Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fascism for Dummies: San Francisco Cops Help Apple Corporate Security Search a Man's Home

The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organized in their respective associations, circulate within the State. — Benito Mussolini, "The Doctrine of Fascism," 1935

This past decade, the Apple Corporation has risen to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful private concerns in the world. Apple's public image may be benign, but no organization can ascend to such lofty heights as a globe-spanning colossus without being utterly ruthless. Just how ruthless? SF Weekly has the story:
The bizarre saga involving a lost prototype of the iPhone 5 has taken another interesting turn. Contradicting past statements that no records exist of police involvement in the search for the lost prototype, San Francisco Police Department spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield now tells SF Weekly that "three or four" SFPD officers accompanied two Apple security officials in an unusual search of a Bernal Heights man's home.

Dangerfield says that, after conferring with Apple and the captain of the Ingleside police station, he has learned that plainclothes SFPD officers went with private Apple detectives to the home of Sergio Calderón, a 22-year-old resident of Bernal Heights. According to Dangerfield, the officers "did not go inside the house," but stood outside while the Apple employees scoured Calderón's home, car, and computer files for any trace of the lost iPhone 5. The phone was not found, and Calderón denies that he ever possessed it.

In an interview with SF Weekly last night, Calderón told us that six badge-wearing visitors came to his home in July to inquire about the phone. Calderón said none of them acknowledged being employed by Apple, and one of them offered him $300, and a promise that the owner of the phone would not press charges, if he would return the device.

The visitors also allegedly threatened him and his family, asking questions about their immigration status. "One of the officers is like, 'Is everyone in this house an American citizen?' They said we were all going to get into trouble," Calderón said.

One of the officers left a phone number with him, which SF Weekly traced to Anthony Colon, an investigator employed at Apple, who declined to comment when we reached him.

Reached this afternoon, Calderón confirmed that only two of the six people who came to his home actually entered the house. He said those two did not specifically state they were police officers.

However, he said he was under the impression that they were all police, since they were part of the group outside that identified themselves as SFPD officials. The two who entered the house did not disclose that they were private security officers, according to Calderón.

"When they came to my house, they said they were SFPD," Calderón said. "I thought they were SFPD. That's why I let them in." He said he would not have permitted the search if he had been aware the two people conducting it were not actually police officers.
SF Weekly goes on raise the pertinent question:
At the least, the incident is sure to raise questions about the propriety of multiple SFPD officers helping private detectives conduct a search -- which was never properly recorded, per standard police operating procedure -- of somebody's home. "Apple came to us saying that they were looking for a lost item, and some plainclothes officers responded out to the house with them," Dangerfield said. "My understanding is that they stood outside." He added, "They just assisted Apple to the address."
Because we citizens all know that if we had something stolen from us, the police would be sure to assign no less than four detectives to go with us to the suspect's house and attempt to get it back. Wait a minute...they wouldn't? In fact, we'd be lucky if they ever exerted any more effort than just filling out a police report? Sorry, I must have been thinking about some other America.

So basically what we have here is the spectacle of police officers allowing themselves to be used as enforcers for corporate America. The citizenry of San Francisco should loudly demand a full investigation of this abuse of power and punishment for everyone found to be accountable. But of course they probably won't, and another awful precedent will have been established eroding what still remains of our already tattered civil liberties. What Mussolini was describing in the quote above was fascism as the combination of corporate and state power. Welcome to our brave new world.


  1. Good catch, Bill. I'd read about Apple losing another prototype (pretty damn loosey-goosey with those prototypes for a kazzillion dollar corp, if you ask me,)but I didn't know that sort of collaboration had happened. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. I'm sure that if a private citizen with the resources, power and stature of Apple (Say Mr. Ellison or Mrs. Pelosi) would have a similar issue that the same level of law enforcement assistance would be granted.

    But for those of us on the other side of the baton the best we can expect is that we escape the notice of the beast in its death thrash.

  3. @MrNiceGuy - the article didn't say, but I was wondering whether the Apple dicks were retired SFPD, and the active duty officers helped them out hoping to land a high paying retirement gig later on themselves. Wouldn't be the first time something like that has happened.

  4. It's ironic that the 1984 video Apple produced for the launch of the Apple Mac, portrayed apple as taking out big brother. Now Apple is big brother.

    Was it Benjamin Franklin who said we have given the American people a republic, if they can keep it. It seems our democratic western republics have been replaced by some kind of corporate states.

  5. @iwe - great point about that old Apple commercial. That was a Superbowl ad, if I recall correctly.