Interview With TALDF organizer Westwind
Since his arrest this March, the Tre Arrow Legal Defense Fund has been hard at work raising funds to mount an agreesive defense against charges brought against the Cascadian expatriot. With the stakes hight, and the case heating up, I sat down with fund founder Westwind to find out more about TALDF
root: So, lets start with the basics: what is the purpose of the fund?
Westwind: To pay Tre's lawyers. It's really that simple.
root:who decides who gets paid?
Westwind: In a very real sense Tre does. He does not literally sign the checks, but by choosing who is on his defense team he is choosing who we pay.
root: Who does sign the checks?
Westwind: The NLG (National Lawyers Guild, a kick-ass group of activist attorneys) accountant. TALDF has an Oversight Committee, made up of a representative from Tre's family and myself, we authorize payments, but it's really a no-brainer: I mean what are we going to do, refuse to pay Tre's lawyers?
root: What about staff and overhead?
Westwind: We don't have either, TALDF is an all volunteer effort. There are no salaries, no per diems, no slush fund, no petty cash. Not only does no one get paid, we all chip-in to cover overhead. If something needs to get printed, or we need to rent space for an event, somebody has to pay for it out of pocket.
root: That must get expensive!
Westwind: It does, but the sad fact is that, in America, justice is a commodity, and it doesn't come cheap. I can't afford to hand Tre $25,000 to cover his defense, but I can invest a little here and a little there in an effort to bring that in. Our agreement with the NLG is that every cent must go to legal expenses. period. Which is fine, working through the NLG gives us both protection and legitimacy. The public recognizes the integrity of the NLG, and knows that they are not a fly-by-night operation. If we were just a bunch of radicals with a bank account I don't think we would be able to raise as much as we have. People respond to that accountability and the fact that every cent goes directly to the cause.
root: Have you raised the $25,000?
Westwind: Not yet, but we will.
root: So what's happening with the case right now?
Westwind: Tre has an Admissibility Hearing (for his refugee claim) on the 31st, if that hearing goes well he may have the opportunity for a Bail Hearing. Potentially he could be released then.
root:how's he holding up?
Westwind: Amazingly well. Clearly that foreign prison is no holiday camp, but it's not Abu Ghraib either. Tre has an indomitable spirit, and he's not letting the assholes get to him ~he is really looking forward to his bail hearing!
root: and if they want to make a contribution?
Westwind: make checks out to TALDF and send them to 125 NE 83rd Portland, Oregon 97220
root: What if somebody just tells me they are collecting funds for Tre, how do I know it's legit?
Westwind: We don't have canvassers or anything like that. There have been a few folks in other parts of the country who have collected funds and sent them to us, and I know there are a lot of people working to get the word out about the case and the need for donations. The best way to be sure your funds get to Tre's lawyers is to send contributions to TALDF.
root: Are any other groups fund raising for Tre?
Westwind: a few prisoner support groups have put out calls for folks to donate, there again the checks are sent directly to us.
root: How can folks stay updated on the case?
Westwind: Portland IndyMedia is a good source for info, folks can also check out www.trearrow.org
address: 125 NE 83rd Portland, Oregon 97220
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