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WOW: Domestic Spies, Abramoff & the Great Philly Puppet Raid of 2000...

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Author 15360
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For almost a decade I have been tracking Jack Abramoff and the Culture of Corruption and since 2004, I've written about that work on DailyKos under the pen name, dengre.

For almost a decade I have been tracking Jack Abramoff and the Culture of Corruption and since I became uid 9214, I’ve written about that work here on Daily Kos.

Recently, I came across a major link between Jack Abramoff and the modern Conservative movement that I had over looked.

I have known for a very long time that Jack Abramoff functioned as a Bag-man for the VRWC. I knew his roots went deep—back to the late 1970s, and that much of his work has always been crafted and executed in the shadows. I knew he played a part in the Iran-Contra Affair (working in the basement of the WH with Ollie North) and that he was a lobbyist for the Apartheid era South African Secret Police. I knew he was a dedicated movement conservative who wanted to establish One-Party Rule in the USA. I knew that he almost succeeded.

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Hiding in plain sight was that fact that—for the last three decades—Jack Abramoff was also involve in a Domestic Spying program privately run and financed by his fellow co-conspirators on the Right.


And then I found out that puppets were involved.

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Eight years ago, activists were preparing to protest the Republican Convention in Philadelphia. It was a different time. Before a stolen election, 9-11 and all that followed. Back then, the big focus was Globalization and the multiple failures of neo-liberalism, "free-trade", and unchecked corporate power. Those issues are all still problems, but they’ve been buried under the filth and failures of the Bush Era. Sometime, I look back and think "we should have such problems...", but I digress.

In 1999 there was a major protest at the WTO meeting in Seattle and by the summer of 2000 it was clear that there would be protests at both Conventions.

It was also clear that there would be puppets—large puppets.

This was the plan for Philadelphia and 2000 RNC Convention. A puppeteer involved in the protest described just what type of puppets they planned to deploy:

The warehouse had a massive garage door through which we had driven an eighteen-wheeler for the creation of a float dubbed Corpzilla, the Corporate Monster [snip]

There were ten-foot tall skeletons, 138 strong, bearing the names of everyone Texas Governor George W. Bush had executed thus far in his five years in office (a number which continues to climb, rapidly). There were cockroaches — "Cockroaches," read a wheat-pasted poster that made its way all over Philadelphia's open air wall space, "are not dirty, but exist only to clean up after messes. The Government hates cockroaches because they remind them how dirty they are." There were mice — mice scare elephants, such as the GOP elephant, thereby justifying the mice's mantra: "Mice Are Nice!" Peanuts — the food of the elephant — thus bearing the names of corporate campaign contributors, such as, "United and U.S. Airways on the verge of merging... Donors to both parties... $2,000,000." And so much more.

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This massive deployment of papier-mâché, chicken wire and banners seemed to alarm the Pennsylvania State Police. On August 1, 2000 the warehouse in West Philly where the puppets were being created and stored was raided by the police. Spontaneous demonstration sprang up around town in response to the raid. By nightfall more than 400 people had been arrested. Many of those folks were arrested at the puppet warehouse, one of them had this account:

At 2:05 PM, Tuesday, August 1st, over 180 police officers and three helicopters lay siege to a warehouse on 41st and Haverford on Philadelphia's west side. When we looked through a mail slot to survey the situation, the police sprayed mace at us. They tried to barge in through a hole in the roof and, failing that, videotaped, tape recorded, and spit at us through a skylight. All 75 of us inside the warehouse were detained for over two hours before any search warrant showed up. We would become known as the "Haverford 70."

And why? What sort of crime had we committed that was so heinous as to qualify for such an egregious show of force?

We were making puppets. They were the props that would bear our messages of protest to the Republican National Convention (RNC).

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Back at the end of the last century, the issue of sweatshops was getting a lot of mainstream attention. By 1999 corporations were reeling from consumer pressure and it was looking like Congress was going to take some action. At that time, Dennis (more...)

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