[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
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, Im going to declare myself innocent. Im
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 Sheriffs 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.
Sheriffs 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 its illegal for Montes to have a
gun because hes 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 didnt 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 wont 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 sheriffs 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, 'Id like to ask you
questions about Freedom Road Socialist Organization.'"
Ever defiant, Montes refused to answer.
Federal authorities reportedly are checking
Freedom Road Socialist Organizations possible
connections to Palestinian and Colombian groups
the State Department has labeled as terrorist.
FBI spokeswoman Ari Dekofsky wouldnt 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.
Theyre 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 its a familiar tune.
Ive 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.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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