Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New York pair accused of directing protesters during G-20 in Pittsburgh

New York pair accused of directing protesters during G-20 in Pittsburgh

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State police have accused two anarchists from New York of using cell phones and the Internet messaging service Twitter to direct the movements of protesters during the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh.

Police arrested Elliot M. Madison, 41, and Michael Wallschlaeger, 46, both of Jackson Heights, N.Y., after they found them Sept. 24 in a Kennedy Township hotel room full of computers, police scanners and Pittsburgh-area maps, according to a state police criminal complaint.

FBI agents spent 16 hours Friday raiding the home of Madison and his wife, Elena, according to a federal court motion filed in Brooklyn, N.Y., by Madison's attorney Martin R. Stolar seeking the return of Madison's possessions that were seized in the raid.

Stolar did not return a message seeking comment Saturday. No one answered the phone at a number listed for Madison.

Wallschlaeger and Madison wore headphones and microphones as they sat in front of computers they used to send Twitter messages to protesters in Pittsburgh to help them move about the city "and to inform the protesters and groups of the movements and actions of law enforcement," the state police complaint states.

State police in Findlay obtained a warrant to search the second-floor room at the Carefree Inn on Kisow Drive based on a tip they received about criminal activity related to the G-20 protests.

Police arrested 190 protesters of an estimated 5,000 people who participated in marches and demonstrations in Oakland, Lawrenceville, the Strip District and Downtown during the summit Sept. 24 and 25.

Madison and Wallschlaeger face charges in Allegheny County of hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possessing instruments of crime.

A manager at the Carefree Inn said he was not permitted to discuss the matter.

Madison posted $30,000 straight bail and was released Sept. 25. Wallschlaeger posted $5,000 and was released the same day, court records show. Both face preliminary hearings Oct. 13.

Among the items seized by the FBI were: computers; cell phones; MP3 players; anarchist literature and books, including some authored by Madison; business records connected to Wallschlaeger's radio talk show "This Week in Radical History"; and pictures of Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx.

Records show they seized 11 gas masks, five pairs of goggles, a slingshot, four arm pads, eight face masks and a collection of test tubes, droppers, mortar and pestle and beakers.

Stolar said the FBI violated the terms of its search warrant and Madison's First Amendment rights by taking "a number of documents and other properties having nothing to do with the government's investigation."

According to Stolar's motion, Elliott and Elena Madison are political activists who deal with social justice issues and provide legal support for protesters. Elliott Madison is a social worker employed for the past 10 years by Fountain House, a psychiatric-social program with a principal office in Manhattan. Elena Madison is an urban planner and is assistant vice president of the Project for Public Spaces.

The Madisons describe themselves as anarchists affiliated with a confederation known as "The Peoples' Law Collective."

U.S. District Court Judge Dora Irizarry of Brooklyn ruled Friday that FBI agents can't analyze the seized property until Stolar's motion for its return is resolved, court records show.

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