Surprise! Maoists don’t have “anarchist materials”
This morning, SPD came in with stun grenades and guns waving in a 6 AM raid of a Central District house whose residents are Occupy Seattle activists.
Much of the news coverage so far has focused on the inherent absurdity of the ostensible reason for the raid. SPD officials said later – after they released the four people they found inside because, um, they hadn’t done anything wrong – that they were looking for evidence connected to last May 1′s demonstrations (aka “riots” in the local media – though where I come from, riots have body counts), and the heinous crimes of a few broken windows and graffiti. The search warrant specified that Seattle’s finest were in search of “anarchist materials.”
Now, last I checked “anarchist materials” – assuming anyone can provide a coherent legal definition of what the hell those are supposed to be (Bakunin’s autobiography?), are completely legal. But it’s even more absurd than that. The home SPD raised is that of a local collective affiliated with the Kasama Project. Get far enough past the revolutionary boilerplate on the home page, and you’ll discover that (Greece! Nepal! The Beloved Chairman!) it’s yet another Maoist splinter group. Good for them, but…does SPD understand that anarchists and Maoists are ideological opposites? What the hell would a bunch of Maoists be doing with “anarchist materials,” other than maybe burning them?
The answer, quite simply, is that even if SPD (or law enforcement officials in general) were bright enough to make the distinction, they don’t care. Right now (as opposed to 30 years ago), “anarchist” scares people more than “Maoist,” so that’s what they went to a judge with and that’s what they’ve told the public. It’s all the same to them – they’re happy any time they can break down doors and wave guns around at someone who has problems with (their) authority, no matter what their professed ideology.
That’s why, ten weeks later, a series of misdemeanor acts of vandalism is being used to justify the SWAT team treatment. One of the ways in which property destruction is always counterproductive, whether committed by agent provocateurs or unpaid, unwitting volunteers, is that it’s a perfect excuse for police violence and abuse – at the time, or at any time in the future within the plausible life cycle of the public’s memory. Hence, this morning.
I don’t care for a lot of their politics, but I have no problem publicizing and defending sectarian leftists when they’re targeted like this. They’re targeted not because of what they believe, but because they’re powerless and because they have beliefs in the first place rather than simply Getting With The Program. That could be any of us.
Also, too: Thanks so much, Mayor McGinn, for your outstanding reform of SPD policies and how well political demonstrators are now treated. I can’t tell you how much safer I feel around your men in blue.
No. Really. I can’t.