By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
Valley anarchists have never had it easy. At nearly every public demonstration they sponsor or attend, they find themselves confronted by mounted police with pepper spray as undercover cops snap their photos and beer-guzzling frat boys hawk loogies on their heads from the balcony of Hooters.
Yet feds and frat boys, as well as the inevitable smattering of arrests when their marches spill off the sidewalks and into the streets, are something anarchists take in stride. These are predictable and familiar adversaries.
But now, a self-proclaimed anti-protestor militia has anarchists and other war protestors in its sights.
Radical peace advocates are the targets and sworn enemies of the Victory Policy Center, according to the VPC Web site, www.gunpolicycenter.com. The site, which supports gun rights and opposes federal gun legislation, is apparently run out of Glendale and registered to Bruce Watson, according to Internet registration records. The site also includes a local Glendale weather chart.
The VPC describes itself as a militia coalition of 82 members, armed with "night vision equipment as well as illuminated low light scopes," provided by an unnamed corporate sponsor.
The militia's stated mission is to "Eliminate" protestors who have stepped across the line and – in the group's opinion – abused the constitutional right to free speech. "Eliminate" is a word VPC spells with a capital E.
Strategy meetings to determine "locations for surveillance and target marking" are being planned by the VPC militia, they say. "The fun will begin soon," the Web site promises, "just be patient."
The Web site labels anti-war activists as cockroaches, targets of opportunity, drug and child abusers, and pathetic losers. Both Phoenix and Glendale police say they are unaware of any anti-protestor militia activities.
The VPC also has devoted a section of its Web site to tasteless jokes about anti-war advocates. ("How do you tell a good protestor from a bad one? The good one already has a bullet in their head.")
But the "Protestor Jokes and Facts" don't end with the Web site. Victory Policy Center has also left menacing messages on Arizona's Indy Media comments page, a Web site devoted to anti-globalization activism and journalism.
And some peace activists are starting to get worried.
"This is something that requires serious discussion," writes a member of the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition on that group's message board. "Now might be the time to seriously consider what measures should be taken in defense of ourselves."
Anarchists have posted the VPC's first statement on their message board, and members are concerned. Says one post: "It's tempting to just write it off as some lonely loser living in his parents' basement, but it's better to be safe than sorry.... Remember, Hitler's SS started out as basically a vigilante street gang, so you can see what happens when people don't organize against fascists at their early stages ..."
Activists are also troubled by the VPC's animosity. The Web site includes a New York Post story about a 23-year-old American activist, Rachel Corrie, who was crushed and killed by a bulldozer in Gaza while protesting the Israeli destruction of a Palestinian home in mid-March.
Photos of the young woman's bloodied body cradled in the arms of her friends inspired the following comments from VPC: "This Bitch thought she could step in front of a Bulldozer and live through it. This shows the mentality of radical extremists and their will to control people by force. It also shows that sometimes, and with a little luck, these Idiots get their just reward. It was an act of God. Apparently he had other plans for her – as soil."
"This is a very scary thing that our government needs to be looking into," says Dave Wells, one of the founding members of Arizona Alliance for Peaceful Justice, a pro-peace group organized after September 11, 2001. "While [the government] is trying to protect us from foreign terrorism, these people are quite publicly engaging in domestic terrorism."
In an e-mail to New Timesresponding to questions about the group, signed only "VPC," the Victory Policy Center says its interest in "this group of Anti-American subversives" began last summer. "We have a number of people who have infiltrated this group," the VPC claims, and the information received from the infiltrators "is what will drive us to fulfill the missions that we seek to accomplish."
The VPC states that protestors "have crossed the line between use and abuse of their Constitutional rights."
"To us they have yelled fire' in a crowded theatre," the e-mail to New Times says. "We feel it is time to Eliminate this element from our society. We feel it is our Patriotic duty."
"We have a right to protect ourselves and our property," the VPC says in a second e-mail. "This is where vigilantism and militias are an Important element of our society. They cost the taxpayer nothing and achieve things the police and state do not always have the manpower or funds to accomplish. We do this all out of our own pockets.
"To your Question of Eliminate. That is a decision they' will have to make. We do NOT intend on shooting anyone. Unless of course through an act of self defense of one's person. A legal and justifiable act.