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Grand Jury Repression - Bay Area

Within the last 2-3 weeks, federal grand juries in San
Francisco have subpoenaed several former Black
activists and their supporters (focusing on 30 year
old cases) and ten eco & animal rights activists. This
recent wave of repression against the progressive
movement is part of a stepped up offensive that
includes renewed and escalating publicity to capture
Assata Shakur, refusal to extradite CIA operative Luis
Posada Carilles and refusal to release former Black
Panther Veronza Bowers (now a year past his mandatory
release date) from federal prison. These examples are
just part of the evidence of a continued and
escalating war on dissent and dissenters.
The following statement from Josh was made at an event
to build support for the principle of noncooperation
and those resisters who are taking that stand before a
SF Federal Grand Jury (Josh is one of those being
called to testify).

"In recent months federal authorities have stepped up
the level of repression directed against animal
liberation and eco activists in the Bay Area. Near the
beginning of April, I awoke at six in the morning to
the sound of repeated doorbell rings. As one of my
roommates peeked out of the curtains of our apartment,
floodlights lit up the front of our building and loud
voices shouted up at us from below, "FBI, open up!"
Agents stormed through our home with their guns drawn
and pointed at us. We were handcuffed and ordered into
our living room. One of my roommates was arrested and
forcibly removed from our home. We were told that she
had been arrested on an outstanding warrant, issued
for the unauthorized use of a bullhorn stemming from a
demonstration she had taken part in, in November of
2004. Across the Bay agents clad in ski masks and
armed with assault weapons were simultaneously
violating the home of one of our friends in Oakland.

For eleven hours agents representing the FBI, ATF,
Secret Service, Coast Guard, Joint Terrorism Task
Force, US Marshals, and local police ransacked our
homes seizing computers, journals, photo albums,
books, music CDs and everything else they could get
their hands on. While the two houses were being picked
through, a third group of agents detained an
individual at Market Street and VanNess. They
attempted to lie, intimidate, and coerce her into
supplying them with a DNA sample. Fortunately we were
able to mobilize legal support quickly. One of our
attorneys swiftly intervened and removed her from the
situation.

This, unfortunately, was not the first time my life
has been disrupted due to my political beliefs. In
2000, Anita Carswell and I were falsely arrested on
felony vandalism charges for allegedly breaking
windows at Neiman Marcus in downtown San Francisco,
where we both regularly took part in anti-fur
demonstrations. The police immediately issued a
statement to the media assuring them that our
convictions were imminent, as they had a credible
witness and surveillance footage that proved our
guilt. The footage turned out to be nothing more than
a series of grainy still photographs of silhouettes.
The "credible witness" was unable to identify us in a
lineup, admitted to being under the influence of both
heroin and alcohol on the night in question, had
himself been convicted of felony vandalism for
breaking windows, and was being put up in a fancy
hotel and given spending money by the police
department for participating in the case against us.
After a week in jail, six months of supervised
release, multiple court proceedings and a lie
detector test, the charges against us were finally
dropped. Unhappy with the outcome, the FBI promptly
reopened the case and subpoenaed Anita to a grand
jury. To this date, they have not returned our
confiscated clothing or property. Anita resisted the
grand jury completely by not even bothering to show
up.

In the latest round of the FBI's campaign of
harassment and intimidation, myself and nine other
individuals have now been subpoenaed to appear before
a federal grand jury in San Francisco. Once used to
protect
citizens from unreasonable and malicious prosecution
by the state, the grand jury system is now used to
destroy social movements. Grand juries thrive on their
ability to operate in complete secrecy. Witnesses who
are
forced to appear before the grand jury are stripped of
their 5th amendment right to remain silent and are
denied their right to be represented by an attorney
within the grand jury room. Grand juries are used to
divide, isolate, intimidate and collect information on
social movements, as well as to imprison their
activists. They have been used extensively to harass
and target abolitionists, Puerto Rican independence
activists, Black Panthers, as well as the
environmental and animal liberation communities.

Those refusing to cooperate face many months, and even
years in prison.

At a recent hearing before the Senate Committee on
Environment and Public Works, John E. Lewis, Deputy
Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division of
the FBI testified that, "Investigating and preventing
animal rights extremism and eco-terrorism is one of
the FBI's highest domestic terrorism priorities."
Included in his description of animal rights extremism
and eco-terrorism were such nefarious activities as
office
takeovers, which he lumped into the same category as
bombings.

The escalation of repressive measures directed against
all social change activists is apparent. The
government's definition of terrorism has come to
include activities such as anti-war marches, peaceful
demonstrations, writing articles, unlatching cages,
taking over offices, and putting up websites. Not
included in their definition are activities such as
carpet-bombing civilian neighborhoods, denying
children access to food and medicine, anally
electrocuting fur-bearing animals, torturing
prisoners, cutting down old growth forests, or
shooting peaceful protestors with lethal rubber
bullets.

As we speak, a young man named Peter Young sits in
jail in Wisconsin awaiting trial. He has been charged
with Animal Enterprise Terrorism for allegedly
trespassing at fur farms, pulling down fences, opening
cages, and allowing the animals contained within them
to escape to freedom. For this "crime", Peter is now
facing a sentence of up to 82 years in prison. At his
last hearing, Bob Anderson, an assistant US attorney,
said Young committed "an act of terrorism" by trying
to impose his will on others by using violence.

In New Jersey, six animal liberation activists are
currently being tried on charges of Animal Enterprise
Terrorism, interstate stalking, and conspiracy. In
essence, they are accused of little more than
operating a website opposed to the contract animal
testing laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). If
convicted, they each will face up to 24 years in
prison.

It is no coincidence that the highly publicized senate
hearings on eco-terrorism, these two trials, and the
recent raids and subsequent grand jury subpoenas have
occurred in such close proximity. These actions
represent an attack by the federal government aimed at
straining our resources, breaking our resolve, and
imprisoning our activists. These actions are also
indicative of a renewed wave of repression directed
against all social change movements. Black liberation
activists and white anti-imperialists from the
movements of the 60's and 70's have also recently been
the targets of house raids and grand jury subpoenas.
These subpoenas are investigating actions against
that police that took place over thirty years ago in
the early 1970's. The federal government has also
escalated its campaign against Assasta Shakur. It is
clear that the government means to stamp out
resistance wherever it thrives.

As the government continuously redefines words such as
violence and terrorism to include the opening of
cages, the running of websites, and the fight against
oppression, they further their ultimate goal of
outlawing dissent altogether. It is imperative that we
stand up to this type of thuggery and in support of
those who find themselves the targets of government
harassment.

I refuse to cooperate with this grand jury, or with
any other despite what I may face. In the coming
months many of us will need your support. Protests
will be held outside of the San Francisco federal
courthouse at
each and every date that individuals are scheduled to
appear. As we show our resistance inside the grand
jury room, we ask that you join us and demonstrate
your resistance and solidarity outside of the
courthouse.

Please check www.fbiwitchhunt.com for updates and
upcoming demonstrations concerning our case and
others."


The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
www.freedomarchives.org