SteamPunk’s Professor Calamity faces multiple felonies for twittering

Update: Professor Calamity on Democracy Now

SteamPunk Magazine author (and, honestly, the inspiration for SteamPunk Magazine) Professor Calamity is facing two felonies for allegedly running a twitter account. He has been accused of running a twitter feed of police movements during the Pittsburgh G-20 protests, protests for which the police are already being sued.

To add insult to felony charges, they raided his house in NYC for 16 hours, confiscating everything from hammers to computers to SteamPunk Magazine. Their lawyer has already convinced a judge to put a stop on the police searching of their personal possessions, because the raid is absolutely insane.

Okay, Steampunk, here’s your chance to prove you’re a community. Professor Calamity is one of our founding thinkers. Even if he wasn’t, he’s one of us, and he’s facing absolutely batshit bullshit charges and ought to be supported. I’m asking that we make this news, because it ought to be news. This is insane. Below is a report from one of the people who was present during the house raid in Queens:

On October 1st, 2009, at 6:00am, the Joint Terrorism Task Force (a union of local police departments and the FBI), kicked out the front door to our home—an anarchist collective house in Queens, NY, affectionately known as Tortuga. The first crashes of the battering ram were quickly followed by more upstairs, as the police broke in on 3 sleeping people, destroying bedroom doors that were unlocked.

Three more people, awoken by the most unpleasant means of bounding footsteps, splintering wood, and shouting voices, waited in the basement—their turn at drawn guns and blinding lights came quickly.

We put our hands out where they could see them. They ordered us out of bed. They wouldn’t let us dress, but they did put a random assortment of clothes on some people. We were handcuffed, and although the upstairs and downstairs groups were kept separate initially, we were soon all together, sitting in the living room, positioned like dolls on the couches and chairs. We were in handcuffs for several hours, and we were helpless as our little bird, a Finch we had rescued and were rehabilitating, flew out the open door to certain death, after his cage had been battered by the cops in their zeal to open the upstairs bedroom doors by force. We shouted at them, but they stood there and watched.

And they stood and watched us for hours and hours and hours. 16 hours to be precise, 16 hours of the NYPD and FBI traipsing through our house, confiscating our lives in a fishing expedition related to the G20 protests of September 24th and 25th. The search warrant, when we were finally allowed to read it, mentioned violation of federal rioting laws and was vague enough to allow the entire house to be searched. They kept repeating that we were not arrested, that we were free to go. But being free meant being watched by the FBI, monitored while using the bathroom, not allowed to make phone calls for hours or to observe them ransacking our rooms. Being free meant they took two of us away on bullshit summonses, and even though this was our house, where we lived, if we left, we could not re-enter.

Three of us stayed to the bitter end. Three of us stayed to watch the hazmat team come in to investigate a child’s chemistry set, to see them search the garage on an additional warrant, to sign vouchers for all the things they confiscated as “evidence”—Curious George plush toys, artwork, correspondence with political prisoner Daniel McGowan, birth certificates, passports, the entire video archive of a local media collective, tax records, books, computers, storage devices, cell phones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs, flags, banners, posters, photographs and more than can be recounted here.

The apparent impetus for this raid came over a week ago, when two members of our household were arrested, once again at gunpoint, in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. They are accused of being devious masterminds, of “directing” the rollicking G-20 protests, of using technology such as Twitter to “hinder apprehension” of protesters. The two were held on bail, one fetching the ridiculous amount of $30,000 cash, and released 36 hours later after the bond was posted. As of this moment, no additional charges have been levied against the two, nor against any other housemates in the aftermath of the raid.

As anarchists, we are under no illusions about what the State is capable of. We are not the first anarchists to have our house raided, and unfortunately as long as the State remains, we will not be the last. We are, along with other targeted individuals like David Japenga, the outlets for the impotent rage the authorities feel when they lose control, as they did during the G-20 in Pittsburgh. We, that beautiful we, that include Tortuga House and all who find affinity with us, refuse the rigid forms the authorities try and cram a world bursting with infinite possibilities into—He is not a leader, she did not act alone, they are not being directed. Repression is a strategy that the state uses to put us on the defensive, to divert our energies from being a proactive force and instead deal with the terms it has set. We will not lie and say this has not left us reeling, but as time and our dizziness pass, we know that friends surround us. Our resolve is strengthened by this solidarity, and we will not be deterred by this state aggression.

We wish to thank all of our friends and comrades who have stood by us in these difficult few days. Our lawyer filed an injunction on the raid the next morning (October 2nd) that was surprisingly granted- it forbids the authorities from fishing through our belongings until we head back to court on the 16th. In the weeks and months to come we will do our best to share developments as they occur. If you want to keep in touch or find out how you can help please email us at:

24 thoughts on “SteamPunk’s Professor Calamity faces multiple felonies for twittering”

  1. Thugs with guns & “State Authority”.
    “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…”
    Thanks for sharing your ordeal!
    All the best,

  2. Such action by authorities is complete bullshit. Although I am not an anarchist I do support free minds and questioning authority religiously. Just goes to show the price of democracy-any government form-is eternal vigilance. The tides will turn when value of everything, save life, is demolished. I wish you all the best of luck. Fear not, eventually this will fade from memory, probably when the government finds exploitable resources in third-world countries or some more Indians they haven’t repressed yet.


    Their phone number: 412-681-7736

    I am new to steampunk and don’t know much about your community, but I was a legal observer on Thursday and Friday of the G-20 protests in Pittsburgh. I live in Pittsburgh. I saw riot police shoot tear gas at freshmen watching from their university buildings. They basically burned the First Amendment in my city. I am glad Professor Calamity has access to counsel at the moment.

  4. Yeah, it’d be interesting to see if the ACLU jumps on this case, considering all the first amendment implications about live reporting of protests.

    I happened to have attended a lecture this very day by the president of the ACLU at Cornell. During the QandA I asked if she had heard of Elliot Madison’s case (she hadn’t) and explained what was up and its larger scope. She was very quick to seize on it as (paraphrase) “definitely a big first amendment issue of the kind the ACLU takes on” and then spent the rest of the time listing other protest-related cases they have won in the past. She didn’t know if the ACLU is doing anything about this case, but mentioned that regional chapters operate somewhat independently.

    Neat things about her speech: she opened by talking about anarchists, describing how the ACLU formed to defend anarchists being deported during the Palmer Raids in the 1920s. She said the word “anarchist” like 10 times and I got all flushed to actually hear that word on this silly stuffed suit campus. Afterwards someone came up to me all in a tizzy that he had just discovered that the president of the ACLU doesn’t listen to Democracy Now since she hadn’t heard about Madison; he went on ad on about “Amy this, Amy that” like they’re good friends. Also, everyone gasped in horror when I said that the police killed the Professor’s bird.

    =/ <3

  5. What a bunch of bullshit! I can hardly wait until Derrick Jensen catches wind of this, if he hasn’t already! He could write a whole book about it! My thoughts go out to you all. Unfortunately it seems like a certain degree of what the government calls “justice” will have to be tolerated until some sort of revolution or breaking down of the government and fucking corporate society.

  6. Sigh! Why is it that I find a cool site and the author has to be a radical left wing Anarchist? Geez! I’ve been a fan of all that is Industrial, Steampunk and Goth since the 80’s and I see it dominated by these people. How truly depressing.

    If the individual in question here is innocent of all charges then I wish him all the best. Though you ever wonder why protests from the left always end up violent?

  7. Darktania: I admit I find this a bit confusing. You’ll notice that the subtitle of the blog is “airhips, anarchism, etc…” and a quick perusal of the blog finds that actually, anarchism is one of the primary focuses (no offense to airships, but I just haven’t had as much to say about them!”.

    Furthermore, if you’ve been a fan of steampunk, goth, industrial, etc. since the 80s you must have noticed that politics (not necessarily anarchist, but radical politics nonetheless) has been a part of it from the beginning, whether you’re talking about skinny puppy’s animal rights focus or Michael Moorcock (one of the fathers of steampunk) and his explicit anarchism.

    I don’t wonder why protests end up violent. I see it with my own eyes, and there is very little to wonder. Protests end up violent because police attack people. With sticks, gas, guns, tasers, sound cannons, etc. Sometimes, people defend themselves.

    Unless you’re talking about property destruction, which isn’t particularly violent (or, in my mind, effective, but that’s aside the point).

    And as a final caveat. I’m not a leftist. I’m an anarchist, with little interest in the illusory right/left divide.

  8. Darktania:
    The reason protests from the left always end up in violence is because right wing conservatives like you always use violence to try to shut up anyone who tries to speak out against you. You conservatives are all the same, you try to blame all the problems on the only people out there who are trying to defend real freedom. Then you go trying to say that the peaceful protests the left stages are violent. It is people like you that have ruined this country and turned it into some sort of fascist oligarchy.

  9. Lord Worthey:
    It seems as though you are jumping to conclusions about Darktania. From the way his approach and the over-all structure of his statement, as well as the skeptical well-wish to Prof. Calamity, he just seems like someone who wants to find people not in one extreme or another.
    Generally speaking, guilt or innocence are not really the issue in this particular case. The way the justice system has to work to be effective for the people has been overturned from the protests to the search warrent and the way the people in the house were treated.
    I am not an anarchist, nor am I really pro government. I would be a capable person in lack of government, so I really don’t have a use for it. What happened here is an absolute failure of government and the justice system. Even if they had pursued the case instead of dropping the charges, they would have lost on many technicalities. This is probably why they dropped it and there is other stuff “pending” It is always very good to have someone, a good lawyer, or even fair one, who can see where the police make mistakes.
    I am happy the charges were dropped, hope that at least the majority of the items confiscated are returned, and hope that the “pending” shit gets dropped, like it should be. The “justice” system going like this makes me sick.

  10. Lord Worthey, I understand your frustration with the bigoted right. Believe me, as a lesbian living in the south, I understand it more than I can say. But let’s not group all those who disagree together. There are good people out there, left and right, and the right to dissent is exactly what this particular blog calls for. Not just the right to agree with you and I.

    This is not a land of freedom, not a land of justice, and until we allow expression of all ideals without imparting broad generalities on the speaker, it never will be.

  11. left and right wing politics are like WWE wrestling. I’m an Anarchist with Conservative values, and lately I have shed the fear of being honest about my stance on race. I just wanted to comment on the protests, and from what I have seen, most of the people protesting were non-violent, and I do question the allegiances of those that wreck property (i saw plenty of photos of police undercovers) and commit violence. I’m just glad my little sister had stopped attending college in pittsburg shortly before this happened, and that she returned home to the beautiful south!
    the way big brothers forces behave are unforgivable, and we must stand in solidarity against their tactics. has anyone tried playing “red rover” with the police line? LOL I’d like to see that! I was keeping up with the twiiting on the days and nights of the protest, as I’m one of the ‘unemployed’ and could not afford such a long trip from South Louisiana to pennsylvania, but twitter is awesome.

  12. arianon: ehg.
    Seriously? You’ve “shed your fear about being honest about race?”

    national and racial purity have no place in anarchism.

    Your site is covered in Hitler quotes, fascist symbols, all of that. Fascism is quite literally the direct opposite of anarchism.

    Please, please, take your “nationalist anarchist” shit and fuck off. We don’t want your racist lies. You’re not in solidarity with us. We don’t want you at our protests. We don’t want you masquerading as anarchists.

    Look, if you want to make the jump from fascist to anarchist, do so. But do so honestly. Come to understand the anarchist critique of race, of racism, of gender, patriarchy, all of that. It’s not the liberal critique, and there’s nothing in it about white guilt, nothing about being ashamed of who you are, how you were born, these things that you can’t help. Of course, you can help not being a fucking nazi.

    But pride? Pride about something that is completely beyond your control? Talk about spectator sports. Be proud of shit you actually do, of what your family has done. Fuck “white” pride. It’s nonsense.

  13. Um, “Conservative Values” and “Fucking Nazi” are not the same thing arianon. You do conservatives everywhere a discredit when you talk about your unholy path toward liberating yourself from guilt about the fact that you’re a racist. And you should feel guilty, by the way.

    I have plenty of people dear to me who are conservatives. If they were anything like you, they would not be dear to me.

  14. I am so sorry for what you are going through, the violation of your rights as an American and a human. When Bush introduced the the Patriot Act under the guise of “protecting us from terrorism” the handwriting was on the wall. It is a license to bully and violate every basic freedom and instill projected fear to do so. We are the bullies and the terrorists in the world and the people who are not manipulated by the media; the ones who actually read; pay attention; or create something original are the threat. May success and justice be given to you.

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