Friday, July 27, 2007


I don't remember when we started counting cop cars. They've gotten thicker since Crawford. Right now the record is thirteen in one day. Few of them actually stop us, less than once a week. When they do, they generally report having gotten calls about us, check to be sure we're okay, and let us continue with a smile. Maybe that's perfectly normal cop behavior. But I've decided that I'm going to ask the next one. "Since the Patriot Act passed, do you guys get surveillance requests from the feds?"

There have been large camera lenses surreptitiously aimed in our direction from unmarked vehicles parked like speed traps. Wish we could get copies of their photos for our web site.

It's more disturbing when stuff disappears. Like our whole collection of political DVDs, somehow spirited out of a pannier. Or notebooks full of names and contact information that keep slipping away. We keep our cell phone and laptop in sight, thus we haven't lost all contact, but we're concerned. Just because we're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get us.

Of course, this isn't new territory to old political activists. We've both been arrested for civil disobedience. Back in the eighties, my phone was tapped, office was broken into, and paranoia pushed to the limit. When previous projects have come under police surveillance, we took it as a compliment that we were effective organizers. If you threaten the power structure, even nonviolently, you've got to expect push back. Still, how threatening is a family on bicycles?

Ironically, if they want to know more about us, all they have to do is ask. All day every day we tell complete strangers detailed information about our quest. We've posted everything we think anybody might want to know and we're accessible (usually) by phone, e-mail, or in person. Unlike the proponents of the security state, we believe in honesty and transparency. That is one example why we will prevail in the long run. Government secrecy is incompatible with democracy.


Blogger Vernon Huffman said...

On the day we left Common Ground, we counted 26 cops. They weren't even subtle. At every Parish line we crossed, there was a marked Sheriff's car waiting. Each drove away as we rode by. There were numerous other drive-bys, but no face-to-face contact. I still haven't had a chance to ask about federal coordination of local police surveillance.

It shouldn't surprise us that we get watched after meeting Malik Rahkim and others from Common Ground. These folks have been organizing poor folk to help each other since the 70s when they were Black Panthers. For such bold defiance of the corporate order, their compatriots have been gunned down and locked up on trumped up charges. We can now testify that Malik is driven by a loving spirit to commit acts of great kindness for those in need. Apparently somebody doesn't want that testimony out.

I have trouble believing these small town cops are convinced that a family of pacifists on bicycles is a terrorist threat. I hope they are pushing back against the power structure that feeds them such drivel. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

While, I'm letting my paranoia rage, what is it with motel Internet service? I have trouble believing everyone has so much trouble connecting through motel wireless systems. It seems like every place we come to starts experiencing difficulties with their systems. Oh, well, it gives us an excuse for posting so infrequently.

Fear fueled divide and conquer tactics are less successful in the age of communication. More and more people the world around are learning that we don't need enemies. When every person takes responsibility for their own situation and refuses to accept demonization of other people, we will achieve sustainable peace.

Thursday, August 2, 2007 at 4:35:00 PM PDT  

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