In light of the G20 protests in Pittsburgh, where government authorities decided to use some new technology and tactics in stifling protest, it’s now clear that the FBI is targeting Twitter-using anarchists. After the arrest of Elliot Madison in Pittsburgh, the recent raid on his house–an anarchist commune in Queens–featured agents barging in the middle of the night, ‘detaining’ (but not arresting!) the inhabitants of the house for 16 hours, and confiscating a whole list of ‘evidence’ such as: “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, flags, banners, posters, photographs.” This first-hand account can be read here. The ACLU has spoken out in calling this part of a much bigger “war on demonstrators” that government authorities have been waging recently.
Seeing the news footage of the Pittsburgh protests and now hearing about this net being cast on those involved should be incredibly worrying for anyone who cares about the value of political demonstrations. As authorities expand their use of anti-demonstration tactics, including the new LRAD acoustic device, and persecute activists under the premise of controlling domestic terrorism, we are witnessing the affirmation of sovereign state power. The days where the left possessed the element of surprise, i.e. Seattle, 1999, are unfortunately long gone.