Our Felony Support Working Group has compiled an update on people facing felonies from the RNC. People are currently serving time and more of our comrades are about to be stolen away from us or are being threatened with this, so we’ve gotta stand in solidarity with them. Read on to learn about their situations and how you can support them.
In addition to hundreds of misdemeanor charges, the 2008 RNC has resulted in lasting felony charges against 24 individuals. Ten are still facing charges, including the “RNC 8,” who are all being charged under the same complaint. Originally facing one charge, then four, and now two (conspiracy to riot in the second degree and conspiracy to commit property damage in the first degree), the 8 were the first ever individuals charged with terrorism under the MN PATRIOT Act, although the terrorism charges were dropped in the spring of 2009 due to political pressure. The 8 have a support site here: http://RNC8.org; the RNC 8 Defense Committee holds public meetings on a regular basis.
This is the breakdown of the “RNC Others”:
One hundred fifty-nine people were booked into Ramsey County jail with probable cause felonies during the RNC. Two weeks later, the count of 159 was reduced to merely 19, though in the coming year Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner charged three more individuals (one of whom was already imprisoned on federal charges). Three individuals were also charged in federal court. Given the history of vindictive prosecution, it’s entirely possible that more felony charges are to come.
- Two people had their felony charges dropped entirely due to political pressure, a lack of evidence, or both.
- One person successfully had their felony charges reduced and pled guilty to disorderly conduct – a misdemeanor – in January 2009 and was sentenced to a fine and credit for time served.
- One person successfully had their felony charges reduced and pled guilty to unlawful assembly/disorderly conduct – a misdemeanor – in May 2009 and was sentenced to a fine and community service.
- Joe Robinson pled guilty to first degree criminal damage to property and was sentenced to three years probation on December 12, 2008. Thanks in large part to court solidarity, he received community service and credit for time served with no additional jail time. Upon successful completion of the sentence, the felony will be reduced to a gross misdemeanor.
- Dustin Matchett-Morales of California pled guilty to first degree damage to property and was sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years probation on February 5th, 2009, and taken directly into custody at the Ramsey County Workhouse. With 4 days credit from his initial arrest and the guideline of serving 2/3 of one’s sentence in the workhouse with good behavior, he was released after 36 days. For more information, visit his support site: http://supportdustin.wordpress.com
- Glenn Dyer of New York pled guilty in March 2009 to first degree criminal damage to property and was sentenced to 30 days in jail on May 28, 2009. He was released 17 days later. Upon completion of five years probation, the felony will be reduced to a gross misdemeanor.
- One person pled guilty to first degree criminal damage to property and was sentenced to 60 days in jail on July 16, 2009 and upon completion of probation the felony will be reduced to a gross misdemeanor.
- David Mahoney originally faced two charges, which were gradually increased to ten counts of assault and terroristic threats, stemming from an alleged incident in which a sandbag was thrown onto a highway off-ramp in front of a delegate bus. Prosecutor Richard Dusterhoft called Mahoney the “poster boy of the RNC.” Despite the hype, Mahoney struck a plea deal on June 1, 2009 reducing the ten counts to a single count of second degree assault. Under the deal, Mahoney received 90 days in jail – reduced to 56 with good behavior and time served – and, importantly, after his release will be able to return to his native England rather than serving probation in the United States. He is expected to be released from jail September 2, 2009. For more info on his case, go to: http://helpdavemahoney.blogspot.com
- One person stood trial before a jury on June 26, 2009 and was found guilty of aiding and abetting the obstruction of an arrest (a misdemeanor), guilty of escaping from custody pending a felony arrest (a felony), and not guilty of aiding and abetting an assault on a police officer (a felony). He was the first conviction at either a misdemeanor or felony trial stemming from the RNC nearly 10 months prior. The charges stemmed from an incident in which he went limp – a classic civil disobedience tactic – while being arrested by a lone renegade officer, and then was unarrested by the supportive crowd. On August 4 he was sentenced to 30 days in jail – 17 days counting time served plus good behavior – plus five years probation. He is expected to be released from jail September 3, 2009.
- Jesse Forrey of California was charged with first degree criminal damage to property and found guilty by a jury on August 6, 2009, despite the contradictory statements of the two state witnesses and no photographic or video evidence. His sentencing will be on September 17, 2009. Jesse, like some other felony arrestees, has been stuck in the Twin Cities away from home since September 2008. He is in need of financial support both for his lawyer and the many witnesses and friends who traveled from California to join him at trial; more information and ways to help can be be found at http://www.supportjessejames.wordpress.com
- Christina Vana and Karen Meissner, both of Milwaukee, were charged along with Bradley Crowder (see below) on January 16, 2009 with aiding and abetting assault in the second degree. They turned themselves in to St. Paul Police two days later. They were released on bond later that day and are in need of funds. Their trial is scheduled for August 31, 2009. Visit their support site: http://helpmkethree.blogspot.com
- 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 supervised release. It is widely believed DePalma was entrapped by FBI Informant Andrew Darst (who later faced his own assault charges in Hennepin County, MN). Matt DePalma’s Plea Agreement
- Bradley Crowder and David McKay, both of Texas, faced federal firearms charges for allegedly manufacturing molotov cocktails. Bradley Crowder, held in custody since the RNC like McKay, plead guilty on January 8, 2009. His plea agreement can be seen here. David McKay had trial the week of January 26 which resulted in a mistrial due to hung jury. McKay’s lawyer argued that McKay had been entrapped by FBI informant Brandon Darby . McKay was released on bond and was scheduled to begin a retrial on March 16, but preempted it by pleading guilty to three charges. His decision to plead guilty was, we guess, based on the prosecution’s underhanded tactic of compelling his friend Crowder to testify against him in the second trial. He was taken back into custody at that time. McKay was later sentenced to four years in prison; Crowder to two years. Brad and David have a support site here: http://freethetexas2.com. The six people previously subpoenaed to a related grand jury have all had their subpoenas withdrawn. For more info, see the Grand Jury page. (Crowder was charged on January 16, 2009 with an additional felony charge of aiding and abetting assault in the second degree, along with Christina Vana and Karen Meissner.)
Ramsey County court appearances are all at the Ramsey County Courthouse at 15 W. Kellogg Blvd in St Paul. Sign up for the CRASS announcements list or watch TC Indymedia to be apprised of upcoming opportunities for court solidarity!
It is a common law enforcement practice to create trumped up charges in the wake of a massive police action like what occurred at the 2008 RNC. The point is to distract from the real issues–e.g., lack of police accountability, and especially the institutionalized prioritization of corporate interests over human life and the lack of government accountability to the people–and to justify the use of taxpayer money ($50 million in federal security grants, this time) to crush popular dissent.
Individuals with felony charges are facing protracted and expensive legal battles, and the possibility of years in prison. In order to fight their charges and win, they need our support.
What You Can Do:
1. Donate to the legal funds of Jesse, Karen & Christina.
2. Write Matt DePalma, still in custody, at:
Sherburne County Jail
13880 Highway 10
13880 Business Center Drive
Elk River, MN 55330-4601
Write to those incarcerated at the Ramsey County Workhouse at:
297 S. Century Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55119
3. Seek out folks you know facing felonies and see what they need from you.
4. Spread the word about what really happened at the RNC; educate yourself and your community about resisting State repression (click here for a guide); counter State and corporate propaganda.
5. Watch this website for updates on arrestee support actions.
If you are facing RNC-related felonies and need info or support, or if you want to support those who are, email firstname.lastname@example.org.