The first interview with any of the Portlanders who were served grand jury subpoenas as FBI agents searched their homes on Wednesday, July 25, shines some light on what authorities may be hoping to achieve with the raids.
Dennison Williams was in bed at his house on NE 8th Avenue on Wednesday morning when he heard a bang and someone shout, “FBI!” Then came a loud crash, which turned out to be agents breaking down his front door, and Williams heard a bang and a saw a flash of light—the agents throwing flash grenades. Williams started yelling from his bed that he was upstairs and unarmed.
“I was scared,” he said. “The police in this town have a history of shooting people, I was worried they would accidentally shoot me.”
According to Williams, FBI officers entered his room with assault rifles and kept them aimed at him while they handcuffed him. They put him in a chair for about 30 minutes while they searched his house. Williams says there were about 15 FBI officers in the house, plus one Portland police officer on the street outside. According to the property receipt Williams received from the officers, the feds seized several items, including his computer, phone, hard-drive, two thumb drives, and various clothes (including black jeans, black t-shirt, and a black bandana). They then served him a subpoena to appear at a grand jury in Seattle next Thursday, August 2nd.
Williams is not sure exactly what the grand jury is meeting about, but that likely they want to ask him about other people. The FBI has said only that the raids are part of an ongoing “violent crime” investigation.
“It’s related to political opposition, it’s related to political dissent,” says Williams. “They’re trying to create a wedge within people who are resistors… They’re specifically pursuing anarchists.”
The FBI search warrant states that they are looking to seize items which may be evidence regarding the crimes of conspiracy to destroy government property, interstate travel with intent to riot, and conspiracy to travel interstate with intent to riot. Those items include: Clothing and related items work during commission of offenses; paint; sticks and flags similar to those used or carried during the commission of the offenses, and material for making flags; anti-government or anarchist literature, documentation or communications related to the offenses, flares, computers or electronic storage media of any kind.
On July 10th, Seattle police officers staged a similar raid on the house of some Occupy Mayday protesters in Seattle. On the day Williams’ house and two other houses in Portland were searched, the FBI served grand jury subpoenas to people in Olympia and Seattle, as well. Williams was not sure how many people were served subpoenas, but thinks it is somewhere around seven people, and says he “will not cooperate” with the grand jury. Anyone who refuses to testify when subpoenaed can potentially face jail time.
Political supporters calling themselves the “Committee Against Political Repression” have already set up a website to post information about the case and take donations to the legal fund: NoPoliticalRepression.wordpress.com. There, they’ve posted a “solidarity statement” from numerous activist groups condemning the “series of coordinated raids.”