Monday, November 1, 2004

October 22 summary

Roughly 45 people attended Phoenix's sixth annual march and protest against police brutality held on Friday, October 22 2004. Those gathered, came from both collectives of the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition (the Anti-Power Society from the west valley and the Monsoon Anarchist Collective from the east valley), the Women in Black, and a couple dozen other folks who are just sick of police brutality, met at Patriot's Square Park in downtown Phoenix. A contingent from the police monitoring group Phoenix Copwatch was also present to videotape and document any police brutality or abuse at the demonstration.

The march left Patriot's Square Park shortly after 5:30 and headed straight to the Phoenix Police Department's main station, just down the street from the Park. The police presence was very light, four red squad cops (Police who spy on radical groups under the guise of acting as public relations for the department), two cops on bikes, a couple of cops sitting in unmarked cars across the street from the park, a police van that kept cruising by the march, and a helicopter briefly hovered over the park. Once the march arrived, the department's front doors were guarded from the inside by a cop and, to discourage anyone from entering, 20 gang task force officers were standing ready in the parking lot across the street from the station next to a row of unmarked cars. The Phoenix cops used this same tactic last year, placing heavily armed cops across the street from the police station and using a few bicycle cops, but keeping most of the bike cops out of the sight of the demonstration and just a few blocks away at all times. Demonstrators called the police out on the killings and brutality in Phoenix, the harassment and repression of anarchists and radicals in Phoenix, and one demonstrator mentioned the 21 year old woman who was murdered by a police officer in Boston after a Red Sox game that week. A couple of marchers overheard one police officer saying "Yeah, there's a bunch of little terrorists out here," as he was exiting the station, word of the insult moved among marchers.

The march then left the Police station to move to the Madison Street Jail, passing by the crowd of police in the parking lot first, demonstrators chanted "police are the terrorists" and "cops are bin Laden" while flipping off the gang task force thugs, who could only stand by watching as they were mocked and insulted.

It was important for the protest to end at the Madison Street Jail, a site that is notorious for it's master, Maricopa county sheriff Joe Arpaio, who took jailing and policing in Arizona to new level of scandal and horror. Most recently, inmates at the Durango jail went on hunger strike due to the conditions in the jails, conditions that have led to the Maricopa Count Sheriff's Office receiving warning from the US Dept of Justice and from Amnesty International. The demonstration halted at the steps to the Madison Jail where a handful of sheriff deputies stood keeping watch, the deputies and the jail were quickly denounced by the crowd. Protesters screamed "Fuck sheriff Joe" in unison, along with pro-inmate slogans knowing that the inmates inside would be able to hear the chants inside the jail. The anti-police brutality day ended back at the park where signs and banners were held in front of passing traffic.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Police: Security will be minor hassle- More than 600 security personnel to blanket area

Law enforcement officials insist that the more than 600 security personnel scheduled to be in Tempe for tomorrow's presidential debate will not have an impact on students.

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."

Secret Service

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.

Local police

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

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Inmate solidarity rally on Monday


The Monsoon Anarchist Collective (MAC) calls for a solidarity rally to be held in support of inmates rights.

WHAT: Maricopa County jails house prisoners awaiting trial or serving sentences of up to one year, and conditions in the jails have been cited by human rights group Amnesty International and the US
Department of Justice as inhumane and unconstitutional. Two weeks ago inmates in Maricopa County's Durango Jail went on hunger strike to take action against the poor conditions prevalent in County jails.

2,200 inmates refused meals to take action against the horrible quality of the food served and to demand that a third meal be served, as only two are served in Maricopa County Jails. In the days following the start of the strike, inmates returned to eating, but a core group continued the hunger strike. The strike has ended now, but the poor conditions of the Maricopa County's jails persist, and, at least, one of the strike organizers has faced harassment and unjust persecution for organizing inmates to stand up for their human rights. Members of the Monsoon Anarchist Collective, Phoenix Copwatch, and Mothers Against Arpaio came together and held a solidarity rally two days after the strike began. We gathered at Durango Jail and received a lot of support from family members and friends of inmates who were going to the jail for visitation, but most importantly, the word was
passed on to inmates by their family members and friends coming to visit them, and letting them know that folks on the outside support their struggle. Come out to the Sheriff's Office on Monday to stand in solidarity with inmates rights and struggles and against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, their lies and their brutality.

MAC has three demands to support the struggles of County inmates:

1. We demand an end to the harassment and unjust persecution of inmates who participated in the Durango Jail hunger strike and the hunger strike organizers.

2. We demand that the inmates demand of three meals a day be acted upon immediately by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and that inmates receive a more balanced and healthy variety of food.

3. We demand that Maricopa County close the Tent City jails immediately due to the brutality delt by the guards upon inmates and the well known and documented flagarent disregard for human rights and life.

WHERE: 100 W. Washington in downtown Phoenix. Meet at the northwest corner of Washington St. and First Ave. at the Wells Fargo Bank Plaza, where the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is located. Parking is located on the streets and is metered, as it is a work day it may be difficult to find metered parking space. There is a surface parking lot just east of Patriot's Square Park inbetween Central Ave. and First St., and Jefferson and Washington. The daily rate is $2.00 and is a few minutes walk from First Ave. and Washington where the rally will be held. There are other parking garages around the area and fees will range in price.

WHEN: Monday, July 12th at 9:30 AM.

For more info, read Amnesty's report on Maricopa County Jails:

Contact us at: pac@...

Thursday, June 24, 2004


Are you sick of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his gestapo goon squads?
Sick of his poor treatment of county inmates and violations of human rights?
Sick of his love of the media spotlight at the expense of human life?
Sick of the tales of brutality and at the hands of his deputies and guards, on our streets and in his jails?
Sick of the cover-ups and lies?
Sick of the two meals a day served in county jails(some of the food unfit for human consumption)?
Are you as sick of him and his policies as the inmates in Durango Jail?

Durango Jail inmates went on a hunger strike Thursday morning to take collective action against the poor treatment they receive from Sheriff Joe and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) in the county's jails. The inmates are demanding that the jail serve three meals a day, as it stands, county inmates serve two meals a day, and for some inmates, such as diabetics, that is a dangerously low amount of food.

If you're sick of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County's treatment of inmates, then join us, People United Against Joe's Jails, this Saturday at 9:30 AM in front of the Durango Jail in Phoenix.

WHEN: 9:30 AM, Saturday, June 26

WHERE: Durango Jail is located on Gibson Lane, just south of Durango St., inbetween 27th Ave and 35th Ave in West Phoenix.
Durango Jail
3225 W. Gibson Lane
Phoenix, AZ 85009

Friday, April 2, 2004

Concert aims to support accused Tempe activist

By Bryon Wells, Tribune

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.

Activist fund-raiser
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