Monday morning in Ramsey County District Court, RNC activist Dave Mahoney pled – under pressure and significant duress – to a single count of second degree assault, a felony. Instead of going to trial on the 10 felony counts stemming from a single invented incident, Dave and the office of Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner agreed to a plea bargain. Given the disproportionately ferocious, political prosecution, Dave and his attorney evidently found it in their best interest to agree to a 90-day cap on jail time, reduction of the (single) felony charge to a gross misdemeanor after the sentence is served, and the ability for Dave to return to his native England after the jail term. With credit for good behavior and time served, Dave is looking at 56 days or less in jail, as opposed to the decades possible if he had lost at trial.
Of the dozens of RNC charges heard in open court, authorities have not won a single conviction. The manipulation and reliance on overtly authoritarian pressure evidenced in Dave’s case is indicative of the only tactic the state has left to justify the police brutality and fiscal waste characterizing the RNC and its aftermath. Dave faced two, then six, and ultimately ten charges. First accused of aiding and abetting the drop of a bag of sand in front of a slow-moving delegate bus on a closed highway exit ramp, authorities then levied a count of terroristic threats and assault for each so-called “victim” on the bus who claimed to feel “terrorized.” All together, Dave eventually was looking at decades behind bars and a dramatically tainted jury pool until the prosecution made the sudden plea offer last week. The absurdity of the state’s persecution should be apparent, but so should the impossible position in which Dave was placed. Indeed, what would you do under similar circumstances?
In a letter to his lawyer last December, prosecutor Richard Dusterhoft called his case “by far the most serious RNC case I have” (an assertion we find silly at best). He has referred to Dave as the “poster boy of the RNC” in open court. Similarly, during the presentation of the Heffelfinger-Luger Report in January, Andrew Luger called the alleged bag of sand incident “the most frightening moment of the convention,” apparently overlooking the pre-emptive raids, state-sponsored shutdown of downtown, and hundreds of brutal injuries caused by police.
It is, of course, too much to ask that agents of the state consider such things. The cognitive dissonance could prove fatal, what with so many careers to further, so many dollars to grab, so many atrocities to excuse. If an activist like Dave — whose community believes him, as we do, completely innocent of the anything resembling assault or terror crimes (if in fact there was ever a crime at all) — has to serve months in jail on a politician’s whim, so be it. There are, of course, priorities. That those priorities fail to align with common sense or justice is neither here nor there.
Back in reality, Dave, his comrades, and friends — from England to the Twin Cities and beyond — are not guilty of assaulting delegates. Rather, they and we are launching assaults on the interlocking systems of injustice and oppression which keep all of us in one form of prison or another. Like Dave, we didn’t and don’t commit this assault with bags of dirt or pointed fingers; we attack the system with continuous, relentless organizing in a diversity of forms, seen and unseen. That those who benefit most from temporary power fail to recognize this should surprise no one.
The state-sanctioned kidnappings of our friends by cartoonishly villianous stooges like Bob Fletcher – the very embodiment of corruption and contemptible, scabrous sleaze, as even the mainstream press and the FBI are starting to realize – and the subsequent legitimizing of these crimes by other criminally smarmy agents of the state should not stop anyone. Until borders have been broken and police prevented from terrorizing our communities in the manner they do every day, we will continue to assault any system that withholds our basic needs and denies our wild dreams.
Due to the nature of these battles waged within the confines of the criminal injustice system, there is of course more to be said — but it must wait. If you, too, have dreams of love, rage, and freedom, perhaps you too can say some of it under your breath. More important than what we can or cannot say, however, is what we can do.
The RNC happened in our community, but the interests it served and the repression it entailed are fundamental to the structure of this society … indeed, the world system. Don’t forget. From the RNC 8 to the RNC Others; the Tarnac 9; the AETA 4; and all those past and present – defend ALL targets of state repression.
RNC 8: rnc8.org
Jesse Forrey, currently on trial call: supportjessejames.wordpress.com
Christina Vana and Karen Meissner: helpmkethree.blogspot.com
Write to Glenn Dyer, incarcerated in Ramsey County until at least June 13, at:
Glenn David Dyer
297 S. Century Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55119
Write to the Texas Two, Bradley Crowder and David McKay, serving 2 and 4 years in prison, respectively, as well as Matt DePalma, at (this address will change in a few weeks):
Sherburne County Jail
13880 Highway 10
13880 Business Center Drive
Elk River, MN 55330-4601