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Monthly Archives: November 2009
By Steven Thrasher
When Jackson Heights resident Elliot Madison learned last week that charges against him had been dropped by the Allegheny County District Attorney in Pennsylvania, he had little reason to celebrate. The 41-year-old Queens social worker was arrested during the G-20 in Pittsburgh, while he was using Twitter to alert other protesters about the movements of police. The formal charges were “hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possession of instruments of crime.”
Madison, a self-described anarchist, is very open about listening to a public police scanner and then tweeting police locations. (His tweet channel was open and advertised on posters.) On September 24, police stormed the room at the Carefree Inn where he was staying with Michael Wallschlaege shortly after the duo had relayed an order to disperse.
Madison doesn’t deny his involvement, but he says “it wasn’t a crime. It was protected free speech.” He tells the Voice he was merely using new technology to pass on publicly accessible information, describing it as being “the same as if you and I were walking down the street, and I said to you, ‘Hey, the police are on 42nd street, and they’ve said anyone who goes there will be arrested, so don’t go there.'”
A Benefit in Barcelona for Tortuga and g20 arrestees!
Thank you everyone for your solidarity and support. Although the state charges are dropped we are still facing the uncertainty of federal charges looming over us and we still have no idea when if ever we will have our belongings that were seized by the Feds returned to us. Benefits and informational events are a great way to support those facing repression, thanks to our comrades in Barcelona for holding this event!!!
Federal authorities can resume combing through the notebooks, memory cards and computers of a twittering anarchist being investigated for violating an anti-rioting law, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled Monday.
U.S. district court judge Dora L. Irizzary found no reason to throw out the government’s search of the home of a 41-year old social worker who used the micro-publishing service Twitter to help anti-globalization protestors at the recent G-20 convention, clearing the way for the feds to look through the evidence they collected. Madison and his attorney sought to have his possessions returned unexamined, on the grounds the search violated his constitutional rights to free speech.
Read the article
In the face of a PR nightmare, Pennsylvania authorities have withdrawn all charges against two members of Tortuga accused of using Twitter to aid protesters at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. At a hearing today, instead of oral arguments regarding a defense motion to unseal the secret 18-page affidavit authorizing the arrests of Elliott Madison and Michael Wallschlager at a motel just outside of Pittsburgh, the prosecution immediately moved to withdraw all charges against the two before the defense had a chance to argue its case. Although clear from the beginning that these charges were absurd based on the State’s very own laws, our housemates were incarcerated for 36 hours, had their van towed and belongings confiscated, and one house member was given $30,000 in straight bail.
The District Attorney and his spokesperson were at pains to explain why the State would drop all charges against these dangerous twitterists and of course, refused to admit that these charges were unconstitutional and a heavy-handed attempt to scare anarchists and others from protesting in ways unsanctioned by the government. Instead, the prosecution says they decided that pursuing the charges “would be unwise” after consulting other law enforcement agencies and because of other pending investigations. The secret affidavit authorizing the arrests in Pennsylvania is set to become public on Nov. 23rd. We imagine the Pennsylvania State Police will seek an extension to keep this document sealed—perhaps in order to hide the flimsiness of their secret evidence? However, no matter the reason, we will fight to unseal this document and we will not let the State hide behind sealed evidence, obscure innuendo, and other traditional tactics used by secret police.
Though it is a victory that all the charges against our two housemates were dropped in Pennsylvania, we cannot forget that there is still a mysterious grand jury and other “ongoing investigations” out there. While we may be free from criminal proceedings now, we are still under the threat of future charges/indictments. What these might be, when they might happen, and what cause the State has is, of course, secret. Although our only option is to wait and see, we refuse to let them go about their business ruining our lives in peace and quiet and will continue fighting them every step of the way.
For more information and updates, please go to friendsoftortuga.wordpress.com