Village Voice: An Interview with the Tweeting Anarchist, Elliott Madison

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.'”

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