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article imageNew York Men Used Twitter to Direct G20 Protesters

By Chris Dade     Oct 4, 2009 in Crime
Police in Pennsylvania have accused two men from New York of using the social networking site Twitter to direct protesters at last month's G20 summit in Pittsburgh.
Elliot M. Madison, 41, and Michael Wallschlaeger, 46, of Jackson Heights, N.Y were first detained by police on September 24, the summit was held on September 24-25, at the Carefree Inn on Kisow Drive in Kennedy Township, a suburb of Pittsburgh.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review the men's hotel room was full of computers, police scanners and maps of the Pittsburgh area.
As they sat in the room, wearing headphones and microphones, they allegedly sent messages via Twitter, as well as by cell phone, to protesters who were moving around Pittsburgh itself.
The complaint filed by state police claims that Madison and Wallschlaeger used Twitter, the Guardian reports that police accessed Twitter as protesters communicated amongst themselves, "to inform the protesters and groups of the movements and actions of law enforcement".
On September 25 the men posted bail, Madison for $30,000 and Wallschlaeger for $5,000, and were released the same day. Come October 13 they will be in court for preliminary hearings. Their charge sheet accuses them, says the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, of "hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possessing instruments of crime".
Further to the arrest of Madison and Wallschlaeger, on Friday October 3, FBI officers carried out a raid on the home of the former man and after 16 hours at the property left with a variety of items that included 11 gas masks, five pairs of goggles and test tubes and beakers.
Anarchist literature and books were was also removed from the home of Madison and his wife Elena, an urban planner and assistant vice president of the Project for Public Spaces, with some of the literature and books seized having been written by Madison himself. Pictures of Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx were removed too, along with information pertaining to "This Week in Radical History", a radio talk show produced by Wallschlaeger.
Martin R. Stolar, attorney for Elliot M. Madison, has filed a federal court motion in Brooklyn which seeks the return of the items that were taken by the FBI from the home of his client on Friday. The motion states that the FBI did not adhere to the terms of their search warrant and violated Madison's rights under the First Amendment, claiming many of the items seized had no relevance to the ongoing government investigation.
Describing themselves as anarchists, Madison, a social worker with a Manhattan-based psychiatric-social program called Fountain House, and his wife are involved in a group known as The Peoples' Law Collective. The Guardian notes that the collective offers legal advice to protesters who may be facing charges as a consequence of their political activities.
An estimated 5,000 protesters attended the G20 summit in Pittsburgh and nearly 200 of them were arrested by police.
Digital Journal reported on September 24 that tear gas was fired at those protesting at the summit as 4,000 police officers and 2,000 members of the National Guard were assembled to deal with any demonstrations.
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