September 2nd, 2008

Pixel Stained

Follow up on the RNC Welcoming Committee

That's the group people have been pointing to when they try to justify the police state tactics being used in St. Paul. They point to the Thoreauvian plans for civil disobedience, and refer to allegations the cops spread about tools to spike tires and reports of caltrops and then say, "They were planning to break the law."

To which I said, I was skeptical. I also said, lets see something overt. I have things in my house which could be used to spike tires. I have things which could be used to injure cops (we have a working machine shop, and a whole lot of strange weight to use in holding things down. We have chemicals for making ceramic glazes and lord knoww what all else. We own black powder pieces, so we have things which; with a shop.... could be used to make bombs). Toss my house and the initial reports might make me look an, "anarchist."

Why do I bring all this up?

Because all those sensational charges, the one's designed to get those who are willing to bow to the authority of the state on board with the attempts at repression, seem to have vanished. Instead it seems mutiple agencies, were needed to swarm the place so that some tickets for fire code violations could be handed out.

SARAH COFFEY: Assistant Police Chief Bostrom has talked about the St. Paul Standard, and on the anniversary of last year’s Critical Mass police riot, we saw its true face. The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department and the SPPD raided the RNC convergence space and detained over fifty people in an attempt to preempt planned protests at the RNC on Monday. Looking for items found at any Twin Cities house, like jars, paints and rags, this attempt to portray us as criminals and destroy our credibility has already backfired, as evidenced as the masses of people who have come to support us. We are now accused of simple fire code violations, which is outside of the scope of the sheriff’s department and clearly not justified provocation for a forceful raid with guns being drawn.

Go read the full thing:

Press detained

I think this passage, in particular, is important.

VLAD TEICHBERG: Right in front of the house where we’re staying, we got surrounded by two police cars. Like one came from one side. We thought it was just a regular car passing, but it was—suddenly the lights went on, and another car came. And they—you know, first they said they were investigating people breaking into cars, and they wanted to search us. We said no. They put us up against the car and started searching us. It was two officers, a male and female, and I was with two women, so the woman searched the women, and the male officer searched me. And—

AMY GOODMAN: When you say “searched,” how did they search you?

VLAD TEICHBERG: Patted me down, in the beginning, and then they told us to go sit inside the car. We said, “Are we being arrested?” And they said, “No, you’re being detained.”

ELIZABETH PRESS: Vlad and the other Glass Bead Collective journalists were detained and then released after their belongings were seized. This was the first documented case of police intimidation of journalists here at the RNC, and Vlad is certain that it won’t be the last.

There's a lot more. All of it interesting, some of it chilling..

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A matter of degree

This has been naggging at me since it surfaced.

There was, in case you were unaware, a plot to assassinate Barack Obama during the convention.

It seems the three had piss-poor odds of pulling it off. First, they had a small meth habit.

Second they were probably planning outside their league. I'm a pretty good shot, and the plan they had to shoot him from 750 yards away, well that's a tricky shot at a stationary target across open ground. A moving man, with a detail meant to keep him moving, a lot harder. They probably could have hit someone, but probably not Obama.

Third (and perhaps stemming from the first) they had no idea of Operational Security. They weren't knocked down by the Secret Service, no they spent an evening with someone, enjoying their recreational pharmaceuticals of choice and blathered about how they were going to use a scoped rifle to blow away the uppity-nigger who was pretending he had the right to run for president.

She told the cops. The cops arrested them.

Strangely, the U.S. Attorney for the area, one Troy Eid, didn't charge them with plotting to kill Obama.

"The law recognizes a difference between a true threat -- one that can be carried out -- and the reported racist rantings of a drug addict," U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said.

The Secret Service says the White Supremicist threat to Obama is overrated.

In an AP interview last week, the head of the Secret Service's Protective division said the white supremacist threat to Obama has been exaggerated.

"I think that it's something that, at times, the media tried to make more of," Nick Trotta said. "We've always watched them, as we watch all the other groups."

That's so reassuring.

At about the same time the office of Presidential Candidate John McCain got a threatening letter. It was a semi-coherent rant about how McCain had failed veterans, made reference to Agent Orange and said the paper was contaminated and the person reading it was going to die.

Senator McCain,

IF you are reading this then you are already Dead!
Unless of course you can't or don't breathe.
There are numerous substances which are deadly for humans to inhale.
There are just as many time periods for signs of illness to show, by which time it's to late.
Who expects to develop cancer 40 years after Vietnam?
Only those that knew the risk and side effects of Agent Orange.
DoD, DOW, Diamond Shamrock, U.S. Surgeon General
You're out of time.
Allahu Akbar

The man who sent it was quickly traced. Arresting him wasn't neccesary. He was, you see, already in the Arapahoe County Jail.

In the meantime McCain offices around the country were warned to be on the lookout. The Secret Service, you see, takes threatening letters very seriously.

This guy is being charged with sending death threats through the US Mail, with a maximum punishment of five years in the federal pen, and a $25,000 fine.

The justification for this?

We won't stand for threats of this kind in Colorado. A death threat is not a legitimate form of political expression."

The Noble Soul who explained all this...

US Attorney Troy Eid.

So, a quick recap.

*Three men conspire to kill Obama.

They get guns, with scopes (one of which may have been stolen).
The rent a vehicle under someone elses name.
They have body armor.
They express a, violent, antipathy to the candidate.
They have travelled to the city the candidate is going to be in.

This is, "not a credible threat and no charges related to that aspect of things are entertained.

*One man, already in jail sends a nastygram to to Mccain's office.

He says there is some lethal powder in the letter, and the person reading it is dead.
He admits McCain might not be reading it.
He has no actual poisons.

This something we won't tolerate.

So, here you have it.

Death threats, from those incapable of carrying them out against the Republican candidate = charges

Death plots, with overt acts, weapons and actual plans... not credible; not worthy of charges.

Got it. Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Eid.


I have a lot of new readers. Welcome to one and all.

I do have some guidelines, they boil down to, Be Polite. When it comes to what counts as rude, I'm the final arbiter.

For a more detailed explanation you can look at this post.

I don't always talk politics. Lately I've mostly talked photography. Sometimes I talk about food. Occaisionally I talk about my life.
Pixel Stained

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

We do, each and every one of us. Jefferson said the Tree of Liberty must be refreshed, from time to time with blood. The blood it takes is that of patriots and tyrants.

Ben Franklin, when asked what the Constitutional Convention had delivered said, "A republic madam, if you can keep it."

Abraham Lincoln, in the course of a struggle which we are still, in some ways, struggling, said Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

We are engaged today in just such a struggle. The powers of reaction, and authoritarianism will use whatever tools they can get away with.

One of the questions about the unrest in St. Paul is about the role of those who are instigating the reactions. Police forces, and others, have used agents provacateur in the past. There really is no reason to think the idea is part of the dim and dusty past.

We know, from the reports of the raids, that informants were inserted into the groups. What we don't know (and probably won't) is how many of the alleged plots were the result of those agents saying, "what if" and so sparking discussion.

For those who care... I have a link to the RNC Welcoming Committee Search Warrant

Read it, and think about your kitchen, your laundry room, your garage, your shed.

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