[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 
<http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/node/21534>is based 
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 
Emily Gurnon
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.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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