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Political Convictions?

Discussion in 'General political debates' started by punkmar77, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. punkmar77

    punkmar77Administrator Staff Member Admin Team Experienced member


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    Political Convictions?

    Federal Prosecutors in Seattle Are Dragging Activists into Grand Juries, Citing Their Social Circles and Anarchist Reading Materials

    Brendan Kiley

    [​IMG]
    Robert Ullman

    On Thursday, August 2, at roughly 12:45 p.m., a small woman with long black hair and a red cardigan sweater stood on the lawn of Seattle's federal courthouse, surrounded by a few friends and around 75 protesters. On the steps behind her, a few dozen law-enforcement officers watched as she nervously spoke into a megaphone, announcing that she would not cooperate with the federal grand jury proceedings taking place inside. She said she would go into the courthouse, give the jury only her name and date of birth, and refuse to answer any further questions. "Under no circumstances," she said, speaking for herself and another recipient of a subpoena, "will we talk about other people."

    The woman, a 24-year-old from Portland named Leah-Lynn Plante, was prepared to go to jail for refusing to talk about who may have been involved in the politically motivated vandalism in downtown Seattle on May Day, when activists smashed out the windows of several banks and stores—including Wells Fargo and Niketown—as well as a federal courthouse door.

    Refusal to testify at a federal grand jury, especially on political grounds, can result in jail time for contempt of court. (Video journalist Josh Wolf, for example, served seven and a half months in 2006 and 2007 for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury and turn over his footage of a protest in San Francisco.)

    In a follow-up interview with The Stranger, Plante said she wasn't even in Seattle on May 1 and is neither a witness to nor a perpetrator of any related crimes. She is, however, a self-declared anarchist and thinks the FBI singled her out because of her political beliefs and social affiliations.

    "We support the efforts of all those who will be resisting this grand jury," she said quietly into the megaphone on the courthouse lawn. The crowd cheered.

    "We love you, Leah!" somebody shouted. Plante smiled wanly. Then she walked up the courthouse steps past the line of officers, hugged two friends, wiped some tears from her eyes, and pushed her way through the revolving glass door. She was headed to a courtroom where she was not allowed to have an attorney to represent her—just a judge, a jury, and a prosecutor looking for an indictment. (Because grand jury proceedings are secret, the US Department of Justice was unable to comment on any elements of this story.)

    Plante had been summoned to Seattle by a federal subpoena, delivered to her in the early hours of July 25, when the FBI raided her home—one of several raids in Seattle, Olympia, and Portland in the past couple of months. FBI agents, she said, smashed through her front door with a battering ram with assault rifles drawn, "looking paramilitary." According to a copy of the warrant, agents were looking for black clothing, paint, sticks, flags, computers and cell phones, and "anti-government or anarchist literature."

    The warrants for the related raids used similar language. One warrant for an early morning raid at a Seattle home also listed black clothing, electronics, and "paperwork—anarchists in the Occupy movement." In effect, witnesses in Portland and Seattle say, federal and local police burst into people's homes while they were sleeping and held them at gunpoint while rummaging through their bookshelves, looking for evidence of political leanings instead of evidence of a crime. (For the record, I executed a quick search of my home early this morning and found black clothing, cans of paint, sticks, cloth, electronics, and "anarchist literature.")

    "When I see a search warrant that targets political literature, I get nervous," said attorney Neil Fox, president of the Seattle chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. (The Seattle chapter released a statement urging the FBI and the US Attorney to end the raids and drop the grand jury subpoenas.) Raids like those can have a chilling effect on free speech, he said, and a long-term "negative effect on the country—you want to have robust discussions about political issues without fear." He also has concerns about the scope of the warrants: "'Anti- government literature' is so broad," he said. "What does that include? Does that include the writings of Karl Marx? Will that subject me to having my door kicked in and being dragged in front of a grand jury?"

    Grand juries, Fox explained, were originally conceived as a protection for citizens against overzealous prosecutors and are enshrined in the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. A petite jury—the more familiar kind, from 6 to 12 people—determines innocence or guilt during a trial. A grand jury is larger, from 16 to 23 people, meets with a prosecutor but no defense attorneys, and determines whether there's enough evidence to indict someone for a federal crime.

    Nowadays, Fox said, grand juries are often used by prosecutors and investigators who have run out of leads. But grand juries are secret, so it's difficult to know what the judge and the prosecutor are really doing. And the effects of raids and subpoenas like the ones in Seattle and Portland may be more about putting on the dramatic public spectacle of dragging people through the mud than investigating a crime.

    Doug Honig, communications director at ACLU of Washington, echoed Fox's concerns: "If it's not carefully conducted, it can end up becoming a fishing expedition looking into people's political views and political associations."

    Journalist Will Potter, author of Green Is the New Red, who has written extensively about US law enforcement and its relationships with political dissidents from the 1990s onward, said such investigations don't just incidentally chill free speech—in some cases, he believes, they're trying to do that.

    "Sometimes, law enforcement believes this knocking-down-the-door, boot-on-the-throat intimidation is part of a crime-prevention strategy," he said. But a more pernicious goal may be social mapping. The anarchist books and cans of spray paint can be sexy items to wave around a courtroom, he said, but "address books, cell phones, hard drives—that's the real gold."

    During the raid at her home, Plante said, some of the agents were initially hyperaggressive, but seemed "confused" by finding nothing more sinister than five sleepy young people. "It seemed like what they expected was some armed stronghold," she said. "But it's just a normal house, with normal stuff in the pantry, lots of cute animals, and everyone here was docile and polite."

    "That's a really important point," Potter said when I mentioned that detail. "There's a huge disconnect between what the FBI and local police are being told and trained for, and what the reality is. There are presentations about ominous, nihilistic, black-clad, bomb-throwing, turn-of-the-century caricatures—the reality is that many anarchists are just organizing gathering spaces, free libraries, free neighborhood kitchens."

    He directed me to a 2011 PowerPoint presentation from the FBI's "domestic terrorism operations unit"—posted on his blog—that described the current anarchist movement as "criminals seeking an ideology to justify their activities." Following that logic, the very presence of anarchist literature could be construed as evidence that someone has motivations to commit a crime. And it makes attorneys, journalists, and others who care about First Amendment protections nervous about a law-enforcement practice that conflates political beliefs with criminal activity.

    Forty-five minutes after Plante pushed through the revolving door at the courthouse, she reemerged. She smiled shyly while the crowd of protesters cheered. Plante told the crowd that she gave the grand jury her name and her date of birth, refused to answer any other questions, and was released.

    But Plante's ordeal isn't over—the court issued another subpoena for her to return on August 30. Whether she cooperates, and whether she faces jail time for noncooperation, remains to be seen.

    http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/poli ... d=14397498
     

  2. JesusCrust

    JesusCrustExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    This is such a subsequently bone-chilling, and heart-warming story. The US anarchist movement must always remain aware of their in-peril allies. Though there are many solidarity groups, and organizations for political prisoners, I feel that the US anti-authoritarian left falls short on this aspect more then most.

    Proposal, create an APN donations section that goes 100% directly to the books, lawyers, families, and general welfare of US (and possibly abraod) political prisoners, not just including anarchists?
     
  3. Caps

    CapsExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    That sounds like a good idea to me. Crazy story. I mean, it's well dubious when someone's called in when they weren't even at the protests!
     
  4. xer0510

    xer0510Member Forum Member


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  5. punkmar77

    punkmar77Administrator Staff Member Admin Team Experienced member


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    Leah is definitely an inspiration....
     
  6. SenI

    SenIExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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  7. Caps

    CapsExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    The absurdity of this case is shocking. Have I got this right that these people (there's three of them, yes?) have all gone to prison simply for refusing to cooperate with the authorities over a riot they had nothing to do with?
     
  8. Spike one of many

    Spike one of manyExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    Man that is fucking honorable (in the true sense of the word).
     
  9. JesusCrust

    JesusCrustExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    I heard a rumor about a fairly big action in response that happened last night. Windows smashed out from like 4-5 banks on Hawthorne St. Not really much press coverage, I'm still looking for some myself.
     
  10. punkmar77

    punkmar77Administrator Staff Member Admin Team Experienced member


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    Yes...
     
  11. ungovernable

    ungovernableAutonome Staff Member Admin Team Experienced member


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    [​IMG]

    [video]http://vimeo.com/51103273#at=0[/video]

    Support page with lots of article:
    https://www.facebook.com/FreeLeahLynnPlante?ref=stream
    Official website:
    http://www.freeleah.org/

    Since late July, three activists have had their lives torn apart by the police and the legal system, simply because they refused to answer any questions in a grand jury case, regarding crimes that they have absolutely no connection to. As of right now, all three are behind bars, with no clue when they will be able to get out.

    The most recent to be sent away was Leah-Lynn Plante, this week she repeated the same process that she just watched her roommates go through. After being summoned to speak twice and refusing to speak both times, the prosecutors in the case enacted a legal loophole which waived her 5th amendment right to remain silent. This decision was made for her by the court against her will.

    The sneaky legal trick that the prosecutors pulled was granting her immunity, which meant that anything she said to them would not incriminate her. This may sound OK at face value, but when you are granted immunity you lose your right to remain silent and can be thrown into prison for what is called “civil contempt”. This actually happens a lot; video journalist Josh Wolf, for example,served seven-and-a-half months in 2006 and 2007 for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury and turn over his footage of a protest in San Francisco. Grand jury trials are very shady ordeals, which have totally different rules than the typical court case. Defense attorneys are not even allowed to be present, and the proceedings of the case are completely secret.
    According to the grand jury infosheet on antipolitics.com:

    Since their inception, both in England and in the United States, grand juries have been used against political dissidents, the jurors often being hand-picked to ensure indictment. A modern variation on this abuse of power relies on political activists’ reluctance to turn informant. Activists are subpoenaed with the expectation that they will refuse to testify, and thus end up in jail for lengthy periods. The person who was subpoenaed is thereby immobilized, while other activists are deterred from further participation.

    At the end of the day, beneath all of the rhetoric, she is being persecuted for refusing to obey and refusing to spy on fellow activists. She was targeted in the first place because of her activist work and a collection of what the feds call “Anarchist Literature”. Her roommates Katherine “Kteeo” Olejnik and Matthew Kyle Duran have been faced with the same situation and both were nailed with the same tricky legal loophole.

    It all started on the morning of July 25th when their house was raided on the apparent grounds of their connection to a May Day protest, where unidentified members of a crowd carried out random acts of vandalism. These acts of vandalism were isolated and there has been no proof that these three activists were involved in any way.


    In fact, they all have alibis; all three of them weren’t physically at the protests, nor were they even in town at the time. A statement released by Leah just before her final court date described the experience in detail, and discussed the events leading up to the grand jury summoning. The statement read in part:

    FBI agents from around Washington and Oregon and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents from Washington busted down the front door of my house with a battering ram, handcuffed my house mates and me at gunpoint, and held us hostage in our backyard while they read us a search warrant and ransacked our home. They said it was in connection to May Day vandalism that occurred in Seattle, Washington earlier this year.

    However, we suspected that this was not really about broken windows. As if they had taken pointers from Orwell’s 1984, they took books, artwork and other various literature as ‘evidence’ as well as many other personal belongings even though they seemed to know that nobody there was even in Seattle on May Day. While we know that knowledge is powerful, we suspected that nobody used rolled up copies of the Stumptown Wobbly to commit property damage.

    We saw this for what it was. They are trying to investigate anarchists and persecute them for their beliefs. This is a fishing expedition. This is a witch hunt. Since then, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, we have learned that this Grand jury was convened on March 2nd, 2012, two months before the May Day vandalism even took place.

    Her fourth and final court date in front of the grand jury was this week, October 10th, where again, she refused to speak, only this time she was jailed as a result. Although there were supporters outside of the courthouse in protest, there has been minimal mainstream coverage of this legal battle. Most of the coverage that has come has been through online blogs and activist websites. Due to the censorship and secrecy that has surrounded this case, what exactly took place inside the court room is still a mystery. So far, the only message about Leah’s condition has come from a post that a supporter has made to her tumblr page. The message reads as follows:

    Today, October 10th, 2012, Leah-Lynn Plante was thrown into prison for civil contempt.

    This blog will now only be maintained by members of her support team, she will resume posting when she is free.

    Please keep following so you can get updates about her and how to help.
    Thank you on behalf of Leah and all the PNW Grand Jury Resisters.

    Since these proceedings are completely secret there has been no word on her sentence, but it has been speculated that her roommate Matthew could be held in solitary confinement until March of 2014, and it appears that the same goes for Katherine and Leah as well.
    Sadly, May Day has a long history of false flag vandal attacks and activist witch hunts. Matthew Kyle Duran referenced one of the most popular of these instances, the Haymarket protests of 1886, in his last statement before being incarcerated. Part of his statement read:

    When the Haymarket massacre took place all those years ago and the martyrs were hung for their desire for a better life, the State attempted to crush all radicals. Clearly, this did not work then and it won’t work now. If this was their desire, they have failed in every aspect of it as I have not seen anything other than flagrant disregard for them across the globe. Keep the struggle in your hearts and minds and do not bend to their will. They will never be able to destroy us no matter how hard they try.

    As in their case, every single person who was taken in an executed after the Haymarket protests were in fact innocent, many of them also not even being in town at the time. This was an important but rarely talked about part of history, which I cover in detail in my hardback book Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance. In chapter 45 of the book I discuss how:

    Two days into the strike on May 3rd, 4 workers outside the McCormick Harvester company were indiscriminately killed by police during protests, and dozens of others were injured. The following day the protests grew as a result of the murders and prominent activists of the time began to call national attention to what was going on in Chicago.

    The next day on May 4th a bomb was set off in the midst of the protests and although there was no indication of who was responsible for the bombing, the blame was placed on the demonstrators and a witch hunt ensued. 8 of the most prominent antiestablishment speakers and writers of the time were rounded up for ‘inciting a murder’ and executed. Their only crime was exercising their right to free speech and speaking out against the establishment. 3 of the 8 activists that were executed were speaking and were nowhere near the explosion, the other 5 weren’t even in town at the time. The evidence that has surfaced since the Haymarket incident show that the blast was most likely set by an agent provocateur, in order to give the establishment an excuse to silence this growing political movement.

    Now over a hundred years later history is repeating itself, and these non-violent people have been taken from their homes, their lives and their loved ones to be placed in a cage under constant supervision, with absolutely no clue when they will see the light of day again.

    Websites have been established for Leah and her friends, but their futures are still uncertain. A massive public uproar could help spring them free sooner or later, so it is important for the alternative press and the activist community to stay up on this story and gather public support for their cause.
     
  12. ungovernable

    ungovernableAutonome Staff Member Admin Team Experienced member


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    Oops, i forgot there was already a thread about it

    It should be renamed to something more obvious
     
  13. ungovernable

    ungovernableAutonome Staff Member Admin Team Experienced member


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    BTW, we are seriously thinking about making a donation to the Legal Defense Fund with No-gods-no-masters.com sales

    But first i must make sure we will be able to do it because we already comitted ourselves to donate $200 to the greek antifascists arrested and tortured by police after a protest against Golden Dawn nazis

    We will donate at least $50 but i would prefer to send more. It depends if we can afford it...
     
  14. JesusCrust

    JesusCrustExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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  15. zombiepunk999

    zombiepunk999New Member New Member


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    leah is one of the sweatest people in existance and should be an insporation to all in the community <3 <3 (A)
     
  16. Bakica

    BakicaExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    Does anyone have some kind of address or email so that we can write to her / them ?
     
  17. AgentOrange

    AgentOrangeExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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  18. JesusCrust

    JesusCrustExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    Don't forget the other 2!

    Matthew Kyle Duran #42565-086
    FDC SeaTac
    P.O. Box 13900
    Seattle, WA 98198

    Katherine Olejnik #42592-086
    FDC SeaTac,
    P.O. Box 13900
    Seattle, WA 98198
     
  19. punkmar77

    punkmar77Administrator Staff Member Admin Team Experienced member


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    [​IMG]

    Against the State, the repression of anarchists, and against all prisons!

    Solidarity with all those who resist!

    Free Kteeo, Matt & Leah! Free all prisoners!

    Since July 25th 2012, there have been multiple house raids and the imprisonment of 3 anarchists in the Northwest (U.S.A.) in relation to an "ongoing violent crime investigation". The State has referenced the Seattle May Day disruptions, vandalism, and demonstrations as a cause, particularly the heavy vandalism of a Federal Courthouse. However, it has since been discovered that the Grand Jury, which was called to question those named as potential witnesses, was actually convened in March 2012-two months prior to May Day.
    [Let's make this a good one ppl!]

    Three people received subpoenas to testify before the Grand Jury in what became August, September, and October. Three people refused to testify and sent to prison, where they remain today. They can be held till at least March 2014. Three other people were somehow made aware of their subpoenas but were never physically served and therefore did not have to attend their hearings and have since avoided being served. Although it is unknown what has become of those three people it is easy to assume that their lives are also stressful and that they may not be able to live the way they had or where they had prior to July 25th. For that reason, this solidarity call is for everyone affected by the Grand Jury.

    If you live outside of the United States, consider visiting a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your city. If you don't have one, consider visiting an American company, or really anything that capitalism and the State manifest themselves into.

    Spread the news of the repression and the rebellion of the comrades who resist it.

    SOLIDARITY WITH ALL THOSE RESISTING THE GRAND JURY & THE FBI!

    FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL PRISONS AND THE SOCIETY THAT "NEEDS" THEM!

    http://anarchistnews.org/content/nov-12 ... -resisters
     
  20. ungovernable

    ungovernableAutonome Staff Member Admin Team Experienced member


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    OFFICIAL: LEAH HAS BEEN RELEASED

    First and foremost, do not panic.

    Leah wanted for us to express these points to you with this news:

    She is extremely traumatized and experienced a lot of very, very bad things, but she is alive. The state of her mental health is also very bad.
    She asks that people do not jump to wild conclusions about her release because they do not apply.
    She spent her whole time in SHU / Administrative Detention (solitary confinement) and was told that that is where she would stay for the duration of her incarceration, up to 18 months. She was classified as “different” from Matt and Kteeo.
    She received probably near 200 pieces of mail, books, postcards in 4 days (mail was not delivered to her every day) and was glad for it, and knows probably a similar amount is being returned to sender right now. She urges people to step up support for Matt and Kteeo on all fronts. Books that didn’t get to her probably go into the prison library, which is still a good thing because from what we heard their selection is limited to romance novels and religious literature.
    More information is going to be released. At this time, Leah needs space from media. She is overwhelmed by all the publicity. Regardless of who you are, if you have her personal information, PLEASE do not call her, email her, or try to locate her in order to question her. Give her space until she asks otherwise.
    She was released the night of 10/17. She did not make it public immediately because she did not want the “media shitstorm” to jump down her throat yet.
    She is very moved by the amount of support and solidarity there has been for her, she expressed concern that Matt and Kteeo were not getting as much publicity. Please write them, support them, send them books.

    Again, to reiterate, more information is going to be released in a few days.

    Thank you all for keeping an ear to the ground and for supporting these people.

    -mod
     
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