[Ppnews] Carlos Montes pled not-guilty to gun charges

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jul 7 10:48:01 EDT 2011



Nationally known Chicano activist charges FBI 
with targeting him for political speech

http://www.scpr.org/news/2011/07/07/nationally-known-chicano-activist-charges-fbi-targ/

Frank Stoltze/ KPCC

Chicano anti-war activist Carlos Montes joins his 
supporters outside the L.A. County courthouse in 
Alhambra, where he pled not-guilty to gun charges.

Carlos Montes, an icon among Chicano and Latino 
activists, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to 
illegal gun possession in Los Angeles. He said 
authorities are using the charges to target him for his political beliefs.

At a rally on his behalf outside an Alhambra 
courthouse, Montes wore a white dress shirt, 
slacks and sunglasses as he thanked supporters 
and promised to fight the charge.

“Today, I’m going to declare myself innocent. I’m 
going to fight this thing all the way. I know for 
sure this is part of a wider attack," Montes said.

The rhetoric was classic Montes, who helped 
organize the East L.A. student walkouts and 
anti-war protests in the 1960s and 70s, and was 
an original member of the Brown Berets - an 
organization that patterned itself after the Black Panthers.

Montes, 63, described how his current legal 
troubles began with an early morning raid on his 
Alhambra home by an L.A. County Sheriff’s SWAT team on May 17.

“I was totally asleep. And then I hear this loud 
noise and crashing at my front door," he told a 
reporter. "I look from my bedroom and I see 
people with helmets, guns up at their shoulders, 
you know, yelling." He said deputies smashed his 
front door into pieces and ransacked his house.

"It was shocking," he said.

Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said the SWAT 
team raided Montes’ home after deputies received a tip.

“We were notified by a source that this 
individual was in fact in possession of a 
firearm," Whitmore said. He declined to name the source.

Whitmore said it’s illegal for Montes to have a 
gun because he’s a convicted felon. The 
conviction is four decades old. It came during 
one of his many run-ins with authorities. He 
threw a soda can at a cop during a demonstration in the 1960s.

Prosecutors also said he lied when he bought his 
shotgun at Big Five Sporting Goods two years ago 
because he didn’t admit he was a felon. He faces 
a total of six felony charges. Officials have 
moved the case ­ originally filed at the L.A. 
County courthouse in Alhambra ­ to the downtown 
courthouse that handles higher-profile cases.

Montes won’t talk about the specifics of the 
charges against him. Instead, he wondered why 
deputies crashed through his door and seized his 
computer, two cell phones and files on his 
current political work on immigrant rights, labor unions, and anti-war causes.

Whitmore said the Sheriff's Department's search warrant allowed that.

“We had the legal authority, signed by a judge, 
to do that. And so it was seized to further our 
investigation," he said. The investigation, he 
promised, was focused on his gun possession.

Montes is skeptical. He said a funny thing 
happened when he sat with a sheriff’s deputy inside a squad car after the raid.

"He said someone wants to talk you - the FBI wants to talk to you."

Suddenly, Montes said, an FBI agent in a baseball 
cap stuck his head inside the door.

“He looked at me and said, 'I’d like to ask you 
questions about Freedom Road Socialist Organization.'"

Ever defiant, Montes refused to answer.

Federal authorities reportedly are checking 
Freedom Road Socialist Organization’s possible 
connections to Palestinian and Colombian groups 
the State Department has labeled as terrorist.

FBI spokeswoman Ari Dekofsky wouldn’t disclose 
whether Montes is under investigation in that or any other probe.

Montes said he has no connection to any terrorist groups.

Mick Kelly believes federal authorities are 
shadowing Montes. Kelly is with the Committee to 
Stop F.B.I. Repression and other leftist 
political groups in Minneapolis. He saw his home 
raided in September. Other homes and offices were raided, too.

“When the FBI raided the anti-war committee 
offices in the Twin Cities, one of the people 
named on the search warrant was Carlos Montes," 
Kelly said. "When FBI documents speak of six 
offices who are investigating the case that 
relates to mine, one of those FBI offices is Los 
Angeles, and that's Montes is."

Montes’ attorney Jorge Gonzales said federal 
authorities are using the threat of terrorism to target political activists.

“They’re using that in order to go after 
legitimate protesters, legitimate activists," Gonzalez said.

Montes links the gun charges against him with an 
effort to quiet his political activities. He said it’s a familiar tune.

“I’ve been a victim of political frame-ups in the 
past. Indicted twice, East L.A. walkouts, 
numerous other arrests that most of the time I was found not guilty," he said.




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