When two computers containing databases and financial records were stolen earlier this year from the Brecht Forum’s new West Village digs, domestic spying was immediately assumed. Founded in 1975 as the New York Marxist School, Brecht’s still home to hard-core lefties, but they eventually decided it was just a third-rate burglary. “It appears not to have been a political break-in. Someone had gotten in through a window facing the street and through a lock on the iron gate,” said outreach coordinator Liz Roberts. She added that a computer with lists of local activists was stolen from Brecht’s previous office in the late nineties, and she firmly believes that heist was a political act: “It’s hard to prove, but the government has a history of countersurveillance and spying on left-wing groups.” In the meantime, “We will try to keep doing our educational work on surveillance and repression.” Asked about the phrase SHOPLIFTING IS NOT A CRIME scrawled on two of the forum’s doors, she said it wasn’t an invitation to rob but “part of a graffiti exhibit.”
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