Friday, April 26, 2013

May Day Is Around the Corner, and the FBI Wants Us to Know They're Watching

Posted by on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 3:11 PM

In the past 24 hours, FBI agents in Seattle and Olympia have reportedly been showing up at people's houses, jogging locations (a park), schools (Seattle University), workplaces, and at least one nonprofit (which serves street-involved youth), asking: "Do you want to talk about May Day?"

They're also asking about people's coworkers, roommates, romantic situations, and general social-mapping questions. (All the sources wished to keep their anonymity, for the moment at least.)

The agents are asking about May Day 2012, but it's difficult to believe that their timing, when May Day 2013 is just around the corner, is pure coincidence. We're all aware of the crap the FBI, US Attorneys, and other law-enforcement agents have been willing to drag activists through, as well as their fondness for "we know where you live, we know where you work, we know who you know" leverage—even when they're encouraging people to participate in criminal activities that are far outside their normal interests and patterns of behavior.

The Seattle agents, according to people who were present for the conversations in the past 48 hours, are primarily two guys in a gold SUV wearing jeans, button-up shirts, and vests (perhaps polar fleece). "Honestly," one source about the agents on the front steps, "at first I thought they were salesmen—maybe lawn service."

The agents were mostly chummy with the people they contacted. As one woman talked to agents, another housemate described their manner as "jokey and flirty—I almost thought they were gonna ask her out!"

Flirty or not, they identified themselves as members of the FBI's domestic terrorism unit. Apparently, the vandalism of May Day 2012, and the potential demonstrations on May Day 2013, are terrorism investigations. (Which, frankly, seems to me like a grave insult to anyone from Boston to NYC to Kandahar who's been a victim of, or lost a family member to, actual terrorism.)

In one case yesterday, the agents reportedly turned up at a public park to intercept two joggers. The joggers said "no, thanks" and went home. About 20 or 30 minutes later, the agents reportedly showed up at a house, apparently still looking for them.

In other cases, people approached have refused to give their names or any information (sometimes politely, sometimes not so politely). As of yet, that has not generated any push-back from the FBI.

If the agency was really gathering evidence about May Day 2012 or 2013, I'd guess they'd be more low-profile, waiting and watching and quietly gathering evidence. This little blitz of visibility seems calculated to freak people out and perhaps chill people's participation in any upcoming May Day demonstration. (But what do I know? I'm just a journalist.)

Ayn Dietrich, a spokesperson for the FBI, said she could not confirm or deny anything about the visits. "We do all kinds of routine activities throughout the state on any given day," she said. "If we have people out there, it could be community outreach, emergency response, or investigative work... We sometimes knock on doors when there's an issue of a missing child. We're around the community, especially with ethnic minority groups, to let them know they can come to us to report hate crimes."

Good to know.

Meanwhile, please enjoy this bit of homemade activist comedy about these kinds of FBI visits (in activist circles, they've become a trope), courtesy of independent journalist Will Potter (who I got to know when he spoke at the 2011 Smoke Farm Symposium).


Comments (32) RSS

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Has even a single person gone to jail from the group that went around smashing storefront windows in downtown?
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on April 26, 2013 at 3:26 PM · Report this
Kinison 2
I think they arrested one person for vandalism the day of the protest.
Posted by Kinison on April 26, 2013 at 3:39 PM · Report this
One person went to jail for smashing a window. At his sentencing, I believe he got time served.

At least four people (who are not suspected of smashing anything, since they were out of town at the time) have been sent to prison—not jail—in order to coerce testimony that might have something to do with a window.
Posted by Brendan Kiley on April 26, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 4
Yea this looks like simple activist intimidation, the feds have been doing this shit for years.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on April 26, 2013 at 3:57 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 5
@1 not really. Witch hunts don't work when you catch the people casting spells, only those who think the witch hunters are insane busybodies.
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 26, 2013 at 3:57 PM · Report this
dirac 6
Hey, at least it's not voluntary martial law time.
Posted by dirac on April 26, 2013 at 3:59 PM · Report this
I'm glad they are keeping an eye on these assholes who have already shown themselves to have little respect for others or their property.

It might not be Boston, but it is politically motivated violence, which is terrorism, and those that engage in it should be punished. Severely.

Posted by giffy on April 26, 2013 at 4:45 PM · Report this
dirac 8
@7 Yes, yes, traffic cones, broken windows. My the horror. Need to have the overwhelming power of the state brought down on these third-rate vandals--I mean supervillain anarcho terrorists [insert more bad words here]!

If there's a rigid orthodoxy, we can count on you to defend it.
Posted by dirac on April 26, 2013 at 4:52 PM · Report this
When was the last time the FBI randomly stopped bankers and asked them about LIBOR?
Posted by dubs on April 26, 2013 at 4:53 PM · Report this
nothing like a good firing squad to really show Am pride
Posted by terrorismtruth on April 26, 2013 at 5:13 PM · Report this
Thanks for continuing to report on this stuff, Brendan!
Posted by thisisadisplaynameok on April 26, 2013 at 6:55 PM · Report this
12 slay me.
Posted by Enonyfaggot on April 26, 2013 at 7:36 PM · Report this
blackhook 13
The Law Enforcement Industrial Complex is out of control in this country. These badged bozos are just the latest example.

Fortunately we are also approaching the day when tens of thousands of similar Bogus Barney Fifes - who make their livings busting small-time pot smokers & growers - are going to be rightly out of a job. As for these alphabet-spook jerks, we need to stand up to their heavy-handed, counter-productive police-state tactics.
Posted by blackhook on April 26, 2013 at 7:43 PM · Report this
blackhook 14
dubs @ #9, you nailed it!!!

These over-zealous FBI goons wouldn't know a Wall Street criminal if he brought down the world economy ...again!
Posted by blackhook on April 26, 2013 at 8:12 PM · Report this
Lew Siffer 15
In my world the SPD would beat to death the anarchists on tv and the goody people of seattle would cheer.
Posted by Lew Siffer on April 26, 2013 at 8:42 PM · Report this
Fuck you Stranger! By endorsing Obama you fucking endorsed this shit too!

And to all you Obama supporters, too lazy to make the effort to mobilize behind a candidate who is NOT a corporate puppet (unlike Obama/GaryJohnson/RonPaul/Romney), YOU FUCKED US!!!!

Now we have to spend even more energy fighting off Obama's expansion of the 1%'s ugliest policies. And don't act surprised. You knew exactly who Obama was!!! Indefinite detention, drones, secret kill list... Obama's content of character is, and always has been, PURE SHIT!

Thanks to all you Obama supporters who conveniently forgot that MLK Jr's dream was about judging by content-of-character instead of the superficial appearance of having "our nation's first black president," the 1% is thriving and doing very well! FUCK YOU!!
Posted by katm on April 26, 2013 at 9:00 PM · Report this
@16 "the 1% is thriving and doing very well! FUCK YOU!!"

I'm sure their situation would be dire if we had a Republican in the White House.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on April 26, 2013 at 9:12 PM · Report this
May 1
Posted by crypticvalentine on April 26, 2013 at 11:04 PM · Report this
Posted by crypticvalentine on April 26, 2013 at 11:06 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 20
They are doing this in Portland too.

Which is where the anarchist thugs came from, actually, not Seattle.
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 26, 2013 at 11:37 PM · Report this
What the Hell is May Day?
Posted by cheezitsofcool on April 27, 2013 at 5:30 AM · Report this
Posted by cheezitsofcool on April 27, 2013 at 5:41 AM · Report this
Guess the "don't talk to the FBI" public service program has not done it's job here. Well, just in case: DON'T TALK TO THE FBI! ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU! Get a lawyer's contact card and refer them there.
Posted by Linda J on April 27, 2013 at 7:37 AM · Report this
The FBI ? ? ?

Help me out here, please? Are those the very same stooges who just effed up royally in not following up on a classic terrorist profile case, the Boston Marathon Bombers? (The profile that the feebs of the FBI established themselves?)

Are those the very same clowns who ran COINTEL for over 30 years, and are probably still running it but under a different name today?

Are those the very same clowns who are clueless with regard to the murder of that US Attorney in Seattle some years back, yet miraculously solve the Kennedy assassination, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., assassination and 9/11 in record time?

But a straightforward murder of a federal prosecutor, and the FBI still can't find their vaginas?

Posted by sgt_doom on April 27, 2013 at 10:16 AM · Report this
To #17:
Um...?????....First off, there is nothing worse than the 1%, can we agree on that? And a vote for a corporate puppet is always a vote for it's puppeteer -the 1%, right? So, judging by the way Obama has expanded ALL the ugliest policies of the 1% during his first term, a vote for Obama is clearly a vote for the 1%... How is it possible to spell it out any further?

(Nevermind. You just keep repeating that "Republicans are worse" mantra to yourself if it makes you feel better...)

Anyway, the real reason I'm back is to recommend this unbelievably interesting article (which totally relates to the article above) and is what we should expect to see more of in Seattle:…

I know the Stranger has a hard time with this, but science is not a conspiracy theory. So, when architects and engineers from all over the world are saying the 3 buildings that fell on 9/11/2001 were controlled demolition, then that's what they were whether we like it or not.
Posted by katm on April 27, 2013 at 10:50 AM · Report this
@25: That link is broken. It looks like part of "Why Such Secrecy About Private Military Contractor's Men Working the Event?"
Posted by Phil M on April 27, 2013 at 11:09 AM · Report this
dirac 27
@25 As much as it's appealing to think that science is impervious to flaws, it can in fact be polluted by human frailty. Just because a group of scientists come to a consensus about a hypothesis, it doesn't make it true. There's overwhelming historical precedent for that on the side of both heterodoxy and mainstream.
Posted by dirac on April 27, 2013 at 3:15 PM · Report this
Our govt is smart and working very hard for the money we pay. Is it time for us to raise their pay for their hard and smart work?
Posted by vivek ananthan on April 27, 2013 at 3:25 PM · Report this
Off your meds again, huh?!?
Posted by Senor Guy on April 27, 2013 at 6:03 PM · Report this
Hello, Seattle.

May Day, I believe, is supposed to be about celebrating freedom from tyranny and oppression. Well, even in a wonderfully liberal city such as this, tyranny and oppression still abound.

I'm not talking about a pair of feds out for a stroll to make sure no one's planting IEDs. The activities they're aiming to prevent are tragedies, and I think, less helping the surviving victims of these crimes heal, we've given that shit enough of our time. I'm talking more about stuff that makes it funner to have IUDs.

I love you all, and hope you all have a great May Day. If you could spare a few minutes from all your party preparations, though, please read what I wrote at:




Oh, and guys? If you like my writing, and it wouldn't be too much of an imposition, let's maybe partner up sometime. :)

Posted by Cheshire Catface on April 28, 2013 at 1:22 PM · Report this
The least they could've done is driven up in a Prius.
Posted by Unbrainwashed on April 28, 2013 at 2:24 PM · Report this
I thought this was an opinion editorial?? You're a journalist?? You're worst then FOX news. This isn't journalism, where are your facts? Where are you fair and unbiased journalistic ethic to not get personal in a topic? You've been sucked in to the news as entertainment business Brendan. Do some reading on what a true journalist is. Someone who seeks out the facts and doesn't just parrot out what every idiot who comes up to you says. Get some life experience and then start writing.
Posted by Kemper on May 1, 2013 at 8:42 AM · Report this

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