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(en) US, Media, [Infoshop News] Lawrence anarchists to protest in N.Y.C. Group shakes off visit from FBI agents, will go to GOP convention

From Chuck0 <chuck@mutualaid.org>
Date Wed, 25 Aug 2004 18:37:40 +0200 (CEST)


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Despite recent visits from FBI agents, more than a dozen people
affiliated with a Lawrence anarchist group are planning to go to New
York to protest the Republican National Convention.
"I think the group that's going believes that protest against
Republicans and Democrats are just as important collectively," said Dave
Strano, a local anarchist. "They both should be massively protested."
Before the Democratic National Convention last month in Boston, FBI
agents went door-to-door in Lawrence to question anarchists, their
friends and family members. Anarchists say it was harassment and an
intimidation tactic; FBI officials said it was part of a legitimate
investigation stemming from a tip that a group was planning to firebomb
media vehicles in Boston.

Keeping quiet

Jeff Lanza, an FBI spokesman in Kansas City, Mo., said FBI policy
prohibited him from discussing whether agents planned to come back to
Lawrence with the Republican convention on the horizon. The four-day
convention begins Monday, and thousands of protesters are expected.

The FBI has said it has intelligence that anarchist groups are planning
acts of violence similar to what occurred in 1999 at the World Trade
Organization conference in Seattle, where windows were shattered and
more than 400 people were arrested.

Strano said he wasn't comfortable talking about when the group would
leave for New York or whether he was among those going. One reason he
gave is that last month three Kirksville, Mo., protesters were
subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury on the last day of the
Democratic convention -- a move Strano said seemed designed to keep them
from traveling to Boston.

"We don't want to have our travel plans squashed like the Kirksville
kids," he said.

Protest plans

Events planned for New York include protests at the headquarters of oil
giant Chevron and a Hummer dealership, and a march on Madison Square
Garden, the site of the convention. One Web site used to spread
information about the protests describes Aug. 31 as a day to "turn the
streets of NYC into stages of resistance and forums for debate."

The site calls for "nonviolent civil disobedience and direct action"
throughout the city. But street clashes in recent years in cities such
as Seattle and Miami have police wary of anarchists and vice versa.

New York's ABC News affiliate reported last week that police in New York
had identified 56 anarchists from across the country who would be
watched and followed around the clock in coming days.

The trip to New York already has begun for two anarchists from San
Antonio, who were passing through Lawrence on Tuesday.

"I don't believe in the system that we live in today," said Cal Brower,
17. "I believe that authority is what's wrong with the entire system we
have today -- exploitation of resources, exploitation of people."

Iowa run-in

Brower and Kellie Williams, 19, came to Lawrence from an anarchist
gathering in Iowa and were staying at a house near the Kansas University
campus. In Iowa, they said, they had a run-in with police, who
photographed them and told them the FBI had warned police the group was
in town.

The pair said there was no validity to concerns anarchists are out to
perpetrate violence. Their political views include opposition to
capitalism and all forms of coercion.

"We wouldn't ever take the authority to harm someone," Williams said.

Brower said he planned to protest nonviolently in New York and take part
in "street theater." He's especially looking forward to an event Sunday
dubbed "Chaos on Broadway" designed to interrupt delegates' fun as they
see the sights on the eve of the convention.

Had enough

One Lawrence anarchist who's not planning to go to New York is Chantel
Guidry. Her decision is not because of the recent FBI visits, but
because of a bad experience in November in Miami at a protest of a Free
Trade Area of the Americas summit.

Guidry said her experience included being arrested while trying to
protect a friend who was being beaten with a police baton.

"I feel like after my experiences in Miami I am not in the proper
psychological frame of mind to go out to New York and be effective," she
said. "I think that the best thing that people can keep in mind (is)
they should get over this idea of ‘Well the police can't do that.' ...
They can do whatever they want. You might be able to fight it in court
later or file a lawsuit later, but in the heat of the moment, the cops
are going to do whatever they're going to do because they're armed to
the teeth."


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