[Ppnews] Remember the RNC 8? Now, there are only 4
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 17 13:44:07 EDT 2010
(2 Articles Follow)
RNC 8 charges dismissed for three defendants
Turck, <http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/partners/tc-daily-planet>TC Daily Planet
September 16, 2010
Luce Guillen-Givens, Monica Bicking, and Erin
Trimmer can breathe a little easier after the
Ramsey County Attorney dismissed charges brought
against them as part of the RNC 8 prosecution. A
fourth defendant, Erik Oseland, pleaded guilty to
a misdemeanor -- consisting of talking about
knocking over newspaper boxes -- as part of a
bargain on August 27. The remaining four
Czernik, Garret Fitzgerald,
Secor) are scheduled to go to trial on October 25.
According to an email from defense attorney Bruce
Nestor, "The State has mailed plea offers to the
remaining four defendants as it seeks to settle
the case prior to the scheduled trial date of
October 25, 2010." Nestor says he heard about the
dismissals via a copy of an email to the court
indicating that charges against the three would
be "in the interest of justice."
Nestor noted that Ramsey County Attorney Susan
Gaertner's office said the dismissal came because
the trials would be costly and time-consuming.
"I don't think that Susan Gaertner should be
allowed to hide behind this kind of
justification," said Nestor. "For two years she
and Bob Fletcher have claimed that the RNC
Welcoming Committee was a criminal enterprise. It
is absolutely shameful to charge them with
conspiracy and terrorism charges and then dismiss
those charges two years later because the trials
are going to be time consuming. They [Gaertner
and Fletcher] should stand up and say they were wrong."
The RNC 8 were arrested before the 2008
Republican National Convention began, and did not
participate in any of the demonstrations or other
actions during the convention. The prosecution
entirely on the theory of conspiracy to commit
crimes. That's the basis of the third-degree
conspiracy plea by Oseland, whose testimony at
the time of his guilty plea was about talking
about knocking over newspaper boxes.
Luce Guillen-Givens said, "I'm relieved
personally that the risk for me has been taken
out of the situation, but all this really does is
demonstrate what we said all along that this is a
politically motivated case and an abusive
prosecution and we are committed to keep on fighting for the other four."
Guillen-Givens also extended an invitation: "We
have a dinner coming up on September 28 at Walker
Church at 6:30 p.m. - it's a free community meal,
which we do every month, and everybody is invited to come."
Full disclosure: In the past, Luce Guillen-Givens
has done clerical work as an independent
contractor for the Twin Cities Media Alliance,
the nonprofit organization that publishes the Twin Cities Daily Planet.
Mary Turck is the editor of the
<http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2010/>TC Daily Planet.
Remember the RNC 8? Now, there are only 4
Charges against three dropped in alleged plot to disrupt convention
<mailto:egurnon at pioneerpress.com?subject=TwinCities.com:%20Remember%20the%20RNC%208?%20Now,%20there%20are%20only%204>By
egurnon at pioneerpress.com
And then there were four.
Prosecutors dismissed charges against three of
the remaining seven members of a group
originally called the RNC 8 facing conspiracy
charges in connection with the 2008 Republican
National Convention in St. Paul.
"Dismissing three of the cases will allow us to
concentrate on the most culpable defendants and
to use our limited office resources for other
serious felony cases," Ramsey County Attorney
Susan Gaertner said in a statement Thursday.
The defense said the cases were politically
motivated and the evidence was weak.
Charges were dropped against protest organizers
Monica Bicking, 25, Luce Guillen-Givins, 25, and
Erin Chase Trimmer, 25, all of Minneapolis.
"To me, it shows what we've said from the
beginning: that this is a political case using
charges of terrorism and conspiracy to riot to
justify the massive police presence and
repression during the 2008 RNC," said Bruce Nestor, the attorney for Bicking.
"The fact that all charges have now been
dismissed against three leading members of what
Ramsey County has called a 'criminal enterprise'
exposes the reality behind the case."
The defendants were members of the RNC Welcoming
Committee, a group of anarchists who promised to
disrupt the 2008 convention and prevent delegates
from reaching the Xcel Energy Center, where the convention took place.
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at the
time the group planned to harm officers working the convention.
None of the group carried out any protests; they
were jailed before the convention began.
They initially 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.
An eighth defendant, Erik Oseland, 23, of Nisswa
pleaded guilty Aug. 27 to third-degree conspiracy
to commit criminal damage to property, a gross misdemeanor.
He admitted in court that in the days before the
convention, he and others discussed knocking over
newspaper boxes, thus "impeding the flow of
convention traffic," as his attorney, Ted Dooley, put it.
District Judge Teresa Warner sentenced him to 91
days in the county workhouse; it was agreed he
would not be called to testify against fellow defendants.
The remaining defendants are Robert Czernik, 35,
Garrett Fitzgerald, 27, Nathanael Secor, 28, and
Max Specktor, 21, all of Minneapolis. They are
charged with second-degree conspiracy to commit
riot and first-degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property.
The four are scheduled to go to trial Oct. 25 a
trial Gaertner had estimated would have lasted at
least two months with seven defendants. Having
fewer defendants will save time and make it
easier to find jurors, she said in the statement Thursday.
Attorney Jordan Kushner, who represented
Guillen-Givins, said the case was "politically
abusive" and lambasted officials for what he said
was a waste of public time and money.
The evidence against his client, he said,
consisted mainly that she organized a civil
disobedience action in Anoka County two months before the RNC.
She had an "active role in the RNC Welcoming
Committee" but did nothing to warrant the felony
charges, Kushner said. He said the same was true
for the other defendants, including those remaining.
"Obviously, I feel very personally relieved that
I don't have to worry about being prosecuted
anymore, but there are still four of my
co-defendants who remain," Guillen-Givins said.
The path the cases have taken first the removal
of the terrorism charge, then the three
dismissals shows prosecutors have tried to whittle them down.
"I think this just shows how weak the entire case
was to begin with and how abusive the prosecution
has been," Guillen-Givins said.
Gaertner has said the case was never politically
motivated and was not about criminalizing
dissent: "It's about criminalizing destructive
behavior and prosecuting destructive behavior."
Gaertner also said that the dismissals were "in
direct response to the judge's ruling that all
the defendants would be tried together."
"A joint trial would have furthered the
defendants' and defense attorneys' interests in
having a political platform in a circus-like atmosphere," she said.
The judge made that decision several months ago.
Gaertner said she has made plea offers to the remaining four defendants.
In addition to the eight conspiracy charges, the
Ramsey County attorney's office charged 14 other
individuals with criminal damage to property,
obstruction of legal process or assault in
connection with RNC protests. Eleven resulted in
convictions; three cases were dismissed.
Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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