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Funding Anarchism as “Performance Art” By: Lee Kaplan
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, April 18, 2006

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The Hallmark Corporation may seem like an unlikely sponsor of anarchist performance art, but it has done just that by providing the income for a member of the Hallmark family to patronize an anarchist ice cream truck.

What is the anarchist ice cream truck? It is the brainchild of Aaron Gach, a San Francisco Bay Area “artist” and anarchist activist. Gach calls his vehicle the TICU, or Tactical Ice Cream Unit. Gach describes his truck in this way:


equal parts SWAT van and ice cream truck (with functional and aesthetic flourishes borrowed from the apparatus of armored cars, military transport vehicles, urban hot-rods, and 1950’s-style milk trucks), the Tactical Ice Cream Unit is designed to attract, unsettle, amuse, disarm and engage the public with its strange brew of Good Humor gentility, Willy-Wonka wizardry, and Big Brother bravado. For many, a chance encounter with the TICU will feel like being chocolate-dipped in a sea of sugarcoated doubt. “ 

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Aaron Gach on tour in Germany                       TICU symbol: Communist star with fist


Not an everyday ice cream truck, the TICU doubles as a weapon, according to Gach. He describes it as “part ice cream truck and part urban assault vehicle.” It is also a propaganda machine. Gach uses it to distribute free ice cream as a lure to attract children and young people so that he can disseminate “literature from progressive organizations.”


TICU’s treats include ice cream bars in flavors like honey vanilla, hibiscus and chili mango, Gach’s idea of anarchist flavors. Gach maintains that he only hands out pamphlets about effective anarchist activities that are peaceful, such as brochures for town hall meetings and political summits. But in fact he also hands out to children and students information for organizations such as the Black Panther Party, PROMO and the International Solidarity Movement, all anarchist-related groups that promote violent revolution of one kind or another, even terrorism against capitalist governments.


Inside the TICU is even more suspicious. One can find gas masks, police uniforms, video surveillance equipment and even military-grade armor. The front end of the ice cream truck has a built-in battering ram that can be used to take down police barricades or break down locked fences, tactics commonly associated with the more extreme elements of the anarchist movement.


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Gas masks                                                   Truck mounted steel and

                                                                     wedged grill battering ram                              


TICU also boasts communications equipment inside and surveillance cameras – the TICU has 24/7 360 degrees video coverage and 16-channel video surveillance system and a remote control dish microphone, plus more than 1,000 GB of onboard data storage, a Global Positioning System and Wi-Fi.


Gach says he hopes to have a “fleet” of such vehicles in the near future. The TICU is also equipped with first aid kits, sidewalk chalk, batteries and flashlights, toilet paper, towels, hand warmers and a disguise kit. (Volunteers from Stop the ISM obtained photographs from inside the vehicle.) In addition, documents from the San Francisco chapter of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) were found inside during a Midwest tour. The ADC is active in funding and training the International Solidarity Movement, whose leadership has admitted to working in cooperation with Palestinian terrorist groups. Other organizations mentioned in the literature include CAIR, which terrorism expert Steve Emerson testified before congress is a Hamas front. The ACLU is listed, along with the Muslim Lawyers Association. A document written in Arabic was also found, which tells Muslims not to cooperate with the FBI if they are questioned.


Ironically, this piece of putative “art” is being funded by an heir to the Hallmark Card fortune, Margaret Hall Silva, thanks to generous funding from her Margaret Hall Silva Foundation. (Hallmark, of course, is a corporation that Gach and his anarchist cronies would probably like to see destroyed as part of their movement’s goals.) The TICU was chosen for funding and realization by the not-for-profit art gallery Grand Arts in Kansas City, Missouri, as an example of “performance art.” It is not clear whether Margaret Hall Silva, the director of Grand Arts, was personally involved in choosing the project because the Grand Arts artistic director, Stacy Switzer, isn’t talking.


Given all this information, the idea that Aaron Gach is merely a “performance artist” is ludicrous. A review of Gach’s past activities, for instance, turns up several links to extremist groups. He was formerly involved with American groups that have been linked to terrorism, like Earth First! and the Black Panther Party, and has been active in the past with other American anarchist groups. Gach has even spent some time in Germany with European anarchists learning their radical trade. Gach is also a high-school classmate and a life-long friend of Joseph Smith, a.k.a. Joseph Carr, another anarchist from Kansas City, Missouri. Smith was involved in spinning the death of fellow anarchist and ISM activist Rachel Corrie, and once declared her death as well worth the price of “the revolution.”


Another clue to Gach’s extremist agenda comes from Gach’s own website. Gach writes of successful military deceptions throughout history. He also describes the destruction of corporate buildings and property (such as smashing the windows of chain stores or banks as was done by anarchists in Seattle in 1999) in euphemistic terms such as “putting a hex” on a corporation.


Gach has been touring U.S. college campuses and high schools and is now on a West Coast tour starting with UCLA and branching out to other locations to spread anarchy and revolution—though he doesn’t say so directly.


Gach’s organization, the so-called Center for Tactical Magic (CTM), has an equally radical mission. According to Gach, “CTM emphasizes nine key tactics used throughout history by ninjas and noblemen, magicians and magistrates, PI’s and MP’s alike. They are: stealth, surveillance, surprise, sabotage, infiltration, evasion, misdirection, subterfuge, and, of course, disguise.”


When asked whether Margaret Hall Silva was aware that Aaron Gach was heavily involved in the American anarchist movement, Grand Arts artistic director Stacy Switzer merely scoffed. When asked if she was aware the interior of the ice cream truck contained gear that had military applications, she abruptly hung up. Earlier, Switzer had told a reporter that, “For us, and this has always been the mission of Grand Arts, projects begin here and we know that the TICU has a life well beyond Grand Arts. I’m excited to see where it goes after this.” No doubt she means other art galleries, and Gach is already scheduled at UC Riverside and other college campuses and private art galleries on the West Coast. But knowing Gach’s anarchist credentials, it’s hard not to suspect that he may have other intentions for his controversial truck.

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The above document in Arabic, put out by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in San Francisco, was found in the anarchist ice cream truck. It discourages Muslims from cooperating with the FBI and Homeland Security. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee also supplies trainers, funding and logisitical support for the ISM.


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Lee Kaplan is an undercover investigative journalist and a contributor to Front Page Magazine. He is also a regular columnist for the Israel National News and Canada Free Press and a senior intelligence analyst and communications director for the Northeast Intelligence Network. He heads the organizations Defending America for Knowledge and Action (DAFKA) and Stop the ISM. He has been interviewed on over one hundred nationally and internationally syndicated radio shows and been a guest on Fox Cable TV’s Dayside with Linda Vester and Bill O’Reilly’s The Factor. He is a guest every Tuesday on the Jim Kirkwood Show on Utah's K-Talk Radio am630. He is currently working on a book about America's colleges in the War on Terror and the International Solidarity Movement.

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