CRASS Zine Released, RNC 8 Gearing Up for Trial, and Supporting RNC Arrestees

July 11, 2010

ANNOUNCING “UNTITLED, OR WHAT TO DO WHEN EVERYONE GETS ARRESTED: A CRASS COURSE IN PROVIDING ARRESTEE SUPPORT”

A message from the Zine Project Working Group:

The CRASSZine Project Working Group is pleased to announce the release of its much-anticipated zine about arrestee support efforts before, during, and after the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN.

The idea for this zine came about way back in the initial days of forming CRASS, and it was borne out of a sincere need to reflect on our efforts and share our successes and failures with the movement at large to help strengthen it. This zine is intended both as a critical examination for ourselves and other interested parties (no, not you, officer), and as a how-to guide for communities gearing up for a large mobilization in their neck of the woods. There are things we did really well, about which most of us remain proud and that we tend to think you could benefit from replicating. There are things we did poorly, and we hope you don’t fuck up in the same ways. There are things we wish we’d done, or thought of, or did better, and maybe they can be implemented down the road by someone more prepared…someone like you.

We poured our hearts, souls, and nearly two years of our youths into this 100-page zine! And we did it with love for everyone joining us in this struggle against repression. Now we’d like to share it with you:

http://rnc08report.org/CRASS-zine

With love, solidarity, and apple cider vinegar,

The CRASS Zine Project Working Group

RNC 8 AND SUPPORTERS ARE GEARING UP FOR TRIAL

Remember how the RNC 8 have been preparing for trial for nearly 2 years now? Refresh your memory at:

http://rnc8.org/2010/02/video-were-getting-ready-for-court/

The RNC 8 Defense Committee facilitated a strategizing session at the United States Social Forum in Detroit last month to help create a plan for providing support and solidarity for the 8 during trial, scheduled to begin on October 25th and expected to last up to two months. You can find out more about how to get involved by visiting the support website and signing up for the low-volume announcement listserv.

And keep an eye out for the Conspiracy Tour (http://conspiracytour.wordpress.com)! This summer, the Conspiracy Tour is going on a whirlwind, month-long excursion across the continental United States to raise awareness of and solidarity for political activists from Minneapolis, MN who are facing severe state repression. Come join in on raising political support and much-needed legal defense funds for the RNC 8 and Scott DeMuth (facing conspiracy charges under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act).Not excited yet? Check out the hilarious promo video!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB5LjnUD7oA

It’s been alleged that the Tour will include a musical puppet show, a scintillating presentation on the charges the activists are facing, and various (some would say nefarious) ways you can join the Conspiracy to support targets of state repression. In addition to the usual perks of joining a conspiracy, co-conspirators will be learning ways to strengthen and protect their communities from future incidences of state repression. You know, just in case.

Come find solidarity, strategizing, resistance, and community that the state could only dream of! This will be a roadshow to remember even before you read about it in your FBI file.

SUPPORTING RNC PRISONERS

Since our last newsletter, there have been several developments with people serving time from RNC charges. Brad Crowder and Jesse James Forrey have both been released! We’re excited that our friends are back with their loved ones. But David McKay and Matt DePalma are still within the clutches of the prison-industrial complex…and we haven’t forgotten about them!

CRASS is excited to announce a new direction for our Commissary Fund program. Since the beginning, we’ve opened up our general fund to requests for commissary funds so people serving time could buy necessities such as food, stamps, envelopes, personal care products, and whatever else they can get inside to make their time less terrible. Now that all the criminal cases we know of except for the RNC 8 are complete and our zine has been printed, we’ve been able to figure out how much money is left in our general fund and what to do with it.

We’re happy to be able to provide David and Matt with $30 per month in commissary funds from now through the remainder of their sentences! We modeled this change in our Commissary Fund program off the Anarchist Black Cross Federation’s (http://www.abcf.net) Anarchist Subsistence program, which sends anarchists in prison $30 per month in commissary funds.

We hope that these funds can help support these two in their time of need, but there are other ways they need to be supported as well. When you have a moment, write them a letter and let them know what’s going on in your town. Writing to political prisoners is an easy, fun way to support them and show them the solidarity that exists beyond the walls they’re trapped in.

Here’s some info on David and Matt:

David McKay

David McKay had trial the week of January 26, 2009, which resulted in a mistrial due to a hung jury. McKay’s lawyer argued that McKay had been entrapped by FBI informant Brandon Darby. McKay was released on bond and scheduled to begin a retrial on March 16, but that was preempted by him pleading guilty to three charges. His decision to plead guilty may have been influenced by the prosecutor’s underhanded tactic of compelling his friend Brad Crowder to testify against him in the second trial. He was taken back into custody after submitting his plea and sentenced to four years in prison.

His mailing address while in jail is:

DAVID GUY MCKAY
#14130-041

FCI HERLONG
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 800
HERLONG, CA 96113

Matt DePalma

Matt DePalma of Michigan took a plea agreement in federal court, admitting to unlawful possession of destructive devices, a federal crime. He was sentenced on March 11, 2009 to 42 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. It is widely believed that he was entrapped by FBI informant Andrew Darst (who later faced his own assault charges in Hennepin County, MN).

His mailing address while in jail is:

MATTHEW BRADLEY DEPALMA
#14126-041
FCI ELKTON
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 10
LISBON, OH 44432


Elliot Hughes Accepts a Plea, Can Still Sue for Police Brutality

March 10, 2010

On Monday, March 8th, 2010, Elliot accepted a plea deal as his trial for two counts of gross misdemeanor assault on an officer and one count of misdemeanor obstructing legal process was about to commence. Elliot fell off his bike following a collision with a St. Paul bike cop during the RNC and was promptly arrested. He was tortured in jail so badly that he was coughing up blood all night long. He was outspoken about the torture he suffered and notified the City of St. Paul last year that he intends to sue for police brutality. Several months later, he was charged in a clear attempt for the cops to justify their actions (this is a common occurrence in the criminal injustice system).

His plea agreement entails having the two gross misdemeanor charges dropped and a plea of guilty being submitted for the misdemeanor obstruction charge. He will need to do 50 hours of community service and pay a $150 fine within the next year, at which point his misdemeanor conviction will be dismissed and vacated. This agreement leaves him open to suing the cops for the torture they inflicted on him.

Elliot’s case was one of the few remaining RNC cases still open except for the RNC 8 (see http://www.rnc8.org for more info).


Solidarity with Scott DeMuth & Carrie Feldman

December 17, 2009

On Tuesday, November 17, 2009, Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth of Minneapolis were called before a federal grand jury in Davenport, Iowa. They were subpoenaed in the most recent use of Green Scare tactics in Minnesota, the government’s desperate attempt to obtain information about activists, grasp at straws to file charges against them, and disrupt radical animal-rights and environmental movements such as the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. Rightfully so, Carrie and Scott refused to cooperate and testify.

At the request of Prosecutor Cliff Cronk, District Judge John Jarvey found them in contempt of court and had them taken into custody immediately. Scott was charged with conspiracy under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act two days later, becoming the seventh person charged under this dangerous law passed through shady procedures in 2006. Once he was facing a criminal charge, his charge of civil contempt was dropped and he became eligible for release. Cronk tried to keep him locked up by arguing that his political beliefs and associations make him a “domestic terrorist,” but his ridiculous arguments failed and Scott was released after about two weeks.

Carrie’s situation has been drastically different. She remains locked up in Iowa as the government punishes her for her political beliefs and resistance to the grand jury process. She could be held for the duration of the grand jury–another 10 months. Grand juries have historically been used to repress dissent and disrupt social movements by intimidating people into abandoning their activism, unjustly incarcerating them and separating them from their communities, and conducting fishing expeditions for information about movements. Despite the government’s claims that grand juries are necessary to uphold the law and create a just society, their true purpose has been demonstrated in the persecution of people ranging from journalists who refused to identify their sources to five of the Black Panthers known as the San Francisco 8 to activists involved in the Puerto Rican independence movement to earth and animal liberation activists.

The Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure (CRASS) and Coldsnap Legal Collective have been involved in supporting people unjustly arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated since the Republican National Convention invaded St. Paul in September 2008. Many of us experienced state repression first-hand in the streets of St. Paul, and we all witnessed it in the courts as we saw person after person prosecuted more for expressing their dissent than for any illegal acts alleged to have occurred. We have not forgotten our experiences. And we are not blind to the connections between what we experienced, what Carrie and Scott are experiencing, and what all targets of state repression experience.

We demand that Carrie be released immediately, that the charges against Scott be dropped immediately, and that the government abandon its attempts to punish them for their political beliefs. We stand in solidarity with Carrie, Scott, and all those who are imprisoned for their political beliefs and for having the courage to fight back against the system that is destroying the Earth and threatening our lives.

We also call on all people of conscience who are working to change this world to support them. Visit http://davenportgrandjury.wordpress.com for more information and updates. You can also donate to their support fund there and find out more about how you can support them. A movement is only as strong as its prisoner support, and Carrie and Scott need our solidarity now more than ever.

In solidarity and resistance,

CRASS & Coldsnap


Judge Doles Out Harsh Sentences to Christina Vana & Karen Meissner

November 13, 2009

On November 10th, 2009, Judge Teresa Warner stayed imposition of an unspecified amount of prison time and sentenced Karen Meissner and Christina Vana to 7 years of probation, 8 hours of community service every month for the next 2 years, and a $100 fine plus standard court fees. Among the conditions of probation were that they participate in whatever educational or vocational programming Probation sets for them. As is usual in felony cases, DNA samples were required. The issue of restitution will remain open for 90 days.

Around 25 people showed up to court to support these two of the “Milwaukee 3″ defendants. Well, 25 people not counting lawyers, undercover cops, and a bevy of Sheriff’s Deputies. At the request of Courtwatch last week, the judge took steps to get a larger courtroom to accommodate the expected crowd. The advantage was that there were plenty of seats for everyone, but the disadvantage was that we were much further away from the judge’s bench and our friends.

Their sentences were the results of plea agreements reached between the defendants and prosecutor Richard Dusterhoft, who was not present at the sentencing. He failed to communicate the content of the agreement to the lawyer who filled in for him, causing the judge to dismiss the prosecution’s arguments for 90 days in jail out of hand.

A plea agreement, said the judge, is a legal agreement, and this one was entered into evidence in the court records. Neither the prosecutor nor the defendants were free to disregard this agreement.

The judge said she had received 52 letters an hour before court was due to start–all of which appeared to have been printed on the same machine (which was confusing since she also said they had been faxed to her). She said that there wasn’t always time for a judge to read that much material just before court started. Nevertheless, she read all 52 letters. She called attention to one in particular that she said she found offensive in tone–she objected to the reference to a “plea bargain.”

“If you want a bargain, go to Target!” the judge snapped. This was a plea agreement.

Per the plea agreement, the judge said she had crafted a sentence that she felt would be useful for rehabilitation, yet sufficiently severe to provide the necessary punishment and accountability that was required in view of the seriousness of the crime. She told each of the defendants that, in spite of what the Pre-Sentencing Investigation found, she believed that they were remorseful and regretted their actions. She remembered them coming into court as two very scared young people, and she was convinced that they really had not considered the consequences of their actions on September 1st, 2008.

She said that, in some ways, the probation she had assigned was a much more severe sentence than jail time. Had they received a jail sentence, they might have “been very scared,” but they could have completed the sentence relatively quickly and gone on with their lives without ever really considering the consequences of what they had done. With a long probation, they would receive extended supervision and have plenty of time to see the consequences of their actions.

One of the defense attorneys, Ted Dooley, asked if it was possible for the defendants to do their community service in the state in which they would be living. The judge said that that would be acceptable if the probation was transferred. Dooley then asked if his client might return to Wisconsin to be with her sister who was in the hospital, but the judge declined to make specific allowances for that. Both Christina and Karen are forbidden to leave Minnesota without the permission of the Probation Office.

The judge’s tone and statements during the sentence show us all too clearly what the “justice” system is all about–controlling people’s lives and establishing authority over them. Having the audacity to imply that being incarcerated is easy, Judge Warner took what she felt was a more vindictive route to determine her sentencing. Having satisfied herself that she was exercising her authority over other people’s lives adequately, she made sure to rub it in Christina’s and Karen’s faces and talk down to them during the proceedings.

Although we’re glad that our friends do not have to spend more time in jail, we reject the “tough love” approach Judge Warner took, as well as the system of oppression known as the criminal “justice” system that enables her to take it. We will not be satisfied with any judge’s whims controlling our lives. Rather, we stand in solidarity with our friends and will continue to love and support them!


Brad Crower Pleas in MN State Court

October 29, 2009
On Monday in the Ramsey County District Court, Bradley Neal Crowder plead guilty to 1 count of Aiding and Abetting Terroristic Threats. Brad is one of the Texas 2. The other two counts against him were dismissed by the prosecutor.  The plea deal gets him a 15 month sentence, which he asked to have executed (rather than having it stayed and being sentenced to jail time plus probation).  He will be credited with the 5 days he stayed at the LEC from Sept 1-5, 2008 and with the time from January 15, 2009 to the present. (That leaves about 5 months.)  The remainder of the sentence will be served concurrently with the federal sentence (a couple years) he is currently serving, and the judge’s understanding is that this sentence will be finished “long before” the federal one.  Brad will be transferred to federal custody to finish the remainder of this sentence. He also has to pay a $50 fine plus court costs.
Brad’s defense lawyer, Mr. Sicolli–who took the case pro bono and said he is glad he did–spoke on Brad’s behalf. He said he had gotten to know Brad and come to like him. He said Brad still feels very strongly about the things he came to St. Paul to protest, but that he has come to see that this is not the best way to oppose them, and indeed, he has “paid dearly” for his actions already.
Brad told the judge that he had been “duly convicted,” that he took full responsibility for his actions. He said that no one had been injured by his actions and that there had been perhaps $250 worth of damage. As Mr. Sicolli, said, he had paid a heavy price for it–two years in jail. By contrast, the leaders of the Republican Party had broken national and Constitutional laws, done millions of dollars worth of damage, and caused the loss of many lives. Yet none of them have been sentenced for anything they have done. And as a young person, he could not help feeling frustrated by that disparity of treatment.

Judge Nathanson did not comment in reply; she just enacted the plea that the parties had agreed to.

Brad’s plea agreement came after weeks of being held in the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) awaiting his turn in the “trial call” list, yet another way the state tries to wear people down and coerce pleas by not letting them know exactly when they will go on trial. While being held there, he had access to fewer resources and privileges than he had in federal custody since the LEC is only intended for relatively short detentions for people awaiting trial.

Brad will soon be transferred back into custody to serve out the remainder of his sentence. Once we have his mailing address, we’ll let you know. He could definitely use letters, commissary funds, and other types of support from folks on the outside!

And don’t forget that you can support political prisoners all the time! If you’re in Minneapolis, stop by Arise! Bookstore for letter writing times:

Every 2nd & 4th Mondays
6-8pm
Arise! Bookstore & Resource Center
2441 Lyndale Ave S, Mpls

For more information, email mplsprionsersupport@riseup.net or visit http://www.arisebookstore.org/letters-prisoners.


Next Day 4 Civil Litigation Meeting This Sunday!

October 20, 2009

Were you one of the hundreds of folks arrested on Sept. 4th during the RNC last year? If so, come to our next civil litigation organizing meeting:

Sunday, Oct. 25, 5:30pm
Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Ave S, Mpls

Several lawsuits have already been filed from incidents that occurred during the RNC, including a large one from Sept. 1, 2008 that will hopefully become a class action. Now we’re working on figuring out which suits to file from the arrests on Sept. 4th, such as the mass arrest on Marion Bridge.

And we need your help! If you were arrested that day or negatively affected by events that occurred that day, join us at our organizing meeting!

For more information, email Day4.Civil @ gmail.com.


Civil Litigation Updates

October 1, 2009

We’re continuing to make progress on civil litigation!

Recently, Minneapolis lawyer Jordan Kushner has filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County for someone arrested around the time of the Rage Against the Machine concert on Wednesday, September 3, 2008. If you were arrested on this day in Minneapolis and are also interested in filing suit, please talk with Jordan immediately at:

612.288.0545
kushn002@umn.edu

Also, on September 13, the Civil Litigation Working Group had a great meeting about civil litigation from September 4, 2008 with members of the Anti-War Committee and other people who were arrested on the last day of the RNC. We started talking about ways to organize ourselves to get rolling on all the work that needs to be done to get suits filed for Day 4. But we need your help!

If you were arrested on Day 4, please email Day4.Civil@gmail.com or call 651.230.6513.

We’ve also scheduled a follow-up meeting for Sunday, Oct. 25, place and time TBD. Save the date now!


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