A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Guest Post: Update on Michael McDonald

By now, Alamedans have probably heard about how some anonymous people reported Alameda artist Michael McDonald to the Secret Service for his artwork which creatively expressed negative feelings about our government. Julie Rufo had this to say in this guest post.

I went to see Michael McDonald today.

He is now a “person of interest” to the government.

They will either continue to investigate him, bump it up to a higher level (possibly arresting him), or drop it. However, if that happens, they won’t let him know! This will be decided by the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco. He does have a lawyer who is assisting him, who was present for part of the interview. He is not a constitutional lawyer, and a lawyer in SF who specializes in freedom of artistic expression has offered to help. So far, his lawyer can get no further information from the government.

He asks that anyone who wants to support him or make a statement contribute to the slowly building installation of signs and flowers and candles in his front yard. 836 Central. He has now taken down the installation, replaced by signs.
Write letters to the editors of local papers. Put a sign in his yard. Don’t be anonymous, sign your name!

When they first went to his house, he was not at home, so they interviewed his immediate neighbors! When his lawyer told them he had the right not to speak to them, they invoked the Patriot Act. When they produced the document for him to sign giving them the right to investigate his past, they told him it didn’t matter if he signed or not, that under the Patriot Act, they could get all the information they needed and access all his records. That as a “person of interest” he was no longer covered by the First Amendment but by the Patriot Act! It was suggested he “not go anywhere” without informing them. They photographed his house, property, cars and, of course, him. He was also told no search warrant would be needed under the Patriot Act, although they did not search his house or computer.

I find it most appalling that 3 citizens of Alameda (not his immediate neighbors) reported him to the Secret Service, and that organization would waste time and money on some (relatively) obscure artist on a small obscure island in the Bay Area with a cardboard cutout of the President in his front yard! As Michael says, this is how far it has gotten already!


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