[Ppnews] Grand Jury Resister Jeff Hogg & the Liberation of Dissent

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Dec 11 08:56:34 EST 2006


Jeff Hogg & the Liberation of Dissent

Author: Marlena Gangi e-mail:e-mail: en_lucha at riseup.net

The IWW union hall in North Portland was filled 
to capacity at the Liberating Dissent Anti-Green 
Scare event last night as Grand Jury resister 
Jeff Hogg shared his six month ordeal as a Green Scare political prisoner.

The IWW union hall in North Portland was filled 
to capacity at the Liberating Dissent Ant-Green 
Scare event last night as Grand Jury resister 
Jeff Hogg shared his six month ordeal as a Green Scare political prisoner.

Until his release from the Josephine County Jail 
on November 11 of this year, Jeff found himself 
caught in the snare of the government war on 
dissent. His speaking presentation occurred as 
part of an international call to mark the weekend 
of December 7 as a display of unity and 
opposition to government repression. It was on 
December 7, 2005, that the FBI's "Operation 
Backfire" began with it's broad sweep of 
harassment, intimidation and persecution of eco 
and animal rights activists. The ensuing 
investigation with Grand Jury subpoenas and 
arrests has come to be known as the Green Scare.

Targeted because of prior eco-activism and 
activist associations in the Eugene area 
including work with the Earth First! Journal, 
Hogg was served with a subpoena in May of this 
year to testify before the grand jury in regard 
to a supposed ELF arson that caused property 
damage. His experience was one of intimidation from the beginning.

"OBVIOUSLY, THE GRAND JURY SYSTEM DOES NOT WORK"

Hogg began his presentation with an overview of 
the Grand Jury system and it's unlimited and 
unchecked misuse of investigative power. He began 
by offering statistics regarding the federal 
government's misguided crime fighting priorities.

"A couple of years ago the FBI announced that ELF 
and ALF were the number one terrorist threat in 
the country. They received funding to go out to 
harass and intimidate the activist communities. 
They are not really interested in going out to 
fight violent crime that terrorizes human beings. 
Their own statistics state that in 2003 there 
were 7,400 hate crimes committed that were 
motivated [to attack] one's race, ethnicity, 
religion or gender. That year there were also 450 
crimes against the environment committed by 
corporate industries who violated the clean air 
and water acts and practiced illegal waste 
dumping. Their [FBI] priorities are somewhat 
eschewed. They are using the word 'terrorism' to play on our fear."

He went on to explain how the Grand Jury power of 
subpoena is used to gather information while 
counting on an individual's lack of knowledge 
about their constitutional rights. Many who have 
been subpoenaed have gone on to testify, feeling 
protected by the fact that as they have no 
information and therefore have nothing to 
disclose. What Hogg wants people to know is that 
Grand Jury subpoenas are used broadly as major 
fishing expeditions and that even the most 
seemingly insignificant information can and will 
be distorted and used against the radical 
community. With this, the decision is made as to 
what activity calls for surveillance, illegal 
wiretapping and where and when best to plant 
provocateurs. This kind of extra legal activity 
was widely used to derail the social justice 
movements of the sixties and seventies, and, this 
history is repeating itself before us again with Operation Backfire.

"60-100 people have been subpoenaed as part of 
the Green Scare since 2000. The vast majority 
were law abiding citizens called in to talk about 
co-workers, friends and neighbors in violation of 
the 1st Amendment right to free speech and 
association. Grand Juries are not entitled to ask 
for records of group membership, how money in 
organizations is used, who attends meetings, who 
your friends are or who you associate with. There 
was someone who went to a volunteer work party 
for the EF! Journal. They didn't need to offer 
that information. They could have gone to their lawyer to learn this."

One is not given the right to remain silent 
before a Grand Jury. You can still be compelled 
to testify. The government gets around this by 
giving you immunity. This means that one is 
guaranteed that your testimony will not be used 
against you and you therefore no longer have any 
legal ground to remain silent. Grand Juries are 
secretive and controlled by government 
prosecutors with no judge present. Jurors only 
look at evidence that the government chooses to 
present. Grand Juries are manipulated in this way.

"The purpose of the Grand Jury as stated in the 
Constitution is to protect people from 
prosecution that runs rampant and to keep the 
misuse of government power in check," said Hogg. 
"You have no right to an attorney in the Grand 
Jury room. Obviously, the Grand Jury system does not work."

SUSPENSION OF CONTSITUTIONAL RIGHTS

It was last May that Hogg was approached by an 
FBI agent and Eugene police officer as he was leaving his nursing school class.

"They told me that I was not in trouble, that 
they had questions and wanted me to testify 
against an arsonist. They implied that if I did 
not cooperate I might be charged with something. 
'We'd hate to see you behind the defendant's 
desk' they said. I told them that I wasn't going 
to say anything until I got a lawyer."

In his search for legal representation, Hogg 
learned that the public defenders in Lane County 
were already tied up with Green Scare clients. 
His search led him to Portland attorney Paul 
Loney. One week after being asked to testify, 
Hogg was served with a subpoena. He refused to 
cooperate at the hearing by pleading the 5th.

"They walked me over to the court room. There a 
judge granted me immunity and said that now I had 
to testify. I was taken back before the Grand 
Jury and said I wouldn't testify and that this 
whole prosecution was in violation of my 1st, 5th 
and 6th Amendment rights. They walked me back to 
the court room where I was charged with civil 
contempt. Then I was taken to a chamber below the 
court room and was told, 'Well you have a few 
hours to reconsider your decision.'" He 
reconsidered nothing and was taken to jail in 
chains. He served 6 months in the Josephine 
County Jail in Grants Pass. This meant that his 
partner CiCi and had a 5 hour round trip to take 
for visits. His attorney would have an eight hour 
plus drive to consult with his client.

"This was challenging, especially not knowing how 
long the Grand Jury would be in session. The Jury 
is usually impaneled for 18 months, this one only 
had about 5 months left. They decided to extend 
it for another 6 months. They told my attorney 
that they still wanted me to testify. It was 
really depressing, thinking that I would not get 
out until March sometime. And then, I was suddenly released a week later."

By this time, Jeff had lost his job and his spot 
in nursing school. His grandfather also died and 
he was not able to attend the funeral.

"I want to thank everyone for their support. I 
don't think I could have gotten through this 
without it. The support was amazing. People from 
around the country wrote me letters, I had free 
legal representation, my friends and supporters 
did fundraisers, gave firewood, let my partner 
borrow their car when ours broke down, people 
came and did yard work—people came together in 
solidarity. That is something that you should all 
be proud of. I don't know if I could have done 
that [jail time] without all of that support. I 
see it as a statement from the radical community 
saying 'Fuck you! Your campaign of harassment and 
intimidation is not dividing this community. ' 
Thanks for even the smallest role of support. It 
was important not only for me but for everyone to 
make that statement, not just to lift my spirit 
but so that we can all experience that 
solidarity. Not only to help my partner pay our 
bills but for everyone's own faith and strength 
in the face of government repression. So that you 
know that if you are in my shoes, we have your 
back. Perhaps it was the lack of faith in support 
that that contributed to the breaking [of 
activists] under the threat of life sentences and 
to become informants. It's really sad, because the support is there."

PRISONER SUPPORT

Before leaving the microphone, Jeff touched on 
the dire importance of prisoner support. He 
stated that before he went to jail, he didn't 
much write to prisoners because he did not feel 
that he had anything interesting to say.

"Now, I have to say: when you're in jail 
*anything* is interesting." This brought great 
laughter from the event attendees. He went on to 
encourage folks to be creative and write about a 
hike you took, a work project, something of great 
beauty that you might have seen.

"Anything is always interesting when you're in a 
concrete box. So... please, continue to write to 
prisoners, keep up the solidarity. And, thanks." 
With this, this slight, soft spoken young man 
went back to tabling for Portland Books to Prisoners.

I caught up with Jeff a little later to ask if 
there was anything else that he felt was 
important to include in this article. He 
obviously has not had an easy time and with the 
attack on the right to dissent, he might have 
more hardship to endure. Did he have anything to 
say to activists who may feel the need to walk 
away from movement organizing out of fear of government retaliation?

He paused for a moment and then said, "I would 
say, just stay strong and have faith in your 
community. Keep working on building that community. And support our prisoners."

Donations to Jeff Hogg may be sent to:

Friends of Jeff Hogg / PO Box 12271 / Eugene OR 97440

Support other incarcerated Grand Jury Resisters:

Nathan Block #1663667 / Lane County Jail / 101 W 5th Ave. / Eugene OR 97401

Joyanna Zacher #1662550 / Lane County Jail /101 W 5th Ave. Eugene OR 97401

Support group for Nathan and Joyanna Zacher:
supportersofnathanandjoyanna at gmail.com

Daniel McGowan-out on bail:
FriendsofDanielMcG at yahoo.com; www.supportdaniel.org

Jonathan Paul-out on bail:
Support group: friendsofjonathanpaul at yahoo.com

Non-cooperating defendant, Washington County Indictments:
Briana Waters-out on court ordered electronic monitoring
Support group: www.supportbriana.org

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
www.freedomarchives.org 
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