Though officers failed to present a search warrant, IPD later stated that officers had searched the info-shop and private residence areas looking for “weapons and chemicals” they alleged could have been hidden at the collective for use during demonstrations at the National Governors Association meetings that weekend.
Officers found nothing objectionable, and left after ticketing 10 cars parked outside, though collective members say IPD continued surveillance. The Fire Department issued a citation for four minor fire code violations, such as absence of fire extinguishers.
The next morning, collective members held a press conference, disputing IPD’s claims that the group was planning violent demonstrations, and reiterating Solidarity’s commitment to non-violent, grass-roots social activism, and serving the community by providing reading materials and programs such as Food Not Bombs.
“This action is more worthy of a dictatorship than a democracy,” declared collective member Gwen Frisbie. “This raid was an attempt to frighten us out of demonstrating this weekend.”
“It’s nothing short of political profiling,” Hugh Farrell added. “The political repression we suffered last night will act to quell peoples’ desire to dissent.”
Some in the collective said they would not participate in the NGA protests, citing concerns about personal safety, while others said they would engage in non-violent protests as planned.
Keni Washington, longtime peace activist and landlord to Solidarity Books, noted, “We’ve seen a marked change [in surveillance of activists] in the past two years, under the aegis of Sept. 11. Situations like last night should be an embarrassment to all citizens.”
Although both protesters and police seemed apprehensive going into the weekend — the city having spent an estimated $2 million to provide security during the NGA meetings — protest groups were modest and peaceful, though still heavily monitored by police. Following the Thursday night raid, protesters focused their dissent on the government’s infringement of their constitutional right to free speech.
Solidarity Books reported Monday that an additional six members of the group were detained during the protests, searched without their consent and questioned for such offenses as running a red light on a bicycle, and carrying a walkie-talkie.
“It’s a trend throughout U.S. history that any time a movement has the potential to create real change, authorities bring violence down upon it,” observed Eric Edgin, who had just finished delivering a speech on the subject of police repression at the People Speak Out rally in Martin Luther King Jr. Park when he was stopped by police. Edgin added that the group’s experiences over the weekend have helped them learn how to better deal with police in the future.