nettime — Bruce Sterling — Twitter Revolution made in USA: Tweet about the police, get arrested

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This from Nettime about the recent arrests in Queens.
Twitter Revolution made in USA: Tweet about the police, get arrested.
What will the web2.0 visionaries say about this? My hunch: Nothing!
(((Well, I’m kind of a “Web 2.0 visionary,” and I’m American to boot, so I’m gonna horn in and help ol’ Felix out here. There’s a lot of this material available. Ton o’ links. Oodles. More than you wanna see.)))
But, perhaps the even sadder story is that having a picture of Marx and
Lenin at home is taken as ‘evidence’. — Felix
(((Well, no; I’m pretty sure the federal cops really wanted the backups and hard disks, this being the sort of thing they’ve been into for donkey’s years now.)))
(((American electronic civil libertarians on the case, the EFF being a veritable hive of Web 2.0 visionaries:)))
(((Now for the press coverage!)))
New York man accused of using Twitter to direct protesters during G20
Elliott Madison arrested by FBI and charged with using social networking
site to help demonstrators evade Pittsburgh police
A New York-based anarchist has been arrested by the FBI and charged with hindering prosecution after he allegedly used the social networking site Twitter to help protesters at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh evade the police.
Elliot Madison, 41, from Queens, had his home raided and was put on $30,000 (£19,000) bail after he and Michael Wallschlaeger, 46, were tracked to the Carefree Inn motel in Pittsburgh during the summit on 24 and 25 September.
The pair were found sitting in front of a bank of laptops and emergency frequency radio scanners. They were wearing headphones and microphones and had many maps and contact numbers in the room.
(((If you’re in the movie biz, you have gotta love that image.)))
(((Having the cops show up and bust the living daylights out of computer-toting protesters is not a new deal—even when the hackers are kilometers away from the teargas and not doing anything but moving their fingers up and down. Check out this account from distant 2001, in Genoa.)))
(((You might also note that even the IRANIAN police get it about Twittering.
Heard anything out of the Iranian Twitter Revolution lately?)))
Official police documents allege the two men used Twitter messages to contact protesters at the summit “and to inform the protesters and groups of the movements and actions of law enforcement”.
In all, almost 200 protesters were arrested during the two-day summit, which brought world leaders to Pittsburgh to discuss the global economic meltdown and other matters of common financial interest.
About 5,000 protesters were estimated to have taken part in demonstrations in the city.
Twitter has rapidly established itself as an important tool in the armoury of protest groups and demonstrators. During the summit, the police openly monitored Twitter to listen in to the protesters’ communications.
(((That doesn’t even count the police who like to twitter, and the informants who are infiltrating protest groups and retweeting to the police.)))
The FBI said that as well as the computers and radio scanning equipment discovered at the motel, they also confiscated from Madison’s home 11 gas masks, five pairs of goggles and test tubes and beakers. They said they also took away anarchist books and pictures of Marx and Lenin.
(((Typical computer raid, very old school: take everything. Im Madison’s case, I’d be guessing the five pairs of goggles were BRASS goggles, because Mr Madison is a steampunk activist named “Dr. Calamity.” Really? Why yes!)))
Madison is a social worker with a Manhattan-based programme attached to a psychiatric hospital. He is said to be a member of the People’s Law Collective, a voluntary group that advises protesters on legal issues arising from actions. Wallschlaeger produces a talk show on radio called This Week in Radical History.
(((Are they anarchists? Heaven forfend!)))

ACLU: Arrest of G20 Twitterer part of ‘war on demonstrators’

ACLU: Arrest of G20 Twitterer part of ‘war on demonstrators’
By David Edwards and Stephen Webster
Monday, October 5th, 2009 — 7:45 pm
When the FBI staged a terror raid on the New York home of 41-year-old Elliot Madison, they were not looking for weapons of war, deadly chemicals or the keys to unlocking a nefarious terror plot. Instead, they came looking for books, files, data, film and something called the “instruments of crime.”
According to officials, the search was instigated after Madison was found in a Pennsylvania hotel room on Sept. 24, listening to police actions during Pittsburgh’s G20 summit, then Tweeting to protesters seeking to avoid authorities.
Vic Walczak, legal director for the Pennsylvania ACLU, sees the FBI’s action as pure “intimidation,” and part of a “much bigger war on demonstrators” in Pittsburgh.
He made the remarks during a Monday interview on CNN’s Newsroom.
“What you have here is folks who are charged with hindering apprehension of people who were engaging in criminal activities,” he said. “The criminals identified in the warrant are protesters against the G20. Their crime? They were demonstrating in the street without a permit.”
Madison, who has widely been described as an “anarchist” by media parroting FBI claims, (((besides the fact that his chosen handle is “Dr Calamity”—perhaps “Dr Law Abiding Citizen with Friends in the EFF” would have been a cannier tactical choice))) is a social worker in New York who holds two masters degrees from the University of Wisconsin.
Walczak continued: “The police said, ‘Get out of here,’ and apparently they did. Somebody was trying to help them not go where the police are. Instead of saying ‘thank you, you’re helping these folks disperse,’ they now get charged with what is really a felony.”
In other words: “Be careful what you twit for, because your 140 characters could land you in the slammer,” quipped Andrew Belonsky at Vallywag.
[http://gawker.com/5374226/g+20-tweets-invite-judicial-hammer ]
“Though the FBI says so, it’s not entirely clear from the complaint that Madison’s tweets were actually illegal,” noted Ars Technica [http://tinyurl.com/yby2axn ]. “Madison’s lawyer told the New York Times [http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/nyregion/05txt.html ] on Saturday that he and a friend were merely ‘part of a communications network among people protesting the G-20.’ As implied through the Times piece, Madison’s tweets merely directed protesters as to where the police were at any given time and to stay alert. ‘There’s absolutely nothing that he’s done that should subject him to any criminal liability.’”
Eileen Clancy with I-Witness Video
[http://iwitnessvideo.info/blog/117.html ] added: “There are myriad examples of governments in other countries cracking down on activists who share information on the Internet. After Moldova’s short-lived ‘Twitter revolution,’ journalist Natalia Morar was charged [http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,RFERL,,MDA,4a014a9d5,0.html ] with organizing an anti-Communist flashmob and spent three weeks under house arrest. In Guatemala a man was charged [http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=43887 ] with advising in a Tweet that people should take their money out of a corrupt government bank. According to Hadi Ghaemi, who runs the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, many people have been arrested for Internet activity in Iran [http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=43887 ].”
(((In other words, messing with Twitter is like wiretapping yourself and yelling the results at passing cops through a megaphone.)))
“This is the first time we’ve heard of charges like this against people who are using Twitter […]” said Walczak. “If this happened in Iran or China, where we know Twitter has been widespread because people in this country have been relying on it to find out what’s going on. If it was used there, we’d be crying foul, we’d be calling it a human rights violation. And when the same thing happens in this country, all of the sudden it’s a crime. There’s a real problem here.”
Copies of the search warrant and Madison’s lawyer’s motion for return of seized property were posted to the Internet by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, available here [http://tinyurl.com/y8axwaj ].

October 5, 2009
Arrest Puts Focus on Protesters’ Texting
As demonstrations have evolved with the help of text messages and online social networks, so too has the response of law enforcement.
On Thursday, F.B.I. agents descended on a house in Jackson Heights, Queens, and spent 16 hours searching it. The most likely reason for the raid: a man who lived there had helped coordinate communications among protesters at the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh.
(((I’d be guessing they spent 16 hours DOCUMENTING the site and are gleefully uploading pix of the sinister Anarchist HQ onto the anti- alterglobalista international cop wiki. FBI agents don’t accidentally go raid guys for 16 hours because they are tweeting. This raid was planned.)))
The man, Elliot Madison, 41, a social worker who has described himself as an anarchist, (((O RLY?))) had been arrested in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24 and charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possession of instruments of crime. The Pennsylvania State Police said he was found in a hotel room with computers and police scanners while using the social-networking site Twitter to spread information about police movements. He has denied wrongdoing.
(((Amazing that the cops actually charged the guy with something, instead of merely carting off all his hardware. I’m keen to see an American political show trial that involves “hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possession of instruments of crime.” That’s one of the goofiest, most nebulous electronic-crime charges I’ve ever seen.
Why don’t they just spool out the the guy’s tweets (I’m sure they recorded them) and charge him with aiding and abetting an attempted riot?)))
(((Maybe because there WASN’T any riot? Maybe they could charge him with “watching as American protesters get blasted like guinea pigs with awesome new forms of American police-owned tactical media:”)))

(((Imagine if you had one of those crowd-blasting infrasonic trucks hooked up to a Twitter feed and aimed at the delegates. Hey, “Our Streets, Our Streets.”)))
American protesters first made widespread use of mass text messages in New York, during the 2004 Republican National Convention, when hundreds of people used a system called TXTmob to share information. Messages, sent as events unfolded, allowed demonstrators and others to react quickly to word of arrests, police mobilizations and roving rallies. Mass texting has since become a valued tool among protesters, particularly at large-scale demonstrations.
(((That was then, this is now. Think what’s happened to other American media in those years: television, magazines, newspapers, they look almost as sick as American banking.)))
And police and government officials appear to be increasingly aware of such methods of communication. In 2008, for instance, the New York City Law Department issued a subpoena seeking information from the graduate student who created the code for TXTmob. Still, Mr. Madison, who was released on bail shortly after his arrest, may be among the first to be charged criminally while sending information electronically to protesters about the police.
A criminal complaint in Pennsylvania accuses him of “directing others, specifically protesters of the G-20 summit, in order to avoid apprehension after a lawful order to disperse.”
“He and a friend were part of a communications network among people protesting the G-20,” Mr. Madison’s lawyer, Martin Stolar, said on Saturday. “There’s absolutely nothing that he’s done that should subject him to any criminal liability.”
(((Well, the whole point of this tactic is to get out of the way of the cops and INTO THE WAY OF THE DELEGATES, so as to prevent official events from taking place, and causing keen political embarrassment.
It’s like watching some kind of delicate New Age street war where the combatants engage one another with plastic Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots.)))
(((Meanwhile, over in Los Angeles, site of the largest riot in American history:)))
(((You think that video is violent, spooky and bonkers-looking? Check THIS out:)))

Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” and the Occult Connections

(((A society where folk-politics looks this deranged doesn’t have to fret too much about the awesome Leninist menace of Tweeting, I’m thinkin’.)))
A search warrant executed by the F.B.I. at Mr. Madison’s house authorized agents and officers looking for violations of federal rioting laws to seize computers and phones, black masks and clothes and financial records and address books. Among the items seized, according to a list prepared by the agents, were electronic equipment, newspapers, books and gas masks. The items also included what was described as a picture of Lenin.
Since the raid, no other charges have been filed against Mr. Madison. On Friday, Mr. Stolar argued in Federal District Court in Brooklyn that the warrant was vague and overly broad. Judge Dora L. Irizarry ordered the authorities to stop examining the seized materials until Oct. 16, pending further orders.
Mr. Stolar said that the reason for the Jackson Heights raid would not be clear until an affidavit used to secure the search warrant was unsealed. (((Don’t hold your breath.)))
But he said that commentary among agents indicated that it was related to Mr. Madison’s arrest in Pittsburgh, where he participated in the Tin Can Comms Collective, a group of people who collected information and used Twitter to send mass text messages describing protest-related events that they observed on the streets.
There were many such events during the two days of the summit. Demonstrators marched through town on the opening day of the gathering, at times breaking windows and fleeing. And on both nights, police officers fired projectiles and hurled tear gas canisters at students milling near the University of Pittsburgh.
After Mr. Madison’s arrest, other Tin Can participants continued to send messages, now archived on Twitter’s Web site. Many of those messages tracked police movements. One read: “SWAT teams rolling down 5th Ave.” Another read: “Report received that police are ‘nabbing’ anyone that looks like a protester / Black Bloc. Stay alert watch your friends!”
But even as protesters were watching the police, it appeared that the police were monitoring the protesters’ communications. (((No, really, wow, beggars belief, gosh all fish-hooks, etc.)))
Just after 1 p.m. on Sept. 24, a text message stated: “A comms facility was raided, but we are still fully operational please continue to submit reports.” Nine hours later, a text read: “Scanner just said be advised we’re being monitored by anarchists through scanner.”
(((Pretty good stuff, eh? It’s so late-80s Hollywood cyberpunk!)))
On Sunday night Mr. Madison said that the search of his home was an effort to “stifle dissent,” and added that several groups in Pittsburgh, including the summit organizers, had used Twitter accounts to describe events related to the meetings.
“They arrested me for doing the same thing everybody else was doing, which was perfectly legal,” he said. “It was crucial for people to have the information we were sending.” (((Then why not put the cops on the mailing list from the get-go?)))
(((And now, the final fillip: the steampunk angle. That’s right, I said STEAMPUNKS. Up against the steamy wall, oppressors.)))
Mon 5 Oct 2009
SteamPunk’s Professor Calamity faces multiple felonies for twittering
Posted by Magpie under Activism, Anarchism, Steampunk
Update: Professor Calamity on Democracy Now
SteamPunk Magazine author (and, honestly, the inspiration for SteamPunk Magazine)
Professor Calamity is facing two felonies for allegedly running a twitter account.
He has been accused of running a twitter feed of police movements during the Pittsburgh G-20 protests, protests for which the police are already being sued.
To add insult to felony charges, they raided his house in NYC for 16 hours, confiscating everything from hammers to computers to SteamPunk Magazine. Their lawyer has already convinced a judge to put a stop on the police searching of their personal possessions, because the raid is absolutely insane.
Okay, Steampunk, here’s your chance to prove you’re a community. Professor Calamity is one of our founding thinkers. Even if he wasn’t, he’s one of us, and he’s facing absolutely batshit bullshit charges and ought to be supported. I’m asking that we make this news, because it ought to be news. This is insane.
Below is a report from one of the people who was present during the house raid in Queens:
On October 1st, 2009, at 6:00am, the Joint Terrorism Task Force (a union of local police departments and the FBI), kicked out the front door to our home—an anarchist collective house in Queens, NY, affectionately known as Tortuga. The first crashes of the battering ram were quickly followed by more upstairs, as the police broke in on 3 sleeping people, destroying bedroom doors that were unlocked.
Three more people, awoken by the most unpleasant means of bounding footsteps, splintering wood, and shouting voices, waited in the basement—their turn at drawn guns and blinding lights came quickly.
We put our hands out where they could see them. They ordered us out of bed.
They wouldn’t let us dress, but they did put a random assortment of clothes on some people.
We were handcuffed, and although the upstairs and downstairs groups were kept separate initially, we were soon all together, sitting in the living room, positioned like dolls on the couches and chairs. We were in handcuffs for several hours, and we were helpless as our little bird, a Finch we had rescued and were rehabilitating, flew out the open door to certain death, after his cage had been battered by the cops in their zeal to open the upstairs bedroom doors by force. We shouted at them, but they stood there and watched.
(((The little injured finch in his cage is one of those touches you couldn’t possibly put in fiction. I wonder about the little baby sparrows in the Pittsburgh trees who were having their tiny sparrow eardrums blasted by semi-experimental sonic street-clearing weapons. If I were the driver of that thing, I think I’d get a songbird logo for my uniform right away.)))
And they stood and watched us for hours and hours and hours. 16 hours to be precise, 16 hours of the NYPD and FBI traipsing through our house, confiscating our lives in a fishing expedition related to the G20 protests of September 24th and 25th.
The search warrant, when we were finally allowed to read it, mentioned violation of federal rioting laws and was vague enough to allow the entire house to be searched. They kept repeating that we were not arrested, that we were free to go.
But being free meant being watched by the FBI, monitored while using the bathroom, not allowed to make phone calls for hours or to observe them ransacking our rooms.
Being free meant they took two of us away on bullshit summonses, and even though this was our house, where we lived, if we left, we could not re-enter.
Three of us stayed to the bitter end. Three of us stayed to watch the hazmat team come in to investigate a child’s chemistry set, to see them search the garage on an additional warrant, to sign vouchers for all the things they confiscated as “evidence” —
Curious George plush toys, artwork, correspondence with political prisoner Daniel McGowan, birth certificates, passports, the entire video archive of a local media collective, tax records, books, computers, storage devices, cell phones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs, (((that’s just the greatest. Are you listening, nettime list? Wow))) flags, banners, posters, photographs and more than can be recounted here.
(((And Lenin. Don’t forget Marx and Lenin.)))
The apparent impetus for this raid came over a week ago, when two members of our household were arrested, once again at gunpoint, in the suburbs of Pittsburgh.
They are accused of being devious masterminds, of “directing” the rollicking G-20 protests, of using technology such as Twitter to “hinder apprehension” of protesters.
The two were held on bail, one fetching the ridiculous amount of $30,000 cash, and released 36 hours later after the bond was posted. As of this moment, no additional charges have been levied against the two, nor against any other housemates in the aftermath of the raid.
As anarchists, (((oh wait a minute, are these guys anarchists? I figured they were all social workers with advanced degrees))) we are under no illusions about what the State is capable of. We are not the first anarchists to have our house raided, (((well, no; it’s kind of a badge of honor, frankly, and something you can tell your dreadlocked anarchist grandchildren))) and unfortunately as long as the State remains, we will not be the last. (((How old ARE ‘states,’ exactly? About 5,000 years old, am I right?
Well, next week though, a rush and push and the land is ours!)))
We are, along with other targeted individuals like David Japenga, the outlets for the impotent rage the authorities feel when they lose control, as they did during the G-20 in Pittsburgh. We, that beautiful we, that include Tortuga House and all who find affinity with us, refuse the rigid forms the authorities try and cram a world bursting with infinite possibilities into—He is not a leader, she did not act alone, they are not being directed. Repression is a strategy that the state uses to put us on the defensive, to divert our energies from being a proactive force and instead deal with the terms it has set.
We will not lie and say this has not left us reeling, but as time and our dizziness pass, we know that friends surround us. Our resolve is strengthened by this solidarity, and we will not be deterred by this state aggression. (((Yeah, I’d be guessing this incident has put anarchism in Queens shoulder to shoulder with the dropout legions of London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Hannover. Small in numbers, great in spirit and some of the awesomest steampunk memorabilia you’re ever likely to see.)))
We wish to thank all of our friends and comrades who have stood by us in these difficult few days. Our lawyer filed an injunction on the raid the next morning (October 2nd) that was surprisingly granted- it forbids the authorities from fishing through our belongings until we head back to court on the 16th. In the weeks and months to come we will do our best to share developments as they occur.
If you want to keep in touch or find out how you can help please email us at: tortugadefense@gmail.com.