RNC 8 Charged as Terrorists Under State Patriot Act

Infoshop News

In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002
Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors
have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee
with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. Monica Bicking, Eryn
Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert
Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector, face up to 7 1/2 years in
prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which allows for a 50%
increase in the maximum penalty.

Affidavits released by law enforcement which were filed in support of the
search warrants used in raids over the weekend, and used to support
probable cause for the arrest warrants, are based on paid, confidential
informants who infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They
allege that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates to the RNC,
assault police officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage
airports in St. Paul. Evidence released to date does not corroborate these
allegations with physical evidence or provide any other evidence for these
allegations than the claims of the informants. Based on past abuses of
such informants by law enforcement, the National Lawyers Guild is
concerned that such police informants have incentives to lie and
exaggerate threats of violence and to also act as provacateurs in raising
and urging support for acts of violence.

“These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade
traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism. This
both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political
views of the Defendants on trial,” said Bruce Nestor, President of the
Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. “The charges represent an
abuse of the criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any person
organizing large scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil
disobedience, he said.”

The criminal complaints filed by the Ramsey County Attorney do not allege
that any of the defendants personally have engaged in any act of violence
or damage to property. The complaints list all of alleged violations of
law during the last few days of the RNC — other than violations of human
rights carried out by law enforcement — and seeks to hold the 8
defendants responsible for acts committed by other individuals. None of
the defendants have any prior criminal history involving acts of violence.
Searches conducted in connection with the raids failed to turn up any
physical evidence to support the allegations of organized attacks on law
enforcement. Although claiming probable cause to believe that gunpowder,
acids, and assembled incendiary devices would be found, no such items were
seized by police. As a result, police sought to claim that the seizure of
common household items such as glass bottles, charcoal lighter, nails, a
rusty machete, and two hatchets, supported the allegations of the
confidential informants. “Police found what they claim was a single
plastic shield, a rusty machete, and two hatchets used in Minnesota to
split wood. This doesn’t amount to evidence of an organized insurrection,
particularly when over 3,500 police are present in the Twin Cities, armed
with assault rifles, concussion grenades, chemical weapons and full riot
gear,” said Nestor. In addition, the National Lawyers Guild has previously
pointed out how law enforcement has fabricated evidence such as the claims
that urine was seized which demonstrators intended to throw at police.

The last time such charges were brought under Minnesota law was in 1918,
when Matt Moilen and others organizing labor unions for the Industrial
Workers of the World on the Iron Range were charged with “criminal
syndicalism.” The convictions, based on allegations that workers had
advocated or taught acts of violence, including acts only damaging to
property, were upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In the light of
history, these convictions are widely seen as unjust and a product of
political trials. The National Lawyers Guild condemns the charges filed in
this case against the above 8 defendants and urges the Ramsey County
Attorney to drop all charges of conspiracy in this matter.

Bruce Nestor, President
Minnesota Chapter of National Lawyers Guild
3547 Cedar Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55407

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Posted in USA

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