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 basement—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 bed. 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 rehabilitating, 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.
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.
Many thanks to Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing, and to James for sending.
I confess I had never heard of SteamPunk before this. It sounds like an interesting movement, but it hardly makes any difference. They aren't terrorists. They aren't a security threat. Protest is supposed to be legal in the United States. It's supposed to be a constitutionally protected right.