This Friday, on the one year anniversary of the raid on raisethefist.com founder, Sherman Austin's home, a small group of anarchists protested in front of the federal building in Westwood. They were joined by peace activists protesting the upcoming war on Iraq.
The January 24, 2002 raid marked one of the first USA Patriot Act injustices on an american citizen. On that day, agents of the FBI, Secret Service, and personnel from the lapd and sherriffs dept raided his home and confiscated all of his computer equipment and much of his literature as well. Their excuse was that bomb making instructions were posted on the site. A case of selective prosecution? Perhaps, since the same information is posted on many other sites who's webmasters have their first ammendment rights respected (for the time being) and remain unmolested by the authorities.
In fact, Austin was targeted because he was an anarchist and his website was gaining popularity and appeal as rtf chapters started forming independently of Austin's immediate circle of friends. RTF also has been and remains a viable anarchist web presence that challenges the authority of the state, capitalism, and the rampant oppression by the police in our communities. The website is closely monitored not only by american law enforcement agencies, but government and intelligence agencies around the globe.
Austin felt that he was forced to accept a plea bargain or face being railroaded into jail for serious time. The terms included one month in jail. After accepting the plea bargain, Judge Wilson threw the plea bargain out and is insisting that Austin be made to serve more than a year in jail. Only six to twelve months is typical for someone with Austin's record. But then again, Sherman Austin is an anarchist.
Austin is set to go to trial in March of 2003. LA indymedia is planning to set up a feature page investigating his situation and will follow this case closely and report the relevent developements.