Early in the morning on Friday, September 24, FBI agents in Chicago and Minnesota's Twin Cities kicked in the doors of anti-war activists, brandishing guns, spending hours rifling through their homes. The FBI took away computers, photos, notebooks and other personal property. Residents were issued subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in Chicago. It was just the latest in the ongoing crackdown on dissent in the U.S., targeting peace organizers as supporters of "foreign terrorist organizations."
This week's mass processing inside (and outside) a Toronto courthouse helped clarify June's Jailapalooza festival during the G20, the largest mass arrest in our history. Of 1,100 detained, all but 227 had the charges dropped or were never charged. Most had no links to burning police cars or battered bank machines. They were picked up while protesting peacefully or looking on.
Why? Police say they wanted to prevent recurrences, after the dramatic events. Some intimate they were embarrassed by criticisms of their earlier inaction, and overreacted. Why had police gone missing at the crucial time? There's been no clear answer. One possibility: to justify the vaulting security costs via shocking images of violence.
One day, Kate McQuillen was shopping at her local Home Depot, in the market for a six-inch pipe among other materials she needed for her work. As she made inquiries to an employee, the man looked at her and asked: "Lady, are you making a pipe bomb?"
"On one hand I could say 'yes,'" says the Chicago-based artist, who finished an MFA in 2009 at Toronto's York University. "I panicked and ran to the checkout but then, do I pay with cash or with credit? Credit can be traced."