USA: Dispatches from the Road – Are They Following Me?

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Received on 07.07.17:

My little grey Scion Xa careens past the exit for Modesto, as I fly towards Los Angeles and the Orange County Anarchist Book Fair. As I look up at the exit I notice two cars idling at the top of the deceleration lane, brake lights glowing, exhaust pipes coughing out fumes. Two minutes later the very same two cars roar past me and on up the road. And at the next exit, the same thing, two cars idling in the deceleration lane and minutes later they pass me shooting like rockets up the road, then again, and again, and again. I am being tailed, likely by the FBI’s Special Surveillance Group (SSG). First—panic…then, grim, abiding hatred. Fuck these assholes.

I returned, somewhat hesitantly, to the United States in March of 2016. I had some housekeeping to deal with and some people to visit, I also was involved in setting up an action or two in the land of the unfree, which I had hoped to participate in. Unfortunately, as noted above, within three days of touch down I had a tail, an unshakeable tail. The actions were cancelled and I settled in to just visiting family and steered clear of the politicals. Bad enough I had heat, no sense bringing the government dogs to someone else’s door.

Surveillance Conundrums

I kind of feel sorry for the guys that were tailing me, their job sucks. First off the very term “tailed” is a real misnomer. Because other than maybe one car behind me, everybody else was up ahead trying to guess where I might be going. Hence the two cars on the deceleration lane contemplate whether I would a) get off at that exit, and if I did get off whether I would b) turn left or right. This tactic plays out in almost all highway driving, though in cities on surface streets they can easily shadow from side streets, alleys, corners, what have you. In large city highway driving this tactic is almost unnoticeable, though with a semi-photographic memory working I could memorize and maintain a catalogue of license plates, car type and color. After LA I drove to Denver via I-10 and then mid-Utah hopped on to I-70. Some of these roads have stretches that are virtually barren with no trees, nothing, and seeing the same cars pull off at exits and then bound around me to continue the chase up ahead–the surveillance became painfully obvious. Which is the conundrum, other than not losing “a person of interest,” the second directive of the SSG is not to be observed. In this case they were woefully inadequate, I made the SSG right out of the Bay Area, observed them the entire rest of the trip and finally watched them speed off as I was dropped at Denver International Airport to hop a plane to Brazil.

Another problem that the SSG has is with local law enforcement, obviously if they’re tailing a suspect through some municipality it’s on them to notify the police or sheriff as to what they’re doing and why. In most cases this results, obviously, in a hands off policy—let the Feds do their work, maybe we can get some media out of it if something goes down. In other municipalities it’s a virtual moose call for some idiot local cop to look tough. It happened twice and was as funny as it was obvious. After the Orange County Anarchist Book Fair a cruiser and an unmarked car from the Anaheim Police Department literally escorted me all the way to the city limits, SSG in tow behind me. It could have been a fucking parade. And members of the Fort Collins Colorado (my hometown) Police Department hovered around my car in huge, marked, circling SUVs. Vultures. The SSG must have been really pissed off, because they backed off for an hour or two after that.

I was only directly harassed one time, in Boulder the day before I was scheduled to leave the US permanently. I was having lunch with my ex-wife and daughter when a man, pretending to be drunk, asked if he could sit at our table. As the restaurant was virtually empty, and as he had tried and failed to establish and maintain eye contact with me as he roamed the establishment previously, I responded with a,” Fuck no. Get the hell out of here.” He walked off despondently and though he watched and waited on the other side of the street, no further approaches were made. I hate them, the ex and my daughter are civilians, how dare them threaten these two.

Other SSG realities

SSG units go unarmed, and they are not the branch of the FBI that makes arrests, that’s left to the Special Agents, so unless something really big is happening, they are there to watch, to not lose you, and to not be seen. The SSG uses subterfuge, the agents will occasionally travel with family, friends, a dog. They will carry bicycles, picnic baskets, any kind of prop that makes it seem like wherever it is you are at, they too have a perfectly normal reason for being there. So that what looks like a family outing to the mall is actually Dad watching a suspect.  The SSG uses an incredible diversity of cars, trucks, SUVs, so many in fact that I suspect that even private cars come in to play.

Fucking With Them

The Dead End Game is where you find a good solid no outlet street and drive to the end of it and park. They have to keep eyes on you so they will follow, but what then? They can’t turn around, they can’t back out. In one case I had driven on to a road that I knew dead-ended at a dam at Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins. Sure enough, along came a green SUV which parked and a young man hopped out and pulled a mountain bike out of the back of his car and started wiping it down. Thing is that this particular road has no outlet at all, the dam is fenced off with barbed wire, and both sides of the road have no access points for miles. There is literally no place to ride a bike or anything else for that matter—yet there he was looking for all the world like Lance Armstrong out to conquer the Rocky Mountains. The I”ll Follow You Game is best done on foot, here you identify one or more of the agents and start to openly, obviously follow one. I did this in a supermarket in Colorado and finally cornered the bastard in the frozen fish aisle, he stared nervously at the lobster tails as I moved in very close and almost whispered in his ear,” Does anyone actually eat this shit?” He turned and exited at a trot. The Road Shenanigans Game is the most obvious, not using turn signals and turning, or using turn signals and not turning, or pulling off at a gas station and then getting right back on the highway without stopping, driving aimlessly through quiet suburban streets, going round and around the same block for 15 minutes. I don’t usually play this game very much, its dangerous and I don’t want to hurt other drivers, unless of course they’re the bad guys.

Final Thoughts

Trust your gut. If something like the above anecdotes should occur and you feel like your being followed, you are. Don’t panic, unless you’ve just shot some guys, or planted a bomb, or stolen the nuclear codes, they have nothing on you, that’s why you’re being followed. Document this shit, take pictures of them, of their cars, what happened, when and where? If they try to question you, refuse, and record your refusal. If its really bugging you, contact the National Lawyers Guild, share your info with them, let them take on the SSG. Fuck with them, they are the enemy, make their jobs hard, make their lives suck, go out in the middle of the night for a candy bar, on a dark dead street watch the headlights crank on as one car cruises out to follow you to 7/11. Have fun.

El Errante

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