to push the group north onto Jefferson Street.
However, most refused to budge and chanted antiwar messages as motorists beeped their horns and flashed peace symbols.
"The story here really is that there is this outpouring of protest for a war that hasn't even started yet," said Barry Vaughn, 38, a philosophy and religious studies professor at Mesa Community College. "Wait until you see the public outcry once young Americans come home in coffee cans because thy had to be cremated in Iraq due to the risk of biological contamination.
Gary and Christine Guerin, who marched with their basset hound, Archie, said they participated in rallies in the late 1960s that opposed the Vietnam War and supported the civil rights movement. The Guerins said Saturday's protest was subdued by comparison.
"It's a lot less radical," Christine Guerin said.
Sunday, December 30, 2001
Sun Dec 30 '01
Article describing the 12/19 march against police brutality in Glendale. Includes background, the march and my experience assisting in the organizing with the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition. Another version, including critique and analysis, will appear in the zine, "Necrotic State".
Members of a largely immigrant Glendale community battling police brutality, other victims and families of victims of police brutality, the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition (PAC), the Arizona Anarcho-Punk Federation, Phoenix Copwatch, North Phoenix Anti-Racist Action and the Phoenix Industrial Workers of the World joined together for a march through downtown Glendale and a Know Your Rights Forum on Wednesday, December 19th, the one-year anniversary of an early morning police raid which left 23 young men arrested. The day was also coincidentally the one-month anniversary of another police shooting in nearby Peoria in which the cops killed an unarmed man when he reached for a cell phone.
Phoenix Anarchist Coalition members first met the Glendale families at last year's Martin Luther King, Jr. march. The families had taken over a hill overlooking the event, carrying huge banners and signs denouncing the Glendale police as racist brutalizers. A conversation was begun there, and the families were eager to talk about what had happened to them. Over the course of the next year, several PAC members went across town to hear their stories and to offer any support that was needed. Despite some difficulties in communication because of the lack of Spanish speakers within our group, a special effort was made to keep in touch with these families to stay on top of developments and then, when this year's October 22 police brutality march was planned, the families were invited. We were definitely aware that it was up to us to be relevant to their struggle, not the other way around. Happily, they came and spoke at several points along the march, bringing with them the most passionate speakers and the most wonderful banners.
The stories that the families told were brutal ones indeed. In a series of early morning attacks, officers of the Glendale Police Department (GPD) simultaneously raided 23 homes in Glendale, serving warrants on sons and brothers who were alleged by the GPD to be members of the Califas gang. The families vehemently deny this allegation. Instead, they complain about a pattern of harassment in which the GPD intimidated, categorized and photographed their sons based on a very loose set of gang criteria: they were effectively tried and convicted by the police merely because of their income, skin color and who they knew.
When the police came, they blew down doors with explosives and charged into the houses with overwhelming force, including automatic weapons, surprising many of the residents in their pajamas and underwear. In one case, the GPD lay in wait outside a home and arrested two brothers as they left for work in the early morning, down the street, then waited for their father to leave as well. Then, when the house was almost empty, the police charged the door, knocking hard without declaring themselves. Thinking that one of her sons had forgotten something, the mother of the two newly arrested young men made her way towards the door with a small child in her arms to open it. Mere moments after knocking, the GPD set off explosive charges which blew the door to smithereens, sending pieces of the metal hinges and doorknob flying through the air like shrapnel. But for a second or two, this woman would certainly have been killed or seriously injured - the doorknob flew through the air, through the wall and into an adjoining bedroom from the force of the explosion. As a result, this family was left without a door in the middle of December. All the families, including small children and pregnant women, were held at gunpoint while police armed with automatic weapons ransacked their homes and arrested many young men. Police were rude, aggressive and uncooperative when residents asked to see warrants or for explanations. Eventually 25 young men were arrested, and 22 of them still sit in jail one year later.
The attorneys for the police have pressured the young men while in jail to take plea deals. One sixteen year old boy who took a deal has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for illegal possession of a handgun. Gus, the father of one of those still in jail and one of the neighborhood organizers characterized it this way: "They [Glendale police] are pressuring these kids to sign plea bargains. They [the young men arrested] are not killers. They are not terrorists. Is this the law? Is this the civil rights for the United States? This is like Gestapo! They [Glendale Police] don't respect anything."
As if that weren't bad enough, there is also some evidence that the GPD orchestrated this raid as a way to justify a new Federal anti-gang task force grant it was applying for. Two weeks after the raid, Glendale was approved for the money. Not that we should be surprised by this, but it certainly casts the GPD in a truly shameful light.
A few weeks after the O22 march, the Glendale families decided that they wanted to have a march of their own on the anniversary of the police attacks. Explaining why, Gus said, "It has passed one year, but it still hurts me and the Mexican community. They do not need to commit police brutality. We still remember. That is the reason that we march. I will never forget what they did. It was four months of investigation and we have been waiting one year for evidence. Do you think it's fair? I don't think it's fair."
PAC members were asked to assist in the planning, and so a hurried series of meetings took place in which anarchists and neighborhood residents decided cooperatively on a route, on a press release that was written and faxed out, on inviting groups, and on designing flyers to distributed in both english and spanish. Once this was done, PAC mostly focused on getting out anarchists to the march. However, on one of the flyer distributions we assisted in out in Glendale, two Glendale neighborhood residents and two PAC members hit up shoppers at a local grocery chain and another nearby westside neighborhood that had recently seen an unarmed man shot and killed by police after reaching for a cell phone, leaving his young girlfriend widowed and their 2 month old baby without a father. When we got there, I was disturbed to find that it was a neighborhood in which I had spent a lot of time as a younger punk. I'd spent probably three or four days a week hanging out just a block from where the shooting happened. It was a mixed working class white and hispanic neighborhood.
While handing out flyers, two interesting things happened. First, through asking around, the house where the young man lived was located. We knocked but no one was home and so we left Copwatch literature, along with a note expressing sympathy, information on the march and a contact number. We knew his girlfriend would be grieving, but we also knew that this was an issue she would have a personal connection to. We were a little unsure if this was appropriate or not, but, not having any other ideas, we did it anyhow. A few minutes later, while handing out flyers in the same neighborhood, about two blocks away, we ran into a man whose sister was now taking care of half a dozen kids orphaned when a mentally ill woman was shot and killed by police on May 1, last year. Most of us remember this event clearly because it came on the same day as our local May Day march in which 11 people were arrested.
As part of its new strategy, Copwatch, a group I am involved with, had decided to increase its patrols of this neighborhood, and the week before the march there was a patrol in which the Glendale police stopped one of our cars after we pulled over to observe a stop. The cops were ticketing a hispanic man for a broken headlight at a corner gas station. After being detained for 20 minutes, it turned out that it was just a bad fuse. At one point the man, explaining to the cop, reached out and kicked the headlight - it came on immediately. Too late - he was still ticketed. While we were there the cops called out a bunch of unnecessary backup, including a sergeant, who promptly came up to us like the big man he is to tell us what we could and could not do (as if we don't know). He told us we made the cops nervous by the way we pulled up on the scene. When the stop was over, we drove off, only to be pulled over a few blocks down the road by a cop car that had immediately swung in behind us after we left the gas station. The officer who pulled us over demanded to know who Copwatch was, what it was doing, where it was based and various other information. When we were released, an unmarked car followed us out of
Glendale. Clearly, the Glendale cops are nervous about being watched.
When the day of the march came, everyone gathered on a street corner downtown. About 80 to 100 people eventually showed up and the march moved out. Copwatch shadowed the march, sporting their trademark orange shirts with cameras in hand while we proceeded down the street towards the police headquarters, stopping periodically to show the beautiful banners made by the Glendale families. The cops were trying to play nice by stopping traffic for us. People were generally very supportive, and many honks from passing cars followed us as we marched thanks to a "Honk if you hate the police" sign. At this point I'd like to make a critique of the way the march proceeded. Probably unconsciously the march had segregated, with mostly white anarchists up front and mostly non-white folks at the back. This was particularly distressing because it was not the anarchists' march. Several people tried consciously to remedy this and by the time we left the police station, the march mixed up more, although some anarchists continued to take the lead, which I found distressing, since our role was to be
supportive and not co-optive.
I was also a bit distressed by the number of anarchists wearing masks on the march. While I recognize the utility of masks, and have worn one on many occasions, this particular time it seemed inappropriate. For me, although I had a mask, I opted not to wear it for two reasons. First of all, I was just so impressed that these people could stand up, without masks, and denounce the very cops who had brutalized them that I just couldn't justify hiding my identity. How sad would that be if I, not even a resident of this community, and being white, felt I had to hide my face, despite all my privilege, while these people with so little and who had been so recently victimized refused to do likewise. Could I, despite being a victim of police brutality myself, honestly say I was in more danger than these people were? My answer was clearly, no. In fact, many times in front of the HQ I heard residents demand that the cops show themselves and come out of the building, chastising them as cowards for not doing so. Hiding behind a mask at that point seemed insupportable to me. Secondly, the Glendale cops were not filming the march, unlike they were in Phoenix at O22 or Mayday. So, even strategically, it made little sense to conceal my identity. I was glad to see most anarchists going unmasked, though. I was also glad to see most of the anarchists playing supportive roles and taking their lead from the residents themselves about what was appropriate behavior.
Eventually we reached the police station. The bullhorn was passed around as people spoke, denouncing the police. A few cops guarded the building's entrance and were treated to condemnations from one angry resident after another. It was mostly women who spoke, often shaking with emotion, screaming about their sons' situations and the fascist, inexcusable behavior of the cops. About 20 people spoke, probably more, each followed by supportive applause from those assembled. The most moving part for me was when the sister of one of those incarcerated stood, a few feet from the cops, screaming, "My brother got ten years for having a gun in our house! How much time are you guys going to get for bringing your guns into my house and pointing them at us?! How many years are you going to get?! Fuck you!"
Another inspiring moment came when it was revealed that the girlfriend of the man shot with the cell phone had come to the march. She had called our house the night before the march asking about it. She brought with her their small baby and a photograph of her boyfriend. Shaking tearfully, she told her tragic story. When she was done, one of the anarcha-punks rushed up to comfort her and the two embraced. The cops stood there without expression, unmoved. More peeked from behind the glass doors, cravenly taking in the scene on the street.
After about 20 or more minutes of loud denunciations, while some of the media took pictures and filmed (only one english-language media outlet bothered to come - the rest were all spanish-language), we began to move out. Suddenly, however, half the march stopped and started running back to the entrance. One of the cops had gone inside, apparently, and a group of people started chanting, "Chicken! Chicken!" over and over at him. This continued for a while, along with a few more angry words from demonstrators. Eventually, though, the march moved out again.
As we headed down the street some of the residents moved into the streets. Following their cue, so did some of the anarchists. The cops were busy blocking off streets and one lane of traffic. This continued off and on for a little while until we reached the library and turned around, heading back along the other side of the street. The police ignored it, unlike on Mayday where they attacked us, armed to the teeth. There were some attempts to get some chants going, but it was difficult. One failing is that during the actual march the bullhorn was rarely in the hands of the residents. At the stops it was, but in between it wasn't, most of the time. Further, we hadn't prepared any spanish-language chants, and neither had the families. As a result, most of the chants that were started petered out pretty quickly. We should not make this mistake again. In the future we need to have printed out, english and spanish language chants to distribute in case no one else does. PAC has a regularly meeting spanish class, so hopefully this is something they will take up - I know they recently translated our anti-police flyer.
Finally, as the march was about to reach the end, it came across an unmarked police car in the parking lot of Pete's Fish and Chips, occupied by four fat and arrogant pigs in long-sleeved dark blue shirts emblazoned with "POLICE" across the front. Gus, stopped and called for the megaphone. It turned out that one of the cops in the car was one who had raided his house. The megaphone was handed over to him and he let loose on that cop, denouncing him for his role in the raid, and asking him whether he was ashamed or not and if he understood the consequences of his actions. Things were really heating up as the crowd began to mass around the cop car. The pigs were visibly nervous as the crowd grew bigger and began moving on them. The car slowly began to move backwards down an alley, unable to turn around. The crowd, encouraged, began to advance and cheer, following as it went. It began to retreat faster as it called for backup and cops on bikes and motorcycles moved in to surround it so it could make an escape. The people surrounded these cops, who seemed scared and began blaring their sirens and revving their engines to intimidate us. Some anarchists locked arms on one side of the cops while the neighborhood residents carrying the banner used it to block off the cops from the other direction. Everyone else closed in from the other sides. Partially surrounded, the cops beat a hasty and disorganized retreat. Cheers and curses went up from everyone as they fled.
We regrouped and several people took the megaphone and spoke while the cops eyed us from a distance. A female PAC member spoke about solidarity and communities standing together in spanish, and there were cheers. Gus spoke again, this time standing on something. He attacked the cops as worthless, finishing off with a loud "Fuck the cops!" Another woman, also a PAC and Copwatch member, spoke about the strength that occurs when different communities stand in solidarity together and about her commitment to seeing an end to the shoot-to-kill policy of the police in the Phoenix-area. Everyone cheered. Slowly everyone dispersed, making their way to the Know Your Rights Forum a couple miles away.
At the KYRF, a spanish-fluent lawyer answered questions about rights, with the assistance of an interpreter. Most the questions, predictably, centered around the recent events in Glendale and the way the police handled themselves. People were very interested in telling their story, venting and asking about their rights. They were also very aware that this kind of harassment does not happen in wealthy white neighborhoods (unless one of them happened to stray into one late at night). One of the obvious points that several people have made coming out of this forum in particular is the necessity for an all spanish forum. It sounds like several people are committed to working on this for the future. Hopefully by then the number of anarchists who speak spanish will have increased as well. There is also the upcoming March 15th international day against police brutality which is coming up. Perhaps there will be another march.
Sunday, December 23, 2001
No one should be shamed or punished for simply existing somewhere, without ever harming another. W must also resist scape-goating and racist action against any community. No person should be punished for their ethnicity, country of origin, race, gender,
We call to anarchists and anti-authoritarians everywhere to reject these racist, nationalist persecutions. This is a time to stand up against the INS and make sure they are aware that we aren't going to take their crap anymore.
Tuesday, November 27, 2001
6:16pm Tue Nov 27 '01
After seven months and many pretrial hearings; "May Day 10" walk.
After two of the May Day 10 defendants were found not guilty by directed verdicts, charges of 'obstructing traffic' were dismissed against the remaining activists.
One defendant was found guilty of 'interfering with a po-lice officer' for trying to un-arrest one of those unjustly detained, and sentenced to no fine and time served.
Videos taken by the police and activists clearly showed that any traffic obstruction was done by the Phoenix po-lice. Po-lice video, it was revealed under oath; was taken by the Phoenix 'organized crime' unit. It was missing 3 minutes of action shot on West Van Buren.
Also, Lt. Crockett of the testified that the Feds had asked for specific intelligence on certain of the activists.
Lt. Crockett also testified that though he was in command, he had no idea how many officers were under his command, that he could not identify the defendants and that they were obstructing traffic EVEN THOUGH THEY HAD THE RIGHT OF WAY!
Lt. Crockett stated repeatedly that he gave three warnings to stay off the street using the bullhorn in his car; but the video tapes picked up no warnings. Arresting officers Shaw and Wirth testified that though on the scene, they heard no warnings.
So after seven months of pre-trial hearings, dismissal of 'failure to obey' charges in June, a bunch o' missed hours at work, a night in jail and grief and worry; the defendants are free.
See: The system works.