In September 2008, the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, saw considerable pre-emptive arrests of activists and journalists, including raids on independent media spaces and the Tin Can Comms Collective office, which coordinated a series of Twitter feeds during the surrounding protests relating to activist actions, legal support, and street medic teams. This update from an anarchist collective in New York, who saw members raided and arrested for a similar Tin Can Comms Twitter deployment during the September 2009 G-20 protests in Pittsburgh, PA, was reposted anonymously with the above title on Twin Cities Indymedia’s website. Local charges had been dropped against the Pittsburgh G-20 Twitterers because of an ongoing “national” investigation, presumably in lieu of pending but not yet announced federal charges.
A New Year, A New Tortuga House Update, January 27, 2010
It has been several months since our last communication regarding the “situation” here at Tortuga House, but with nothing more than the seemingly interminable filing of legal motions by our defense to unseal the secret affidavits authorizing the raids in Pittsburgh and New York, counter-motions by prosecutors to keep these affidavits sealed, and judicial providence obviously favoring the side which signs their checks, we may as well be submitting a blank sheet of paper for all the real news we have. With the affidavits in our case remaining sealed—the motives and strategy of the state remain in the realm of speculation and will obviously not do for any public statement. However, a recent court date in Pittsburgh has since brought us several scraps of useful information that we felt it was important to share with others.
On January 15th, a court date/rubber-stamping procedure regarding a request by the state of Pennsylvania to keep the affidavit, which authorized the September 24th raid on a motel just outside of Pittsburgh and the arrest of two of our housemates during the G-20 protests, sealed for yet another 30 days yielded a bit more than the inevitable ruling in favor of the prosecution. The judge in the case, perhaps bored or suffering indigestion from eating a rich lunch, asked the state to explain why this affidavit—in a case where all charges against the accused had been dropped—required the extension of the seal.
Amid the standard spiel of the on-going investigation and grand jury in New York, the prosecution also claimed in oral arguments that this investigation now included Minnesota. In the application to the court, the prosecution wrote: “…certain alleged acts that occurred during the G-20 Summit were not isolated incidents confined to Allegheny County but instead may have been related to more expansive activities that went beyond the Pittsburgh G-20 both in time and in substance.” Also in the application to the court, is the first official mention of informants in the investigation. “The affiants are requesting the original search warrants be sealed for an additional 30 days to protect the informants involved in the investigation as well as an ongoing, more expansive investigation.”
It is worth noting that the prosecution manipulated facts in oral arguments about the investigation in New York—claiming that investigators could not move forward with the case until a decision was reached by the US Supreme Court (which is not true in any respect), as well as claiming the reason that the state has still not gone through our computers is because our hard drives are “booby-trapped” and would “self-destruct” if removed! Of course our lawyer objected to such outright fabrications and of course the judge, after the enormous strain of asking a legitimate question, extended the seal on the affidavit once more. The seal is currently set to expire on February 21st.
We wish we had more than these meager scraps from the dungheap of justice to provide—but this points to the necessity of unsealing the affidavits in both Pennsylvania and New York, as well as why the state is fighting to keep these documents sealed. What we now know is that prosecutors in Pennsylvania claim there are multiple informants in this investigation—which has repeatedly been described as “multi-state” and “ongoing” in court documents—and if we can believe them, that the investigation now includes Minnesota. According to the January 15th application to the court, they also state that included in the investigation are “activities that [go] beyond the Pittsburgh G-20 both in time and in substance.” However, it is unclear what activities they are referring to or where they think they might have taken place. Unfortunately, this is all the precious information we have—everything else remains conjecture.
While this new information is certainly not comforting, our goal in sharing this information is definitely not to frighten others into inactivity. State repression attempts to douse the inevitable flames of rebellion by targeting individuals with the hope that in striking one (or two or three) they will frighten many. By sharing our experiences in being openly targeted by the state, we hope we can collectively overcome their attempts to control those who refuse their authority and find ways to fight back while navigating the treacherous waters of life under capitalism. No matter what they do they will never succeed in putting out our fire—can’t stop won’t stop.