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<nettime> Twitter revolutionaries, unmade in the USA
Bruce Sterling on Thu, 8 Oct 2009 18:59:16 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Twitter revolutionaries, unmade in the USA

<nettime> Twitter Revolution made in USA: Tweet about the police, get  
Date: 	October 4, 2009 10:22:03 PM GMT+02:00

What will the web2.0 visionaries say about this? My hunch: Nothing!

(((Well, I'm kind of a "Web 2.0 visionary," and I'm American to boot,
so I'm gonna horn in and help ol' Felix out here.  There's a lot of this
material available.  Ton o' links.  Oodles. More than you wanna see.)))

But, perhaps the even sadder story is that having a picture of Marx and
Lenin at home is taken as 'evidence'. --  Felix

(((Well, no; I'm pretty sure the federal cops really wanted the  
backups and hard disks,
this being the sort of thing they've been into for donkey's years  

(((American electronic civil libertarians on the case, the EFF being
a veritable hive of Web 2.0 visionaries:)))


(((Now for the press coverage!)))

New York man accused of using Twitter to direct protesters during G20

Elliott Madison arrested by FBI and charged with using social networking
site to help demonstrators evade Pittsburgh police


A New York-based anarchist has been arrested by the FBI and charged with
hindering prosecution after he allegedly used the social networking site
Twitter to help protesters at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh evade the

Elliot Madison, 41, from Queens, had his home raided and was put on  
(£19,000) bail after he and Michael Wallschlaeger, 46, were tracked to  
Carefree Inn motel in Pittsburgh during the summit on 24 and 25  

The pair were found sitting in front of a bank of laptops and emergency
frequency radio scanners. They were wearing headphones and microphones  
had many maps and contact numbers in the room.

(((If you're in the movie biz, you have gotta love that image.)))

(((Having the cops show up and bust the living daylights out of  
protesters is not a new deal -- even when the hackers are kilometers  
from the teargas and not doing anything but moving their fingers up and
down.  Check out this account from distant 2001, in Genoa.)))


(((You might also note that even the IRANIAN police get it about  
Heard anything out of the Iranian Twitter Revolution lately?)))

Official police documents allege the two men used Twitter messages to
contact protesters at the summit "and to inform the protesters and  
of the movements and actions of law enforcement".

In all, almost 200 protesters were arrested during the two-day summit,
which brought world leaders to Pittsburgh to discuss the global economic
meltdown and other matters of common financial interest.

About 5,000 protesters were estimated to have taken part in  
in the city.

Twitter has rapidly established itself as an important tool in the  
of protest groups and demonstrators. During the summit, the police  
monitored Twitter to listen in to the protesters' communications.

(((That doesn't even count the police who like to twitter, and
the informants who are infiltrating protest groups and retweeting to the

The FBI said that as well as the computers and radio scanning equipment
discovered at the motel, they also confiscated from Madison's home 11  
masks, five pairs of goggles and test tubes and beakers. They said they
also took away anarchist books and pictures of Marx and Lenin.

(((Typical computer raid, very old school: take everything.  Im  
case, I'd be guessing the five pairs of goggles were BRASS goggles,
because Mr Madison is a steampunk activist named "Dr. Calamity."
Really?  Why yes!)))

Madison is a social worker with a Manhattan-based programme attached  
to a
psychiatric hospital. He is said to be a member of the People's Law
Collective, a voluntary group that advises protesters on legal issues
arising from actions. Wallschlaeger produces a talk show on radio called
This Week in Radical History.

(((Are they anarchists?  Heaven forfend!)))


ACLU: Arrest of G20 Twitterer part of ‘war on demonstrators’
By David Edwards and Stephen Webster
Monday, October 5th, 2009 -- 7:45 pm

When the FBI staged a terror raid on the New York home of 41-year-old
Elliot Madison, they were not looking for weapons of war, deadly
chemicals or the keys to unlocking a nefarious terror plot. Instead,
they came looking for books, files, data, film and something called the
"instruments of crime."

According to officials, the search was instigated after Madison was
found in a Pennsylvania hotel room on Sept. 24, listening to police
actions during Pittsburgh's G20 summit, then Tweeting to protesters
seeking to avoid authorities.

Vic Walczak, legal director for the Pennsylvania ACLU, sees the FBI's
action as pure "intimidation," and part of a "much bigger war on
demonstrators" in Pittsburgh.

He made the remarks during a Monday interview on CNN's Newsroom.

"What you have here is folks who are charged with hindering apprehension
of people who were engaging in criminal activities," he said. "The
criminals identified in the warrant are protesters against the G20.
Their crime? They were demonstrating in the street without a permit."

Madison, who has widely been described as an "anarchist" by media
parroting FBI claims,  (((besides the fact that his chosen handle is
"Dr Calamity" -- perhaps "Dr Law Abiding Citizen with Friends
in the EFF" would have been a cannier tactical choice)))
  is a social worker in New York who holds two
masters degrees from the University of Wisconsin.

Walczak continued: "The police said, 'Get out of here,' and apparently
they did. Somebody was trying to help them not go where the police are.
Instead of saying 'thank you, you're helping these folks disperse,' they
now get charged with what is really a felony."

In other words: "Be careful what you twit for, because your 140
characters could land you in the slammer," quipped Andrew Belonsky at

[http://gawker.com/5374226/g+20-tweets-invite-judicial-hammer ]

"Though the FBI says so, it's not entirely clear from the complaint that
Madison's tweets were actually illegal," noted Ars Technica
[http://tinyurl.com/yby2axn ]. "Madison's lawyer told the New York Times
[http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/nyregion/05txt.html ] on Saturday
that he and a friend were merely 'part of a communications network among
people protesting the G-20.' As implied through the Times piece,
Madison's tweets merely directed protesters as to where the police were
at any given time and to stay alert. 'There’s absolutely nothing that
he’s done that should subject him to any criminal liability.'"

Eileen Clancy with I-Witness Video
[http://iwitnessvideo.info/blog/117.html ] added: "There are myriad
examples of governments in other countries cracking down on activists
who share information on the Internet. After Moldova's short-lived
'Twitter revolution,' journalist Natalia Morar was charged
[http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,RFERL,,MDA,4a014a9d5,0.html ]
with organizing an anti-Communist flashmob and spent three weeks under
house arrest. In Guatemala a man was charged
[http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=43887 ] with advising
in a Tweet that people should take their money out of a corrupt
government bank. According to Hadi Ghaemi, who runs the International
Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, many people have been arrested for
Internet activity in Iran
[http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=43887 ]."

(((In other words, messing with Twitter is like wiretapping yourself
and yelling the results at passing cops through a megaphone.)))

"This is the first time we've heard of charges like this against people
who are using Twitter [...]" said Walczak. "If this happened in Iran or
China, where we know Twitter has been widespread because people in this
country have been relying on it to find out what's going on. If it was
used there, we'd be crying foul, we'd be calling it a human rights
violation. And when the same thing happens in this country, all of the
sudden it's a crime. There's a real problem here."

Copies of the search warrant and Madison's lawyer's motion for return of
seized property were posted to the Internet by the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, available here [http://tinyurl.com/y8axwaj ].


October 5, 2009
Arrest Puts Focus on Protesters’ Texting

As demonstrations have evolved with the help of text messages and online
social networks, so too has the response of law enforcement.

On Thursday, F.B.I. agents descended on a house in Jackson Heights,
Queens, and spent 16 hours searching it. The most likely reason for the
raid: a man who lived there had helped coordinate communications among
protesters at the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh.

(((I'd be guessing they spent 16 hours DOCUMENTING the site and are
gleefully uploading pix of the sinister Anarchist HQ onto the anti- 
international cop wiki.  FBI agents don't accidentally go raid guys for
16 hours because they are tweeting.  This raid was planned.)))

The man, Elliot Madison, 41, a social worker who has described himself
as an anarchist,  (((O RLY?))) had been arrested in Pittsburgh on  
Sept. 24 and charged
with hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a
communication facility and possession of instruments of crime. The
Pennsylvania State Police said he was found in a hotel room with
computers and police scanners while using the social-networking site
Twitter to spread information about police movements. He has denied

(((Amazing that the cops actually charged the guy with something,  
instead of
merely carting off all his hardware. I'm keen to see an American  
political show
trial that involves  "hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal  
use of a
communication facility and possession of instruments of crime."  That's
one of the goofiest, most nebulous electronic-crime charges I've ever  
Why don't they just spool out the the guy's tweets (I'm sure they  
recorded them)
and charge him with aiding and abetting an attempted riot?)))

(((Maybe  because there WASN'T any riot?  Maybe they could charge him
with "watching as American protesters get blasted like guinea pigs
with awesome new forms of American police-owned tactical media:")))


(((Imagine if you had one of those crowd-blasting infrasonic trucks
hooked up to a Twitter feed and aimed at the delegates.  Hey,
"Our Streets, Our Streets.")))

American protesters first made widespread use of mass text messages in
New York, during the 2004 Republican National Convention, when hundreds
of people used a system called TXTmob to share information. Messages,
sent as events unfolded, allowed demonstrators and others to react
quickly to word of arrests, police mobilizations and roving rallies.
Mass texting has since become a valued tool among protesters,
particularly at large-scale demonstrations.

(((That was then, this is now.  Think what's happened to other
American media in those years: television, magazines, newspapers,
they look almost as sick as American banking.)))

And police and government officials appear to be increasingly aware of
such methods of communication. In 2008, for instance, the New York City
Law Department issued a subpoena seeking information from the graduate
student who created the code for TXTmob. Still, Mr. Madison, who was
released on bail shortly after his arrest, may be among the first to be
charged criminally while sending information electronically to
protesters about the police.

A criminal complaint in Pennsylvania accuses him of “directing others,
specifically protesters of the G-20 summit, in order to avoid
apprehension after a lawful order to disperse.”

“He and a friend were part of a communications network among people
protesting the G-20,” Mr. Madison’s lawyer, Martin Stolar, said on
Saturday. “There’s absolutely nothing that he’s done that should subject
him to any criminal liability.”

(((Well, the whole point of this tactic is to get out of the way of the
cops and INTO THE WAY OF THE DELEGATES, so as to prevent
official events from taking place, and causing keen political  
It's like watching some kind of delicate New Age street war where
the combatants engage one another with plastic Rock 'Em Sock 'Em

(((Meanwhile, over in Los Angeles, site of the largest riot in American


(((You think that video is violent, spooky and bonkers-looking?  Check  
THIS out:)))


(((A society where folk-politics looks this deranged doesn't have to  
too much about the awesome Leninist menace of Tweeting, I'm thinkin'.)))

A search warrant executed by the F.B.I. at Mr. Madison’s house
authorized agents and officers looking for violations of federal rioting
laws to seize computers and phones, black masks and clothes and
financial records and address books. Among the items seized, according
to a list prepared by the agents, were electronic equipment, newspapers,
books and gas masks. The items also included what was described as a
picture of Lenin.

Since the raid, no other charges have been filed against Mr. Madison. On
Friday, Mr. Stolar argued in Federal District Court in Brooklyn that the
warrant was vague and overly broad. Judge Dora L. Irizarry ordered the
authorities to stop examining the seized materials until Oct. 16,
pending further orders.

Mr. Stolar said that the reason for the Jackson Heights raid would not
be clear until an affidavit used to secure the search warrant was
unsealed.  (((Don't hold your breath.)))

  But he said that commentary among agents indicated that it was
related to Mr. Madison’s arrest in Pittsburgh, where he participated in
the Tin Can Comms Collective, a group of people who collected
information and used Twitter to send mass text messages describing
protest-related events that they observed on the streets.

There were many such events during the two days of the summit.
Demonstrators marched through town on the opening day of the gathering,
at times breaking windows and fleeing. And on both nights, police
officers fired projectiles and hurled tear gas canisters at students
milling near the University of Pittsburgh.

After Mr. Madison’s arrest, other Tin Can participants continued to send
messages, now archived on Twitter’s Web site. Many of those messages
tracked police movements. One read: “SWAT teams rolling down 5th Ave.”
Another read: “Report received that police are ‘nabbing’ anyone that
looks like a protester / Black Bloc. Stay alert watch your friends!”

But even as protesters were watching the police, it appeared that the
police were monitoring the protesters’ communications.  (((No,
really, wow, beggars belief, gosh all fish-hooks, etc.)))

Just after 1 p.m. on Sept. 24, a text message stated: “A comms facility
was raided, but we are still fully operational please continue to submit
reports.” Nine hours later, a text read: “Scanner just said be advised
we’re being monitored by anarchists through scanner.”

(((Pretty good stuff, eh?  It's so late-80s Hollywood cyberpunk!)))

On Sunday night Mr. Madison said that the search of his home was an
effort to “stifle dissent,” and added that several groups in Pittsburgh,
including the summit organizers, had used Twitter accounts to describe
events related to the meetings.

“They arrested me for doing the same thing everybody else was doing,
which was perfectly legal,” he said. “It was crucial for people to have
the information we were sending.”  (((Then why not put the cops
on the mailing list from the get-go?)))


(((And now, the final fillip: the steampunk angle.  That's right,
I said STEAMPUNKS.  Up against the steamy wall, oppressors.)))

Mon 5 Oct 2009
SteamPunk’s Professor Calamity faces multiple felonies for twittering
Posted by Magpie under Activism, Anarchism, Steampunk
Update: Professor Calamity on Democracy Now

SteamPunk Magazine author (and, honestly, the inspiration for  
SteamPunk Magazine)
Professor Calamity is facing two felonies for allegedly running a  
twitter account.
He has been accused of running a twitter feed of police movements  
during the
Pittsburgh G-20 protests, protests for which the police are already  
being sued.

To add insult to felony charges, they raided his house in NYC for 16  
confiscating everything from hammers to computers to SteamPunk Magazine.
Their lawyer has already convinced a judge to put a stop on the police  
of their personal possessions, because the raid is absolutely insane.

Okay, Steampunk, here’s your chance to prove you’re a community.
Professor Calamity is one of our founding thinkers. Even if he wasn’t,
he’s one of us, and he’s facing absolutely batshit bullshit charges and
ought to be supported. I’m asking that we make this news, because
it ought to be news. This is insane.

Below is a report from one of the people who was present during the  
house raid in Queens:

On October 1st, 2009, at 6:00am, the Joint Terrorism Task Force
(a union of local police departments and the FBI), kicked out the
front door to our home—an anarchist collective house in Queens, NY,
affectionately known as Tortuga. The first crashes of the battering ram
were quickly followed by more upstairs, as the police broke in on
3 sleeping people, destroying bedroom doors that were unlocked.

Three more people, awoken by the most unpleasant means of bounding
footsteps, splintering wood, and shouting voices, waited in the  
their turn at drawn guns and blinding lights came quickly.

We put our hands out where they could see them. They ordered us out of  
They wouldn’t let us dress, but they did put a random assortment of  
clothes on some people.
We were handcuffed, and although the upstairs and downstairs groups  
were kept
  separate initially, we were soon all together, sitting in the living  
room, positioned
like dolls on the couches and chairs. We were in handcuffs for several  
hours, and
we were helpless as our little bird, a Finch we had rescued and were  
flew out the open door to certain death, after his cage had been  
battered by the
cops in their zeal to open the upstairs bedroom doors by force. We  
shouted at them,
but they stood there and watched.

(((The little injured finch in his cage is one of those touches you  
possibly put in fiction.  I wonder about the little baby sparrows in  
the Pittsburgh trees
who were having their tiny sparrow eardrums blasted by semi-experimental
sonic street-clearing weapons.  If I were the driver of that thing, I  
I'd get a songbird logo for my uniform right away.)))

And they stood and watched us for hours and hours and hours.
16 hours to be precise, 16 hours of the NYPD and FBI traipsing through  
our house,
confiscating our lives in a fishing expedition related to the G20  
protests of
  September 24th and 25th.

The search warrant, when we were finally allowed to read it,
mentioned violation of federal rioting laws and was vague enough
to allow the entire house to be searched. They kept repeating
that we were not arrested, that we were free to go.

But being free meant being watched by the FBI, monitored while using  
the bathroom,
not allowed to make phone calls for hours or to observe them  
ransacking our rooms.
Being free meant they took two of us away on bullshit summonses,
and even though this was our house, where we lived, if we left, we  
could not re-enter.

Three of us stayed to the bitter end. Three of us stayed to watch the  
hazmat team
come in to investigate a child’s chemistry set, to see them search the  
garage on an additional warrant,
to sign vouchers for all the things they confiscated as “evidence” —  
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, (((that's just the  
greatest.  Are you listening,
nettime list?  Wow))) flags, banners, posters, photographs and more  
than can be recounted here.
(((And Lenin.  Don't forget Marx and Lenin.)))

The apparent impetus for this raid came over a week ago, when two  
of our household were arrested, once again at gunpoint, in the suburbs  
of Pittsburgh.
They are accused of being devious masterminds, of “directing” the  
rollicking G-20 protests,
  of using technology such as Twitter to “hinder apprehension” of  
The two were held on bail, one fetching the ridiculous amount of  
$30,000 cash,
and released 36 hours later after the bond was posted. As of this  
no additional charges have been levied against the two, nor against  
any other
  housemates in the aftermath of the raid.

As anarchists,  (((oh wait a minute, are these guys anarchists?  I  
figured they were
all social workers with advanced degrees))) we are under no illusions  
about what
the State is capable of. We are not the first anarchists to have our  
house raided,
(((well, no; it's kind of a badge of honor, frankly, and something you  
can tell
your dreadlocked anarchist grandchildren)))  and unfortunately as long  
as the State remains,
we will not be the last.  (((How old ARE 'states,' exactly?  About  
5,000 years old, am I right?
Well, next week though, a rush and push and the land is ours!)))

We are, along with other targeted individuals like David Japenga, the  
outlets for the
impotent rage the authorities feel when they lose control, as they did  
during the
G-20 in Pittsburgh. We, that beautiful we, that include Tortuga House  
all who find affinity with us, refuse the rigid forms the authorities  
try and
cram a world bursting with infinite possibilities into—He is not a  
she did not act alone, they are not being directed. Repression is a  
that the state uses to put us on the defensive, to divert our energies  
being a proactive force and instead deal with the terms it has set.

We will not lie and say this has not left us reeling, but as time and  
our dizziness pass,
we know that friends surround us. Our resolve is strengthened by this  
and we will not be deterred by this state aggression.  (((Yeah, I'd be  
guessing this incident
has put anarchism in Queens shoulder to shoulder with the dropout  
legions of
London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Hannover.  Small in numbers, great in  
and some of the awesomest steampunk memorabilia you're ever likely to  

We wish to thank all of our friends and comrades who have stood by us  
in these
difficult few days. Our lawyer filed an injunction on the raid the  
next morning
(October 2nd) that was surprisingly granted- it forbids the  
authorities from
fishing through our belongings until we head back to court on the 16th.
In the weeks and months to come we will do our best to share  
developments as they occur.
  If you want to keep in touch or find out how you can help please  
email us at: tortugadefense {AT} gmail.com.

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