[Ppnews] RNC 8 - one pleads guilty to gross misdemeanor, gets 91 days

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sat Aug 28 16:54:33 EDT 2010

Man pleads guilty to gross misdemeanor, gets 91 days

By Emily Gurnon
egurnon at pioneerpress.com
twincities.com 08/27/2010


 From a bang to a whimper.

The criminal case against Republican National 
Convention protester Erik Oseland was resolved 
this afternoon, when he pleaded guilty to 
third-degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage 
to property, a gross misdemeanor.

The other charges against him were dismissed.

The former member of the RNC 8 admitted to 
talking with several other people before the 2008 
event about knocking over newspaper boxes, thus 
"impeding the flow of convention traffic," said his attorney, Ted Dooley.

"You understand when you tip over these things, 
it damages the property," Dooley asked Oseland.

"Yes," Oseland said.

Oseland didn't damage any property; he was 
arrested two days before the convention began.

Ramsey County District Judge Teresa Warner 
sentenced Oseland to the time agreed upon in the 
plea agreement: 91 days in the workhouse — with 
the condition that he not be called to testify 
against any other RNC defendants.

It was a far cry from two years ago, when 
investigators raided the homes of two would-be 
protesters and Sheriff Bob Fletcher displayed at 
a press conference what they had found: sharp 
objects to pierce delegates' buses, buckets of 
alleged urine to throw at police and materials to 
make Molotov cocktails, among other things, he asserted.

Fletcher said at the time that plans were under 
way "to both shut down the Republican National 
Convention and actually harm the officers that 
are working this convention" and added that what 
was found "is only a portion of what is out there."

Eventually, eight members of the RNC Welcoming 
Committee, an anarchist protest group, were 
charged with second-degree conspiracy to commit 
riot in furtherance of terrorism — a charge that 
carried a potential five years in prison.

The county attorney's office later dropped the 
terrorism charges. But the eight still faced 
charges of first-degree conspiracy to commit 
property damage and second-degree conspiracy to commit riot, both felonies.

The 2008 criminal complaint against the group 
alleged that Oseland put a video on YouTube 
entitled "Video Map of the St. Paul Points of 
Interest," which featured prominent buildings and 
hotels in downtown St. Paul. It alleged that he 
and another man had discussed making Molotov 
cocktails to use during the RNC protests. It also 
accused him of planning to disable delegates' buses.

Oseland, 23, of Nisswa, Minn., declined comment after the hearing.

County Attorney Susan Gaertner said that whenever 
a case involves multiple defendants and 
conspiracy charges, "you're going to have varying degrees of culpability.

"You're also going to have varying degrees of 
evidence to support the charge of conspiracy," 
Gaertner said. "That certainly was an aspect of 
resolving the case against Mr. Oseland."

She said she did not know whether any other plea 
offers were on the table for the remaining defendants.

Dooley said the fact that Oseland would not have 
to testify against his co-defendants was "pivotal" to his agreeing to the plea.

"He wouldn't do that if you burned his feet," Dooley said.

At least two of the other RNC defendants attended the hearing.

"The seven of us are still committed to taking it 
all the way to trial," said defendant Garrett Fitzgerald.

Asked if they were disappointed in today's plea, 
defendant Max Specktor said, "Conspiracy charges 
create these situations where the state tries to 
divide us. That's the greater disappointment."

Critics have derided law enforcement and the 
county attorney's office for prosecuting the 
protesters, saying the focus on them has been an 
attempt to "criminalize dissent."

"This is clearly not about criminalizing 
dissent," Gaertner said. "It's about 
criminalizing destructive behavior and 
prosecuting destructive behavior. He pleaded 
guilty to that, and I think that's appropriate."

Oseland must report to the Ramsey County workhouse on Oct. 20.

Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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