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LAPD suppresses radical art space

by tu_kuñ(A)'o Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008 at 10:42 PM

Imagine a place where people can come together to exchange ideas, create art, play music, and otherwise invest in a better world, starting here and now in Los Angeles. Some LA heads went beyond imagining and created it. After many hours of hard work and planning, they finally opened it up to the community to host a hip hop show, a benefit for next month's anarchist bookfair. The crowd was mostly young people from a variety of backgrounds and different parts of the city. Some of us were painting and organizing for the first Los Angeles Really Really Free Market, but mostly people were just bobbing their heads to the beats. We were obviously a threat to the system and the American way of life.

I was inside when all I hear are loud thumps, and then people yelling. Some people started spreading the word that the cops were out there trying to break in. It was right about that time I started hearing the helicopter overhead. We closed the door and started organizing. "They can't come in here without a warrant. You have the right to remain silent--and everybody should." Nonetheless there was some confusion. It seems like someone decided that they needed to inform the cops that we knew our rights and refused to be intimidated. They went outside, and people closer to the door said that they were getting searched.

There was some harassment going on at the door and the cops started coming in. Some people started finding other ways out, but most of us just stood our ground. The cops were trying to convince us all to come out. But mostly we just stayed there. Finally they convinced a trusted member of the community that if we didn't all come out with our hands on top of our heads that we were all going to be arrested. Everyone that was still inside filed out with our hands atop our heads and were lined up facing the fence across the alley from the spot.

There were about 12 cop cars lining the alley and the adjacent street. My guess is that there were about 60, maybe 75 of us lined up. I counted 24 cops, and then a couple of bicycle units showed up. And the bird was still on the wing, spotlighting us and our spot. One-by-one, they patted us down. People with bags had them searched. Once they were sure we weren't armed or doped up (they didn't find anything on anyone) they sent us to face the wall a little further down the alley. The one who searched asked me what was going on in the warehouse. "Just a little hip hop," I said. Meanwhile, the cops are realizing not everyone filed out obediently and some people are on the roof of another warehouse. They started yelling at them from the chopper to get down. Our friends smiled and waved.

The cops didn't seem to know what to do in the face of resistance, and kept ordering us to keep out hands on our heads, keep quiet, and keep facing the fence. Eventually they let us put our hands down. After a while, a sergeant identified himself and ordered us to turn around and face him. He said that one of us had been accused of shoplifting and that someone was going to inspect us and identify the thief.

Slowly, a cruiser cruised by, shining bright-ass lights in our faces. Some people said they thought they saw a camera in there. When they got to the end of the line, they stopped and started coming back. They pulled a guy out of line. He looked to be in his early 20s, Latino, with long hair, dressed pretty metal. They searched him and took him away.

Some people in the line-up got mad at that guy, buying the pig line and blaming him for burning the spot. As if someone shoplifting, if he really did it, was justification of the cops' gross violations of our rights.

Then the cops pulled two more people, a man and a woman from the Black Riders, out of the line and took them away. Then they demanded to speak with the owner of the warehouse, or failing that, the organizer of the party. "Somebody needs to step up, or..." the cops threatened. How might things have worked out differently if we all would've taken one step forward? But only one compañero did. The sergeant talked to him and about four cops surrounded him. They talked peaceably for a few minutes, and I heard the pig asking if he had the keys so he could lock the building up. Then I see them handcuffing him and taking him away. They didn't say what he was being charged with.

Next they separated the people who needed to go back in to get something of theirs, and the cops started taking them in three at a time. Then they freed everyone who had come by bicycle.

They asked us where we parked, and we all said "around the corner" and pointed around the corner. Then they let half of us go. Walking down the alley I could see some of the compañerxs in the cop cars and still being harassed. And when I got to the street, I saw cops on foot beside the cars parked there, writing on notepads. They weren't writing tickets, just writing. "Damn they're getting our plates."

Needless to say, everyone was pissed off and very concerned for our arrested comrades. And there was the inevitable questioning and fingerpointing. "Didn't that guy who was here earlier seem a little suspicious? Is there an informant?"

Well, part of the problem is that we had no real security measures to speak of. Maybe we didn't feel like we needed them, because everything we're doing is totally legal. But, knowing the LAPD, and the general political scene, we should know better.

They're sending a message loud and clear: We know who you are, we will harass and try to intimidate you, threaten you with criminal prosecution on trumped-up charges, use force against you, for daring to associate yourself with the movement. Because right now something special is going on. There has been anarchism in LA for a long time, but now we are finally seeing people crossing boundaries, working together, creating alternatives, creating community, and attracting crowds of people to peacefully support those same ideas.

We need to remain strong, not believe any pig bullshit that is trying to drive wedges between us, and strengthen our ties to each other. The only solution to this problem is community.
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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 5 posted about this article.
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What Are You Going To Do About It? Brave New World Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008 at 12:43 PM
What Are You Going To Do About It Brave New World Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008 at 12:49 PM
I bet the "shoplifter" didn't steal it. logic Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008 at 1:01 PM
Of lawyers and anarchists social-anarchist from the IE Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008 at 10:57 AM
to Social-Anarchist bnw Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008 at 11:50 AM
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