Le fandom SF américain existe depuis la fin des années 30: La première Worldcon a eu lieu en juillet 1939, et les Futurians (le premier groupe fanique organisé) furent fondés en 1937. Depuis ce temps, il y a eu amplement d’anecdotes et d’histoires incroyables à propos des habitudes étranges des amateurs de SF. (Un examen rapide des Worldcon des années 1960, par exemple, révèle des histoires abracadabrantes de batailles à coup de poing, de controverses faniques et de comportements étranges à en faire frémir le fandom grisonnant d’aujourd’hui.)
Mais une de mes histoires favorites a toujours été la suivante, que j’ai entendu à la fin des années 90s lors d’une convention régionale: (Pour le plein impact de l’histoire, imaginez qu’elle est racontée par un fan jovial, barbu et légèrement éméché.)
“So there’s this convention that took place in Washington DC during the Iranian hostage crisis. At some point, one of the mundanes saw the fans, took fright and called the SWAT team. Can you imagine: You’re in the middle of the huckster’s room whem -BAM- the SWAT team barges in, weapons ready. Anyway, at some point some idiot decides to play along and points one of the toy weapons at the lead officer and presses the trigger. The toy gun goes woo-woo-woo, and then there’s silence as the police decides whether to blow away the guy or not. Finally, the lead office goes ‘that’s okay, they’re all nuts’ and leaves.”
J’ai toujours assumé qu’il s’agissait là d’une légende urbaine, d’une histoire trop bonne pour être vraie. Aujourd’hui, j’ai décidé d’en avoir le coeur net.
Un congrès à Washington DC? Durant la crise des otages iraniens? Premièrement, cela nous donne une date: Une chronologie des événements nous informe que la crise commence en novembre 1979 et se termine le 20 janvier 1981 (la journée de l’inauguration de Ronald Reagan.) Malheureusement, une recherche pour “science fiction convention 1980 washington dc” n’est guère édifiante. Essayons autre chose: “swat “science fiction” convention 1980″ nous amène au “WSFA JOURNAL JULY 1980“, dans lequel on peut lire un mot des incomparables
Robinsons (Spider et Jeanne), disant…
“We just wanted to say that Disclave 80 was the best convention we’ve attended so far, and to thank you all for a terrific time. I enjoyed everything, from the chance to get to know the late Oliver La Farge a little better to the arrival of the SWAT team (surely unprecedented even in fandom)”
Ah-ha! Aucun détail, mais “Disclave 80” serait-il le nom de la convention en question? Une confirmation se trouve au http://www.wsfa.org/journal/j82/2/:
“1980 found a displaced Disclave under assault by the SWAT team at the Hostility House, but Spider and Jeanne Robinson helped most fen ignore the hotel.”
Typique du fandom: Des problèmes d’hôtel semblent prendre préséance sur l’arrivée d’un groupe d’intervention tactique. De nouvelles recherches pour “disclave swat” nous amènent à ce compte-rendu à la fois amusant et trop court de Joe Mayhew:
“1980 We had to go somewhere, but that turned out to be the ironically named Hospitality House in Crystal City, VA. Chair Tom Schaad got stuck with the hotel, but by ingenious planning made it work a lot better than it should have. His Guests of Honor were Spider and Jeanne Robinson. Jack Chalker and Somtow Sucharitkul were Featured Writers and Robin Wood was Featured Artist. They did my play “Gossip” for Friday night programming. I didn’t get to see it because I was registering artists for the art show…Just as well, from what I heard. The Hotel was so rude and uncooperative that it almost undermined Tom’s excellent management of the Con. For me the highlight of the con happened while I was auctioning. The room was a ground level exhibition aria with two vast doors in its back. While Jack Chalker had his back turned, sipping coffee, the doors opened and a SWAT team with loaded machine guns barged in. Someone had been seen on a balcony of the hotel with what looked like a gun. It was a very security minded area. We don’t know how many attended with or without the G-Men.”
Une version de l’incident similaire à ce que j’ai entendu (sans doute parce qu’il s’agit d’un rapport d’une tierce personne) se trouve sous les forums de discussion a peterdavid.net:
“The classic “Y’know, maybe a weapons policy would be a good thing” moment happened a few decades back at a Disclave in Washington D.C.. Some mundanes saw what they thought were weapons (I’m fuzzy on this, but I think it may have had to do with a Logan’s Run LARP) and called the cops. Who fortunately sent a SWAT team to the hotel. Why fortunately? Because some idiot saw the SWAT team arrive and thought “Cool, people to play with” and pulled a fake weapon on them. The SWAT team recognized it as fake, and didn’t open fire on the idiot…who was standing right in front of a relatively thin wall with a crowded panel audience on the other side.”
Tiens, un autre résultat nous révèle l’existence de Alternate Disclaves, une anthologie à bas tirage d’histoires au sujet de “Disclaves parallèles”. Dans sa critique (la seule mention du livre n’importe où sur le web!), Keith Lynch décrit la première nouvelle ainsi:
“One year, when Disclave was in the “Hostility House” hotel, the Democrat National Committee was elsewhere in the same hotel. Some Disclave members were carrying fake guns. The con was raided by a SWAT team. The SWAT team was mistaken for fellow gamers by some of the armed fen. Miraculously, no shots were fired.”
Déjà plus intéressant, avec le DNC dans les parages…
Mais le web ne semble plus rien avoir à offrir à ce sujet.
Tournons-nous donc vers les archives de groupes de discussion USENET préservées par Google. A la recherche “Disclave 1980”, deux messages sont particulièrement intéressants. Un, au sujet du “weapon peace bonding”:
“Y’know, I’ve heard this since it purportedly happened, at a (Disclave?) in the late 70’s, and heard it from at least one friend who was supposedly at the con. He told me that he heard that the cop called censured for *not* blowing away the 12-year-old.
Disclave 1980. At the Hostility- er. Hospitality House Hotel in Crystal City, VA just across the river from DC. I hadn’t heard about the police officer being censured, but it was my second con and I had no involvement with running it back then.
This was in 1980 in the DC area. Terrorism fears were running high. I don’t know, but I would guess that Arlington Co. SWAT made the call that it was better to respond, and check with the hotel while they were getting in position, and the fan in question pulled his toy before the all-clear was given.”
Entraînant la réponse suivante:
“Disclave 1980, Hospitality House (since destroyed, Allah be praised). Yah, I vass dere. The Hostility House just happened to be the closest hotel to the Pentagon. The “terrorist” that somebody reported was carrying a real LAW missile case. Also if the cops had called the hotel management, the “terrorists” would have had time to stroll over to the Pentagon, do their business, and escape on foot before they got through. Hostility House management ranged between ridiculous and disgusting.
The cop was not censured for not blowing the kid away. There was a statement somewhere (I don’t remember if it was in any way official) that if he *had* blown the kid away that he would have been justified. The concom sent the police a letter of thanks for *not* shooting the kid. The cops, BTW, were neither friendly nor polite.
Remember that big city cops have *NO* sense of humor about weapons. None.”
Une recherche plus générale pour “disclave swat” donne un véritable déluge de résultats, la plupart étant des discussions au sujet de la véracité de l’incident, ou bien des mentions historiques du genre “the disclave where the SWAT team went in”. De façon plus informative, nous y trouvons également un autre témoignage fascinant par Charles Groak, qui y était:
“It was Disclave, a Washington, DC SF con, and it happened in the late Seventies/early Eighties. It wasn’t Strek fans, it was a group of idiots who were, in fact, dressed in camo. They were also carrying replica M-16’s which, at distance, were indistinguishable from real weaponry. They also decided that playing “Assassin” was a nice way to spend their time. In their pursuit of the game, they were running all over the neighborhood, through all the backyards and alleys, scaring the living hell out of the locals.
Now, folks, this was in Crystal City, Virginia. Maybe a quarter-mile south of the Pentagon. Right across the street from the Crystal Towers complex which contains some organizations which require security clearances to even stop at their floor. It wasn’t the National Guard, it was the Arlington County (I believe) SWAT team. They entered through the back of the hotel, and the first room they entered was the Art Auction. During their sweep of the building, by the time the one moron did, in fact, pull his replica weapon (and I understand that it was a replica of a *real* weapon, not a phaser), the SWAT team had realized that they were dealing with a group of idiots, not threats to national (or local) security and refrained from doubling the moron’s weight with bullets.
Disclave never returned to that hotel, and this was the incident which caused the very restrictive weapons policies invoked by (as far as I know) all East Coast Cons, SF and otherwise.”
Un autre message succinct de Kevin Lynch donne les coordonnées exactes:
“It happened on the afternoon of May 25, 1980, at the Hospitality House Motor Inn, Crystal City, Arlington Virginia. They entered a hallway, and then the art show auction. The late Joe Mayhew, who was conducting the art auction, talked them down. Nobody was hurt.”
Une des caractéristiques uniques du fandom SF est que, vingt-cinq ans plus tard, la plupart d’entre eux sont sur l’Internet, ce qui nous permet d’obtenir un autre témoignage de première main sur l’événement.
“It really happened. We were walking out of the back door of the Hostility House Disclave on our way to dinner when the SWAT team walked in past us. One of them cocked his shotgun as he got just outside the door. Dinner seemed like a real good idea… “
Naturellement, le document que je voudrais lire serait le rapport des officiers ayant été dépêchés à la convention. Il faudrait soumettre une demande d’information sous le Freedom Of Information Act, une manoeuvre qui, dit-on, n’est pas très simple même pour les américains. (Et qui ne pourrait pas nécessairement s’appliquer si les forces policières n’étaient pas sous juridiction fédérale…)
Néanmoins, trois conclusion après cette masse d’information:
- L’histoire du “SWAT à une convention” n’est pas une légende urbaine.
- C’est une très bonne idée de bannir les armes, même factices, des conventions de SF.
- Hourra pour le net et la loquacité des fans de SF!