RNC 8: Funds update

RNC 8From the Friends of the RNC 8:

Dear Friends, Family and Supporters,

As we’ve stated in recent emails and on our website, the resolution of the RNC 8 case means that we have no further fundraising needs and, thus, that we are no longer accepting donations. However, this leaves us with a sum of unused money, much of which had been set aside to cover anticipated costs at trial. We have already made final payments to attorneys who worked on the case, and have set aside money for Erik’s commissary and support expenses while he serves his jail sentence. We’re also taking the time to make sure that all remaining defense-related expenses are covered, but we still expect to have funds left when all is said and done.

We believe that this money was donated to us for a specific purpose (supporting defendants through a trial and covering any related costs) that no longer applies, and we feel an obligation to donate it elsewhere in a manner reflective of the intentions of our supporters. However, knowing that we cannot promise to meet the wishes of every single donor, we have decided to return individual donations upon request. For logistical reasons, we do have to put some limitation on this, and so we’re asking that anybody who has donated in the past year and who wants a refund please email us at info@rnc8.org before November 15, 2010. Please include the form (cash, check, Paypal), date and amount of the donation, as well as a name and address.
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Community, Solidarity, Resistance: The Conclusion of the RNC 8 Case and Some Lessons Learned

RNC 8More than two years after the 2008 Republican National Convention, it appears that the last legal and political defense work is finally reaching a conclusion. Two years of standing together, not always in agreement, but bound by our outrage against a state which systematically destroys our supposed rights. Two years of coming to understand that we are not exceptional and that these rights do not actually exist for anyone except the richest of the rich. Two years of standing and fighting together anyway, retaining our dignity and our strength in our own separate ways.

Earlier today (October 19, 2010), Max Specktor and Rob Czernik pled guilty to gross misdemeanor Conspiracy to Riot, and Garrett Fitzgerald and Nathanael Secor pled guilty to gross misdemeanor Conspiracy to Damage Property. These are all non-cooperating plea agreements; they will not be called upon to testify against anyone else. All of them received 100 hours of community service to be served over 10 months, no jail time or restitution, and a $200 fine. Max and Nathanael were sentenced to one year supervised probation; Garrett and Rob, two years. We recognize that the plea deal may come as a surprising development to supporters, especially considering that the prosecution originally branded the RNC 8 “terrorists” and was still committed to securing felony convictions for certain defendants only two weeks ago.
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RNC 8: Tentative plea deal for the remaining defendants

RNC 8It is with strong and mixed emotions that we bring important news: there appears to be a major change in the cases of the four remaining RNC 8 defendants–Garrett, Max, Nathanael and Rob. The four have tentatively reached a plea agreement with prosecutors, likely avoiding trial. The agreement, if it goes according to plan, significantly reduces the charge, calls for favorable sentencing, and is non-cooperating.

We wish to thank you for being there for the 8 and for us all along. You raised funds, raised consciousness of the fight against criminalization of dissent, and raised the next generation of rebels and revolutionaries to keep the struggle going. You were there at the jail vigil and the very first hearings; you were there in the kitchen and the dining room at our community meals; you were there at our rallies and actions. You were there at meetings, you were there at fundraisers, and you were there in the courtroom, through thick and thin.

Now, please be there in the courtroom for what we expect to be one final time:

* When: Tuesday, October 19, at 9am
* Where: Ramsey County Courthouse, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul

Check our updates or the monitors in room 131 for the courtroom number. Please stay afterwards for a press conference and address immediately upon conclusion of the hearing.

We understand this news may well be surprising. Many of us feel the same and much, much more, but above all, we personally support all the defendants in their difficult decision and will continue to support them through whatever hurdles remain. We will release more information, analysis and logistical updates to you all after details are confirmed on Tuesday. We ask that, until then, speculation or rumor be kept to a minimum.

Again, thank you for your continued support and struggle.

In solidarity,

the RNC 8 Defense Committee

Calling All RNC 8 Supporters: We Need Your Help!

RNC 8You were with us when the prosecutor dropped the terrorism enhancement charges. You were with us when the judge granted the joint trial. You were with us as the defendants and their lawyers fought in court to have the charges thrown out. And you were with us when the prosecutor completely dropped the charges against Eryn, Luce and Monica.

Now we need you to be with us as Garrett, Max, Nathanael and Rob go to trial.
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Setting the record straight: FBI surveillance and Iowa City

From The Daily Iowan

We speak as some former members of an anarchist group from Iowa City no longer in existence, Wild Rose Rebellion. Recently, the Des Moines Register came out with a story detailing the FBI’s extensive surveillance while we planned attendance at the protest at the 2008 Republican National Convention. It has become obvious to us that there are a lot of misconceptions floating around, so we thought you might like to hear our take on the issue.

From the Palmer Raids and the Red Scare of the 20th century to the prosecution of animal-rights activists and protest organizers of today, our history is full of stories about civil-rights leaders, union organizers, and activists of all stripes being under surveillance — and often prosecuted — by the federal government. We were not surprised this happened to us. From our very first meeting, we shared stories about what had happened to those who protested at the conventions of 2004 and what we could expect to encounter.

Eight organizers of the 2008 Republican National Convention protests from Minneapolis-St. Paul were initially charged with “conspiracy to commit riot in furtherance of terrorism.” Four still face trial, including for “conspiracy to riot” — historically, a charge brought when nothing else exists to prosecute organizers.

The extensive surveillance and infiltration of their above-ground work by federal authorities was one part of the same effort used against us here in Iowa City. The documents released also show that authorities attempted to connect our organizing work to animal- and environmental-liberation activities, something authorities have been criminalizing to a greater degree in recent years — the “Green Scare,” as some have labeled it. We condemn this repression and declare our solidarity with those under such persecution.

Like many involved in work for social transformation, we are working-class people with rather limited resources. Not everyone involved in the planning could actually go to the convention, but they helped as they could with such items as gas money and helping get the word out. The idea of facing serious federal charges for protest activity is certainly a scary one.

However, the problem for us is not that the authorities went through our trash and watched us walk from our meetings at the library to a restaurant, bar, or grocery store. The real problem is that this seems intended to intimidate people from getting involved in such work.

Whether you think it was a good idea for the FBI to kept an eye on us just in case we were “dangerous extremists” or you are outraged at the waste of taxpayer money and intrusion on our rights, the bottom line is that you should know this goes on. You should know what the FBI is doing and the effect that it has on dissent. You should know what we are doing and why. That message seems lost in the controversy.

Besides the protest activity in question, members of our group worked on a number of issues, from supporting a union picket of Wells Fargo Bank to putting on a benefit for those affected by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids here in Iowa. We also confronted neo-Nazis in Des Moines and helped organize a community garden in Iowa City.

Simply put, we are for directly democratic and self-organized social movements, and we continue to be involved in such projects.

RNC 8: Charges dropped for 3 of the 7 remaining defendants!

The RNC 8 received some surprising news Thursday afternoon – charges against Luce Guillen-Givins, Monica Bicking and Eryn Trimmer have been dropped!

The fact that charges have been dismissed against these three members of what Ramsey County has for two years labeled a “criminal enterprise” exposes the political motivations behind this case. Although today’s news is an amazing development, charges against four of the eight defendants still remain and must continue to be fought with renewed strength.

Thanks to everyone who has struggled alongside the 8 and the RNC 8 Defense Committee to help get these charges dropped – and please join us as we continue to seek justice for Max, Rob, Garrett and Nathanael. We’ll post more information and analysis on this development soon -stay tuned.

RNC 8: Erik Oseland pleads guilty, receives 91 day sentence in work house

ErikFrom Twin Cities – by Emily Gurnon

From a bang to a whimper.

The criminal case against Republican National Convention protester Erik Oseland was resolved this afternoon, when he pleaded guilty to third-degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property, a gross misdemeanor.

The other charges against him were dismissed.

The former member of the RNC 8 admitted to talking with several other people before the 2008 event about knocking over newspaper boxes, thus “impeding the flow of convention traffic,” said his attorney, Ted Dooley.

“You understand when you tip over these things, it damages the property,” Dooley asked Oseland.

“Yes,” Oseland said.

Oseland didn’t damage any property; he was arrested two days before the convention began.

Ramsey County District Judge Teresa Warner sentenced Oseland to the time agreed upon in the plea agreement: 91 days in the workhouse — with the condition that he not be called to testify against any other RNC defendants.

It was a far cry from two years ago, when investigators raided the homes of two would-be protesters and Sheriff Bob Fletcher displayed at a press conference what they had found: sharp objects to pierce delegates’ buses, buckets of alleged urine to throw at police and materials to make Molotov cocktails, among other things, he asserted.

Fletcher said at the time that plans were under way “to both shut down the Republican National Convention and actually harm the officers that are working this convention” and added that what was found “is only a portion of what is out there.”

Eventually, eight members of the RNC Welcoming Committee, an anarchist protest group, were charged with second-degree conspiracy to commit riot in furtherance of terrorism — a charge that carried a potential five years in prison.

The county attorney’s office later dropped the terrorism charges. But the eight still faced charges of first-degree conspiracy to commit property damage and second-degree conspiracy to commit riot, both felonies.

The 2008 criminal complaint against the group alleged that Oseland put a video on YouTube entitled “Video Map of the St. Paul Points of Interest,” which featured prominent buildings and hotels in downtown St. Paul. It alleged that he and another man had discussed making Molotov cocktails to use during the RNC protests. It also accused him of planning to disable delegates’ buses.

Oseland, 23, of Nisswa, Minn., declined comment after the hearing.

County Attorney Susan Gaertner said that whenever a case involves multiple defendants and conspiracy charges, “you’re going to have varying degrees of culpability.

“You’re also going to have varying degrees of evidence to support the charge of conspiracy,” Gaertner said. “That certainly was an aspect of resolving the case against Mr. Oseland.”

She said she did not know whether any other plea offers were on the table for the remaining defendants.

Dooley said the fact that Oseland would not have to testify against his co-defendants was “pivotal” to his agreeing to the plea.

“He wouldn’t do that if you burned his feet,” Dooley said.

At least two of the other RNC defendants attended the hearing.

“The seven of us are still committed to taking it all the way to trial,” said defendant Garrett Fitzgerald.

Asked if they were disappointed in today’s plea, defendant Max Specktor said, “Conspiracy charges create these situations where the state tries to divide us. That’s the greater disappointment.”

Critics have derided law enforcement and the county attorney’s office for prosecuting the protesters, saying the focus on them has been an attempt to “criminalize dissent.”

“This is clearly not about criminalizing dissent,” Gaertner said. “It’s about criminalizing destructive behavior and prosecuting destructive behavior. He pleaded guilty to that, and I think that’s appropriate.”

Oseland must report to the Ramsey County workhouse on Oct. 20.