Friday, March 27, 2015

The PAPS Review of Actions and Letters and Stratfor

Postcard Solidarity Station Worked by an A-non

If our objective was to roast sabu the snitch pig in front of  Stratfor, then we failed miserably.

sabu Roasting

If our objective was to have some laughs and drum up postcards from drunks, then we were a rousing success.  

We began our action by stacking two tables, literature, the Barrett Brown Bathtub Solidarity Selfie Booth, two bags of charcoal, two bottles of lighter fluid and a fire extinguisher on the side of the Stratfor building.  Staging on the building itself had been fine during the Second Annual Jeremy Hammond Birthday Party on Jan 8th, but evidently was no longer fine in the post-BookPeople world of Stratfor-activist relations.

Almost immediately four building security - which Douglas Lucas would later clarify were two building security and two “engineers” - asked me to move off their building. I was feeling literal, and began moving everything off the building itself but just next to it on the sidewalk. Roughly the moment after I managed to get all our gear moved, APD arrived. I am happy to report Austin Police have increased their political action response time from the admirable three minutes it used to take them to show up after Occupy Austin Alerts tweeted a location to so fast I hadn’t even realized security called them

First on the scene was an officer in full uniform we’ll call Friendly.  Officer Friendly said our gear was still on Stratfor’s property, or blocking the sidewalk, but either way it all needed to leave. I spent some time asking Officer Friendly astute questions regarding the actual sidewalk ordinance and the location of the boundary between the building and the sidewalk. Talking to him, I began feeling as I hadby the power of LOLcats, been transformed into the Schroedinger Cat of Activist Trolling occupying Stratfor’s property and the city’s sidewalk simultaneously.  
Unloading sabu

During this conversation, Officer Friendly tried to convince me he truly believed he was being adequately helpful, while I came to believe he was mostly full of shit and perhaps did not know the sidewalk ordinance. After calling in to dispatch for clarification, the closest he could come to spelling out the ordinance was giving me the URL for the city’s ordinance database and the very specific instructions of “search for sidewalk”. I followed his instructions to the letter (I would say to the t, but there’s no t in sidewalk) and told him this resulted in over 100 hits. His response was to declare himself more than helpful and pronounce me adequately informed on the law.  He had already told me (twice) if I didn’t like what he had to say, I could take it up with his “supervisor” - aka Handsome Bike Cop.  

Handsome Bike Cop plied me with reason – in case of an emergency building evacuation, we would be an obstruction to the poor innocent employees of JP Morgan Chase, Senator John Cornyn, not to mention our beloved Stratfor, who might die in a fire unable to escape past the throng of southbyers and our tables. I failed to see how our tables posed a unique danger, especially since they were parallel to the sidewalk, compared to the band on the other side of the building, which was perpendicular to it but had been told by APD they did not need a permit and that they were not causing a disturbanceOfficer Friendly later explained police only respond when there is a complaint. If I wished to complain, he would be happy to remove them as well, which ended my protests faster than anything a police officer has ever said to me before.

reassured Handsome Bike Cop that I only blow up buildings when there are no people in them and that I was not the “pacifist” arm of a militant group intent on blowing up Stratfor. We did not intend to position our tables, topped with cupcakes of mass destruction, for maximum carnage. Surely this was the reason Fred Burton was engaged in his, by now famous, spy routine: 

No, I didn’t say ANYTHING to Handsome Bike Cop about blowing up buildings. How stupid do you think I am?  (Don’t answer that.) Instead, I politely informed Handsome Bike Cop that I, too, was concerned for the safety and well being of all SXSW attendees as well as the employees of The Building of Evil.  After all, I have already invested birthday cake, yoga and LULZ into converting these Stratfor employees, it would be such trouble to start all over with a new batch if the present ones all got blown up by terrorists.  See, whereas Burton and Friedman would be resurrected from clones as in the film The Island and simply hire all new minionswe pacifists would have to start from the beginning with our conversion processWe want everyone to be safe while they are rethinking their actions and exploring new ones; why else bring a fire extinguisher to a protest? I simply did not believe that we were going to be an impediment to human traffic out of the building in case the Stratfor engineers were just as good as their InfoSec. Surely Handsome Bike Cop agreed we were causing no danger? 

At this point, Handsome Bike Cop proved himself both pretty and astuteor perhaps he was simply looking for a diversion because he knew he had no answer for my retorts, for he took note of the two bags of charcoal, the bottles of lighter fluid, barbecue tongs and asked if we were planning on cooking something. “Why yes, officer, we’re planning on roasting a pig.” “A pig?” he asked, incredulously, engaging in the first round of “How Many Times Can We Get an Officer to Use the Word ‘Pig’?” or, as the game is more commonly called, Pig-Say-Pig. 

The excitement of setting off a round of Pig-Say-Pig had caused Handsome Bike Cop to increase the intensity of his insistence we would be more comfortable across the street at “that little park over thereHe almost began to look flustered. My attempt to reassure him with the fire extinguisher failed – perhaps he too had heard of Stratfor’s InfoSec failures, and feared the company’s engineers could be putting us in imminent, mortal danger completely independent of pig-say-pig and which could not be rectified by the use fire extinguishers. Surely he didn’t think the sheer presence of these building engineers could so increase our ineptitude thereby causing the coals inside the grate of the pig roaster to spark a fire?  Even if there somehow were a spark that strayed, how could it possibly be strong enough to overcome that it has been raining all week including earlier that morning? Handsome Bike Cop nevertheless offered a deal: he and APD would leave us alone across the street, though Code might have something to say about roasting a pig, he wasn’t sure, since that falls outside the laws he normally enforces in his normal bike cop day-to-day.  He admitted to not knowing all the laws on the books perfectly; after all, there are so many laws, how could one cop possibly know them all? (Everyone knows all the laws under anarchism: we don’t have any.)

I was beginning to be persuaded, perhaps more by his handsome smile than his words“Indeed,” I thought, “the Barrett Brown Bathtub Solidarity Selfie Booth would look better next to that fountain which spouts no water, they are attracted by their mutual absences in a way I too would find aesthetically pleasing as a backdrop for postcard writing. Perhaps we would be more comfortable across the street”.  His deal seemed reasonable enough. Perhaps I could, just this once, trust a cop? Yes, cops are bastards, but surely some desire to serve and protect?!?

See, Handsome Bike Cop had just at this very moment, while I was stunned by the gleam off his overly white teeth long enough to stop talking, informed me he wanted to get back to catching criminals instead of having to deal with us, as we clearly were not an actual threat to anything except Fred Burton and George Friedman’s egosHandsome Bike Cop may not have understood he was serving and protecting the face-saving interests of a global intelligence company against the disclosure interests of the local and global community. But what he did understand is that he had better things to do during south-by than play pig-say-pig with us. He wanted to be serving and protecting the community, namely the young women and men otherwise lacking male privilege who could become victims of sexual violence if not for his presenceI responded I hoped he wasn’t sending any of the wrongdoers to prison, and a lovely dialogue ensued. There had already been one rape that day, Handsome Bike Cop informed me, and he wanted to find anyone else who was doing that and make sure they were punished afterwards. I replied that I understood the significance of that harm as a survivor, but that I personally wouldn’t send my rapists to prison. I firmly believe all rapists do in prison is learn not to get caught next time, which begins by practicing on raping other inmates and seeing whether the guards will let them get away with it. I tried to gain his sympathies by taking the side of his colleagues, and added that I sympathized with the APD officers who had recently gotten in ‘trouble’ for stating the obvious on camera – “go ahead and call the cops. They can't unrape you.” 

At this point, my comrades had finished parking the car, and I had stalled as long as my best Scarlett O’Hara-as-prison abolitionist interpretation would allow. “Hun, these handsome officers think we would be more comfortable across the street, let's go over there” I called out. Handsome Bike Cop had begun looking confused at my insistences that we shouldn’t have prisons.  Quickly he recovered his composure, aided by the realization his own handsomeness had extended over the whole group. His eyes had quickly darted to the rest of the team, and realized even Southern generosity could not otherwise stretch the adjective so far. Raising his chin and smiling bravely, he offered to help ferry our belongings across the street. After all, he really wanted to get back to enrolling more people into the Texas Department of Criminal Justice 40-cent-an-hour work camp program – I mean, catching criminals. I replied that, although he was surely kind to offer, Jeremy would kill me if I were to accept. Yes, I really did say that. Come to think of it, that might be overstating Jeremy's blood thirst - he might just force me to read Our Enemies in Blue as many times as his twin Jason watched Fight Club before joining ARA.

Perhaps I should have stayed at home reading Our Enemies in Blue instead of engaging in ambulatory pig roasting, for I was beginning to trust Handsome Bike Cop.  He said they wouldn’t give us a ticket for jaywalking while we crisscrossed the street without going to the intersection, and they held to that promise. After a while, he even realized my skills from being a Crossing Guard as a fifth-grader at Lincoln Elementary still held and that I did not need him to block traffic for me.  Officer Friendly seemed less convinced, and continued to jump into the street after me to block traffic. After a while he too realized the sun had come out and it seemed to dawn on him it was just too damned hot for such shenanigans

I must confess I did not intend to lie the officers – they had, after all, been treating us in good faith so far. I truly thought a case of water had been stolen under the watchful eye of three bicycle cops, one fully uniformed APD, and the four security officersthough it turned out I had overlooked the case of water under the cupcakes of mass distraction.  Handsome Bike Cop believed me and seemed genuinely distressed that our stuff had gotten lifted under their “watchful eye. (The only saving grace to bureaucracy is inefficiency.) 

In retrospect, I should have let Handsome Bike Cop carry the waters and Barrett Brown Bathtub Selfie Solidarity Booth across the street.  After all, Jeremy isn’t going to be in a position to assassinate me for another six years or so (assuming he doesn’t have his date extended out again in the mean time, which I highly hope for his sainted mother but somewhat doubt as his comrade) and those waters were heavy. More to the pointit would have even more clearly underscored that APD had given us “permission” to set up “across the street”

A crucial fact has been omitted from our tale hitherto: 
across the street” is the Claudia Taylor Johnson Building and property of UT Austin. 

 Lonely Fountain Seeks Waterless Companion

We had considered setting up at the Johnson Building dorm in the first place because it IS a better space and we suspected UT PD were likely to be more friendly to our cause than APD (which thankfully turned out to be true).  At the last minute, we decided to use the courtyard as a fall-back location and to troll Stratfor more directly first.  Could it be even Handsome Bike Cop had, by the intoxicating stench of  corporate influence so strongly emanating from the Building of Evil, been willing to imply the police would leave us alone when he knew it wasn’t all police? Are ALL cats BEAUTIFUL?!? Alas, I was not surprised, as we were well-aware when APD said THEY weren’t going to continue messing with usthat this didn’t mean we were in hog heaven – UT PD could kick us out at any time. Or say pig more often, one of the two. 

After two hours of negotiation with UT PD, APD, Code and Stratfor (certainly Burton was in and out of the Johnson Building enough times that he must have been somewhat involved in the conversation) we reached an agreement: we would move our tables far enough away from the building not to appear affiliated with UT but far enough away from the sidewalk that APD would not give us any trouble.  None of these negotiations had included our plans to roast a snitch, or at least its porcine sacrificial equivalent.  “You want to do what?” UT PD asked us, adroitly refusing to play pig-say-pig. “Don’t tell me you want to do that here.” (Did they think the roaster was empty?).  After reconvening all the relevant parties (I believe this time without Stratfor, but perhaps Burton had disguised himself as a tree), we were told we could (legally) roast the pig at a local park, but only if we used the city’s roasters, or at a private residence. Did we want to lock arms and defend roasting this pig here? Our militant vegetarian fiercely answered yes, even though eating the pig was out of the question for him personally. Roasting the pig at a park was also inadvisable: the city’s roasters would be unable kill the taint of being called sabu– besides, the pigs would show up to play post-curfew pig-say-pig; it would need to roast at least four hours and the parks shut down at 10.  Questions sprung to my mind: how far out does the circle need to go to defend a roasting pig? Do you have half the participants facing in to watch the pig to make sure there’s no fire? Or just have the roast master inside the circle with you facing the pig as the rest of you defend facing out? These were all burning questions – and more – which remained unanswered. I personally just couldn’t get it up to defend a pig I’d named sabu. 

Code and Officer Friendly Playing Pig-Say-Pig

Snitch Pig Costumes Worn by Pirates
Meanwhile, the action had continued springing forward. “Free waters! Free cupcakes! Abolish Prisons!” we cat-called in our fetching pirate costumes. Our costumes were indeed fetching, but perhaps our offers of free waters when most sell for $2 a bottle were more so.  The Barrett Brown Bathtub Solidarity Selfie Booth was more amusing to us than passersby, as most were completely unfamiliar with the case but were too drunk to question why we would have a fake bathtub with no water next to a real fountain which also had no water while handing out water – they had enough sense to just drink it. People were shocked we turned away donations and told them to give money to the PayPal14’s restitution or write a postcard instead. Some just wanted water and a cupcake and still didn’t want to talk to us. Some wrote a postcard just to “pay” for their cupcakes (we sent all of those to Barrett). Some were former inmates or had family members or friends incarcerated, more than a few were “between addresses” or otherwise clearly homeless – they all appreciated being able to use our PAPS address to write their folks on the ins as well as our two featured political prisoners. Others wanted to learn more about the revelations from the Stratfor hack, which Douglas Lucas handled perfectly. When the crowds died down, about as far past our event end time as our actual start time had been to the event actually kicking off, we left. 

To the vegans reading this, I too feel uncomfortable calling that lovely pig sabuFirst, definitely female. Secondly, splitting her back bone was harder than splitting the real sabu’s would have been if his is even discernible to the human eye. Though, perhaps that had something to do with the fact I had my knife 90 degrees off from how it should have been angled and effectively used the hammer to jam the knife into where the pig’s backbone met its skull instead of using it to split the backbone as it was subsequently properly done. I’m sure I did a number on the pig’s pineal gland; if pigs have souls and this pig’s soul had intermingled with its body there, or pigs even have pineal glands. Thirdly, this pig definitely had guts, as I removed them before roasting. As much as ahimsa says associating this lovely pig with police or snitches is wrong, I can only say this: setting that fucker on fire and eating it tasted of triumph in the struggle! 

Ultimately, 65 people wrote postcards to Barrett and Jeremy, and more took fliers and claimed they would write after reading more about the case.  Stratfor already knows how many signed up for our service, I’m sure, though we haven’t counted those yet. Alas, we did not manage to play Jeremy Jeopardy… next time? 

Stratfor & sabu, do you regret helping the FBI entrap Jeremy Hammond yet? 


1 comment:

  1. I just got out of TDCJ and no prison pays you to work at all, they force you to work or you lose your good time credit. There are only two prisons that pay you to work and they are privately owned. One is in Lockhart Texas and I can't remember where the other one is.