By JG Vibes
Since late July, three activists have had their lives torn apart by the police and the legal system, simply because they refused to answer any questions in a grand jury case, regarding crimes that they have absolutely no connection to. As of right now, all three are behind bars, with no clue when they will be able to get out.
The most recent to be sent away was Leah-Lynn Plante, this week she repeated the same process that she just watched her room mates go through. After being summoned to speak twice and refusing to speak both times, the prosecutors in the case enacted a legal loophole which waived her 5th amendment right to remain silent. This decision was made for her by the court against her will.
The sneaky legal trick that the prosecutors pulled was granting her immunity, which meant that anything she said to them would not incriminate her. This may sound ok at face value but when you are granted immunity, you lose your right to remain silent and can be thrown into prison for what is called “civil contempt”. This actually happens a lot, video journalist Josh Wolf, for example, served seven and a half months in 2006 and 2007 for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury and turn over his footage of a protest in San Francisco. Grand jury trials are very shady ordeals, which have totally different rules than the typical court case. Defense attorneys are not even allowed to be present, and the proceedings of the case are completely secret.
According to the grand jury infosheet on antipolitics.com:
“Since their inception, both in England and in the United States, grand juries have been used against political dissidents, the jurors often being hand-picked to ensure indictment. A modern variation on this abuse of power relies on political activists’ reluctance to turn informant. Activists are subpoenaed with the expectation that they will refuse to testify, and thus end up in jail for lengthy periods. The person who was subpoenaed is thereby immobilized, while other activists are deterred from further participation.”
At the end of the day, beneath all of the rhetoric, she is being persecuted for refusing to obey and refusing to spy on fellow activists. She was targeted in the first place because of her activist work and a collection of what the feds call “Anarchist Literature”. Her roommates Katherine “Kteeo” Olejnik and Matthew Kyle Duran have been faced with the same situation and both were nailed with the same tricky legal loophole.
It all started on the morning of July 25th when their house was raided on the apparent grounds of their connection to a May Day protest, where unidentified members of a crowd carried out random acts of vandalism. These acts of vandalism were isolated and there has been no proof that these three activists are involved in any way.
In fact, they all have alibis, all three of them weren’t physically at the protests, nor were they even in town at the time. A statement released by Leah just before her final court date described the experience in detail, and discussed the events leading up to the grand jury summoning. The statement read in part:
“FBI agents from around Washington and Oregon and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents from Washington busted down the front door of my house with a battering ram, handcuffed my house mates and me at gunpoint, and held us hostage in our backyard while they read us a search warrant and ransacked our home. They said it was in connection to May Day vandalism that occurred in Seattle, Washington earlier this year.
However, we suspected that this was not really about broken windows. As if they had taken pointers from Orwell’s 1984, they took books, artwork and other various literature as “evidence” as well as many other personal belongings even though they seemed to know that nobody there was even in Seattle on May Day. While we know that knowledge is powerful, we suspected that nobody used rolled up copies of the Stumptown Wobbly to commit property damage.
We saw this for what it was. They are trying to investigate anarchists and persecute them for their beliefs. This is a fishing expedition. This is a witch hunt. Since then, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, we have learned that this Grand jury was convened on March 2nd, 2012, two months before the May Day vandalism even took place.”
Her fourth and final court date in front of the grand jury was this week, October 10th, where again, she refused to speak, only this time she was jailed as a result. Although there were supporters outside of the courthouse in protest, there has been minimal mainstream coverage of this legal battle. Most of the coverage that has come has been through pnline blogs and activist websites. Due to the censorship and secrecy that has surrounded this case, what exactly took place inside the court room is still a mystery. So far, the only message about Leah’s condition has come from a post that a supporter has made to her tumblr page. The message reads as follows:
“Today, October 10th, 2012, Leah-Lynn Plante was thrown into prison for civil contempt.
This blog will now only be maintained by members of her support team, she will resume posting when she is free. Please keep following so you can get updates about her and how to help.
Thank you on behalf of Leah and all the PNW Grand Jury Resisters.”
Since these proceedings are completely secret there has been no word on her sentence, but it has been speculated that her room mate Matthew could be held in solitary confinement until March of 2014, and it appears that the same goes for Katherine and Leah as well.
Sadly, Mayday has a long history of false flag vandal attacks and activist witchhunts. Matthew Kyle Duran referenced one of the most popular of these instances, the Haymarket protests of 1886, in his last statement before being incarcerated. Part of his statement read:
When the Haymarket massacre took place all those years ago and the martyrs were hung for their desire for a better life, the State attempted to crush all radicals. Clearly, this did not work then and it won’t work now. If this was their desire, they have failed in every aspect of it as I have not seen anything other than flagrant disregard for them across the globe. Keep the struggle in your hearts and minds and do not bend to their will. They will never be able to destroy us no matter how hard they try.