[News] Grand Juries - from Turning the Tide

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Mon Jul 18 08:52:54 EDT 2005


The following article related to grand jury witch-hunts appears in the
latest issue of "Turning the Tide: Journal of Anti-Racist Action," Volume
18 Number 3 July-August 2005. You can get a free sample of the whole issue
(print tabloid) by writing to ARA, POB 1055, Culver City CA 90232, or by
email to antiracistaction_la at yahoo.com

"You have the right to remain silent." We hear it over and over again on
the streets and on every cop show on TV. Yet in the chambers of a Grand
Jury, under the control of a federal or state prosecutor, you can be
stripped of your right to silence and forced to testify. A presiding judge
will send you to prison for at least the life of the grand jury if you
refuse to talk. Neither the first amendment guarantee of freedom of speech
and the press, nor the fifth amendment protection against testifying
against yourself, is accepted as a reason not to speak. The highest profile
federal Grand Jury in the country recently subpoenaed Judith Miller of the
NY Times and ordered her to testify about her sources for a story she had
worked on about the disclosure of the identity of CIA operative, presumably
by someone at the White House. While this attack on news-gathering has
drawn headlines, many less well-known, but more anti-establishment
individuals are also facing prison for a refusal to collaborate with grand
jury witch hunts in California.-Editor

Grand Jury Witch-Hunts Stalk Activists in California
by
Silas Weatherby

   Over the last few months there have been increased attacks against
communities and movements around California by the FBI, homeland security,
and state and federal grand juries. One grand jury ended in San Francisco.
It is believed to have been a state grand jury investigating the fatal
shooting of a police officer at Ingleside station in 1971, and possibly the
death of a police officer in a bombing at Park police station in 1970. The
bombing immediately followed the conviction of the Chicago 8, who were
charged with "organizing" demonstrations at the 1968 Democrat convention,
which turned into a much publicized police riot.  Before and during the
grand jury, the FBI attempted to question activists and political prisoners
from the Black Liberation movement and the anti-imperialist movement of the
1960s.  At the time of this writing, there were no indictments, although
since this was at least the third grand jury around these two actions, it
is unlikely that this will be the last gasp in the state's attempt to bring
old charges against activists.

A new grand jury began in the Bay Area.   In June, ten activists from the
environmental and animal liberation movement were subpoenaed to a grand
jury after police raids failed to bring evidence of criminal acts.  Both
the raid and the grand jury targeted the public movement, claiming that
they were looking for Daniel Andreas San Diego, a Bay Area animal
liberation activist.   In 2003 San Diego was charged with putting small
explosive devices at Chiron and Shaklee corporations because of their ties
to Huntingdon Animal Sciences, which tests cosmetics and drugs on about
70,000 animals a year.

On the date of the first hearing on June 22, one of the people subpoenaed,
Nadia Winsted, read a statement denouncing the grand jury as an attack on
the public animal rights movement, and said she would, on principle, refuse
to testify. Over 100 activists from the animal rights movement, with
support from anarchist and anti-imperialist activists, demonstrated against
the grand jury outside the Federal building.  Several of those people
subpoenaed said they would refuse to testify under any conditions, and were
prepared to go to jail for their principles.  Events, speak-outs, articles
and radio appearances have been used to build support for the
activists.  Here's what Josh Trentor, one of those subpoenaed, has to say.

"Near the beginning of April, I awoke at six in the morning to the sound of
repeated doorbell rings. As one of my roommates peeked out of the curtains
of our apartment, floodlights lit up the front of our building and loud
voices shouted up at us from below, 'FBI, open up!' Agents stormed through
our home with their guns drawn and pointed at us. We were handcuffed and
ordered into our living room. One of my roommates was arrested and forcibly
removed from our home. We were told that she had been arrested on an
outstanding warrant, issued for the unauthorized use of a bullhorn during a
demonstration in November 2004.  Across the Bay agents clad in ski masks
and armed with assault weapons were simultaneously violating the home of
one of our friends in Oakland.  For eleven hours agents representing the
FBI, ATF, Secret Service, Coast Guard, Joint Terrorism Task Force, US
Marshals, and local police ransacked our homes seizing computers, journals,
photo albums, books, music CDs and everything else they could get their
hands on. While the two houses were being picked through, a third group of
agents detained an individual across town. They attempted to lie,
intimidate, and coerce her into supplying them with a DNA sample.
Fortunately we were able to mobilize legal support quickly. One of our
attorneys swiftly intervened and removed her from the situation."

"In the latest round of the FBI's campaign of harassment and intimidation,
" Josh continues, "I and nine other individuals have now been subpoenaed to
appear before a federal Grand Jury in San Francisco. Once used to protect
citizens from unreasonable and malicious prosecution by the state, the
Grand Jury system is now used to destroy social movements. Grand Juries
thrive on their ability to operate in complete secrecy. Witnesses who are
forced to appear are stripped of their 5th amendment right to remain silent
and are denied their right to be represented by an attorney within the
Grand Jury room. Grand Juries are used to divide, isolate, intimidate and
collect information on social movements, as well as to imprison their
activists. They have been used extensively to harass and target
abolitionists, Puerto Rican independence activists, Black Panthers, as well
as the environmental and animal liberation communities. Those refusing to
cooperate face many months, and even years in prison."

"As we speak, a young man named Peter Young sits in jail in Wisconsin
awaiting trial. He has been charged with Animal Enterprise Terrorism for
allegedly trespassing at fur farms, pulling down fences, opening cages, and
allowing the animals contained within them to escape to freedom. For this
"crime", Peter is now facing a sentence of up to 82 years in prison. At his
last hearing, Bob Anderson, an assistant US attorney, said Young committed
"an act of terrorism" by trying to impose his will on others by using
violence. In New Jersey, six animal liberation activists are currently
being tried on charges of Animal Enterprise Terrorism, interstate stalking,
and conspiracy.  In essence, they are accused of little more than operating
a website opposed to the contract animal testing laboratory Huntingdon Life
Sciences (HLS). If convicted, they each will face up to 24 years in
prison.  As the government continuously redefines words such as violence
and terrorism to include the opening of cages, the running of websites, and
the fight against oppression, they further their ultimate goal of outlawing
dissent altogether. It is imperative that we stand up to this type of
thuggery and in support of those who find themselves the targets of
government harassment. I refuse to cooperate with this grand jury, or with
any other despite what I may face. In the coming months many of us will
need your support. Protests will be held outside of the San Francisco
federal courthouse at each and every date that individuals are scheduled to
appear. "
   "As we show our resistance inside the Grand Jury room, we ask that you
join us and demonstrate your resistance and solidarity outside of the
courthouse."

As this resistance stymied the inquisitors, another grand jury began.  In
late June,  the activist community in San Diego, CA was the target of an
intense campaign of harassment by federal law enforcement agents.   Several
activists were given only 24 hours notice to appear at a federal grand jury
in San Diego.  Activists believe the subpoenas are in relation to a federal
investigation of the 2003 burning of a La Jolla apartment complex, which
the Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for, and which the FBI
has admittedly little evidence or credible leads. Those subpoenaed in San
Diego included Rob "Ruckus" Middaugh, a Chicano-Mexicano
anti0-authoritarian and former political prisoner in the Los Angeles area.
The effort to force him to appear in San Diego was eventually dropped.

An East Bay police investigation was resurrected.  A cold case
investigation into the shooting of a Berkeley policeman in the early 1970s
led the Berkeley police to ransack the homes of two Black activists from
that period.  Computers, address books, photo albums, and other materials
were taken from the houses.  Previously, an African American man already
held in a California prison was charged with the shooting, then released by
the DA the next day because of lack of evidence.   Two sisters were also
arrested and charged, then released for lack of evidence.   The policeman
in charge of the investigation made it clear that he would continue the
harassment until he was able to convince the DA to press charges against
someone.

The Muslim community was targeted by the FBI in Lodi, California after the
arrest of two Muslim Americans.   The FBI initially claimed that US-born
Hamid Hayat had attended a "terrorist training camp" with "hundreds of
other terrorists," and that Hamid and his father Umer Hayat, a 47 year old
ice cream truck driver, were planning to bomb "hospitals and large food
stores." Newspapers trumpeted this "news" in doomsday type, but when the
actual charges were brought, the Hayats were charged only with lying to the
FBI about the youth's trip to Pakistan.   Three other Muslim men from Lodi,
among them two respected imams, were also detained on suspected visa
violations.  One of the imams had
   actually been the target of FBI surveillance beginning three years ago
when a secret court used the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
to approve wiretapping of Mohammed Adil Khan.

Two Muslim activists who went to Lodi called the situation "a near state of
siege", and said that "FBI harassment is not at all a secret
investigation:  it is an overt act of intimidation of the community at
large".   Dozens of Muslims were questioned without attorneys present, and
"Pakistanis who attended "Know Your Rights" workshops held by CAIR in
Stockton, Lodi, and Pleasanton were all subject to obvious FBI
surveillance," according to Veena Dubal and Sunaina Maira of
www.amuslimvoice.org  They wrote: "As soon as we stepped out of our car in
Lodi, we were made aware of the FBI's presence.  Not only is the entire
Muslim community being surveilled by the FBI, which had interviewed many of
its members, sometimes without an attorney present, in the days following
the arrest - so are the attorneys and activists who are making sure that
constitutional rights are upheld."

Clearly, the FBI and other repressive forces of the state are taking every
opportunity to seek to gather information, to intimidate and break the
resistance of any community or movement whose solidarity and resistance
impedes the war-making plans of imperialist system. But the clear lesson of
the similar attempts in the 1980's, directed against the Puerto Rican and
Chicano-Mexicano movements, when activists across the US took a principled
stance of non-collaboration, and eventually broke the back of the grand
juries - although it took many serving time for contempt to do it - is that
solidarity, resistance, non-collaboration, and an assertive defense of the
political right to silence as a corollary to the right to free speech are
the only ways to defeat such repression and build our movement's capacity
to resist and advance.

For more information, check out:
www.fbiwitchhunt.com/
www.amuslimvoice.org/
www.nocompromise.org/
www.attica2abughraib.com/
www.organiccollective.org

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San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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