Here it is folks; begin forwarded message:

 

In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002

Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors

have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee

with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. Monica Bicking, Eryn

Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert

Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector, face up to 7 1/2 years in

prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which allows for a 50%

increase in the maximum penalty.

 

Affidavits released by law enforcement which were filed in support of the

search warrants used in raids over the weekend, and used to support

probable cause for the arrest warrants, are based on paid, confidential

informants who infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They

allege that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates to the RNC,

assault police officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage

airports in St. Paul. Evidence released to date does not corroborate these

allegations with physical evidence or provide any other evidence for these

allegations than the claims of the informants. Based on past abuses of

such informants by law enforcement, the National Lawyers Guild is

concerned that such police informants have incentives to lie and

exaggerate threats of violence and to also act as provacateurs in raising

and urging support for acts of violence.

 

“These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade

traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism. This

both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political

views of the Defendants on trial,” said Bruce Nestor, President of the

Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. “The charges represent an

abuse of the criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any person

organizing large scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil

disobedience, he said.”

 

The criminal complaints filed by the Ramsey County Attorney do not allege

that any of the defendants personally have engaged in any act of violence

or damage to property. The complaints list all of alleged violations of

law during the last few days of the RNC — other than violations of human

rights carried out by law enforcement — and seeks to hold the 8

defendants responsible for acts committed by other individuals. None of

the defendants have any prior criminal history involving acts of violence.

Searches conducted in connection with the raids failed to turn up any

physical evidence to support the allegations of organized attacks on law

enforcement. Although claiming probable cause to believe that gunpowder,

acids, and assembled incendiary devices would be found, no such items were

seized by police. As a result, police sought to claim that the seizure of

common household items such as glass bottles, charcoal lighter, nails, a

rusty machete, and two hatchets, supported the allegations of the

confidential informants. “Police found what they claim was a single

plastic shield, a rusty machete, and two hatchets used in Minnesota to

split wood. This doesn’t amount to evidence of an organized insurrection,

particularly when over 3,500 police are present in the Twin Cities, armed

with assault rifles, concussion grenades, chemical weapons and full riot

gear,” said Nestor. In addition, the National Lawyers Guild has previously

pointed out how law enforcement has fabricated evidence such as the claims

that urine was seized which demonstrators intended to throw at police.

 

The last time such charges were brought under Minnesota law was in 1918,

when Matt Moilen and others organizing labor unions for the International

Workers of the World on the Iron Range were charged with “criminal

syndicalism.” The convictions, based on allegations that workers had

advocated or taught acts of violence, including acts only damaging to

property, were upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In the light of

history, these convictions are widely seen as unjust and a product of

political trials. The National Lawyers Guild condemns the charges filed in

this case against the above 8 defendants and urges the Ramsey County

Attorney to drop all charges of conspiracy in this matter.

 

Source:

Bruce Nestor, President

Minnesota Chapter of National Lawyers Guild

3547 Cedar Avenue South

Minneapolis, MN  55407

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