March 14, 2008

Dealing With The Fear Factor

Anarchists cry foul on bombing probe
by patrick arden / metro new york, MAR 14, 2008
MANHATTAN. Soon after a bicyclist threw a homemade bomb at the Times Square military recruiting station last week, press reports claimed the suspect had ties to anarchist groups.
Now local activists are complaining about a pattern of police harassment.
[...] “People have been visited at their homes, and some think that their places have been broken into,” he said. “They’re scaring everybody.”
[...] Lawyer Ron Kuby said he’s heard from activists who’ve been questioned by the NYPD, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and, perhaps, the FBI’s Joint Terrorist Task Force.
“These people, I think, are not suspects,” Kuby said. “The police are contacting anybody and everybody who was loosely affiliated with New York’s garden community, squatter community and anarchist community from about 1985 to date. They’re just trying to track everybody down to see if anybody has any information.”
Eric Laursen, a member of the New York Metro Alliance of Anarchists, believes law enforcement officials are overreacting.
“They’re targeting suspects based on the stereotype of violent bomb-throwing anarchists,” he said. “The only thing that was damaged was the door.”…
Here is my comment to NY Metro, which may or may not be published:

There is a long history of using the word “anarchist” to throw panic into a potentially inflammable situation, which is rather ironic since the objects of the story are accused of “bomb-throwing.” As with any political, religious or even social organization, differing points of view are the norm and this is true for so-called radical politics. But a headline like “anarchists cry foul,” leads us to feel justified in demonizing a monolithic organization, and be comforted in thinking “they” are freaking out over supposedly justifiable activities by the police force. But the feelings evoked by choosing such words may not reflect the situation accurately. We do not know what happened early that morning, but we do know some things about the NYC Police Department, thanks to recently released documents. The “Red Squad,” in particular has used a variety of illegal tactics, including infiltrating organizations, (even as benign as the Quakers) advocating and provoking chaos, turmoil and generally pushing less stable group members into doing things they wouldn’t have done on their own. If anything, the tactics and behavior of agents provocateurs represent more accurately what people think “anarchists” are about. I’d suggest news organizations use a more cautious approach in labeling citizens who take exception to the status quo. Things change, and one day you may find yourself supporting a position you once feared or found abhorrent.

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