Movements for independence & self-determination
Eco & animal liberation movements
- Green Scare
- Briana Waters
- Marius Mason
- Eric McDavid
- SHAC 7
- Rod Coronado
- San Diego Grand Jury
- Salt Lake City Grand Jury
- Davenport Grand Jury
Anti-war & international solidarity movements
Anarchism, Free Press & Information Freedom
Movements for independence & self-determination
Puerto Rican independence activist Norberto A. Cintrón Fiallo served 18 months for contempt after refusing to provide two federal grand juries in New York with hair samples and testimony. In fact, Cintrón Fiallo refused to recognize the authority of the grand jury.
The first grand jury impaneled in 1980 failed to find Cintrón Fiallo in contempt and was abruptly dissolved so that a second grand jury could be impaneled. This second grand jury found Cintrón Fiallo in contempt for refusing to cooperate and subsequently jailed him. The court forbade jurors from the initial grand jury to discuss why it was dissolved. It wasn't until many years later that one of the grand jurors, an evangelical minister, felt guilty for not speaking up at the time and went to the media with the story.
In the early 1980s Cintrón Fiallo was a board member of CUCRE (Committee Against Repression), which led a campaign against grand jury cooperation. At the time, there were more than 100 people that had been subpoenaed to federal grand juries in New York and Puerto Rico. But, because of resistance by a small group of activists, the grand juries were withdrawn. Yet, based on the continuing use of grand juries against Puerto Rican independence activists, the fight is far from over.
In continued attacks against the Puerto Rican independence movement in Puerto Rico and the United States, the FBI subpoenaed three New York City activists, Christopher Torres, Tania Frontera and Julio Antonio Pabon, to a federal grand jury in December 2007. Many from the Puerto Rican diaspora and Puerto Rico assert that the subpoenas are related to an investigation into the Macheteros and are part of a long pattern of repression of independentists by the US government. According to the New York Daily News, Frontera and Torres were active several years ago in the successful movement to end the Navy's use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as a bombing range.
In 2000, former FBI Director Louis Freeh declassified thousands of internal agency documents about FBI activities in Puerto Rico, revealing a campaign by the agency to disrupt and persecute independence groups from the 1930s to the late 1970s. In January 2009, hundreds of people protested in multiple US cities and in Puerto Rico against the continued political repression.
For more information on these pro-independence activists: http://boricuahumanrights.org/civil-liberties-and-repression/grand-jury-subpoenas/
Five people were jailed for contempt after refusing to testify before a state grand jury, convened in San Francisco in 2005 to help indict several former Black Panthers for a crime that happened more than 35 years ago. Then, on January 23, 2007, despite any new evidence, the California Attorney General arrested eight former Black Panthers for the killing of a San Francisco police officer in 1971. The defendants, known as the SF-8, are currently being prosecuted based on similar charges that were thrown out after it was revealed police used torture to extract confessions when some of these same men were arrested in New Orleans in 1973.
Richard Brown, Richard O'Neal, Ray Boudreaux, and Hank Jones were arrested in California. Francisco Torres was arrested in Queens, New York. Harold Taylor was arrested in Florida. Two other men charged -- Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim -- have been held as political prisoners for over 30 years in New York State prisons. The men were charged with the murder of Sgt. John Young and conspiracy that encompasses numerous acts between 1968 and 1973.
Harold Taylor and John Bowman (recently deceased) as well as Ruben Scott (thought to be a government witness) were first charged in 1975. But a judge tossed out the charges, finding that Taylor and his two co-defendants made statements after police in New Orleans tortured them for several days employing electric shock, cattle prods, beatings, sensory deprivation, plastic bags and hot, wet blankets for asphyxiation. Such "evidence" is neither credible nor legal.
In 2008, charges were dropped against Richard O'Neal, and by July 2009, Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim had been sentenced to probation and time served, after Bell agreed to plead to voluntary manslaughter and Muntaqim to conspiracy to voluntary manslaughter. All charges were then dropped against Richard Brown, Hank Jones, Harold Taylor, and Ray Boudreaux, with the prosecution admitting it had "insufficient evidence" against them. Francisco Torres, the only remaining defendant in the case, was further prosecuted for another 2 years until his charges were finally dismissed in August 2011.
For more information on the SF-8: http://freethesf8.org/
During the height of the stand-off at Standing Rock over the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, the federal government convened a grand jury ostensibly to investigate the events of November 20, 2016, during which Morton County police used concussion grenades and a firehose to disperse a prayer ceremony on the Backwater Bridge. This police attack caused many injuries, including those of Sophia Wilansky, a 21-year-old New York woman who nearly lost her arm.
Water Protector Steve Martinez was called before the federal grand jury in early 2017 and is one of the only people publicly known to have been subpoenaed. Martinez took an early and public stand against cooperating with the grand jury and, likely as a result, the federal government withdrew his subpoena in March 2017 before he was scheduled to testify.
The Water Protector Legal Collective said the grand jury was part of "a broader effort to criminalize Water Protectors and to unfairly target individuals in an effort to divide the movement." Unfortunately, several Water Protectors have been indicted on federal charges such as civil disorder, and hundreds more are facing state charges as a result of their free speech and religious activity.
Eco & animal liberation movements
"Green Scare" refers to the federal government's attack on environmental and animal liberation movements. Taking cues from tactics used in Red Scares of the past, the federal government has used harassment, intimidation, prosecution, and imprisonment to undermine these newer movements for social change. Many of the criminal cases pursued by the federal government begin as grand juries.
In 2006, federal, state and local governments conspired to indict by grand jury, arrest, and convict alleged Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front activists on charges related to property damage, conspiracy, arson and use of destructive devices. This government conspiracy, which included "Operation Backfire," the criminal cases of the SHAC7, Eric McDavid and Rod Coronado, was also instrumental in passing repressive legislation such as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, an attempt to blur the lines between activism and terrorism.
On December 7, 2005, one of the largest roundups of environmental and animal liberation activists in American history began. "Operation Backfire" is the name given by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to the ten year old investigation and indictment of fifteen individuals accused of several arsons in Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Colorado and California between 1996 and 2001 claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) or the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
Despite controversial "evidence" obtained from a self-admitted serial arsonist through grand jury testimony, the federal government sought unprecedented punishment for non-violent incidents. Some of the charges carried mandatory minimum sentences of 30 years and some of the indictees faced mandatory minimum sentences of life in prison if convicted of all charges. The FBI justified the severity of the charges by asserting that the accused were "terrorists," though the charges leveled against them were not terror related and the crimes of which they were accused harmed no one. The most severe charges were arson-related, carrying a typical sentence of 5 year in the U.S.
In a symbolic and practical act of resistance, local activist Jeffrey Hogg refused to testify before a grand jury in Eugene after being subpoenaed in early 2006. In May of that year, Hogg was charged with civil contempt for refusing to testify and jailed until the end of the grand jury in November 2006.
To escape the possibility of life in prison, all but four of the defendants turned police informant in July 2006 and cooperated fully with prosecutors agreeing to testify against co-defendants in exchange for leniency. On November 9, 2006, the remaining four defendants - Daniel McGowan, Jonathan Paul, Joyanna Zacher, and Nathan Block - struck a deal with prosecutors where they admitted their responsibility, but would not inculpate any other individual, whether they be informant, fugitive, or deceased. Offering "global resolution" to the case, these arrestees (except Jonathan Paul) were facing life in prison, but received downward departures similar to those who cooperated with the prosecution.
The bulk of the defendants were sentenced in June 2007. The sentences ranged from 3 to 13 years in prison with many defendants receiving a Terrorism Enhancement (TE) after U.S. District Court Judge Aiken decided that certain actions were intended to coerce the federal government.
Briana Waters was the only person indicted from the Green Scare grand jury in 2006 to take her case to trial. Waters was tried and convicted in March 2008 for her alleged involvement as a lookout in a 2001 arson at the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture. The protest, which was aimed at the genetic engineering work done by the university, resulted in millions of dollars in damage. Waters was acquitted of the most serious charges, including one that carried a mandatory minimum of 30 years, but was found guilty of arson, sentenced to 6 years in federal prison, and ordered to pay $6 million in restitution.
While she was serving her sentence, Waters' appeal was granted in September 2010 by the Ninth Circuit Court and her conviction was reversed. Finding her trial unfair, the court ordered Waters released on bail pending a new trial or other disposition.
For more information on how to support Briana Waters: http://supportbriana.org/
After a federal grand jury was convened to aid the federal government in its quest to indict environmental activist Marius Mason, he was arrested on March 10, 2008. Mason, an avid community gardener, musician, writer, Earth First! organizer and volunteer for a free herbal healthcare collective, was an extended care assistant at a small Cincinnati school when he was arrested by federal agents. According to his supporters, Mason was arrested for his supposed involvement in a December 1999 arson at a Michigan State University agricultural genetics laboratory, and a January 2000 arson of logging equipment in Mesick, Michigan. Both arsons were the first US-based actions by the Earth Liberation Front against genetic engineering research, which was being funded by the US government and corporations like Monsanto.
After pleading guilty, Mason was sentenced in February 2009 to nearly 22 years in prison. Mason is appealing the sentence, which supporters are calling "cruel and unusual punishment." In similar fashion to all of the other Green Scare cases, no one was injured in the arsons for which Mason has been accused.
For more information on Marius Mason and how to support him: facebook.com/supportmariusmason.
In another case of government repression connected to the "Green Scare" attacks against environmental activists, Eric McDavid was arrested alongside Zachary Jenson and Lauren Weiner on January 13, 2006, in Auburn, California. McDavid was charged with a single federal charge of conspiracy to destroy property by means of fire or explosives and was tried in Sacramento in September 2007. McDavid's charge was based on the work of "Anna," an 18-year old woman who was employed by the FBI and paid $65,000 to fabricate a crime and entrap McDavid and his friends. This FBI employee first encountered McDavid in 2004, when she was engaged in surveillance of radical and countercultural movements. The testimony of "Anna" at trial revealed she was the prime instigator of sabotage, though consensus was never reached on a target. The informant furnished funds, accommodation, and other necessary resources, keeping the group together and constantly advocating for criminal activity.
The jury convicted McDavid on September 27, 2007, based on the testimony of "Anna," the government informant and provocateur, as well as the testimony of McDavid's two co-defendants, who agreed to testify against him in exchange for reduced sentences. Jurors in McDavid's trial have indicated that they would have voted for acquittal, but for a single jury instruction. Some of McDavid's jurors were informally interviewed following the trial and stated they were appalled by how the FBI handled the case and with "Anna's" testimony at trial. In May 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Morrison England used a terrorism enhancement to sentence McDavid to 19 years, 7 months in prison for a supposed sabotage plan that was never hatched. McDavid is currently appealing his conviction.
For more information on Eric McDavid and how to support him: http://supporteric.org/
On March 2, 2006, six animal welfare advocates associated with the group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) were convicted in federal court of conspiring to cause financial damages to an animal testing company. The defendants were commonly known as the SHAC 7 before the government dropped charges against one of their co-defendants. The company Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) performs vivisection experiments on about 75,000 beagle puppies, rabbits, mice, and other animals each year, and kills 500 animals a day. The defense was not allowed to present any evidence that related to the cruelty of vivisection or reflected on the virtues of the SHAC protests.
The crux of the government's case was that SHAC used its website, which was taken offline following the verdict, to encourage others to commit crimes against HLS and its supporters. The group's campaign to get HLS to stop testing on animals or close down has had a large degree of success. Dozens of large companies, including The Bank of New York, Stephens Inc. and Marsh Inc. have pledged in writing to never have anything to do with HLS again.
In September 2006, after a tirade of inflammatory rhetoric by the prosecution, impassioned speeches by the defense, and commentary by the court, the six (Kevin Kjonaas, Lauren Gazzola, Jacob Conroy, Joshua Harper, Andrew Stepanian, and Darius Fullmer) received various sentences between 12 and 72 months. In addition, the court ordered the (penniless) defendants to pay $1,000,001 in restitution. Four of the individuals are currently serving out their sentences in federal prison (Darius Fullmer and Andrew Stepanian have been released after completing their sentences). The defendants lost the appeal of their conviction in the Third Circuit Court in October 2009.
For more information on the SHAC 7 and how to support them: http://www.shac7.com/
In a case related to, but separate from, the eco-sabotage indictments being prosecuted in Eugene, Oregon, the U.S. Attorney in San Diego unsealed an indictment in February 2006 after obtaining "evidence" from a federal grand jury. The indictment charged environmental and Native American activist Rodney Coronado with demonstrating how to use an incendiary device. After a lecture in 2003, Coronado, of Tucson, Arizona, answered a question about how he made an incendiary device used in an action for which he had spent four years in federal prison several years ago. Coronado was charged with distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.
Coronado's trial began on September 10, 2007. During the course of this trial, Coronado's defense counsel revealed an audio recording of his 2003 speech, as well as Coronado's answer to questions from the audience at this event. As the evidence directly contradicted sworn testimony by government witnesses, Coronado's jury deadlocked on September 19, with a majority of jurors voting for acquittal. Despite this mistrial, federal prosecutors continued their politically motivated attacks on Coronado, promising to not only bring the San Diego case to trial again, but also to open up another prosecution based on the content of a speech given by Coronado in Washington, D.C. in January 2003. Having fought the government's charges for almost two years, Coronado agreed to a plea deal on December 14, 2007 for a one-year prison sentence, so as to avoid the continuing malicious prosecutions against him, which could have led to a significantly longer sentence.
On August 3, 2010, Coronado was sentenced to four months in federal prison for allegedly violating the terms of his probation -- for "associating" with Earth First! cofounder and former Greenpeace U.S.A. Director Mike Roselle, by accepting his "friendship" on Facebook, and for accessing an unauthorized computer outside his home. Coronado's three-year probation term starts anew after his release.
For more information on Rod Coronado and how to support him: http://supportrod.org/
Nine community organizers from throughout San Diego County and other parts of California were subpoenaed to appear before a San Diego federal grand jury in 2005. The subpoenas were supposedly related to a federal investigation of the 2003 burning of a La Jolla apartment complex, for which the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) claimed responsibility, and also for which the FBI has admittedly little evidence or credible leads. At least three activists (Nicole Fink, David Agranoff and Danae Kelley) refused to testify before the grand jury and were jailed for up to 3 months for civil contempt.
As a result of a federal grand jury in Salt Lake City, UT, two people were indicted and an additional person was charged with both civil and criminal contempt. William "BJ" Viehl and Alex Hall were arrested on March 5, 2009, by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and charged with "damaging and interfering with the operation of an animal enterprise" under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). They were indicted by a federal grand jury for their alleged part in an August 2008 action to liberate farmed mink, as well as for a similar mink farm action in October 2008, both in Utah.
Jordan Halliday, an animal rights activist living in Salt Lake City, though not considered a suspect, was arrested on March 13, 2009, for refusing to cooperate with the federal effort to gather information on the animal rights movement in Utah. Halliday was charged with civil contempt and jailed for 4 months for his refusal to testify before the grand jury convened to indict Viehl and Hall. Soonafter being released, Halliday was charged again, this time with criminal contempt, which can result in a lengthier sentence than that imposed under civil contempt (the length of the grand jury). In August 2010, Halliday pleaded guilty to criminal contempt and in November 2010 was sentenced to 10 months in prison. Halliday appealed the draconian sentence, but lost and began serving his time on January 9, 2012.
Viehl and Hall both pleaded guilty and were the first to receive prison sentences under the AETA. In July 2010, Viehl and Hall were sentenced to 24 months and 21 months, respectively. Both sentences were more than three times the recommended sentence of 6 months for such crimes.
Minneapolis activist Carrie Feldman was subpoenaed to a grand jury in Davenport, IA, in October 2009. The grand jury was supposedly investigating a 2004 animal liberation action at the University of Iowa in which research equipment was damaged and hundreds of animals were set free. After refusing to cooperate with the grand jury, Feldman was called back in November, along with Minneapolis activist Scott DeMuth who had since been subpoenaed to the same grand jury. Both Feldman and DeMuth refused to cooperate and, on November 17, 2009, were jailed for civil contempt.
On November 18, 2009, a day after being jailed for contempt, DeMuth was federally indicted on conspiracy to "commit animal enterprise terrorism and cause economic damage to the animal enterprise in an amount exceeding $10,000" under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA). DeMuth was then re-indicted on April 13, 2010, and charged with "conspiracy" in additional animal liberation actions.
Feldman, who was jailed for 4 months for her principled stand against cooperating with the grand jury, was released in March 2010, after the U.S. Attorney told the court that her testimony was no longer needed. DeMuth accepted a plea bargain in September 2010, which removed the University of Iowa raid from the indictment and reduced the charge from felony to misdemeanor conspiracy. DeMuth's plea agreement came with a 6-month prison sentence, no fine, and no requirement to cooperate with subsequent investigations or implicate others. The University of Iowa raid remains unsolved.
For more information on Feldman and DeMuth: http://davenportgrandjury.wordpress.com/
(Excerpted from an article by attorney Michael E. Deutsch in the Electronic Intifada)
Dr. Ashqar, a Palestinian and a former professor of business administration at Howard University, was acquitted in February 2007 by a federal court jury of participation in an alleged racketeering conspiracy charged against Hamas, the elected government of the Palestinian Authority, which had been designated in 1997 as a foreign terrorist organization by the US government. However, in November 2007, Dr. Ashqar was sentenced by a federal court in Chicago to a draconian sentence of more than 11 years for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience.
In 1998, Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar spent eight months in jail on civil contempt resulting from his unequivocal refusal to inform on others before a grand jury sitting in New York. He was released after a judge found that his refusal was based on deeply held principles which would not be affected by further incarceration. Four years later the government re-subpoenaed him to a grand jury sitting in Chicago. The subpoena was served just two weeks before Dr. Ashqar had voluntarily agreed to leave the country and forego his claim for political asylum. In light of his steadfast refusal in New York, the Chicago subpoena had no legitimate purpose and resulted in his imprisonment without criminal charge or trial. Further, the immunity offered to Dr. Ashqar in New York and Chicago, did not protect him from prosecution and persecution by the Israeli government and given the close working relations and sharing of information between the two governments there was more than a reasonable likelihood that any testimony by Dr. Ashqar would find its way to Israeli intelligence, jeopardizing his freedom when he returned to Palestine.
Despite this unfairness, the government chose to imprison Dr. Ashqar for civil contempt in Chicago and then after several months in prison indicted him for criminal contempt and obstruction for his grand jury refusals along with the racketeering conspiracy charge. After his conviction on the contempt and obstruction charges, the government relying on the "terrorism enhancement" in the sentencing guidelines asserted that Dr. Ashqar's refusal to testify before a grand jury investigating Palestinian terrorism, required him to be sentenced as if he aided and abetted terrorism, allowing for a sentence of up to thirty years.
The case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian highlights the ways in which the U.S. government has misused its justice system to propagate a post-9/11 campaign of political and racist repression. Al-Arian is a Palestinian-American immigrant who became a professor of computer science at the University of South Florida. Al-Arian was politically active throughout the 1980's and 1990's, delivering lectures across the nation on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Palestine, and later focused on the government's use of secret evidence in the deportation and persecution of "terror suspects."
In a drastic turn of events, Al-Arian became the very subject of the racist legal actions he sought to expose: On February 20, 2003, US Attorney General John Ashcroft accused Al-Arian of being the North American head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), indicting him and seven others. Al-Arian endured horrendous prison treatment, drawing the attention of Amnesty International, which in July 2003 petitioned the government for an improvement in Al-Arian's conditions.
At his December 2005 trial, Al-Arian was acquitted on eight of 17 counts, while remaining deadlocked 10-2 in favor of acquittal on the other nine. Of fifty-one charges against the four men, not one resulted in a conviction. However, in a secret trial in March 2006, Al-Arian pled guilty to conspiracy "to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist [sic], in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371." A judge gave him the maximum sentence of 57 months and deportation, but allowed his pre-trial incarceration to act as credit towards his new sentence. Al-Arian was due to be released in April 2007, and thereafter deported.
As part of Al-Arian's plea deal with the federal government, he agreed to not cooperate, testify, or provide evidence of his or others' actions. Despite this agreement, an effort was mounted to further punish and indefinitely imprison Al-Arian. In November 2006, the government used a Virginia federal grand jury, ostensibly investigating the International Institute of Islamic Thought, to subpoena Al-Arian, knowing that he would not cooperate. At the government's behest, a federal judge in Virginia found Al-Arian in civil contempt, forcing him to spend up to an additional 18 months in prison (the length of the grand jury). Al-Arian's lawyers argued that the grand jury subpoena violated his plea agreement with the U.S. attorney. In protest, Al-Arian launched a 60-day hunger strike, one of the longest in history, which ended in March 2007. Al-Arian was released on bail in September, 2008, after serving nearly 5 years in federal detention. A motion to dismiss the case, based on the government's violation of the 2006 plea agreement, has been pending since April 2009.
For more information on Dr. Sami Al-Arian and how to support him: http://www.freesamialarian.org
The federal government used grand juries, racial profiling, intimidation, and paid informants to aggressively pursue cases against Hamid Hayat and his father Umer, Pakistani-Americans living in Lodi, CA. In June 2005, the FBI made international headlines by accusing the Hayats of masterminding a domestic terror attack. Much of the Hayats' cases rested on manufactured evidence from an informant paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the FBI.
After pleading not guilty, the son, a farmworker, was convicted on April 25, 2006 of one count of providing material support to terrorists by attending a training camp in Pakistan and three counts of "lying" about it to the FBI. Continuing to maintain that he attended a religious school, not a terror camp, Hamid was sentenced September 10, 2007, on his 25th birthday, to 24 years in federal prison. Reports of racial slurs by the jury foreman at trial, prompted Hamid's attorneys to file a motion for a new trial. However, on May 17, 2007, U.S. District Court Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. rejected the motion. The trial of then-48-year old ice cream driver Umer Hayat, ended in mistrial after deadlocked jurors couldn't agree on his guilt. Rather than face a retrial, Umer pled guilty to a non-terrorist related crime in exchange for his release with time served.
Anti-war & international solidarity movements
A federal grand jury was convened in Alexandria, Virginia, in November 2010, ostensibly to investigate any connections between WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and then-U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who was arrested 6 months earlier in May 2010. Grand jury subpoenas were issued to members of the Bradley Manning Support Network (BMSN) and others in the Boston area. In a highly publicized effort to draw attention to a politically motivated grand jury and harassment of Manning's friends and supporters, David House of BMSN refused to answer questions when called before the grand jury in June 2011.
As rallies took place in Boston and Alexandria, at the courthouse where the grand jury was convened, House invoked his Fifth, Fourth, and First Amendment rights to not testify. Though he answered no questions other than about his identity, House took notes and later conveyed details of the apparent investigation to his and other defense attorneys. The questions focused on what House knew about Manning, WikiLeaks, Jacob Appelbaum, and other security researchers in the U.S.
Despite a refusal to cooperate by House and others, Manning was charged less than a month later in July 2010 with numerous offenses including violating the Espionage Act. Manning was eventually convicted by court-martial in July 2013 and sentenced to 35 years in prison. However, before President Obama left office, he commuted Manning's sentence to time served.
A day after being sentenced, Manning publicly announced that she was transgender and wanted to be known as Chelsea Manning.
In March 2019, Manning was called to testify before a new federal grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, but she refused to cooperate. Manning was found to be in civil contempt, imprisoned, and fined $1,000 per day, purportedly as a means of coercing her to testify. After spending a year in prison, and a day before Manning's lawyers were set to argue for her release, a federal judge for the eastern district of Virginia claimed that Manning's testimony was "no longer needed" and, on March 12, 2020, ordered her release. The judge also dismissed the grand jury that subpoenaed Manning, but refused to waive the fine which accumulated to a punitive $256,000.
For more information on how to support Chelsea Manning: facebook.com/savemanning.
In September 2010, more than 70 FBI agents raided the homes and offices of several anti-war and international solidarity activists, spanning the states of Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota. Activists were also visited and questioned by the FBI in California, North Carolina and Wisconsin. In addition to the seizure of computers, cell phones, organizational paperwork, and other personal items, fourteen people were subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Chicago. And, although the goals of the grand jury are kept secret by the government, search warrants and subpoenas indicate the FBI is investigating "material support" for organizations on the U.S. list of "foreign terrorist organizations."
Activists responded quickly by forming the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, a large coalition made up of more than 200 anti-war, international solidarity, labor, human rights, and legal groups. In October 2010, with the support of dozens of demonstrations across the country, all fourteen subpoenaed activists refused to testify before the grand jury, decrying the government's intimidation tactics. In December 2010, nine more Chicago-based activists were subpoenaed to the same grand jury and, like the 14 activists before them, refused to testify. Their refusal to cooperate was supported by demonstrations in more than 40 cities across the U.S.
Anti-war and international solidarity activists accuse the government of attempting to use the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project to derail and criminalize their efforts to support the liberation of Colombian and Palestinian people. Historically, the government has chosen to dubiously prosecute individuals and organizations that allegedly provide monetary support to groups designated as "terrorists," but the government is now going even further by using the Humanitarian Law Project ruling and "material support" statutes as a way to criminalize political speech and chill dissent against U.S.-led wars and occupations around the world.
For more information on the FBI raids and Chicago grand jury: http://StopFBI.net
Read how this federal grand jury is being used by the Justice Department to expand "Material Support" for terrorism laws
More than two months after a November 2003 Iowa anti-war demonstration at which activists crossed the perimeter of a National Guard base, federal grand jury subpoenas were served on February 3, 2004, to four activists and Drake University. The subpoenas were allegedly focused on the demonstrators' "unlawful entry," and whether plans for illegal activity were laid at an anti-war forum hosted by the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) at Drake University the day before the demonstration.
What stood out about the subpoenas was that the police and media were told about the planned acts of non-violent civil disobedience well in advance of the forum and demonstration. The Drake University subpoena went as far as to ask for records of attendees and organizers of the anti-war forum.
Then, two days after the subpoenas were served, on February 5, 2004, the federal government persuaded a judge to issue a gag order against Drake to prevent anyone at the University from discussing the subpoena. In the following days, the story received national media attention and comments from some of Iowa's Congressional delegation.
On February 9, 2004, Minneapolis NLG attorney Bruce Nestor filed a motion to compel the government to disclose the purpose for investigating Drake University records. Nestor was quoted by media saying, "To the extent that the grand jury is being employed for the purposes of . . . intimidating and harassing supporters of the peace or anti-war movement, the grand jury has clearly overstepped its authority." In response to these federal actions, the subpoenaed activists made it clear that they would refuse to testify before the grand jury.
The next day, approximately 150 Iowa activists led by the American Friends Services Committee gathered in Des Moines to protest the subpoenas and gag order. However, by this time, the government had mysteriously withdrawn both the subpoenas and gag order.
For more info on the Iowa grand jury: http://www.solidarity-us.org/node/1107
Anarchism, Free Press & Information Freedom
On October 9, 2019, Jeremy Hammond, an information activist, anarchist, and member of the hacktivist network Anonymous, was brought before a federal grand jury in the eastern district of Virginia, investigating WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. This was the same grand jury that subpoeaned Chelsea Manning. Like Manning, Hammond refused to testify and was convicted of civil contempt by the same judge that convicted Manning. Both were sentenced to a prison term up to the length of the grand jury.
Hammond was already in prison serving a 10-year sentence for pleading guilty to disclosing information about the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), revealing that they had been spying on human rights defenders at the behest of corporations and governments. WikiLeaks later published the files in partnership with other media organizations around the world.
Hammond was eligible for release in December 2019, but his sentence was suspended while he served his time for contempt. When a federal judge dismissed the grand jury on March 12, 2020, Hammond and Manning were both released from their sentence for contempt. Hammond then began serving out the rest of his 10-year term.
Hammond issued this statement about why he chose to resist the federal grand jury.
For more information on how to support Jeremy Hammond: freejeremy.net.
Longtime North Carolinian anarchist and activist Katie Yow was subpoenaed on July 10, 2017 to a federal grand jury in Greensboro, NC, purportedly investigating an alleged firebombing of the Republican headquarters in Hillsborough, NC in October 2016. The Assistant U.S. Attorney who led the investigation said the government was also interested in "other people" and "other events," underscoring the grand jury's broad scope. Yow said publicly that she knows nothing about the event and has steadfastly refused to cooperate with the grand jury.
On Yow's hearing date, July 31, 2017, she held a press conference in front of the federal courthouse in Greensboro announcing her refusal to testify. Yow issued this statement about why she chose to resist the federal grand jury. The U.S. Attorney's Office apparently blinked and still has not offered Yow conditional immunity, the next step before charging her with contempt.
For more information on how to support Katie Yow: ncresiststhegrandjury.com.
On the same day, in July 2012, the FBI raided several activists' homes and subpoenaed people in Seattle, Olympia, and Portland to appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle, ostenisbly investigating events surrounding May Day actions in the city earlier that year. During the raids, which appeared to target anarchists across the northwest, dozens of FBI agents broke down doors, entered homes with automatic weapons drawn, and used flash-bang grenades in an attempt to terrorize and intimidate the anarchist community. In addition to seizing computers, phones, hard-drives and other personal items, the FBI also seized black clothing, flags and anarchist literature. It was later discovered that the Seattle grand jury was convened in March, nearly two months before the May Day actions had occurred.
At least five activists have been subpoenaed to the Seattle grand jury. Three of those activists -- Matt Duran, Katherine "KteeO" Olejnik, and Matthew "Maddy" Pfeiffer -- were incarcerated for their refusal to cooperate with the grand jury. For taking a principled stand against the government's fishing expedition and harassment of anarchists, all three activists were found guilty of civil contempt and imprisoned. After spending five months in jail, a federal judge agreed that Duran and Olejnik "will never end their confinement by testifying," and released them in March 2013. Pfeiffer was also subsequently released in April 2013.
Gerald "Jerry" Koch, an anarchist and activist in the legal support support community in New York City, was subpoenaed for the second time in April 2013 to a federal grand jury, ostensibly investigating the 2008 bombing outside of a military recruitment center in Times Square. Koch, who is not a suspect, has consistently denied knowing anything about the bombing, which only damaged the front door of the center and injured no one.
Koch was previously subpoenaed to a grand jury in 2009, but refused to testify. Citing his "ethical resistance" to "government intimidation," and an unwillingness to answer questions about his political beliefs and affiliations, Koch again refused to testify before the grand jury on May 22, 2013. As a result of his non-cooperation, Koch was charged with civil contempt and jailed for 8 months. Koch was released in January 2014 after a federal judge granted his Grumbles motion, agreeing that he was unlikely to ever cooperate with the grand jury.
For more info: Jerry Resists
Josh Wolf was an independent journalist and blogger who refused to turn over unpublished video out-takes to a federal grand jury allegedly investigating a July 2005 anarchist-organized, anti-G8 solidarity demonstration in San Francisco. After refusing to cooperate, Wolf was charged with civil contempt and jailed in July 2006 in an effort to coerce him to testify and turn over his unpublished material. Wolf resisted pressure to comply with the grand jury until April 2007, after spending many months in jail. Despite filing several legal briefs to quash the grand jury subpoena and seek release from jail, Wolf was unable to gain the favor of the courts. Wolf's final resolve, an agreement rendered with the federal government, was to post the video footage on his website and answer only limited questions for the grand jury.
For more info: http://joshwolf.net/freejosh/