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.
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, flags, banners, posters, photographs and more than can be recounted here.
The apparent impetus for this raid came over a week ago, when two members 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 protesters. 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 moment, no additional charges have been levied against the two, nor against any other housemates in the aftermath of the raid.
As anarchists, we are under no illusions about what the State is capable of. We are not the first anarchists to have our house raided, and unfortunately as long as the State remains, we will not be the last. 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 and 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 leader, she did not act alone, they are not being directed. Repression is a strategy that the state uses to put us on the defensive, to divert our energies from 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 solidarity, and we will not be deterred by this state aggression.
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: email@example.com.