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(en) US, Modesto, California: Earth First! Day Fun Interrupted by Police Harassment

From DAAA <modanarcho@yahoo.com>
Date Tue, 26 Apr 2005 10:31:52 +0200 (CEST)

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Things didn't look good for Modesto's Earth Day, as rain came pouring down
throughout the valley. 2005 was supposed to be the largest Earth Day in the
park yet, with over 100 vendors, speakers, and music. While the event does
manage to attract some non-profits, most of the actually festival is boring
fluff. Frito Lay and other corporations were there using the event to sell
products, local police did a police dog demo, you get the idea. With the
theme of this year's event being, "Protecting the Earth and It's
Creatures", we knew that we had to be out in the park in full force,
promoting a radical alternative to what the city was making money off
of, while claiming to promote ecology at the same time.

The Direct Action Anti-Authoritarians (DAAA)
Collective booth featured a wide selection of free
literature and journals, a shirt/patch making station,
free food/fruit, and also free film showings of
various radical documentaries. Throughout the day,
people came and talked with us as we showed various
films ranging from "Meet Your Meat", (detailing how
animals are turned into food commodities), to
documentaries on the Earth Liberation Front, (ELF).

Along for the ride was a "corporate sprawl" monster,
which was a manifestation of the street theater which
we started at last year’s Earth Day. Last year we
created a mock Hummer car, which featured a
compartment in the back in which dry ice mixed with
water and created "smog". Gas mask wearing anarchists
trailed the Hummer H2, and passed out flyers about the
effects of roads, cars, and cur culture on our
society, as well as flyers for the next Critical Mass.
This year we decided to create a "sprawl monster",
which was made out of a large TV box, and was operated
by two people. It was totally covered with wrappers
from Taco Bell, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. The head
had two large cup "eyes", and was operated with the
back person moving the top jaw, and the front person
moving the bottom jaw. This created the effect of the
monster opening it's mouth wide to "eat" things, or to
talk to people.

The street theater was very successful, with many
people, (and lots of kids), stopping to look at the
monster, talk with us, and read the "corporate sprawl"
written on either of it's sides. The sprawl monster
then made the rounds of the various booths, and when
encountering corporations or government entities,
would state funny things in favor of them, which in
effect, made them look bad. When encountering
non-profits that did do things that helped the
environment, it would be critical of them, but in a
way that was favorable. Several fights ensued with
"Peanut", the local baseball mascot, which was
determined as the wild fighting back against
civilization, and the "START" bus, which was attacked
by the sprawl monster for promoting group
transportation. While staying put at the table, the
sprawl monster also attracted many people who stopped
to look at it.

While all this was going on, a problem was manifesting
itself. Susan Galvan, mother of Sammy Galvan, (who was
killed in 2004 by MPD as they entered his home and
shot him while he was cooking), came to pass out
flyers announcing an upcoming protest against the
Modesto Police Department for the shooting death of
her son. She held a simple, "Justice for Sammy" picket
sign, and her flyers. Upon entering the park, several
police officers on horses surrounded her, and got up
close to her and told her that the city was holding
and event and that she would not be allowed to pass
out her flyers in the park. She was also told that she
did not have a permit, and according to miss Galvan
they told her that she could only pass out flyers for
the protest, only "on the day of the protest." Also
according to Ms. Galvan, the police also knew about
the case, and recognized her as the mother of Mr.
Galvan. She asked the officers, "Are you going to
shoot me to?"

Upset, Ms. Galvan then met up with the DAAA
Collective, (whom we know well from past work), and
relayed the information to the group. The group
quickly had a collective meeting, and started
videotaping what was going on, lodged complaints and
warned the "Information Booth" not to harass Ms.
Galvan in the park because she was now under the
banner of the DAAA Collective, (which had a permitted,
legal spot). We also gathered a team of around 7
people, and started to hand out the protest flyers for
the upcoming event throughout the entire park, and
also let people in the park know what was going on
with the police.

When the group reassembled, Susan was simply standing
in the "permitted area" of the collective with sign in
hand, and passing out flyers, when we were approached
by two police officers, (according to Ms. Galvan the
same two that had talked to her before), and told to
stop. Although very quite, one of the officers tried,
(without success), to take flyers out of a collective
members hand, and state that we and Ms. Galvan could
not pass out flyers in the park.

We then launched into a couple minute long session of
explaining not only basic free speech laws, the fact
that we had a booth at the park and could hand out
flyers if we wanted to, and also the realities of the
Pruneyard Decision. The PD simply states that in
public spaces that the public goes to, (even if it's
private property), free speech, (especially in the
form of tabling, flyers, etc), is allowed, and the
established owners, (in this case the city), had to
reserve a "free speech" area. After talking to the
officers some more, they told us several times that
"they were just relaying what their supervisors told
them", and they would get their "supervisors" to talk
to us.

These supervisors didn't come back to the collective
booth, but with members of Green Action in tow, (a
local group working to stop environmental racism), we
approached the police supervisor who was on horseback
talking to Janis K., a city council member. The police
tried to spin the Pruneyard Decision, and simply
stated that since the city had not created such as
space, (free speech zone), no free speech zone existed
for that day. Therefore, Ms. Galvan could not pass out
her flyers. Please take a moment to appreciate the
stupidity of such an idea. We brought up the fact that
she was now with a group, (actually two, Green Action
allowed her over in their booth as well), and the
police now stated that she had the right be at those

Angry at the blatant violation of rights in the park,
miserable pig logic and talk, and the constant smirks
and harsh looks from our "boys in blue", we wanted to
do something more. After talking with a Modesto Bee
reporter who was there, (which in the end, lead to
nothing), and after packing up our things, we
assembled on the opposite side of the park. With about
10 collective members/supporters, and also Ms. Galvan
herself, we took to the sidewalk of Graceada park, in
an attempt to call attention to what had happened that
day. With chants of "2, 4, 6, 8 End the Police State",
"No Justice, No Peace", "Justice for Sammy", makeshift
signs reading, "Fuck Police Harassment", etc, we
created quite a sight amongst the petting zoos and
food vendors. When approaching various spots with lots
of people, we stopped and shouted out why we were
there, what had happened, and why it was important to
defend public space against police harassment. Many
people clapped and cheered, and most people were
vocally supportive. Although only a small victory,
when we approached the other side of the park, the
police on horses got off of the sidewalk and walked
into the park to avoid us. They made no attempt to
stop us, or even follow, and looked like idiots as we
declared that the "...state, government, and
especially not the Modesto police department was going
to stop us from organizing against continued police
murder of young people". We then de-assembled into
groups, and walked Ms. Galvan back to her car.

Police should not be able to be given inches with
these types of situations. Also, fellow community
members who are not familiar with direct action or
street protest need to showed that there is an
alternative to the "letter writing/city council
meeting" formula, if we want to take community
organizing to a radical and revolutionary level.
Resistance against the earth and animal destroying
industries will continue. Resistance to police
harassment will continue. We'll be back!

Justice For Sammy and All Under the Gun of the Police!
Pictures and info at: http://www.modanarcho.tk
Modesto Bee Earth Day Article: http://www.modbee.com/local/story/10369037p-11172224c.html

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