*Why is the state putting more resources into prosecuting property damage, and how do our strategic and tactical choices in struggle affect the repression we face?*
Never Surrender: Kerry Cunneen subpoenaed to the NW grand jury
Portland anarchist Kerry Cunneen has announced their refusal to cooperate with the grand jury investigating the May Day attack on the Nakamura federal courthouse in Seattle. Kerry’s subpoena, which was delivered on December 14th, stated that they were required to appear just 5 days later on the 19th. Their lawyer successfully got the date pushed back until January 3rd, when Kerry declined to even enter the grand jury room. Kerry has stated that they will never under any circumstance cooperate with this or any state in persecuting themself or others:
I have been subpoenaed to the grand jury in Seattle investigating Anarchists in the Pacific Northwest. I was called to testify on January 3rd at 9am. I did not appear before the grand jury. I will not cooperate with this grand jury nor will I in any way aid the state in its efforts to imprison people.
I stand firmly in solidarity with the actions taken against the Nakamura Federal court house during the May Day demonstration and all action taken against the state and capital towards the goal of a more liberated society.
I am in solidarity with the May Day 5, with Maddy, Matt and Kteeo, and everyone else who has met repression with resilience. To all whose solidarity has come in some form of action, it is inspiring and must continue.
CAPR supports Kerry’s bold refusal to even enter the grand jury room. Although for some, resisting a grand jury may be a display of commitment of civil liberties, free speech, or freedom of association, it can also be a method to further the spread of insurrectionary tactics. To be blunt, it is easier to break windows or act against the state in other ways that are necessarily illegal when there is a culture against snitching among anarchists. We oppose the state in its entirety – we are against its courts, its prisons, its judges, its prosecutors, and every manifestation of the law and their justice. The Committee Against Political Repression is encouraged by attacks against the existent, including the May Day attack on the Nakamura federal courthouse.
The May Day anti-capitalist march in Seattle signaled a broad and growing antagonism to hierarchy and domination, and the state’s heavy-handed response to it (three house raids in Portland, at least nine grand jury subpoenas, and three people currently sitting in prison for refusing to testify) signals just how dangerous the state perceived it to be. As an anonymous author writes in We Are Contagious: a gift to those who desire social revolt,
What was special about May Day wasn’t the black bloc, impressive as it was in its coordination and preparation. What was special was that the hundreds of people clustered around the black bloc probably had a good idea of exactly what was going to happen when the anti-capitalist march left Westlake…and they liked it. They stayed close the bloc anyway; a few even joined in on the fun. Others screamed in joy. Some, who only months ago might have tried to prevent the property destruction or would have later denounced it, simply smiled to themselves and moved on down the road. Perhaps most importantly, a fair number of these people will return to the streets, better prepared to act themselves.
Broken windows are an easily replicable tactic that is capable of rapid generalization. Although broken windows are certainly not the anarchist end-goal (there is no single anarchist end-goal), the tactic of breaking windows is a way for people to directly attack (and cause financial damage to) institutions to which they are opposed, and build affinity in the streets. The state logically must do whatever it can to control, disrupt, recuperate, or liquidate that which presents a threat. While we are angry about this grand jury (and all grand juries, and the existence of the state, period), it also shows that anarchists have been doing something right – anarchists are posing a threat that can’t be ignored.
We can respond to this and all instances of repression by strengthening and escalating our projects of resistance. Kerry has stated that the best support they could ask for is action of some sort that is in resistance to state and capital. Indeed, that is the only way we’ll come through to the other side stronger than before.
Portland, Oregon – Two recent developments indicate an intensification of the government’s campaign against the anarchist movement in the Pacific Northwest. In late December, the three grand jury resisters being held at the Sea-Tac Detention Center for their refusal to testify were moved into solitary confinement. No explanation has been given for why they were moved.
In a letter describing the situation, Kteeo wrote: “Prison is incredibly fucked up even at the best of times, but that doesn’t mean people can’t create community within these circumstances. We do. When I was in my unit I was part of a community. I gave support and received support. I learned from people and I taught. My unit doesn’t have educational opportunities so we created our own. I taught math, reading, and lead a workout group. I was part of something, part of laughter and part of tears; part of a shared experience (not that any of us want to be part of a this). I was a part of growth, part of a community that comes together again and again as our units make up changes. But I am no longer in that unit, no longer in that community.”
The Committee Against Political Repression is calling for the discontinuation of the use of solitary confinement for any purpose, and for the immediate release of Matt Duran, Kteeo Olejnik, and Maddy Pfeifer. In an unrelated case, in Portland, a young man accused of firebombing an empty police car was released on bail, under the condition that he have no contact with any anarchist organizations. He was specifically ordered not to have contact with Resist the NW Grand Jury or the prisoner support group Anarchist Black Cross, clearly indicating that prosecutors want to prevent him from receiving legal, political, or personal support that would aid in his defense.
These developments come after a year which has seen, in addition to the grand jury hearings, SWAT raids against activists in Portland and Seattle, a grotesque inflation of charges in a Portland case involving small-scale vandalism, and indictments against five people accused of participating in a Seattle May Day demonstration where government and corporate property was attacked. Similar events have played out simultaneously in the Bay Area, and elsewhere in the country, forming what critics have called a Federal anti-anarchist witch hunt.
CAPR believes that the governments most recent actions confirm what we have said all along: The state is using the legal system to target the anarchist movement, in the process criminalizing a set of political beliefs and associations. We decry the use of inquisitorial tactics such as secret hearings, coerced testimony, guilt-by-association, and torture in the form of solitary confinement. CAPR is asking its supporters to call Sea-Tac (206-870-5700) and demand an end to the use of solitary confinement, and to call US Attorney Jenny Durkan (800-797-6722) demanding an end to the grand jury investigation.
*Kteeo’s Letter from Solitary*
Hey Everybody, First off, I want to thank all of you so much for all of the incredible support being thrown my way. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So here I am back in SHU (solitary) and I’m not sure why. It’s been four days and I haven’t been told yet, but I’m sure I’ll know soon enough…. So now, not only have I been taken away from my community, my loved ones on the outs, but now I have been taken away from the community on the inside, my unit…. I want to be very clear: Prison is incredibly fucked up even at the best of times, but that doesn’t mean people can’t create community within these circumstances. We do.
When I was in my unit I was part of a community. I gave support and received support. I learned from people and I taught. My unit doesn’t have educational opportunities so we created our own. I taught math, reading, and lead a workout group. I was part of something, part of laughter and part of tears; part of a shared experience (not that any of us want to be part of a this). I was a part of growth, part of a community that comes together again and again as our units make up changes. But I am no longer in that unit, no longer in that community.
So here I am back in the SHU.… my rec yard time is now very limited (the yard isn’t actually outside, it’s fresh air and room to roam). I’ll be real, the lack of space and fresh air is hard. The very little freedoms (you know like, choosing when to take a shower…) are gone. I think that the hardest part of this is that being in solitary (like all parts of prison) doesn’t just affect the person in solitary, this experience doesn’t just affect me.
Being in the SHU you get one phone call a month. One. 1. o-n-e. That affects people. Friends, families… I know this is true for my own. It’s a whole lot harder to ask my parents, family, and friends to trust that I am OK when I can only call them once a month. Prior to the SHU, I would call my parents once a day and a good friend or two once a week…. I could let my loved ones know in real time that I was ok. Its not ok how much this affects others and I truly believe that is an intentional part of punishment.
The prison knows that it hurts us to hurt our loved ones. But it is not all bad. I’m figuring out ways to stay fit in my cell. I’m learning so much about myself and getting really good at enjoying my own company, and I’m getting more study time. Oh yeah, everything is bright orange, like, everything! So, that’s pretty rad; like the Destiny’s Child video for Say My Name….
Anywho, knowing this isn’t breaking me, knowing that I’m still laughing, still smiling, makes me feel stronger than ever before. Keep smiling, keep struggling.
In solidarity and gratitude, Kteeo P.S. I can totally get letters, but please continue to be patient with me. Return time may be even longer. Postage has got to stretch a bit further these days.
On Friday, December 14th at 1 pm, Matthew “Maddy” Pfeiffer, of Olympia will go before Judge Richard Jones. Jones will decided whether Maddy will be locked away in Seattle Federal prison, like Kteeo Olejnik and Matt Duran, for refusing to speak to the grand jury.
We are asking all supporters to email and call Judge Richard Jones on Friday, December 14th to demand an end to the grand jury and the release of all those subpoenaed.
1) Email Judge Jones the email below or something similar to firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Call Judge Jones at (206) 370-8870.
Below is a script to follow when you call.
“Hello my name is Miguel Gomez, and I just sent email asking that you not charge Matthew Pfeiffer with contempt, release Matt Duran, and Kteeo Olejnik from prison and end the investigation. It is clear that the US Attorney’s office is persecuting political dissent. It is despicable that the US Attorney and the FBI are harassing and intimating people for their political beliefs. I demand that you release everyone you have declared in contempt so far and force US attorney Jenny Durkan to end the investigation. Thank you for your time.”
If someone answers the phone and tries to put you through to voicemail, insist that they take your message instead of putting you through to voicemail.
3) Please send CAPR a message at email@example.com, to let us know that you sent the message, and what response you received when you called.
End the Grand Jury Investigation of the Anarchist Movement
To: Judge Richard Jones
Honorable Judge Jones:
I am writing to add my voice to the hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals who have telephoned you, written and signed declarations, and demonstrated in cities around the country demanding that Matthew Pfeiffer not be held in contempt, the release of Kteeo Olejnik and Matt Duran from prison and end to the grand jury witch-hunt of anarchists and aligned activists in the Pacific Northwest.
This case clearly shows that the US Attorney’s office is persecuting political dissent. It is despicable that the US Attorney and the FBI are harassing and intimating this group of people for their political beliefs. I demand that the grand jury investigation be ended immediately, that the governments repression of social movements stop, that those jailed for their refusal to testify be released, and that any items seized in the raids be returned to their rightful owners.
In the latest development from the Seattle grand jury investigation of the anarchist movement, Matthew “Maddy” Pfeiffer, of Olympia, has been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury on November 7. Following the example of Kteeo Olejnik and Matt Duran, Maddy has boldly announced their refusal to testify. They may be imprisoned for contempt of court. Olejink and Duran remain in prison for their refusal. We are asking all supporters to fax and call the US attorney, Jenny A Durkan, on Tuesday, November 6 to demand an end to the grand jury and the release of all those subpoenaed.
Below you will find a Fax Petition demanding that she end this witch-hunt. To join the petition effort, please follow these simple steps:
1) Go to http://faxzero.com
2) Fill out the form with your name and email address under Sender information.
3) Fill out Jenny A Durkan under Receiver Name and (206) 553-0882 for the Receiver Fax Line.
4) Copy the text at the bottom of this email into the box that says “Type text to appear on the cover page”. Personalize the text in the box to include your name and also anything else you would like to say.
5) Enter the confirmation code
6) Click the Send Free Fax Now button at the bottom of the box.
7) Check your email and click on the confirmation link. Clicking on this link will actually send your fax.
8) Wait for the email that confirms that your fax has been sent. 9) Once you have sent the fax, please CALL the U.S. Attorney’s office at (800) 797-6722 to confirm that they received it. We suggest something like the following script: “Hello my name is Miguel Gomez, and I just sent your office a fax to ask that Jenny Durkan call off tomorrow’s grand jury hearings, end the investigation, and release those people who have refused to testify. I’m calling now to confirm that you received it. Would you check for me please?” The person answering the phone may offer some general assurance that they are receiving faxes. If they do, please be insistent: “It is very important to me that Ms. Durkin receive my message, and that my voice be added to the opposition to this grand jury. Would you double-check to verify that you’ve received my message. My name, again, is Miguel Gomez.”
10) Please send CAPR a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, to let us know that you sent the message, and what response you received when you called.
Fax message: End the Grand Jury Investigation of the Anarchist Movement (Fax Petition) To: Jenny Durkan United States Attorney for Western Washington Seattle, Washington Fax Line : (206) 553-0882
Ms. Durkan: I am writing to add my voice to the hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals who have telephoned you, written and signed declarations, and demonstrated in cities around the country demanding an end to the grand jury witch-hunt of anarchists and aligned activists in the Pacific Northwest and for all those subpoenaed to be released from contempt. This case clearly shows that your office is persecuting political dissent. It is despicable that the US Attorney and the FBI are harassing and intimating this group of people for their political beliefs. I demand that the grand jury investigation be ended immediately, that the governments repression of social movements stop, that those jailed for their refusal to testify be released, and that any items seized in the raids be returned to their rightful owners. signed,
Despite a handful of victories in court, the most of Cruz home defenders are still facing trumped up charges with consequences that would prevent them from defending homes in the future. Keep the pressure up until they give the same plea deal to everyone, or even better, DROP THE CHARGES!
Demand that all charges be dropped for the Occupy Homes MN defendants:
- Mayor R.T. Rybak (612) 673-2100
- City Attorney Susan L. Segal (612) 673-3272
- Deputy City Attorney Mary Ellen Heng (612) 673-2270
Another anarchist has been subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Seattle investigating political activists in the Pacific Northwest, while a support group for grand jury resisters has decided to withdraw support from Leah Lynn Plante until she provides information about her terms of release from jail.
On October 25, 2012, two FBI agents served Matthew “Maddy” Pfeiffer with a subpoena in Olympia, Washington. Pfeiffer is scheduled to appear before the grand jury in Seattle on November 7. Three others have already been imprisoned for refusal to cooperate in any way, and Pfeiffer expects to be the fourth. In a statement Pfeiffer said:
I will never betray the people I care about, the ideas which I hold dear, or the commitments I have made. I will never give any information about crimes, should I have any knowledge of them, nor will I give information about my personal relationships. I will never cooperate with this or any attempt to stop struggle. I will never cooperate with the systems of control which I loathe. If the federal government chooses to imprison me for my refusal, then so be it. I expect no less from them…
Meanwhile, the Committee Against Political Repression, which is one of the support groups for grand jury resisters, has announced that it will no longer be supporting Leah Lynn Plante. Plante was imprisoned for her refusal to testify about her political beliefs and political associations, and due to a massive amount of publicity she became a public face associated with the grand jury resistance.
After a week imprisoned, Plante was released on October 17th. That news wasn’t shared with the public until several days later. I was in the Northwest for speaking events in Eugene and Portland on the 17th and 18th, and spoke at length about her case and called for people to make donations and write her; no one knew she was actually out of jail, not even those who self-identified as her friends and supporters at the events.
A few days later Plante released a cryptic statement that began “do not panic.” It also said she was traumatized that she could have been imprisoned for the 18-month grand jury term. Since then she has made other statements about internet commenters remarking about her appearance, and her supporters have posted cat photos, but no one will say anything about the grand jury.
The Committee Against Political Repression said it has withdrawn support until Plante provides information about the terms of her release: “We do not know what was said at that hearing. In the time since her release, Leah has not offered details regarding the subjects of the hearing, her response, or about her release. CAPR is withdrawing support for Leah until we get information regarding her grand jury hearing.”
I delayed commenting about any of this because it is such a sensitive situation. Grand juries are secretive by nature, so it is impossible to know what was said during a hearing. It’s impossible to know if someone cooperated, and it’s impossible to know if they refused but were released in order to foster distrust and skepticism amongst their supporters. However, in light of Plante’s refusal to communicate what actually happened two weeks ago, and in light of a new subpoena, CAPR’s response seems appropriately cautious.
A support rally is being organized for Maddy Pfeiffer on November 7th in Seattle.
*What: Prisoner letter-writing & potluck
*When: Thursday, October 18, 5-6:30pm
*Where: Minnehaha Free Space, 3747 Minnehaha Avenue, Mpls
Write a letter to one of the three Northwest grand jury resisters currently in jail, and bring a dish to share!
A Seattle-based federal grand jury is investigating political activity in the Northwest, and three comrades subpoenaed to testify have refused to cooperate. They’re all being held in jail on contempt of court, and could be there for months. Come to the MFS prisoner letter-writing night & potluck, and let Matt, KTeeO, and Leah know that we’ve got their backs!
Solidarity with the grand jury resisters!
Solidarity with all targets of state repression!
FFI on the NW Grand Jury: http://nopoliticalrepression.wordpress.com/
*Note: Make it an anti-repression evening! After letter-writing & potluck, stick around for the 7pm event at the Free Space:
The Mexico-US Solidarity Network presents:
“we Overcame torture”: Lessons from the fight against sexual violence and State repression in Mexico
with Italia Méndez of the Campaign Against Political Repression and Sexual Torture