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Athens, Ohio: Police attack Crimethinc conference

News ArchiveAn un-permitted parade of more than 150 costumed anarchists and their supporters filled North Court Street Saturday night. They barricaded the West State Street intersection and danced, chanted, climbed light poles, banged on objects and fire danced before police dispersed the crowd, using squad cars and pepper spray. Melee breaks out uptown at end of anarchist confab (5 arrests)

An un-permitted parade of more than 150 costumed anarchists and their supporters filled North Court Street Saturday night. They barricaded the West State Street intersection and danced, chanted, climbed light poles, banged on objects and fire danced before police dispersed the crowd, using squad cars and pepper spray.

"Were just having fun," one marcher told a bystander who asked what they were protesting.

The parade participants were in Athens for the 2007 CrimethInc. Convergence. CrimethInc. is an international underground network made up of anarchists and other radicals.

After the crowd scattered, Athens Police made one arrest for disorderly conduct by intoxication, one for riot, and three for obstructing official business, according to a report released by Police Lt. Randy Gray. The identities of the individuals have not been released.

Gray reported that the Athens Police responded to a call made at 9:42 p.m. and arrived at the intersection to find a large group of people with flaming objects, stones, bricks and improvised drums blocking the street with road signs dragged from a construction site.

The flaming objects, known as "poi," are professionally made chunks of burning rubber on chains used by fire dancers and circus performers for entertainment purposes. To extinguish the flame, poi artists turn from the audience and spin the burning chunks less rapidly while lowering them to the ground, according to one performer who attended the event.

According to the police report, Lt. Gray told one of the performers to extinguish the "burning objects." The female said OK and turned away while continuing to twirl the poi. Gray tried to detain the person while another individual struck him in the back and grabbed his arm. Gray then used pepper spray to fend off other individuals who were converging on him, and further spray was used to disperse "what had become a violent and destructive crowd."

The marchers claimed that the "parade" was intended to be peaceful fun, and police were unnecessarily violent in their reaction. Several people were pepper sprayed in the face from behind as they dispersed eastward, and one anonymous marcher claimed the mace almost hit an infant riding on a woman's shoulder.

"I was standing by the BP talking to three people when Car 902 almost ran into us," said Benjamin Ayer of Michigan. Ayer was documenting the incident from the sidewalk with his camera.

"It swiftly turned into the driveway without warning. Two people fell on me, they were just passersby, they were just asking me what was going on and almost got hit. After that I breathed in pepper gas," said Ayer, who charged that police "gravely overreacted."

After dispersing, many of the marchers gathered at The Wire Community Resource Center on Kern Street, which was promptly put under police surveillance. A local spokesperson for The Wire told police that the center was not involved in the event but was open for a music event and does not turn down people at its doors. (CrimethInc., however, did use The Wire's "free space" as a redirect spot for out-of-towners looking for information on where the Convergence was being held.)

Police searched four cars outside The Wire with a K-9 unit after the event, but no arrests were made.

The parade was an impromptu activity organized by CrimethInc. The group's Convergence was a communal campout that took place northeast of Athens since last Wednesday. The event offered collective workshops on topics ranging from "Nude Theory and Practice" to do-it-yourself shoemaking. Participants traveled from all over North America to attend the event, which was organized with the help of local volunteers.

According to CrimethInc.'s Web site, the group is an "underground network through which we work to realize our daydreams, to take the reigns of our lives and make our history rather than using the same energy to insist we are being made of it."

The network is comprised of scattered collectives, travelers, music acts and publications that are invited to use the CrimethInc. label on their products and activities.

"There is no leader of CrimethInc.; it's a movement on its own," said a participant named Polly who traveled from North Carolina to attend the convergence. "It's a movement comprised of fun and energy."

Other participants said CrimethInc. is dedicated to creating alternative communities.

"I think it's important to foster communities outside of the 'real world,'" said Ben Croya of Illinois. Croya identifies has a "gender queer" and does not claim a specific gender or sexual orientation.

"Here individuals really have a say in there own lives," Croya said.

There is no central location or headquarters for CrimethInc., and no one is quite sure when and where the network originated, though some speculate it has been around since the late 1980s. According to some participants, the ambiguous and decentralized nature of the organization enhances the romantic appeal of its existence and propaganda, which is popular among youth in the punk, anarchist and dropout cultures.

"They live more than the rest have ever dreamt to live," said one participant who identified himself as Mad Fish the Norseman. "Follow those who only mumble, for they are already doing what doesn't need to be said."

CrimethInc. is responsible for several publications advocating an anti-capitalist lifestyle, including "Days of War Nights of Love," "Fighting for Our Lives," "Evasion" and a magazine titled Rolling Thunder, which chronicles the modern North American anarchist movement.

Source: http://www.athensnews.com/issue/article.php3?story_id=28894

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Athens, Ohio: Police attack Crimethinc conference | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Athens, Ohio: Police attack Crimethinc conference
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 30 2007 @ 09:27 PM CDT

Hey so, uhh, how about those words like "allegedly" and "claim to have," or have those been scrapped in the journalism business for not being "edgy" enough? Particularly alongside statements like "Several people were pepper sprayed in the face from behind as they dispersed eastward" (Huh? Emphasis added).

Regardless, this article makes for some pretty positive and in-depth publicity for Crimethinc.

Tragically, the incident in question sounds like a fairly standard, predictable police response to most things that are organized directly by a community. Any popular effort which cannot be directly or indirectly steered becomes a target for subversion, defamation, and of course the indispensable tactic of the state, violence - regardless of democratic support for it or benefit to the people involved. That many of the participants in this festival were outspoken opponents of the government is only peripherally relevant - a similar reaction could be expected toward virtually any public event that does not involve people buying things or being sold as recipients of advertising - especially if they're having fun.

My heart and fists go out to all the folks in Athens. Remember, this kind of stuff means we're winning.

Athens, Ohio: Police attack Crimethinc conference
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 31 2007 @ 07:57 PM CDT

This is how police pepper spray people in the face from behind, since
you asked. I would have had a hard time imagining it myself, had I not
seen footage from the Athens event in which it was happening.

A police officer walks behind a crowd that is moving away from him (or
her, but in this case I believe it was a him) with their backs to him. He
aims his pepper spray over their heads and discharges it into the air.
The stream falls into the crowd, hitting many people in the face without
their having any warning it is coming. In this particular case, there were
small children and babies present, too. It's fortunate their parents were
circumspect enough to avoid exposing their children to this risk, but the
police didn't do a damn thing to make that easier for them.

We live in a police state that must be overthrown.
street party attacked by cops; infoshop under threat of raid and closure
Authored by: bikesnotbombs on Thursday, August 02 2007 @ 12:35 PM CDT
[ Here's another account of what happened. As an aside, The Wire was *not* raided by cops that night. Also, contrary to other reports, officers were not grabbed or assualted, and the pepper spray used by cops was not in self defense. It was *after* the crowd moved on that we were then attacked and sprayed with chemical weapons, *as we were in fact retreating and attempting to avoid confrontation.* ]

A spontaneously organized parade and street party in Athens, OH was attacked by police last night on Saturday, July 28. The Wire, a local infoshop, was also a target of police harassment and intimidation prior to a benefit show to be held that evening.

Athens, OH -- On the night of Saturday, July 28 a parade and street party was spontaneously organized that involved 200 to 300 participants who flooded the streets of the university district and main downtown area. Performers danced through the city, fire spinners awed the crowds who came out of restaurants and bars and onto the sidewalks, and many children and adults wore costumes and silly masks, and created music and noise by singing and playing drums and horns and didgeridoos (while others held signs that read "didgeridon't!").

The festive atmosphere of the parade continued even as a police cruiser arrived at the intersection of N. Court St. and W. State St. An officer jumped out of the car without making any announcements to the crowd and approached a fire spinner, immediately pushing them in an apparent attempt to grab the poi from their hands during a performance.

As the parade continued to move on past the intersection and down towards State and Carpenter, the same officer who attacked the fire spinner then chased after the parade on foot, misting pepper spray into the air and injuring about a dozen people. He then continued pursuit in the police cruiser.

Once the parade reached the intersection of State and Carpenter, police vehicles were seen moving down Mill St. in an attempt to cut up a few blocks and cut off the street party. Participants fearful of further attack broke into a quicker pace and many cut down Grosvenor St. while others continued down Carpenter St. Two police vehicles pulled up on Grosvenor St. and officers got out of the cars and chased participants.

At least one person was arrested, and a handful of others were unaccounted for once people regrouped. Bail was raised by donations from some of the parade participants.

The Wire - Under Attack!
Following the street party and parade many participants headed for The Wire to attend the ongoing benefit show and dance party.

Upon arrival police cruisers were already parked outside and warning organizers of the benefit show not to exceed legal noise levels. In an effort to placate police demands the benefit show was called off.

Some people chose to drive home at that point and were followed by police. An hour or so later more police showed up with drug sniffing dogs and proceeded to search four or five cars parked in the area outside of The Wire.

Meanwhile people listening in on police scanners heard discussion by officers attempting to obtain a search warrant and organize a raid of the infoshop.

The illegal searches of cars were documented and videotaped. Nothing was found and nobody was ticketed or arrested.

It is still unclear if the police raided The Wire late last night, or if they plan on doing so in the near future.

In addition to previous and current police harassment, The Wire is having financial difficulties staying open, so please think about supporting them in whatever ways possible and helping out!