[Ppnews] SF Grand Jury Resister - 2008 Case

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 30 12:11:18 EST 2012


  "I plan on exercising every right that I have" to resist California
  grand jury, activist says

by Will Potter on November 30, 2012
http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/california-grand-jury-animal-rights-brittany-kenville/6623/

An activist who has been subpoenaed to a grand jury in California 
investigating the animal rights movement says she will refuse to 
cooperate in any way, and that "using grand juries to harass activist 
communities does not serve justice, it is simply a means of political 
repression."

Brittany Kenville is one of several activists 
<http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/grand-jury-uc-santa-cruz-california/6104/> 
who have been subpoenaed to the grand jury, which appears to be 
investigating a 2008 fire at the home of an animal experimenter at the 
University of California, Santa Cruz.  In a statement Kenville noted 
that grand juries have historically used the pretense of a crime, such 
as the 2008 arson, as justification for threatening activists with jail 
time if they do not testify about their political beliefs and political 
associations.

"Grand juries operate in secrecy, and witnesses who choose to testify 
are not allowed to have a lawyer present when doing so," Kenville says. 
"In cases like this, grand juries are used as a tool to strike fear in 
and intimidate activists, and also to neutralize them from action. They 
spread seeds of mistrust throughout activist movements, and they operate 
under the assumption that people in activist communities are inherently 
guilty by association. I am adamantly opposed to these proceedings.  I 
believe that they are unjust and an appalling misuse of prosecutorial 
power."

Kenville has been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury in the 
coming weeks. If she refuses to answer questions about her personal 
beliefs or her friends, it is possible that she will be imprisoned for 
the duration of the grand jury.

This looming threat is made more real against the backdrop of another 
grand jury currently convened in Seattle, Washington. A series of Joint 
Terrorism Task Force raids in the northwest targeted local anarchists. 
Two anarchists are currently imprisoned 
<http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/12082-three-people-now-in-jail-for-refusing-to-talk-about-other-anarchists> 
for refusing to take part in what they call a political witch hunt. A 
third, Maddy Pfeiffer, is scheduled to appear again in December (after 
refusing to answer any questions previously 
<http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/grand-jury-tutorial/6566/>).

In some instances, this threat of jail time is enough to persuade 
activists to turn on their friends and testify. This is certainly the 
case when prosecutors subpoena individuals who don't know their 
co-defendants well, if at all, and don't consider themselves 
particularly active in "the movement."

When I spoke with Kenville recently, what struck me was that she had no 
interest in any of these kinds of justifications; she said she would not 
cooperate in any way, and she has the full support of her friends, other 
activists, and most importantly her family.

Brittany Kenville's full statement 
<http://www.becausewemust.org/statement-from-bay-area-grand-jury-resister/> 
is below:

    My name is Brittany Kenville. I have been subpoenaed as a witness to
    the grand jury convened in San Francisco in relation to events that
    took place in Santa Cruz, California in 2008.  Grand juries exist to
    determine whether there is enough evidence for a person or persons
    to be indicted. Subpoenas are used to force the appearance at grand
    juries by anyone the prosecution feels may provide evidence in
    support of their case.

    Grand juries operate in secrecy, and witnesses who choose to testify
    are not allowed to have a lawyer present when doing so. In cases
    like this, grand juries are used as a tool to strike fear in and
    intimidate activists, and also to neutralize them from action. They
    spread seeds of mistrust throughout activist movements, and they
    operate under the assumption that people in activist communities are
    inherently guilty by association. I am adamantly opposed to these
    proceedings.  I believe that they are unjust and an appalling misuse
    of prosecutorial power. Using grand juries to harass activist
    communities does not serve justice, it is simply a means of
    political repression.

    I have been working with an attorney, and I plan on exercising every
    right that I have in response to my subpoena. I have the complete,
    unfaltering support of my family, my friends and my fellow
    activists. I encourage anyone else who is subpoenaed to reach out,
    seek counsel, do research, and learn your rights in these
    proceedings. I hope everyone reading this will learn more about the
    grand jury system and join me in standing up against its use as a
    tool of harassment.

    In solidarity,  Brittany Kenville

-- 
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