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Police Harassment Follows Earth First Day!

by D.A.A.A. Collective (modanarcho [at]
A successful day of fun, creation, and resistance was put on hold, as police harassed Susan Galvan, mother to Sammy Galvan, who was killed by the Modesto Police Department in 2004.
Earth First! Day Fun Interrupted By Police Harassment

Things didn't look good for Modesto's Earth Day, as rain came pouring down throughout the valley. 2005 was supposed to be the largest Earth Day in the park yet, with over 100 vendors, speakers, and music. While the event does manage to attract some non-profits, most of the actually festival is boring fluff. Frito Lay and other corporations were there using the event to sell products, local police did a police dog demo, you get the idea. With the theme of this year's event being, "Protecting the Earth and It's Creatures", we knew that we had to be out in the park in full force, promoting a radical alternative to what the city was making money off of, while claiming to promote ecology at the same time.

The Direct Action Anti-Authoritarians (DAAA) Collective booth featured a wide selection of free literature and journals, a shirt/patch making station, free food/fruit, and also free film showings of various radical documentaries. Throughout the day, people came and talked with us as we showed various films ranging from "Meet Your Meat", (detailing how animals are turned into food commodities), to documentaries on the Earth Liberation Front, (ELF).

Along for the ride was a "corporate sprawl" monster, which was a manifestation of the street theater which we started at last year’s Earth Day. Last year we created a mock Hummer car, which featured a compartment in the back in which dry ice mixed with water and created "smog". Gas mask wearing anarchists trailed the Hummer H2, and passed out flyers about the effects of roads, cars, and cur culture on our society, as well as flyers for the next Critical Mass. This year we decided to create a "sprawl monster", which was made out of a large TV box, and was operated by two people. It was totally covered with wrappers from Taco Bell, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. The head had two large cup "eyes", and was operated with the back person moving the top jaw, and the front person moving the bottom jaw. This created the effect of the monster opening it's mouth wide to "eat" things, or to talk to people.

The street theater was very successful, with many people, (and lots of kids), stopping to look at the monster, talk with us, and read the "corporate sprawl" written on either of it's sides. The sprawl monster then made the rounds of the various booths, and when encountering corporations or government entities, would state funny things in favor of them, which in effect, made them look bad. When encountering non-profits that did do things that helped the environment, it would be critical of them, but in a way that was favorable. Several fights ensued with "Peanut", the local baseball mascot, which was determined as the wild fighting back against civilization, and the "START" bus, which was attacked by the sprawl monster for promoting group transportation. While staying put at the table, the sprawl monster also attracted many people who stopped to look at it.

While all this was going on, a problem was manifesting itself. Susan Galvan, mother of Sammy Galvan, (who was killed in 2004 by MPD as they entered his home and shot him while he was cooking), came to pass out flyers announcing an upcoming protest against the Modesto Police Department for the shooting death of her son. She held a simple, "Justice for Sammy" picket sign, and her flyers. Upon entering the park, several police officers on horses surrounded her, and got up close to her and told her that the city was holding and event and that she would not be allowed to pass out her flyers in the park. She was also told that she did not have a permit, and according to miss Galvan they told her that she could only pass out flyers for the protest, only "on the day of the protest." Also according to Ms. Galvan, the police also knew about the case, and recognized her as the mother of Mr. Galvan. She asked the officers, "Are you going to shoot me to?"

Upset, Ms. Galvan then met up with the DAAA Collective, (whom we know well from past work), and relayed the information to the group. The group quickly had a collective meeting, and started videotaping what was going on, lodged complaints and warned the "Information Booth" not to harass Ms. Galvan in the park because she was now under the banner of the DAAA Collective, (which had a permitted, legal spot). We also gathered a team of around 7 people, and started to hand out the protest flyers for the upcoming event throughout the entire park, and also let people in the park know what was going on with the police.

When the group reassembled, Susan was simply standing in the "permitted area" of the collective with sign in hand, and passing out flyers, when we were approached by two police officers, (according to Ms. Galvan the same two that had talked to her before), and told to stop. Although very quite, one of the officers tried, (without success), to take flyers out of a collective members hand, and state that we and Ms. Galvan could not pass out flyers in the park.

We then launched into a couple minute long session of explaining not only basic free speech laws, the fact that we had a booth at the park and could hand out flyers if we wanted to, and also the realities of the Pruneyard Decision. The PD simply states that in public spaces that the public goes to, (even if it's private property), free speech, (especially in the form of tabling, flyers, etc), is allowed, and the established owners, (in this case the city), had to reserve a "free speech" area. After talking to the officers some more, they told us several times that "they were just relaying what their supervisors told them", and they would get their "supervisors" to talk to us.

These supervisors didn't come back to the collective booth, but with members of Green Action in tow, (a local group working to stop environmental racism), we approached the police supervisor who was on horseback talking to Janis K., a city council member. The police tried to spin the Pruneyard Decision, and simply stated that since the city had not created such as space, (free speech zone), no free speech zone existed for that day. Therefore, Ms. Galvan could not pass out her flyers. Please take a moment to appreciate the stupidity of such an idea. We brought up the fact that she was now with a group, (actually two, Green Action allowed her over in their booth as well), and the police now stated that she had the right be at those booths.

Angry at the blatant violation of rights in the park, miserable pig logic and talk, and the constant smirks and harsh looks from our "boys in blue", we wanted to do something more. After talking with a Modesto Bee reporter who was there, (which in the end, lead to nothing), and after packing up our things, we assembled on the opposite side of the park. With about 10 collective members/supporters, and also Ms. Galvan herself, we took to the sidewalk of Graceada park, in an attempt to call attention to what had happened that day. With chants of "2, 4, 6, 8 End the Police State", "No Justice, No Peace", "Justice for Sammy", makeshift signs reading, "Fuck Police Harassment", etc, we created quite a sight amongst the petting zoos and food vendors. When approaching various spots with lots of people, we stopped and shouted out why we were there, what had happened, and why it was important to defend public space against police harassment. Many people clapped and cheered, and most people were vocally supportive. Although only a small victory, when we approached the other side of the park, the police on horses got off of the sidewalk and walked into the park to avoid us. They made no attempt to stop us, or even follow, and looked like idiots as we declared that the "...state, government, and especially not the Modesto police department was going to stop us from organizing against continued police murder of young people". We then de-assembled into groups, and walked Ms. Galvan back to her car.

Police should not be able to be given inches with these types of situations. Also, fellow community members who are not familiar with direct action or street protest need to showed that there is an alternative to the "letter writing/city council meeting" formula, if we want to take community organizing to a radical and revolutionary level. Resistance against the earth and animal destroying industries will continue. Resistance to police harassment will continue. We'll be back!

Justice For Sammy and All Under the Gun of the Police!
Pictures and info at:
Modesto Bee Earth Day Article:
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D.A.A.A. Collective
Thu, Apr 28, 2005 6:50AM
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