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Dog Bites 

Wednesday, May 26 1999
He's Soooo Busted
Kevin Keating may or may not be Nestor Makhno; he's been advised by his attorney not to say one way or the other.

But the SFPD thinks the 38-year-old filmmaker and the pseudonymous Mission anarchist are one and the same. And just before 4 a.m. Friday, May 14, Officers Eugene Galeano and John Bragagnolo, who'd been staking out Keating's apartment for two weeks, grabbed Keating, who was returning home from an activity his attorney has, uh, also advised him not to specify -- though the police report on the incident describes Keating as "sticky and covered with [wallpaper] paste."

Galeano and Bragagnolo cuffed Keating and hauled him in to the Mission District Police Station, where he says he spent most of the next 12 hours handcuffed to a railing before being charged with making terrorist threats -- a felony -- and the misdemeanor offense of malicious mischief. The latter charge resulted because earlier in May, while police had Keating under surveillance, they alleged they'd seen him vandalize a brand-new Infiniti parked outside a Mission restaurant. (He denies this.)

Keating says the police did not read him his rights (according to the police report, this is true), and says he also wasn't allowed to make a phone call for hours. Keating and his attorney are considering filing a suit against the SFPD over this alleged violation of his rights. Police at the Mission District station haven't responded to our requests for comment on the matter.

While he was in the station house, Keating says, a "parade" of police came to look at him, some jeering, "Hi, Nestor." One officer was "hopping mad," he says, because someone had recently backed into his SUV and damaged the front of it.

"What that would have to do with me I don't know," Keating claims. "I don't have a car."

As Keating cooled his heels, police got a search warrant and emptied Keating's apartment, seizing 35 boxes of his possessions, including books -- "They took two copies of Andre Malraux's Man's Fate," he exclaims, indignantly. "And it's not even that compelling of a novel!" -- computer manuals, two filing cabinets, a computer and printer, four boxes of Golden Harvest wallpaper paste, copies of the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project's posters, a can of spray paint, a "recipe for an acid bomb," a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald, and an article on Ted Kaczynski.

"They were looking for Unabomber Number 2," says Keating. "My girlfriend came home while they were going through the place. One of the things she had was a big bag of organic black beans. [She said] one cop said, 'We'd better get that.' Another cop asked why. The first cop said, 'Fertilizer!' "

A copy of the police inventory of articles seized from Keating's apartment obtained by the Weekly lists pages and pages of books, headed, "Catalog of Anachrists [sic] Book."

"Well, technically, I'm a left communist who's influenced by the Situationists -- but why split hairs?" snaps Keating in response. "My politics are not in any way hidden. I hate capitalism. Capitalism is the basis of most of what's wrong in the world, from environmental degradation to exploitation of human labor."

Dog Bites, of course, was gruntled to be the first representative of the media contacted by Keating following his arrest, especially as we learned of it in a dramatic late-night phone call in which he exclaimed, "The pigs got me, man!" Which is exactly the sort of thing we always hoped would happen to us when we entered this profession. And now it has; it finally, finally has.

The police report on Keating's arrest cites Blowfish Sushi, along with the Beauty Bar, Tokyo Go Go, and Circadia as the victims of the "terrorist threats." All four restaurants were singled out on the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project's latest poster as targets to "attack and destroy." Which, of course, leads us to ask: Uh, destroy how, exactly?

Keating denies he's ever had any thought of making bombs, though he tells us one rumor that made the rounds of the Mission had it that he'd somehow obtained a list of the names and home addresses of all Beauty Bar employees and planned to acid-bomb their houses. "Ridiculous," he contends. "I can't boil a pot of rice without burning it. Bombs are not my thing. I've never done anything like that."

He also says he did not, to his knowledge, have a recipe for an acid bomb in his apartment, though "it's possible" there might have been one in a zine or in one of the many other publications seized by police. "I've never threatened physical harm to anyone," he says. "I find the prospect of human beings being hurt totally repugnant."

Other Mission District activists say Keating just isn't the Mad Bomber type. "His methods and ideology are humanistic and nonviolent," says Richard Marquez of the Mission Agenda, adding that he believes Keating was targeted because of his political beliefs.

But surely, Dog Bites feels compelled to interject, Keating must have realized that his activities might bring him to, um, the attention of police? "I thought I might get arrested, but I didn't think they'd pilfer everything in my apartment," Keating answers. "I don't have any kind of martyr complex."

He's also worried that the bomb-making rumors could "mess up my ability to find work."

Keating, who studied filmmaking, creative writing, and English at S.F. State for eight years starting in 1989, but who currently temps to support himself, is particularly bitter that prints and audio tracks for his nearly completed film -- a five-minute short titled Ballad of a Green Beret -- were confiscated as well. The film, which he was hoping to have completed in time to enter it in the Film Arts Festival in mid-July, is the story of a homeless Army veteran who accidentally witnesses a businessman rape and murder a woman and tries to track down the killer in the Financial District, only to realize after days of searching that, in Keating's words, "all businessmen look like rapists and murderers."

About The Author

Laurel Wellman


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