Transgender Activist Pleads Guilty to Democrats’ Office Vandalism

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday December 22, 2009

A transgender anarchist has pleaded guilty to smashing windows at the Colorado Democratic Party headquarters office in Denver.

Denver Democrats and Republicans blamed each other in a back-and-forth of accusations over the act of vandalism, which was carried out by 24-year-old Maurice Schwenkler and at least other accomplice in the early morning hours of last Aug. 25. Democrats were quick to say that Republicans had piqued anti-Democratic sentiment; when it was revealed in the press that Schwenkler had worked as a canvasser for a local Democratic politician, Republicans were just as quick to accuse Democrats of engineering the vandalism to win public sympathy.

Schwenkler, also known in anarchist circles as Ariel Attack, belonged to a groups called Queers Against Obama and was listed by local group Bash Back! Denver as one of its "friends and allies," reported the Denver Post in a Dec. 22 article.

Schwenkler had worked as a paid canvasser for Democratic candidate for then-State Representative Mollie Cullom last year. Cullom was defeated by Republican David Balmer in that race. State Rep. After Schwenkler's arrest for the vandalism, in which 11 plate-glass windows were smashed with hammers, Balmer characterized the crime as an act of political provocation from the Democrats themselves, saying, "This sounds like the type of Democratic tactic from the left fringe trying to make Republicans look mean-spirited. In this case, it blew up in their face," added Balmer. "He was caught red-handed."

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. "What I've been saying is there is a lot of rhetoric out there from both sides of the spectrum," Waak said. "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.

Schwenkler and his accomplice were spotted by police in the act of smashing the windows; the two then rode off on bicycles. Schwenkler was apprehended, but the other individual got away. Anarchist Web site Infoshop News proceeded to solicit money for Schwenkler's bail, 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.

Media reports 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.

Schwenkler was hit with a $5,000 fine for the crime, and put on probation for a year. The damage done by Schwenkler and his accomplice was reported at $11,000.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. 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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