[Ppnews] Government Arrests Activist for Twitter
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 7 11:21:15 EDT 2009
Government Arrests Activist for Twitter, Army
Warns that Vegetarians and Terrorists May Follow
Posted: 07 Oct 2009 06:00 AM PDT
Two activists have been arrested for using
Twitter to communicate during the G20 protests,
another step in the continued, escalating attack
on First Amendment rights in the name of combating extremism and terrorism.
Madison is a social worker and anarchist who was
arrested in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24 and charged
with hindering apprehension or prosecution,
criminal use of a communication facility and
possession of instruments of crime. In plain
English: police say he used Twitter to spread
information about police movements during the G20
protests in order to help activists avoid arrest.
Madison worked with a group called the Tin Can
Communications Collective to help activists
communicate during the G20, creating a
decentralized version of Twitter. Journalists
from around the world, including CNN, subscribed
to the service and viewed the messages posted.
told Democracy Now: We put on different
trainings. There was a Know Your Rights training.
We talked about that there were messages I
received about the raid on the Just Seeds food
bus. There was information about where meet-ups
were for different marches, like the students
march. To be honest, I didnt see most of the
messages, because I was arrested very early on Thursday.
The message in question that apparently led to
the arrest was an announcement that said that the
police had issued an order to disperse. The
police allege that the message was intended to
hinder arrests and prosecution (by that logic,
the police making the announcement to arrest
would also be an example of hindering arrests and prosecution).
Madisons home was raided, and police took, among
other things, Curious George stuffed animals and
a needlepoint made by his wifes grandmother of Lenin.
To put this in context,
have used sonic weapons during the G20 protests,
they have beat and tear-gassed protesters and
students and random people, they demanded that
of non-protesting passersby disperse or be
attacked. These are many of the same tactics used
during the DNC and RNC protests. [In this
political context I, as a journalist, would sure
as hell love to know where the police are, if
nothing else so I don't get beaten.]
Of course, the government is spinning the Twitter
usage as a demon tool of anarchist organizers to
as books are a demon tool of anarchists to, well,
educate themselves]. We see this time and again
at these mass protestspolice beat random people
in the streets while simultaneously trying to
pick off certain individuals as leaders. During
protests, organizers were arrested, demonized as
anarchists, and hit with terrorism charges for
spearheading local organizing with a wide-ranging coalition.
I ran across this article from last year, sent by
a reader, about a U.S. Army intelligence report
warning that terrorists may be using Twitter.
excerpt from the report:
Twitter has also become a social activism tool
for socialists, human rights groups, communists,
vegetarians, anarchists, religious communities,
atheists, political enthusiasts, hacktivists and
others to communicate with each other and to send
messages to broader audiences, the report said.
It goes on to say, Extremist and terrorist use
of Twitter could evolve over time to reflect
tactics that are already evolving in use by hacktivists and activists
It would be laughable if it werent so prescient.
As Madison told Democracy Now:
Were not the first. Were the first in this
country. During the Twitter revolution going on
in Iran, in Moldova, in Guatemala, in the earlier
newscast about Honduras, in all those cases,
repressive governments have arrested folks for
using Twitter. The only difference is, in all
those cases the State Department, the US State
Department, has condemned the arrest of these
Twitter activists and had gone so far in the
Iranian situation, the State Department,
according to an article, asked Twitter to
postpone its regular maintenance so as not to
interfere with Iranian protesters to be able to
send out their tweets. So the only difference is
were the first arrested here.
Ive been wary of Twitter, but Im slowly growing
to love it. <http://twitter.com/will_potter>Sign
up to follow me on Twitter and try it out.
Because if the government is concerned about
activists using Twitter
well, I think thats reason enough to give it a shot.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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