Kansas Mutual Aid Relief Workers forced out of city by police
Saturday May 19, 2007
by Dave Strano
On Saturday May 19, five members and volunteers affiliated with Kansas
Mutual Aid, a Lawrence based class struggle anarchist collective, made the
trek back to Greensburg to again help in relief efforts in the tornado
ravaged city. A week earlier, four KMA members had traveled to Greensburg
on a fact finding mission to assess the situation there. What KMA members
found was a militarized, entirely destroyed city where relief efforts were
moving tragically slow.
Today's trip back to Greensburg by KMA members and volunteers was intended
to solidify the bonds we had created in the first trip, and establish a
base of operations for future relief efforts. KMA spent the morning
working on a house with members of AmeriCorps, and then proceeded to meet
with contacts with the Mennonite Disaster Services.
We then headed out of town to a church just outside of city limits that we
were told would be a place we could probably set up a base camp for our
work. The church had been converted into a fire station by the state, so
we continued down the road and met a farmer who was willing to work with
us and let us use his land.
Soon after meeting the farmer, we were approached by officers with the
Dickinson County Sheriff's Department. After a brief exchange, the
officers left, and we were told to report to the Kiowa County Emergency
Response Command Post to receive official permission to set up our base of
operations. We were notified that if we did not do so, we would risk
having our operation ceased by the state.
Two of our delegation went to the Command Post, while the other three of
us went to the County Courthouse to pick up som water and provisions being
offered by the Red Cross. While we were picking up water and food, I was
approached by an Olathe Police Officer named Ty Moeder who knew my face
and identity. I was ordered to take my hands out of my pockets and follow
the officer to a side street "to avoid making a scene".
I and the other people with me followed the officer, and were repeatedly
ordered to keep our hands out of our pockets, where they could be seen by
the officer. Soon more officers approached, as well as at least one member
of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and some people from FEMA.
Surrounded by agents of the state, we were ordered to produce our
When I asked the police why we were being detained, Officer Moeder
responded "We need to check to see if you are affiliated with the
anarchists." At this moment, our remaining two comrades approached to see
what was happening. They were detained as well, and made to produce their
Officer Moeder asked how we had gotten in to the city. "We drove in,"
"They weren't supposed to let you in at the road block," responded Moeder,
seemingly frustrated and perplexed by that answer.
"They even gave us a day pass to drive in and out," we shot back.
A waiting game ensued for the next several minutes, with more officers
approaching, now numbering almost fifteen. A Lawrence police officer
approached, and was ordered to take photos of the car we had driven that
was parked down the street. Officer McNemee from the Lawrence Police
Department took extensive photos of the car, even of the inside contents
of the vehicle.
Officer Moeder ordered me to step away from the rest of the relief workers
and speak with him. "You're being ordered to leave and not return. This is
not negotiable, not appealable. You can't change it. If you return you'll
be arrested on site. And believe me, you don't want to push that right
now. This system is pretty messed up, and you wouldn't be issued bail.
You'd disappear in the system."
I asked repeatedly what we had done and why we were being ordered to leave
the city. "You're part of a dangerous anarchist group that will only drain
our security resources," he responded. "We've been monitoring your website
and e-mails, we know what kind of agenda you have."
"So this is about our political beliefs?" I asked.
"No," he responded. "This is about you being federal security threats.
Kansas Mutual Aid is not welcome in this city, end of story. I know you
are going through legitimate means to work in the city, and you're story
seems picture perfect, but we know who you are, and you're not allowed
We were ordered back into our car and escorted out of the city by several
police vehicles with their lights flashing, and left just outside the
We returned to Lawrence just moments ago, unhindered in our resolve to
provide support to the people in the disaster area. We will continue to
work in whatever capacity we can in the areas around the city that we may
still be allowed into, and provide support to those entering the city.
The area is a police state, to be certain. Police and Law Enforcement from
across Kansas and the country are making the rules about everything.
Relief workers were banned from Greensburg today because of their
political beliefs and work against oppression and tyrannical state
A longer, more in depth update with an announcement for future action will
come soon. Please spread this story far and wide.
In love and solidarity,
Kansas Mutual Aid