Tag Archives: patriot act

Rosa Clemente – Civil Disobedience and the Patriot Act

Rosa Clemente, Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate

Mass Civil Disobedience around the environment

Using the Patriot act to prosecute protestors as domestic terrorists


Shot by
Craig Seeman
Patrick Dwyer



"We have been humbled by such an immense initial show of solidarity and are inspired to turn our attention back to the very issues that motivated us to organize against the RNC in the first place. What’s happening to us is part of a much broader and very serious problem. The fact is that we live in a police state- some people first realized this in the streets of St. Paul during the convention, but many others live with that reality their whole lives. People of color, poor and working class people, immigrants, are targeted and criminalized on a daily basis, and we understand what that context suggests about the repression the 8 of us face now. Because we are political organizers who have built solid relationships through our work, because we have various forms of privilege- some of us through our skin, some through our class, some through our education- and because we have the resources to invoke a national network of support, we are lucky, even as we are being targeted."


Join the Freee the RNC8 Facebook Group


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 Industrial Workers of the World [ed. correction-TCIMC] 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.

Bruce Nestor, President
Minnesota Chapter of National Lawyers Guild

-(It also should be mentioned that there were many more people that were arrested besides these 8, and without the publicity. Please keep them in mind and donate what you can to the Coldsnap Legal Collective to help them out!)


Lennon, the FBI, and “Known Protestors”

Some time ago, I posted about Dave Lippman (aka George Shrub, the sining CIA Agent) getting pulled over, his car searched and arrested for being a “known protestor”.

Today I have learned through my daily news perusal that The FBI will release the last of Its John Lennon Files. There are no surprises in those files, according to historians.

In one memo, then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote to H.R. Haldeman, President Nixon’s chief of staff, that “Lennon had taken an interest in ‘extreme left-wing activities in Britain’ and is known to be a sympathizer of Trotskyist communists in England.”

So if you are a “known protester” (as many of us are), feel good that you are being documented in official historical files.

Brace Yourselves: Patriot Act is Renewed

I have posted some pieces here on the Patriot Act Extension Proposal and the debate over its renewal.

It’s official.

Yesterday the U.S. House narrowly voted to renew the Patriot Act in a “cliffhanger vote”.

The vote was 280-138, just two more than needed under special rules that required a two-thirds majority. The close vote caught senior Republican aides in both chambers by surprise.
Nonetheless, the vote marked a political victory for Bush and will allow congressional Republicans facing midterm elections this year to continue touting a tough-on-terror stance. Bush’s approval ratings have suffered in recent months after revelations that he had authorized secret, warrantless wiretapping of Americans.

Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, had this to say: “I rise in strong opposition to this legislation because it offers only a superficial reform that will have little if any impact on safeguarding our civil liberties.”

Provisions of the renewed act:
The package renews 16 expiring provisions of the original Patriot Act, including one that allows federal officials to obtain “tangible items” like business records, including those from libraries and bookstores, for foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations.
Other provisions would clarify that foreign intelligence or counterintelligence officers should share information obtained as part of a criminal investigation with counterparts in domestic law enforcement agencies.
Forced by Feingold’s filibuster, Congress and the White House have agreed to new curbs on the Patriot Act’s powers.
These restrictions would:
— Give recipients of court-approved subpoenas for information in terrorist investigations the right to challenge a requirement that they refrain from telling anyone.
— Eliminate a requirement that an individual provide the FBI with the name of a lawyer consulted about a National Security Letter, which is a demand for records issued by investigators.
— Clarify that most libraries are not subject to demands in those letters for information about suspected terrorists.
The legislation also takes aim at the distribution and use of methamphetamine by limiting the supply of a key ingredient found in everyday cold and allergy medicines.
Yet another provision is designed to strengthen port security by imposing strict punishments on crew members who impede or mislead law enforcement officers trying to board their ships.

Renewal of Patriot Act Gets Senate Green Light

Utah U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett voted for the renewal of the Patriot Act in a 89-10 vote on Thursday. The bill now goes to the House, which is expected to pass it.

Orrin Hatch: “I just hope that this bill will work as well as the original Patriot Act, which has done so well” at preventing terrorist attacks.

Bush, in a statement issued by the White House while he was in India, applauded the Senate for overcoming what he said were attempts by Democrats to block the bill’s passage.
“This bill will allow our law enforcement officials to continue to use the same tools against terrorists that are already used against drug dealers and other criminals, while safeguarding the civil liberties of the American people,” he said.
Critics maintained the bill is weighted too much toward the interests of law enforcement.
Lawmakers who voted for the package acknowledged deep reservations about the power it would grant to any president.
“Our support for the Patriot Act does not mean a blank check for the president,” said Democratic leader Harry Reid. “What we tried to do on a bipartisan basis is have a better bill. It has been improved.”
The vote was a significant victory for Bush after revelations late last year that he had authorized a domestic wiretapping program provided ammunition to senators demanding more privacy protections in the Patriot Act.

As a result of a filibuster and deadlock in December, the bill was amended to “curb some powers of law enforcement officials seeking information”.
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More on the Patriot Act::New Provision Would Felonize Protestors

New Patriot Act Provision Creates Tighter Barrier to Officials at Public Events

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
Fox News, January 31, 2006

WASHINGTON — A new provision tucked into the Patriot Act bill now before Congress would allow
authorities to haul demonstrators at any “special event of national significance” away to jail on
felony charges if they are caught breaching a security perimeter.

Sen. Arlen Specter , R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sponsored the
measure, which would extend the authority of the Secret Service to allow agents to arrest people
who willingly or knowingly enter a restricted area at an event, even if the president or other official normally protected by the Secret Service
isn’t in attendance at the time.

The measure has civil libertarians protesting what they say is yet another power grab for the executive branch and one more loss for free speech.

“It’s definitely problematic and chilling,” said Lisa Graves, senior counsel for legislative strategy at the American Civil Liberties Union , which has written letters to the chairmen and
ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, pointing out that the provision wasn’t subject to hearings or open debate.

Some conservatives say they too are troubled by the measure.
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