Democratic HQ window-smashing: Health care, gay rights and Maurice Schwenkler's other identity -- Ariel Attack

When news first broke yesterday that eleven windows had been smashed at Colorado Democratic Party headquarters in Denver, initial speculation pinned the blame on conservative anger over Democratic heathcare reform efforts. When it emerged that one of the two suspects arrested in connection with that crime, 24-year-old Maurice Schwenkler, had once canvassed for Democratic candidates on behalf of a liberal political fund, the theories got weird.

Could it be that Democrats conspired to smash their own headquarters in an attempt to frame Republicans? No, no, Schwenkler was probably a conservative mole who had infiltrated liberal causes in order to one day spring forth with an evil plan to, uh... break some windows.

But both ideas are wrong -- because the suspect is not a Republican or a Democrat. Rather, Schwenkler is a local transgendered anarchist who also goes by the name "Ariel Attack."

An address Schwenkler once listed previously served as the operations base for the Derailer Bicycle Collective; the FBI raided the house while the 2004 Republican National Convention was underway in New York. In addition, postings asking for donations to the "Ariel Attack Bail and Legal Fund" have recently appeared on several anarchist websites. Some of the people involved in these efforts were organizers for Unconventional Action, a loose-knit network of anarchists that helped bring hundreds of ultra-left-wing protesters to Denver and St. Paul for the 2008 DNC and RNC. In fact, the Denver Post has pointed out that Schwenkler was among protesters arrested in St. Paul last year.

After appearing in Denver County Court this morning for a first advisement on criminal-mischief charges, Schwenkler posted $5,000 bail cash. While none of those involved in raising money for Schwenkler's legal fund were willing to comment to Westword, several other sources familiar with the situation confirmed that Schwenkler and Ariel Attack are the same person and that whatever happened at the Democratic headquarters early Tuesday morning "was not about health care."

So if it wasn't the healthcare debate raging on television screens across the nation, what motives might we assign to Schwenkler's alleged act? Some of the websites involved with the fundraising listed Ariel Attack as a "transgendered activist" associated with Bash Back!, a radical queer group that formed in the run-up to last year's political conventions. The "transgendered" descriptor might answer some of the snickering questions by commenters about how the officially male Schwenkler "looks like a girl." Issues like these concerned some supporters, who wrote that "jail is a dangerous place, but especially for trans people," and asked that others "not call the jail and potentially out Ariel."

On March 9, Ariel Attack was listed as the author of "Obama's War on Queer and Trans Youth," a blog on the Queers Against Obama site that denounced the president's move to repeal the don't-ask-don't-tell policy. The piece sees this change as a cynical ploy to create a false sense of equality for gays when the actual aim is to recruit more boots for the troop surge into Afghanistan. The blog also criticizes so-called wealthy gays for their apparent complicity:

To be clear, the queers who will be recruited are not the same folks lobbying for the "right to marry." This is how it works: the upper-crust gays of the Stonewall Democrats and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) sit pretty in their boardrooms, gentrified gayborhoods, $1,000-a-plate fundraisers, art auctions, and "gay-friendly" corporate health care plans, while working-class queers, queer people of color, queers lacking community or family, and gender-questioning youth are the ones who will be heavily targeted by recruiters, hear false promises, sign their rights away, and serve time in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The anti-Obama site says that Schwenkler is one of the bloggers behind Gender Munity, a site that advocates a direct-action approach to gay rights. One post, a "Communique from the Gender Liberation Front," takes inspiration from radical activist groups like the Earth Liberation Front and the "Stonewall Rioters" by "seeking vulnerable targets and unleashing chaos:"

We are the burning rage of millions trapped within a dying gender binary. The war against gender expression ravages our spirits and gender-free people are killed and assaulted every day. Gender Liberation Front works to encourage the collapse of the gender binary, to scare the genderstraights, and to undermine the foundations of the state. We embrace genderfuck as an absurd resistance movement. We show the enemy that we are fucking serious about destroying the binary they hold sacred. Together we have the fabulousness and genderjuice to match our dreams. Our greatest weapons are imagination and the ability to strike when least expected.

Schwenkler's next hearing is on September 9.

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Jared Jacang Maher