Cover your forehead! (and other lessons from Pax)

On May 3rd, our friend Pax was arrested on 36 felony charges of criminal mischief and 36 felony charges of conspiracy to commit criminal mischief. This was dropped down to 5 counts of each after their arraignment, and Pax took a plea deal in October for 3 counts of felony criminal mischief. A number of people have asked how Pax got caught up in legal trouble for allegedly smashing banks and a police substation. It has come to light in the last few months that the FBI has been actively monitoring Portland anarchists since at least early April, though to what extent it is not clear. We now know there was federal involvement in the raid during which Pax was arrested in May. Because the federal investigation is ongoing, there may be crucial pieces of information relating to Pax’s arrest that we don’t know about yet. With that in mind, here are some tips for staying safe when you’re angry in the streets, compiled by some friends who looked through the Discovery.

  1. Cover your face! Is your forehead part of your face? Cover that too! Surveillance video from a US Bank ATM that was smashed showed a tall person with the lower half of their face covered, but a tuft of hair and broad forehead uncovered, using a rock to break the screen of the ATM. Police claimed to recognize the broad forehead and tuft of hair as Pax’s. When looking for anonymity, a lot of people seem to go for a hoodie and a bandanna. That’s not good enough. Your forehead should be covered all the way down to your eyebrows. A beanie and balaclava combo does the trick nicely. Leave just enough of a slit to see out of.
  1. ATMs have really high-quality cameras. If you’re doing anything in front of an ATM make sure you don’t have any easily visible distinguishing characteristics. Is your height distinctive? Your clothing? Especially if you’re a well-known anarchist in town with a long arrest record, you should expect that the cops know your face, height, body type, etc. If one were to attack an ATM, it would be prudent to first disable the camera in some way.
  1. Sign with your right hand! The police also claimed to recognize Pax’s “left-handed throwing technique” from surveillance video. The police corroborated this with video of Pax signing a piece of paper with their left hand during booking. Simple solution: sign everything with your right hand if you’re arrested.
  1. Choose your outfit carefully! Surveillance video showed that the person who smashed the ATM was wearing a jacket with shoulder flaps that matched a jacket the police observed Pax wearing coming out of their house at a later time. The police also seized a white studded belt from Pax, which, they claimed matched a belt from surveillance footage. When planning what to wear, go for plain black hoodies, plain black gloves, and plain black pants with no accessories, patches, embellishments, or other distinguishing features. If you do choose to wear something with a distinguishing feature, use it once and get rid of it IMMEDIATELY. If you can, make sure your clothes are loose enough to conceal your figure. Surveillance video from the PCC police substation showed a person in shorts and a t-shirt throwing a rock through the window. Pax was later arrested at that march in a similar outfit. Remember: covering your face is not enough! Your entire outfit needs to make you anonymous! It should go without saying by now, but shorts and a t-shirt, even with leggings and a long sleeve shirt underneath, won’t keep you safe. The goal of blocing up is to look the exact same as everyone else. Again: loose plain black sweatshirt, loose plain black pants, plain black shoes.
  1. Your phone will snitch on you. The police obtained Pax’s phone records and noted a lot of activity right before a bank was smashed, then the phone went dead for a couple hours, then there was a lot of activity immediately following the bank being smashed. The police weren’t able to read Pax’s text messages, which were encrypted with a program called TextSecure, and as far as we know they didn’t have recordings or transcripts of phone conversations. But we shouldn’t completely rule out the potential of conversations being recorded, and the police still got access to the log of which numbers were called and when. Either leave your phone off all night, or leave it on all night somewhere far away from you.
  1. Glass doors are a lot more expensive than windows. In the repair receipts provided in discovery, the banks claimed thousands of dollars of damages for glass doors versus hundreds for windows.
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Moderator note

This website isn’t getting updated as frequently as it used to because other things have come up in our lives. Sorry about that.

Check out these other websites for relevant anarchist news, some local and some more broad in scope:

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Solidarity rally for grand jury resister Maddy Pfeiffer: Dec. 14

December 14th, 12:30pm

Seattle Federal Courthouse, 700 Stewart Street, Seattle, WA

Maddy Pfeiffer was served a subpoena in Olympia, WA and appeared before the grand jury on Nov. 7th. At that time they were taken to a contempt hearing but received a continuance so they could prepare with their lawyer. Please come out and support them on Friday, December 14th at 12:30PM! Their hearing is at 1:30PM but let’s start early and gather for support and conversation before they have to go inside.

REMEMBER: It is likely they’ll be taken into “custody” after their hearing.

Please bring anything you can to contribute: food, coffee, umbrellas, BANNERS, FLIERS, SIGNS, megaphones, etc.

SOLIDARITY WITH ALL THOSE WHO RESIST THE GRAND JURY.

For more info -> saynothing.info & nopoliticalrepression.wordpress.com

If you want more info on grand juries in general check the “Resources” page of the Saynothing.info site.

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NYE jail solidarity noise demo: Seattle

This New Year’s Eve join us for a noise demonstration outside the SeaTac Federal Detention Center. This is in response to the international call-out for noise demos and other actions against prisons, jails, and detention centers on New Year’s Eve.

Bring banners, loud noise-makers, pots and pans, sound systems, flyers, and whatever else could be useful. Please send this announcement to listserves and invite your friends.

Matt and Kteeo have been locked away inside the Detention Center since September 13 and September 27, respectively, for refusing to cooperate with a secret federal Grand Jury investigation targeting anarchists in the Pacific Northwest. It is likely that Maddy Pfeiffer will be joining them on December 14th.

Noise demonstrations are meant to break the isolation of prison by breaking through the walls with the sounds of solidarity. In a very real way, this small gesture can remind those on the inside that they are not alone and that there are many of us out here who are fighting alongside them. Like other solidarity actions, this noise demo is meant to strengthen the resolve of the defiant, courageous rebels the state is trying to coerce into participating in their strategy of repression.

Original call-out for New Year’s Eve noise demos: http://anarchistnews.org/content/new-years-eve-international-anti-prison…

DIRECTIONS:

FDC SEATAC
FEDERAL DETENTION CENTER
2425 SOUTH 200TH STREET
SEATTLE, WA 98198

FDC SeaTac is located 12 miles south of Seattle and 16 miles north of Tacoma, 1 mile west of Interstate 5 (200th Street exit). It is several blocks south of the SeaTac Airport.

Driving:

From Seattle: Take Exit 151 for Military Rd toward S 200th St

From Portland/Olympia/Tacoma: Take Exit 149B to merge onto WA-516 W/S Kent Des Moines Rd twrd Des Moines – slight R toward WA-99 N – turn R onto WA-99 N- Turn L onto S 200th St

Busing:

From (downtown) Seattle: Take the LINK light rail to the Tukwila Station-Walk to Tukwila Blvd Station- Take the A Line Bus toward Federal Way TC, International Blvd-Get off at International Blvd & 200th-Walk to FDC SeaTac

OR take the 124 from 3rd Ave & Columbia and follow the same steps as above.

From Olympia: Take the 620 toward Tacoma Mall-Get off at SR 512-Take the 574 toward SeaTac- Get off at International Blvd & 188th-Walk to FDC SeaTac

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An Open Letter to Portland’s High School Rebels

This is a letter of love and admiration for the wild and courageous high school students who battled the Portland Police in the streets on November 3rd. Some of you took pepper spray directly to the face at close range, some of you pushed forward against cops behind your sturdy banners, and you all displayed an inspiring ferocity that has sadly been few and far between in Portland since last spring.

At times this town can seem suffocated by mangerial activists, specialists in revolt who seek to orchestrate every act of rebellion in order to advance their own resumes. But you are living proof that despite this recuperative force, there will always be the youthful, wild, uncontrollable ones. Keep it up! Push conflict with authority – no matter how “revolutionary” it may portray itself – to the extreme!

I encourage you to build on this experience of fighting together in the streets. Where can you go from here? Are there other places in your lives that you can use your shared subjectivity to attack that which attempts to control you? There are lots of different ways to build trust and affinity with each other. Don’t limit yourself to pre-announced marches in the streets. If you use your creativity, you will find infinite possibilities for taking your lives back, both open and clandestine. Flash mobs at grocery stores – nighttime smashy-smashy – reading groups to sharpen your critique – illegal dance parties – graffiti – wheatpasting propaganda everywhere – refuse to pay for tri-met – these are just a few ideas. I believe the slop that barely passes for food in Portland Public Schools cafeterias is provided by Aramark, the prison profiteers, I’m sure you could think of some way to sabotage their operations. The possibilities are endless.

If this is your first experience in the streets, welcome. You may soon find that you can’t get enough. If you’ve been at this for a while, congratulations, you’re getting a much earlier start than I did. In this time of extreme repression in the NW, your refusal of submission is a beacon of light.

Love and solidarity,
a Portland anarchist under the gun

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FBI Affidavit Demonstrates Political Nature of FBI Investigation

from Committee Against Political Repression. Oct 21:

On October 18, SeattlePI.com ran an important article, “Agent: FBI tailed Portland anarchists headed to May Day riot.” While the piece describes previously unavailable details of the FBI’s investigation into the May Day actions, the most important fact is contained in the first sentence:

“the FBI’s interest in several suspects predated the political vandalism that swept downtown Seattle.”
Though the May 1 protest and the attack on the Federal Court House in particular, has been cited as the cause of the current FBI/Grand Jury investigation, the article clearly shows that the FBI was already keeping a close watch on Portland-area anarchists — following their vehicles and monitoring their text messages, at the least.

CAPR has consistently argued that the extensive surveillance, swat raids, and grand jury subpoenas were not simply a response to a few broken windows but demonstrate an effort to criminalize the political philosophy of anarchism.

The FBI’s treatment of anarchism as evidence of criminality in the affidavit quoted in the P-I supports the conclusion that the ongoing investigation is more about politics than law. The political nature of this investigation is also demonstrated by the scale of the state’s attack and the seizure of “anarchist literature” in armed raids. The fact that the investigation actually preceded any unlawful act only proves the point.

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LA Times article: “Anarchist probe: Jailed activists say they won’t talk to feds”

LA Times. Oct 19:

SEATTLE—The federal detention center near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is usually home to suspected bank robbers and drug dealers awaiting trial, or perhaps illegal immigrants fighting deportation. These days, though, it’s taken on an air of political intrigue, as three activists who’ve refused to testify before a federal grand jury engage in an extended war of nerves with authorities.

The federal probe, detailed in an examination of the case in the Los Angeles Times, is looking at the activities of anarchists in the Pacific Northwest and damage to a federal appeals courthouse during May Day protests in Seattle on May 1.

It has apparently become a hot topic of discussion at the detention center, where Matthew Duran, 24, a computer technician and self-described anarchist from Olympia, Wash., has been jailed since a federal judge found him in contempt for refusing to answer questions posed to him by a federal prosecutor.

“They took me down to…my unit, which is the general population area,” Duran recalled in a recent interview at the detention center. “I get in there and people ran up to me and they’re like, ‘What’s your race? Who do you roll with?’ And I’m like, ‘I’m not in a gang. I’m Chicano.’ ‘What are you here for?’ ‘I’m here for not snitching on people.’ They’re like, ‘That’s … awesome.’

“In like five minutes they came back with this grocery bag full of food and toiletries, and they’re like, ‘Here, we take care of our own.’”

Duran, who grew up in Southern California, was an activist on migrant workers rights issues before moving to Olympia a few years ago. He said inmates watched the first presidential debate together. They then fell into conversation about why Duran considered himself an anarchist — what was an anarchist, they wanted to know? — and why he had elected to defy a federal judge’s order to tell a grand jury what he knew?

“They asked me, ‘Where do you stand on the spectrum?’ I said, ‘Very far left, without capitalism, without state or federal government. I think people ought to be able to organize on their own and still be accountable to their community, and to their society,’” Duran said.

“Well, there’s not a lot of cool politics up there,” he said, referring to his jail unit. “It definitely got people riled up. The guy I was talking to was a libertarian who believes the fundamentals of capitalism are absolutely necessary to keep society going. Well, to maintain the status quo, I said, I guess that is technically true.”

Duran and one of his fellow activist inmates, Olympia bartender Katherine Olejnik, wore jailhouse khakis and spoke separately in a small attorney interview room as a guard waited outside.

They seemed relaxed and cheerful, mindful that they had become celebrities in activist circles that have spread their photos across the Internet. Supporters have characterized the probe as a witch hunt aimed at quashing the radical fringes of the Occupy movement.

“I do want to protect my friends and comrades from whatever I may or may not know,” Duran said. “But this is a tool from the McCarthy era, like the House Un-American Activities Committee. ‘Are you or are you not an anarchist, did you ever subscribe to this publication, have you ever been to a political meeting?’ That type of thing. It seems like it was taken right out of the ’50s or ’60s. But I guess it’s more along the lines of, it never went away.”

Duran’s attorney, Kimberly Gordon, said a federal appeals court on Friday rejected her motion appealing Duran’s detention, though she has argued that it amounts to an unconstitutional fishing expedition through citizens’ political activities under the guise of probing crimes of vandalism.

Duran, Olejnik and Leah-Lynn Planteall have been offered immunity from prosecution — meaning they could not assert their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to testify. Federal authorities have made it clear that no one has the right to hide evidence of a crime — and damage to the federal courthouse that day and to surrounding businesses such as Niketown ran into the tens of thousands of dollars, at least.

“Matt really had no idea what they were going to ask him when he walked in there, but he was pretty resolved at that point that he did not want to be used by the government as a tool to prosecute or punish other people without his permission,” Gordon said. “He was more interested in making sure he was not used in that way than he was in keeping himself out of custody.”

Olejnik, 23, Duran’s roommate in Olympia, is studying for the law school admission test while waiting out her own indefinite period in custody. She said she is determined not to offer information about fellow activists and her own political associations, even if she has to sit at SeaTac through the end of the current grand jury’s 18-month term.

“I think it’s going to be fine,” she said. “Me and Matt are probably going to have to give up our house. But our friends are amazing. They’re going to pack up our house for us, people are raising money for a storage unit for us, they’re taking care of our cat, calling our parents, calling our employers, making sure we get mail and books.”

Duran is hoping his job at the computer company in Olympia will be waiting for him whenever he is released.

“I talked to my boss, the CEO, and they’re like, ‘Wow, we never had a case like this. But you’re a good kid, you’re smart, we invested like a year’s training and we want you back, as long as you don’t get criminal charges or anything.’”

So the wait goes on.

“I really don’t see it ending any other way,” Duran said. “I know I’m not going to talk.”

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