The Great Raid Debacle. by, Bill Heidrick from, +quot;OTO PERSECUTION+quot; MAGICK NET 10/
The Great Raid Debacle.
by, Bill Heidrick
from, "OTO PERSECUTION" MAGICK NET 10/28/89
Late at night, on September 29th, the Berkeley Police raided O.T.O. They
hit Merkabah House first, entered a detached dwelling behind Merkabah House,
and then went off to break up Thelema Lodge. Yes, that's right, Berkeley PD
raided a church in Oakland.
There was a search warrant, and the objects of the search were major drugs,
paraphernalia involved in drug sales and use, and records of drug dealers.
One would therefore characterize this effort as a connected series of "Crack
House Raids". Of course, there was no crack, no dealing and no point to the
raid. I understand that rolling papers were taken, pipes and something
identified as a "bong". The rolling papers included Drum Brand, only sold
with Drum Brand Tobacco and taken from beside a partly filled can of Drum
Tobacco. Several people were listed on the search warrant as residents to be
given special attention, including one person who actually lives in San
Francisco, and yours truly, Bill Heidrick. I was listed as living at Thelema
Lodge, a place I have been able to visit to teach classes about six hours a
month on average. I would like to be there more often; but my home has been
in San Anselmo since 1971 e.v., and Grand Lodge duties spare me little time to
enjoy the many events at Thelema. Since I was not there, I had to learn all
this indirectly. These are my opinions of that happened, based on accounts of
the witnesses and from documents.
The raid commenced with a knocking at the Merkabah house door. A resident
opened it, and seventeen police with drawn guns burst in on a Hermetics class.
Our members and guests were thrown down and cuffed without further preamble.
Two were released after questioning (didn't live there and weren't on the
list). The others were told that they had to give urine samples then and
there or face 90 days in jail. A document purporting to justify this
violation of civil rights was flashed, and mention was made of a new state law
no one there had heard about. Copies of the document have been recovered from
the police report and related papers. Bye bye, 5th amendment! It was nice
knowing you, 4th amendment! I should note that more than seventeen officers
seemed to be present, but only seventeen names of officers appear on the
All remaining in the house were charged with narcotics intoxication,
pending urine test results, I suppose. A couple of hypodermic syringes were
produced by an officer, alleged to have been found in a sink that had just
that day been cleaned. None of the people at the house recognized the
syringes, and none used intravenous drugs. Other items of a similar nature
were found by the police in locations where nothing was seen before the raid.
These syringes were not charged against anyone at arraignment, according to
the charges I have read. Two of the people taken to the Berkeley station were
released that night, one being told that the reason for his arrest had been
forgotten, the other being held until it was clear that no matron was
available to assist in her incarceration. Six in all were charged from
Merkabah house, and after the charges finished dropping at arraignment only
narcotics intoxication (urine tests were not back yet) and smoking
paraphernalia charges were maintained (as best I can determine). There were
illegal weapons charges earlier, with the ritual daggers and swords torn from
religious shrines in the house giving that dubious base. The illegal weapons
charges were dropped.
Most of the officers appeared confused. Remarks of "why are we here?" have
been reported by witnesses. The officer leading the raid and some others made
themselves busy, tearing out and emptying drawers and the like. They trashed
the place. A little humor was evidently not lacking, and several books on
occultism were arranged in a little display on one of the beds to make a nice
picture. A baby photograph was seized and described in the police list as
"showing infant white male child w/ black cross across front of body." This
was a photo recently sent to a friend by the mother. The black cross was a
creative interpretation of the straps of the car seat shown in the photo. One
officer was interested enough to offer criticism of a painting on erotic
themes, but it was too large to fit in the van. Two of the people in the
house were making love in a bed room, and they were taken naked from the house
and thrust into the police van. A couple of O.T.O. members from Thelema Lodge
went over to the site during the raid, were questioned and released.
Off the jolly crew went with their involuntary guests to visit Thelema
Lodge (in Oakland, remember). There were word games and similar
entertainments: "Who's got the warrant? Do you have the warrant? ... Ah' we
forgot the warrant" --- a copy was found in Merkabah House a few days later,
in a spot where nothing had been seen after the raid. The Thelema Lodge copy
of the search warrant was also discovered several days later, crumpled up in a
cat box. Since it was Rosh Hashana, seasonal anti-semitic remarks were
demonstrated by the officers for the edification of any prisoners who might
chance to be Jewish.
On reaching Thelema Lodge, the two Thelema Lodge inhabitants who were not
detained at Merkabah house were seen to drive up to park at their home. The
police dragged both out of their car and hustled them into the house. The
police gained entry by being admitted and by crashing in several interior and
at least one exterior door. The exterior door was described as not being
seriously damaged in the police report, but the frame was smashed. The rush,
floor, and cuffs procedure was repeated. Two members of the O.T.O. were
questioned and largely ignored. The others were given the full treatment;
urine samples and the like. One of these refused the urine test, and he alone
appears to have been charged with the syringes that mysteriously appeared by
spontaneous generation at Thelema Lodge --- again never before seen by any of
the folks who live there. One person was charged with the infraction of
having less than a 1/4 ounce of marijuana.
Several rooms were trashed downstairs in a vigorous but inconsistent
fashion. There was some breakage that does not appear in the police reports.
It is rather difficult to understand what training led to the techniques in
evidence. Photos show clothing and papers all over the place, but there seems
to have been little effort to look behind the thousands of shelved books or
under seat cushions and the like. Some rooms were given a minimal look;
others ended up like an earthquake in a thrift shop.
The situation upstairs took some additional turns. Our Temple was broken
up and generally desecrated, making it difficult for the Gnostic Mass to be
held two days later. One of the members is a student of pyrotechnics (safe
and sane style fireworks). He had a room rented upstairs for storage of his
materials, colorants, tubes and chemicals --- all obtained legally. This
presented a new option to the officers. A call was made to the judge who
issued the original search warrant, and a verbal extension was given to
include bomb making supplies. We do have a list of the chemicals and "Fire
Works Components" (yes, the police did identify the components as fire works),
including at least two substances that cannot exist. Possibly that sort of
error can be excused by misreading bottle labels, but really --- "flowers of
sodium"! The name of the owner of the fire-works chemicals was identified by
the police and written into the report. His name was also on the door to the
room. It would appear, however, that this brother was not in the target list.
The two brothers who had been pulled out of a car in front of the house were
charged with possession of these materials. The actual owner of the materials
was identified by the police, was in the house and was not charged. These two
brothers therefore have felony charges for possession of materials not in
their own rooms and known to be the property of a person released without
arrest. Naturally we are glad that our brother was not charged for his
legally owned property, but it is a bit much to see others charged who had
nothing to do with the material. Chemicals were spilled and not cleaned up
during the raid.
There is no doubt in my mind that the officer in charge knew he was
visiting desecration on a church. He characterized the Temple as "temple" in
his report. He knew that the place was known as "Thelema Lodge", and he used
the term of opprobrium "cult" to describe the group. I really must take
exception to that term "cult". We have been in existence for more than eighty
years, have more than 1500 members in 26 countries, and the word "cult" does
not appear on our letters of religious tax exemption from the Federal
Government and the State of California. I don't recall our being called a
"cult" in the case we brought and won in the IXth District Federal Court in
1985 e.v., and our religious status was noted in that decision. The
discriminatory language got worse.
When the six arrested at Thelema Lodge were brought with the six from
Merkabah House over to the Berkeley Jail, it became immediately apparent that
religious persecution was the name of the new game. Our members were called
"devil worshipers" consistently by the jailers. These remarks were spread
beyond the jail. Abusive language appears to have been used in an attempt to
prejudice. There are Satanists in the world, but for an officer to use the
language "devil worshiper" to characterize the religion of a person in custody
is in no way different from an officer calling civil rights marchers
"niggers". This language is used to dehumanize and to deny due process. It
has no place in public, let alone on the lips of arresting officers and
jailers. O.T.O. has it's own religion, and does not give place for the
Christian "Devil" to exist outside metaphor. Quite frankly, this "devil
worshipper" tag is not even ethical if applied to real Satanists of education
much beyond grammar school. I have met several over the years, and most could
not be said to worship the "Devil". For non-Christians, Satan is more often
the symbolic hero of John Milton's "Paradise Lost" than a foolish mental
disorder with a pitch-fork.
In jail our members and friends were subjected to the verbal abuse already
mentioned, but there were other things. No one had been read their rights,
and only after the arrest papers became accessible did anyone learn of a very
fine print statement of civil rights on a paper that had been signed under
pressure without time for reading. Ordinary requests made by prisoners were
honored by the jailers, but not identical humanitarian requests made by our
folk. One of our people had suffered an injury when he was allowed to tumble
down stairs during the raid. He had lost sensation in his right arm, and was
experiencing an increasing loss of motor function. His requests for medical
examination were refused to his face. With persistence, he was finally heard
by an officer from another part of the building. When the matter was brought
to the attention of a judge, this brother was immediately released on "OR"
(own recognizance). This was on the third day of his incarceration, and he
had been denied his first phone call for about 60 hours.
Arraignments were held Monday and Tuesday, with everybody still in custody
being released on "OR" following arraignment. Most charges had been dropped,
and further court appearances are scheduled later this month.
At this writing the homes are still in great disarray, but enough clean-up
has taken place to discover over $380 missing from Merkabah House and almost
$500 missing from Thelema Lodge. That's rent money, personal cash and temple
furbishment funds. Some of it may have been lost in the street during hasty
searches, but there is no explanation for most of it vanishing from boxes,
drawers and the like. Also missing are initiation reports plainly marked the
property of Grand Lodge (with address!) and being readied for forward.
While I sat typing this account, a call came in. The affidavit that led to
issuance of the search warrant had surfaced. This entire raid was based on
the verbal assertions of one individual, with the complicity of another. I
will restrain myself from describing the mental and moral qualities of that
person. Suffice it to say that the lurid details offered to the ear of the
officer were so absurd that I cannot imagine anyone crediting them for a
moment. I was accused of conducting something unfathomable called "a black
baptism" in the yard behind Thelema Lodge. Preposterous nonsense about
minors, drugs, and the like abounded in the document. The officer entered
Merkabah house a few days before, posing as a plumber. He wandered about the
rooms trying to "smell" amphetamines. He had to be instructed before entry on
how to pour a can of cleaner in a drain and how to soap a gas line joint.
When he was asked to snake a blockage, he had no answer. For heaven's sake!
Education in the public schools is a disaster, but ...! I would also like to
know why Oakland PD appears not to have been contacted about the Thelema Lodge
address. It seems only natural that Berkeley PD would consult Oakland PD
before doing Elliot Ness impressions in Oakland. What would have happened if
someone in the house had called 911 before identifying the intruders?
I can't help wondering what impact the big cocaine seizure in southern
California and the Night Stalker trial sentencing may have had on this
decision to go so far on so little. It's too bad the news about the Oklahoma
sheriff didn't attract as much attention. That guy is on trial for allegedly
trying to kidnap a suspected drug dealer out of Texas to drag back to Oklahoma
for torture with a hot curling iron. Could it be that the admitted drug
problems in this country have induced hysteria? Has the fundamentalist hate
literature that has been flooding police agencies and service magazines
actually been believed? Some of that trash lists the Star of David, the Star
and Crescent of Islam, the Peace Sign, the Pentagram from the American Flag
and the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States as "Satanic Devices."
Several years ago I wrote a piece on the revival of "The Blood Libel"; this
blithering nonsense is full of it.
By all accounts, most of the officers drawn into this exercise were
reasonable and professional individuals. It seems to me that only a few of
the officers were responsible for abuses, although those were very serious
indeed. I wasn't there. All I have to go on is what the officer wrote in his
reports and what the witnesses said. Pray to the deities you still are
allowed that you can continue to say the same.
The folks at these locations need personal help to replace losses and
repair damage. If you can help, please contact the Lodge.
Grand Lodge needs donations (tax deductible) to build up the legal fund.
Attorneys have to be paid, and civil rights cases aren't cheap.
Contributions to the O.T.O. Legal Fund should be made out
to "O.T.O." and sent to:
Ordo Templi Orientis
Fairfax, CA 94930 USA
Classes and meetings will continue. Attend at your own risk, but please
check to determine changes in location and the like. We hope enough of our
friends and confreres will stand with us in the free exercise of the Thelemic
religion and the ordinary rights of speech, but we will understand if folks
would rather stay home. The people at Merkabah House and Thelema Lodge share
rent and have their own rooms. Those places are home. It did happen here.
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