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(en) US, Philadelphia, defenestrator* # 31 - 16 FEDERAL AGENTS RAID PHILLY COLLECTIVE HOUSE By dave onion

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 18 Dec 2004 09:01:08 +0100 (CET)


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Of course the threat of terror was looming thick in the air. It was
October 28th, on the eve of Halloween and Elections, and the people of
the US were bracing for the worst ever and would understand some pre-
emptive action on the part of Homeland Security. It was around 6 in the
morning when 16 agents from the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force
(JTTF) raided Sparkle House, a West Philly collective house at 5018
Hazel. After pounding on the door, 16 heavily armed pigs bearing
insignias including ATF, FBI, and JTTF, pulled sleepy residents out of
their rooms at gunpoint and proceeded to ransack the house. When cops
started asking residents questions (including on the whereabouts of guns
and bombs), one activist working with the Student Environmental Action
Coalition (SEAC) advised his housemates not to answer and was quickly
separated out. After tearing apart Sparkle House, the entourage left,
taking with them a booty of 2 computers, dozens of disks, a number
of resident's cell phones as well as a smattering of flyers, a day plan-
ner, camera, a passport, books, spray paint, a sweat shirt, and various
other odds and ends.

The target of the raid according to the warrant was the
much feared Hugs for Puppies, an animal rights group loose-
ly associated with the anti-vivisection campaign, Stop
Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC), who have spent the last years harassing
higher ups and offices at Huntington Life Sciences, one of the biggest
animal testing labs in the country. The search warrant used for the raid
had been signed by United States Magistrate Arlander Keys of the
Northern District Justice of Illinois and was served by Special Agent
Jeremy Ashcroft of Illinois Joint Terrorism Task Force. Though no one
was arrested during the raid last week, some of the Hugs for Puppies
activists had been picked off by cops at an earlier demo in June and 7 ani
mal rights activists associated with SHAC (the SHAC 7) were arrested
across the country last May and are currently facing charges which could
land them sentences of 3 years in prison and $250,000 fines. They had
violated the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 1992, a law which liberally
includes a number of direct action tactics used by eco and animals rights
activists under the terrorism umbrella and is transparent about its concern
for corporations targeted by animal rights activists.
For years, the Joint Terrorism Task Force has made a name for itself
around the US raiding homes of activists and harassing organizers. In
Portland OR anti-authoritarians known to police for their organizing work
have shared their stories with this writer of harassment, being followed,
threatened, and sometimes beaten on the street. Recent news coverage of
an accidental death of an undercover JTTF infiltrator in Fresno exposed
some of the FBI's more recent snooping into explicitly pacifist groups,
like Peace Fresno. Activists in Colorado had the pleasure of obtaining
their own files back in 2002, after the JTTF had spent years compiling
info on some 3200 activists and 208 organizations ranging from the
American Indian Movement to anti-war groups.
In late July of this year, JTTF agents made their rounds to activists'
homes across the US to interrogate them about their plans for traveling to
the RNC and DNC. JTTF cops raided a house in Denver arresting two
for "failure to pay bike tickets". In Lawrence, Kansas FBI agents have, in
some way, harassed at least 20 anarchists (according to indymedia.org) by
visiting their workplaces, pulling them in for questioning, and visiting par-
ents' or their own residences. Other activists were paid convention related
visits in Boston, New York, Columbia and Kirksville, MO.
Essentially, the JTTF has acted as a co-ordination effort of different
police agencies spearheaded by the FBI in order to keep tabs on those
who they deem to be a terrorist threat. Groups designated as potential
terrorists groups even include non-violent groups, like ACT-UP, and
under recent Patriot Act definitions of terrorist activity, pretty much all
disr uptive Civil Disobedience fits comfortably under a terrorism clas-
sification. One could trace the moves that led to a new legal legit-
imization of this political policing to May 30, 2002 when Attorney
General John Ashcroft lifted Justice Department guidelines curtailing
domestic spying, enabling feds to legally resume infiltration of political
groups.
The JTTF is conspicuously reminiscent of that other FBI project, COIN-
TELPRO, which targeted the Black Panthers, AIM, and other radicals
through an extensive campaign of harassment, infiltration, spreading of
deliberate lies, ar med attacks, and assassinations. In the late 60s and 70s,
scores of activists found themselves behind bars for their work, some of
whom are still inside. Though COINTELPRO did target some white
activists, the program was overtly racist. It specifically attacked Black and
Native American groups with a marked and deadly enthusiasm. JTTF's
activities, today, as part of the "war on terror" program, which is essen-
tially a form of S State terror, parallels COINTELPRO's racist path. Since
9/11 JTTF raids have targeted primarily Muslims and are often carried
out hand in hand with Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), Ashcroft's new INS.
In Philly, JTTF activity has so far been of a slight-
ly lower profile in the activist community.
However, a May raid on an Imam's house and
mosque in North Philly had JTTF involvement,
and according to FBI's spokeswoman Jerri
Williams, its purpose was: "to see if there is any
terrorism connection." Heavily armed plainclothes
cops raided both the mosque and Imam's house.
Just to remind us of the continuity of white
supremacist tradition in the FBI, the current
Philly JTTF website conspicuously lists an Arabic
language snitch line.
Once word spread through the activist communi-
ty about the West Philly raid on October 28th,
some organizers braced themselves for other pos-
sible raids, and took the wise precautions of back-
ing up their hard drives and protecting important
electronic data, but so far no other houses to our
knowledge have been raided. Still it's not a bad
idea, with the Bush administration granted a 4-
year extension of their repressive ways, with polit-
ical policing and police networking gaining
sophistication as well as information, for us anar-
chists and activists to stay on our toes about our
own safety and that of our comrades.

===========================
* [Ed. note: The defenestrator is of an
Anarchist/antiauthoritarian perspective]


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