News

Transperson Arrested for Vandalizing Denver Democratic HQ

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Aug 27, 2009

In what a Republican lawmaker has touted as a bid to win sympathy for Democrats, an anarchist transperson allegedly shattered windows at the Democratic headquarters in Denver, Colorado.

However, the status of one vandal, currently in custody, as an anarchist who writes for a site called "Queers Agaisnt Obama" seemingly contradicts that theory.

The Denver Post reported in an Aug. 26 article that one of two perpetrators in the case, Maurice Schwenkler, had worked as a paid canvasser for Democratic candidate for state Representative Mollie Cullom last year.

Cullom was defeated by Republican David Balmer in that race, the article reported.

State Rep. Balmer publicly speculated that Schwenkler, a transgender person also known as Ariel Attack, had committed the crime to cast Republicans in a bad light and garner sympathy for Democrats.

"This sounds like the type of Democratic tactic from the left fringe trying to make Republicans look mean-spirited," the Denver Post quoted Balmer as saying.

"In this case, it blew up in their face," added Balmer.

"He was caught red-handed."

An array of articles posted at anarchist sites was cited in an Aug. 26 item at right-wing site Dinah Lord, which referred to a paradoxical-sounding "progressive-anarchist web."

The Dinah Lord site said that Schwenker was a transgendered individual also known as Ariel Attack, who is a contributor to a Web site called "Queers Against Obama."

Ariel Attack's political affiliation as an anarchist and status as a contributor to Queers Against Obama were confirmed in an Aug. 25 item posted at a site called Colorado Indymedia.

Eleven windows were shattered with a hammer, the Denver Post article said. The vandalism took place just before 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 25. Two individuals were seen by a police officer smashing windows with a hammer; both vandals then rode off on bicycles.

Schwenkler was apprehended immediately, and reportedly was wearing a crude disguise: he had pulled a shirt around his face, the article said. He also wore latex gloves and a sweatshirt with a hood.

Anarchist Web site Infoshop News was cited by Dinah Lord as soliciting money for Schwenkler's bail, and cautioning readers to be careful, if speaking to authorities, not to reveal Schwenkler's transgendered status, lest such a disclosure lead to assault against Ariel.

"We are also asking people to NOT call the jail and potentially out Ariel, which would create a very dangerous situation," read text culled from InfoShop News and posted at Dinah Lord.com.

"Interaction with the jail is being done by people here in Denver in very specific ways to create the maximum amount of safety possible for Ariel," the text continued.

The dual identity of Schwenkler/Ariel Attack was reported in an Aug. 26 article at ColoradoIndependent.com.

The Denver Post reported that the damage is estimated at $11,000, meaning that Schwenkler, charged with criminal mischief, could be hit with a felony.

Though the article did not offer firm facts as to Schwenkler's motives, it did reference the fact that posters supporting President' Obama's proposed health care reforms were hung in the windows.

Political opportunism was in evidence on the Democratic side, as well. Pat Waak, the chairman of the state's Democratic Party, initially called the attack "an effort on the other side to stir up hate."

But after it came out that Schwenkler had canvassed for a Democratic candidate's campaign last year, Waak revised her statement.

Waak was quoted in the Denver Post article as saying, "What I've been saying is there is a lot of rhetoric out there from both sides of the spectrum.

"That's what's been disturbing to me.

"People are saying a lot of things not appropriate for civil discourse."

However, Schwenkler's anarchist affiliations may mean that the attack was not partisan in the Democrat/Republican sense, but rather a blow struck against government in general.

Waak added that Schwenkler's employment history with the party "doesn't mean he's a good Democrat."

The article noted that Schwenkler had been in trouble with the law before, having been arrested for unlawful assembly in St. Paul, MN, during the Republican National Convention last year.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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