UPDATE: As of noon 8/29, all folks resisting the grand jury had their dates pushed back. It is no longer 8/30. The date has been pushed back to mid September
August 28, 2012
My name is Leah-Lynn Plante, and I am one of the people who has been subpoenaed to a secret grand jury, meeting in Seattle on August 30.
This will be the second time I have appeared before the grand jury, and the second time I have refused to testify. The first time was on August 2. I appeared, as ordered, and I identified myself. Then the US Attorney asked if I would be willing to answer her questions. I said, No, and was issued another subpoena, this time for the 30th.
A month later, my answer is still the same. No, I will not answer their questions. I believe that these hearings are politically motivated. The government wants to use them to collect information that it can use in a campaign of repression. I refuse to have any part of it.
It is likely that the government will put me in jail for that refusal.
I hate the very idea of prison. But I know, if I am sent there, I will not be alone. I can only speak for myself, but I have every faith that the others subpoenaed to these hearings will likewise refuse. And I know that hundreds of people have called the US Attorney demanding that they end this tribunal. Hundreds of organizations, representing thousands of people, signed onto a statement expressing solidarity with those of us under attack and demanding an end to this sort of repression.
I know that those people will continue to support me, and the others subpoenaed, and the targets of the investigation. That spirit of solidarity is exactly what the state fears. It is the source of our strength, yours and mine. And that strength shows itself in every act of resistance.
By Erik Loomis
On August 23, 1927, the state of Massachusetts executed two Italian immigrant anarchists by the names of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti for the murder of two men in a 1920 armed robbery in South Braintree. Although the two men may or may not have been involved in the crime, as Italian anarchists, they were on trial for their beliefs as much as the murder. Despite the lack of concrete evidence and international outrage over the miscarriage of justice, the state of Massachusetts railroaded them into the electric chair.
Sacco and Vanzetti were anarchists, men deeply affected by the terrible labor and social conditions of the early 20th century. Both immigrated from Italy in 1908, though they didn’t meet for nearly a decade. The seeming inability for the capitalist system to treat working people with dignity and respect drove many to desperation. By the 1890s, anarchism was a growing threat in the United States, perhaps most personified by Leon Czoglosz’s assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. Although that and other incidents convinced enough upper and middle-class Anglo-Saxons to enact limited reforms during the Progressive Era, the fundamental conditions of working-class urban life had changed little by 1920.
Sacco and Vanzetti both followed the teachings of Luigi Galleani, an anarchist theorist who advocated violence to overthrow the state. The Galleanists did in fact use violence in the United States. They were believed to be the group behind the bombing of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer’s home in 1919. Palmer, already cracking down on radicalism with the help of his young eager assistant by the name of J. Edgar Hoover, built upon this incident to intensify the Red Scare, that nation-wide crackdown on radicalism in all forms during and after American entry into World War I.
It was in this atmosphere that men like Sacco and Vanzetti were suspects in murders like that which took place on April 15, 1920, when armed robbers attacked a company payroll, killing two men. Although the evidence was indirect, the police suspected the greater Boston anarchist community, which was suspected in a series of other robberies to fund their activities. The police also discovered that one anarchist, Mario Buda had worked in two shops subjected to similar robberies. Upon questioning, Buda let slip that the local anarchist community had an automobile under repair, leading police to stake out the repair shop. The police convinced the garage owner to notify them when the anarchists arrived to pick up the car. When 4 men did, including Buda, Sacco, and Vanzetti, they sensed a trap and fled, but Sacco and Vanzetti were soon picked up. Both had guns at their homes; Sacco having a loaded .32 Colt similar to that used in the killings.
I’m not going to get into the details of the case, they are easy enough to read about if you want. Suffice it to say that the evidence was dicey that these two men committed the crime. It is at least possible that Sacco was directly involved, but Vanzetti was an intellectual and not a man of action; as John Dos Passos wrote in his defense of the men, “nobody in his right mind who was planning such a crime would take a man like that along.” Given the firearm evidence, the case against Vanzetti was far weaker than that against Sacco.
The trial was a farce. The judge, Webster Thayer, was a conservative who had openly called for a crackdown against Bolsheviks and anarchists and held deep prejudice against immigrants. Taylor asked for the assignment so he could make an example of Sacco and Vanzetti. After denying an appeal motion, Thayer famously told a lawyer, “Did you see what I did with those anarchistic bastards the other day?” He told reporters that “No long-haired anarchist from California can run this court!” Despite his bias, Thayer controlled the trial proceedings until the executions. Read the rest of this entry »
As many of you already know, earlier this month we printed new ‘Support Political Prisoners‘ shirts! We printed these shirts on heather gray, and we know ya’ll like to have options, so we decided to print a unisex version, and a female bodied fitted shirt. We think these shirts turned out awesome and we are very excited to see them on you!
We decided that all the proceeds from the shirts this month will be going to the support fund for CeCe McDonald. CeCe is a trans, woman of color who was arrested after she defended herself against a racist, transphobic attack against herself, and her friends. CeCe is spending two years in a male prison, this can be a horribly violent environment for a trans woman of color to do her time, so lets help her make her stay as bearable as we can. You can support CeCe, and get a cool shirt at the same time; how cool is that?
CeCe is in prison at MCF-St. Cloud, and the information we have from the DOC is that she’s likely to stay there. She can receive letters and books in prison: let her know she has a huge amount of ongoing community support and that we are all here for her. Click here for a mailing address and guidelines.
Grand juries are tools of government harassment that have long been used to intimidate and destroy radical movements. There are active grand juries convened in the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest. Several people have been subpoenaed and are scheduled to appear before the grand jury in the coming months. They need your support! Come out and learn what grand juries are and how they operate, what your rights are, and how you can support grand jury resisters.
6:00 – 8:00pm
SubRosa Community Space
703 Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA
This event is wheelchair accessible.
Here is another great discussion that we were able to film at the Law & Disorder conference in Portland this past April. In this video, Decolonize PDX discusses why they felt forming was so necessary, what Decolonize PDX means to the collective, occupy and people of color, and prison abolition. If this video interest you, we urge you to pass it around to friends and family!