[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
GreenIsTheNewRed.com

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.”

<http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/nyregion/05txt.html>Elliot 
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. 
<http://www.democracynow.org/2009/10/6/twitter_crackdown_nyc_activist_arrested_for>Madison 
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 didn’t 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).

Madison’s home was raided, and police took, among 
other things, Curious George stuffed animals and 
a needlepoint made by his wife’s grandmother of Lenin.

To put this in context, 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2009/sep/25/sonic-cannon-g20-pittsburgh>police 
have used sonic weapons during the G20 protests, 
they have beat and tear-gassed protesters and 
students and random people, they demanded that 
<http://blog.aclu.org/2009/10/06/giving-the-first-amendment-a-beating-at-the-g-20/>crowds 
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 
incite violence. 
[<http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/criminalizing-anarchist-literature/2141/>Just 
as books are a demon tool of anarchists to, well, 
educate themselves]. We see this time and again 
at these mass protests–police beat random people 
in the streets while simultaneously trying to 
pick off certain individuals as “leaders.” During 
the 
<http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/minnesota-daily-potter/1062/>RNC 
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. 
<http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=081025182242.js2g2op8&show_article=1>An 
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 weren’t so prescient.

As Madison told Democracy Now:

“We’re not the first. We’re 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 
we’re the first arrested here.”

I’ve been wary of Twitter, but I’m 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 that’s reason enough to give it a shot.




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