Season of the Witch Hunt
It hasn’t been just government and military whistleblowers (most notoriously, Bradley Manning) who have been targetted with unprecedented repression by the Obama administration. Radical activists, including some in Seattle, are also facing harassment.
Three local anarchists–Matt Duran, Katherine “KteeO” Olejnik, and most recently Leah Plante–have been jailed in the last two months for refusing to testify before a secret federal grand jury supposedly convened in the aftermath of some ludicrously trivial misdemeanor vandalism during this year’s May Day protests. Thing is, results from a FOIA request by Plante’s attorneys suggest that the grand jury was convened two months before the May Day protests it is a supposed response to.
In service of the same investigation, on July 25 multiple houses were raided by SWAT teams of FBI and local law enforcement in Seattle, Olympia, and Portland. Three homes were raided in Portland by approximately 60-80 police, including cops from the FBI and the local Joint Terrorism Task Force. Police used flash grenades during the raid.
The Seattle raid was particularly absurd, focusing on a house shared by members of Occupy Seattle belonging to the Kasama Project, a Maoist offshoot of the Revolutionary Communist Party, with a search warrant looking for “anarchist materials.” Setting aside the fact that it’s impossible to legally define what such materials are (Bakunin’s autobiography?), and the fact that there’s nothing incriminating, let alone illegal, about having such materials, anyone with an even passing knowledge of radical politics knows that a nest of Maoists is about the worst conceivable place to look for them. The odds would be substantially higher at any Tea Party meeting.
The same week as the Northwest raids, ANSWER’s Los Angeles office was broken into. Los Angeles is also where socialist activist Carlos Montes is hurtling toward trial after his arrest last year on transparently bogus federal charges.
Occupy activists, including black bloc anarchists, have frequently worked together throughout the West Coast, particularly in Oakland, San Francisco, and the three northwest cities targeted by July’s raids. It was probably only a matter of time before law enforcement harassment began to exploit those links. Such legal harassment is not a reason for any activist to lie low or be paranoid, but activists should use common sense. Don’t share information unnecessarily which would create a problem in the wrong hands, and whatever you do, never, ever say anything to cops of any stripe.
The national ACLU office has some excellent resources on your rights if you come into contact with law enforcement personnel. Study up.