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It is not a police state because the FBI raided activist homes

There have been no arrests as yet, after the FBI raided multiple homes of antiwar organizers. Activists have called it a massive fishing expedition, and that’s probably what it is. However, this is not an indication that the US is now a police state. It’s just not. I can understand why people are alarmed, but here’s my take.

A police state is when they kick down the door at 4 am and take you away. A police state is when blogging about it being a police state means you get tortured. That is a police state. The US is nowhere near that. Plus, I came of age in the 60’s. The FBI was doing raids like this back then too. It hasn’t changed. Or gotten worse.

Major antiwar activists in the 60’s who did FOIA requests years later were stunned to learn how much they were monitored. They knew the FBI was watching, they didn’t know just how much. During the 1950’s, as it turned out, there were Communist Party meetings where half the attendees were FBI agents or informers who didn’t know about the existence of the others. (And it certainly seems reasonable to believe that current day Marxist parties have their share of informants too.)

Do we need to be careful? Absolutely. But that’s always been true for activists and organizers.

Clarification: I mean this post in the sense of, let’s keep some perspective and not get paranoid. Because then we lose effectiveness. A decades-long member of the National Lawyer’s Guild mentioned to me once, in times like these, we need to be smart, careful, and not do dumb stuff because we got paranoid / angry / etc. Because that’s precisely what they want.

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  • hey there,

    just came across this via twitter and i need to respond because i don’t think the whole picture is shown here. you wrote,

    “A police state is when they kick down the door at 4 am and take you away. A police state is when blogging about it being a police state means you get tortured. That is a police state. The US is nowhere near that.”

    for the first part, what about the case of the RNC 8? that’s exactly what happened, right here in Minneapolis – well, 6am instead of 4am is the only difference. It also happens quite regularly in the United States to people in communities of color, especially but not limited to those active in unpopular political movements – which is why we have 100s of political prisoners in the US, mostly people of color.

    blogging about it may not regularly get you tortured, but having a website can get you thrown in jail – see the case of the SHAC 7 or Sherman Austin, to name a couple. Taking photos or video of cops can get you thrown in jail in many states, and torture is quite common in US jails – see the recent hubbub about it in Chicago as only one example, or the many rape and sexual assault cases cited in recent years here in Minneapolis.

    You’re probably right, though, that it hasn’t changed or gotten worse over the years – this BS has always been happening, which is why we always need to be redoubling our efforts to resist and fight back! Whether we call it a “police state” or not, we can’t have true freedom with the state or the police intact.

    • I don’t disagree with you, and meant the post more to mean, let’s keep some perspective and not get paranoid. Because then we lose effectiveness. A decades-long member of the National Lawyer’s Guild mentioned to me once, in times like these, we need to be smart, careful, and not do dumb stuff because we got paranoid / angry / etc. Because that’s precisely what they want.

      And absolutely, we need to fight fighting.

  • At this point, aren’t we splitting hairs when we say it’s not technically a police state? It’s far too close to being a police state for my liking. And as Haloka mentioned there are plenty of examples and plenty of political prisoners right now in this country. I agree with your note of caution, of course, but let’s call a spade a spade.

    • Well, it’s nothing like USSR was, or Iran and Myanmar are now. Certainly what Haloka says is true, and things in Minneapolis are definitely nasty and have been for a while.

      So, what do we do about it. That’s the question.

  • All states are police states, it is all a matter of degree. the more the state feels threatened the harder they will come down. No threat to the state and the police will help you across the road and tell you the right time. Look like a threat and you are under surveillance at least. The police are not there to catch burglars, they are there to protect the status quo. Catching muggers and burglars is just a spin off.

  • christianBpeper

    The same people that get worked up by “executive orders” and “Fema camps” do not really care if a hippy gets beat up by a cop for having a small amount of weed or a man gets 50 years in prison for accidently downloading a pornographic picture. The new world order police state is already here and the American public accepts it without any problem. Americans are already slaves to Law Enforcement.