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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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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Elliot Hughes Accepts a Plea, Can Still Sue for Police Brutality

On Monday, March 8th, 2010, Elliot accepted a plea deal as his trial for two counts of gross misdemeanor assault on an officer and one count of misdemeanor obstructing legal process was about to commence. Elliot fell off his bike following a collision with a St. Paul bike cop during the RNC and was promptly arrested. He was tortured in jail so badly that he was coughing up blood all night long. He was outspoken about the torture he suffered and notified the City of St. Paul last year that he intends to sue for police brutality. Several months later, he was charged in a clear attempt for the cops to justify their actions (this is a common occurrence in the criminal injustice system).

His plea agreement entails having the two gross misdemeanor charges dropped and a plea of guilty being submitted for the misdemeanor obstruction charge. He will need to do 50 hours of community service and pay a $150 fine within the next year, at which point his misdemeanor conviction will be dismissed and vacated. This agreement leaves him open to suing the cops for the torture they inflicted on him.

Elliot’s case was one of the few remaining RNC cases still open except for the RNC 8 (see http://www.rnc8.org for more info).

David McKay transferred to California (confirmed)

Denver ABC recently heard back from David McKay of the Texas 2, and confirmed that he’s now being held in Herlong, California.

David was moved from Texas to California in order to participate in a 9-month drug program.  There is a small chance that completion of the program will get him a reduction of his (4 year) sentence by as much as 12 months.  If nothing else, he will be transferred (sometime around September or October 2010 we estimate) to a minimum security facility.  Thus far David has been held in medium-security prisons.

David writes that he has beef with the skinheads at the new prison because he’s participating in an integrated program (meaning inmates of ‘different races’ are cellmates) which is usually a big no-no in prisons.  The threats of violence have not materialized yet.

David hasn’t received many letters since the transfer from Beaumont Texas.  He’d probably appreciate a letter if you have a moment to write to him:

DAVID McKAY #14130-041
FCI HERLONG
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 800
HERLONG, CA  96113

If anyone knows how to get in touch with his support crew or whoever runs the Free the Texas 2 website, let us know because the mailing / commissary information they list is inaccurate at this point in time.