G8/G20, They Few, We Many: Solidarity with the Toronto Arrestees

Here is a great statement from the RNC 8 Defense Committee on the police repression and targeting of activists in Toronto following the G20 protests.  It makes the important links between different actions facing similar charges and forms of repression from the state.  It’s essential that as we defend our movements, we do so in a holistic way, recognizing the way we are all affected when our comrades are beaten, intimidated, arrested and otherwise cracked down upon.

G8/G20, They Few, We Many: Solidarity with the Toronto Arrestees

June 2010 brought thousands upon thousands of dedicated activists to the streets of Toronto to protest and confront the G8/G20, as “world leaders” conspired to further destroy our communities and the world around us for the sake of power and profit. Residents of Toronto and activists from all over Canada and the world were met by an army of police officers with a budget of $1 billion to fund their campaign of repressive violence, fear and intimidation. This campaign was designed to sweep the streets of anyone daring to speak out against the destructive policies perpetuated by the G8/G20 and to scare people away from organizing resistance to these policies.

Not content with attacking people in the streets and arresting nearly 1100 protesters, the Canadian government also attacked the very ideas of community and organizing by arresting 17 prominent community organizers from around Canada and charging them with conspiracy. Those who have been released from jail face harsh bail conditions that prevent them from associating with people in their communities and from exercising their rights to organize and voice their dissent. This attempt at breaking solidarity amongst and with the accused must not and will not be successful. Continue reading

CRASS (Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure) releases new zine about RNC arrestee support efforts

CRASSThe CRASS Zine Project Working Group is pleased to announce the release of its much-anticipated zine about arrestee support efforts before, during, and after the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN.

The idea for this zine came about way back in the initial days of forming CRASS, and it was borne out of a sincere need to reflect on our efforts and share our successes and failures with the movement at large to help strengthen it. This zine is intended both as a critical examination for ourselves and other interested parties (no, not you, officer), and as a how-to guide for communities gearing up for a large mobilization in their neck of the woods. There are things we did really well, about which most of us remain proud and that we tend to think you could benefit from replicating. There are things we did poorly, and we hope you don’t fuck up in the same ways. There are things we wish we’d done, or thought of, or did better, and maybe they can be implemented down the road by someone more prepared…someone like you.
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Conspiracy Tour: We’re (still) getting ready

The Conspiracy Tour will be in Denver at the 27 Social Centre on August 12th

More information on the tour here.

RNC 8: Report from 5th day of hearings

On Friday, we heard the testimony of Chris Dugger, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Dugger started attending Welcoming Committee meetings in November of ’07. He was told to “listen and figure out what they were up to.” He didn’t start getting paid until spring of ’08, and was deputized at the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department after the RNC.

He was not informed much about the WC or anarchist philosophy before being sent in, but was told to read up on the Welcoming Committee website. He said that he developed a better understanding of anarchism in his time with the group, but not a full one. His understanding of anarchism is that it’s “kinda broad” and he “can’t cover everything,” but that it is “anti-government, anti-capitalist, and anti-law enforcement.” Later, when asked whether he considered anarchism to be a political philosophy, he said that he thinks it is more than that to the people he met, that it is a way of living by their beliefs. He said that anarchists can’t be recognized by how they look, and don’t have a uniform. He agreed that they had shared food and lodging and support for each other and for him.

Dugger discussed trips that he took with Welcoming Committee members to Madison, WI, for a conference, and to Waldo, WI, for the 2008 CrimethInc. Convergence. In Madison, he attended a workshop on direct action tactics led by Lisa Fithian. He does not recall if any of those tactics included violence or destruction of property. He described the CrimethInc. Convergence as a kind of a gathering where different workshops were taught, not just about protesting. He did not recall there being any workshops about harming people or property.
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RNC 8: Report from 4th day of hearings

Today was the fourth day of the RNC 8 hearings. Most of the day was spent questioning Sergeant Jay Maher of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department Defend the RNC 8Special Investigations Unit, who conducted extensive surveillance leading up to and following the RNC, worked with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department informants and supervised some of the raids. Chris Dugger, another Welcoming Committee informant, was unavailable to testify today, and will take the stand tomorrow morning.

Maher talked about the initiation of the investigation into the RNC WC. He said that as soon as the RNC was announced, they knew there would be protests and they were assigned to look into “open source” information to find out if there were indications that there would be illegal activity. They began the investigation by simply Googling RNC and related terms “to see what would come up.” They decided to investigate the Welcoming Committee based on posts on their website and the “We’re Getting Ready” video, which he said he found “disturbing.” He testified that he did not recognize it as satire. He saw it as an open invitation for protesters to use the tactics depicted in the video at the convention (one of the defense lawyers asked sardonically whether he was referring to the use of Molotov cocktails to light barbecue grills). Prosecutor Derek Fitch pointed to the fact that Molotov cocktails and shields were seized in advance of the convention from people from elsewhere who were not Welcoming Committee members as evidence that this was true.
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Update from third day of RNC 8 hearings

Today was a continuation of the Florence hearing to establish whether there was probable cause for the charges against the RNC 8. The entirety of the day was spent obtaining testimony from Marilyn Hedstrom, a.k.a. “Norma Jean Johnson”–a deputy from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department who attended RNC Welcoming Committee meetings and events undercover for approximately one year. Most information referenced came from reports that she had written immediately following each meeting and interaction with members of the Welcoming Committee. She only recalled wearing a wire on one occasion, when there was a specific meeting where she believed they would be talking about incriminating evidence.
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RNC 8: Updates from Court Hearings

Hi, everyone! We’ve had two long days in court so far in this round of RNC 8 hearings. Here’s a quick recap of what’s been going on. For detailed notes of the proceedings (in case any of y’all are legal nerds like us), go to: http://rnc8.org/info/courtnotes/.

Yesterday, May 3rd, was the first day of the hearings. The defense wanted to have a Florence hearing, in which they could challenge that the government has not shown any specific evidence to establish probable cause for the charges. The defense argued that the interpretation of the law that the government was using violated constitutionally protected free speech rights. They said that they would prove in these hearing that despite tens of thousands of pages of documents, hundreds of hours of audio and video recordings, and four infiltrators, the government has no proof of guilt in this case. The actions and activities advocated by the Welcoming Committee were acts of civil disobedience such as blocking traffic, and the actions actually taken were legal, logistical activities such as feeding and housing demonstrators. The main case of the government rests on a satirical video, guilt by association, statements and actions of people who are not the defendants, and discussions by the defendants that did not constitute any kind of a real plan or conspiracy to commit riot or damage to property.
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RNC8: We’re getting ready for court (Oct 25, 2010)

On Tuesday, the RNC 8 and a courtroom full of supporters sat through a hearing regarding several motions that had been filed in the previous months. While the proceedings were less than riveting, there were some surprising results. Even our old friend Bob Fletcher couldn’t resist showing up briefly to watch today’s hearing. Biggest news of the day? The trial date is set for October 25, 2010, so mark your calendars now.

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RNC 8: Reportback from February 2nd Hearing

Defend the RNC 8Yesterday, the RNC 8 and a courtroom full of supporters sat through a hearing regarding several motions that had been filed in the previous months. While the proceedings were less than riveting, there were some surprising results. Even our old friend Bob Fletcher couldn’t resist showing up briefly to watch today’s hearing. Biggest news of the day? The trial date is set for October 25, 2010, so mark your calendars now.

There will also be a number of new motions heard in May, so mark these dates as well: May 3-6, 13, and 14. During these days, the lawyers for the 8 will argue motions such as ones to suppress evidence seized during the preemptive raids prior to the RNC, and the probable cause motion as a part of evidentiary hearings that will include testimony from witnesses. More information will be available as the dates approach, but court support will be needed as always.

In addition to scheduling the hearing and trial dates, Judge Teresa Warner granted the motion to use a jury questionnaire. This questionnaire will hopefully result in a more thorough examination of the jurors. She also took under advisement other motions regarding payments to FBI informants, and the discriminatory motion. The motion re: IndyTACT was withdrawn and may be refiled at a later date. We hope to receive favorable rulings on those soon and will let you know when we hear the results.

As the pre-trial work proceeds and the trial date approaches, we need all the help and support we can get to fight these bogus charges! Now is a perfect time to get involved. Come to the next RNC 8 Defense Committee meeting to get plugged in:

Sunday, February 7, 3:30pm
Walker Community Church (in the basement)
3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis

A letter from the RNC 8

Defend the RNC 8January 2010

Dear friends, families and supporters,

The last time that we wrote, we were only weeks beyond the 2008 RNC, and still figuring out how to navigate our case with a sense of collectivity and integrity. Now, more than a year after the fact, we find ourselves in a sort of limbo. Day to day, we don’t feel the intensity of repression that we did in the weeks surrounding the RNC, yet the trial looms somewhere in the distance and we’re not really free to move on. We return to court on February 2nd, and may come out of the hearing with a trial date certain. While it’s hard to remain upbeat about the prospect, we hope to make the final push towards trial energizing for ourselves and our supporters alike, and we feel certain that a strong show of court solidarity will make a huge difference in the outcome of our case.

The past year has been difficult, both in dealing with our own situation and in watching as State attempts to subvert and disrupt anarchist movement gain steam, following well-established patterns of repression against dissident political movements throughout history.

In late 2008 and 2009, Ramsey County prosecuted more than a dozen felony cases resulting from the RNC. Abusing their unchecked power to slap on charge after unfounded charge as a way of coercing people out of exercising their right to trial, and with the constant threat of terrorism enhancements, prosecutors extracted numerous plea agreements from individuals who came to the RNC protests outraged at this oppressive system and willing to take a conscientious stand against it.
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