On Tuesday, November 17, 2009, Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth of Minneapolis were called before a federal grand jury in Davenport, Iowa. They were subpoenaed in the most recent use of Green Scare tactics in Minnesota, the government’s desperate attempt to obtain information about activists, grasp at straws to file charges against them, and disrupt radical animal-rights and environmental movements such as the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. Rightfully so, Carrie and Scott refused to cooperate and testify.

At the request of Prosecutor Cliff Cronk, District Judge John Jarvey found them in contempt of court and had them taken into custody immediately. Scott was charged with conspiracy under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act two days later, becoming the seventh person charged under this dangerous law passed through shady procedures in 2006. Once he was facing a criminal charge, his charge of civil contempt was dropped and he became eligible for release. Cronk tried to keep him locked up by arguing that his political beliefs and associations make him a “domestic terrorist,” but his ridiculous arguments failed and Scott was released after about two weeks.

Carrie’s situation has been drastically different. She remains locked up in Iowa as the government punishes her for her political beliefs and resistance to the grand jury process. She could be held for the duration of the grand jury–another 10 months. Grand juries have historically been used to repress dissent and disrupt social movements by intimidating people into abandoning their activism, unjustly incarcerating them and separating them from their communities, and conducting fishing expeditions for information about movements. Despite the government’s claims that grand juries are necessary to uphold the law and create a just society, their true purpose has been demonstrated in the persecution of people ranging from journalists who refused to identify their sources to five of the Black Panthers known as the San Francisco 8 to activists involved in the Puerto Rican independence movement to earth and animal liberation activists.

The Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure (CRASS) and Coldsnap Legal Collective have been involved in supporting people unjustly arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated since the Republican National Convention invaded St. Paul in September 2008. Many of us experienced state repression first-hand in the streets of St. Paul, and we all witnessed it in the courts as we saw person after person prosecuted more for expressing their dissent than for any illegal acts alleged to have occurred. We have not forgotten our experiences. And we are not blind to the connections between what we experienced, what Carrie and Scott are experiencing, and what all targets of state repression experience.

We demand that Carrie be released immediately, that the charges against Scott be dropped immediately, and that the government abandon its attempts to punish them for their political beliefs. We stand in solidarity with Carrie, Scott, and all those who are imprisoned for their political beliefs and for having the courage to fight back against the system that is destroying the Earth and threatening our lives.

We also call on all people of conscience who are working to change this world to support them. Visit http://davenportgrandjury.wordpress.com for more information and updates. You can also donate to their support fund there and find out more about how you can support them. A movement is only as strong as its prisoner support, and Carrie and Scott need our solidarity now more than ever.

In solidarity and resistance,

CRASS & Coldsnap

Hello everyone! We’ve been quiet for the last few months, but that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been plenty to keep our individual collective members busy on other projects. Now we’re reaching out to you again to get your support for our friend Carrie.

Carrie Feldman is an activist from Minneapolis, Minnesota, who was recently subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Iowa investigating animal rights vandalism from 2004. She is currently refusing to cooperate with the grand jury. Read more about Carrie at http://supportcarrie.wordpress.com.

On October 15, Carrie had her first appearance before the federal grand jury in Davenport, Iowa. After reading a brief statement expressing that she would not testify, she was released with a subpoena to reappear before the grand jury again on the 17th of November at 9:00 A.M. She feels it is likely that she will be held in contempt of court for continuing to remain silent at this court date. She could face jail time up to the length of the grand jury (it convenes for 12 months total, which leaves 11 remaining after her November appearance).

Here is what she told the grand jury:

First of all, I would like to state, unequivocally and most certainly for the record, that I have no intention of testifying before this grand jury. Based on information from the prosecutor indicating that I may be a target of this investigation, I am invoking my Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. But beyond that, I am refusing to cooperate based on a sincere belief that to do so would run counter to my deeply held convictions and values.

Grand juries were originally created to prevent arbitrary indictments, but are now used as a tool of the prosecution to gather information. Grand juries undercut basic rights supposedly granted in the Constitution by denying access to counsel and coercing testimony. They are now, and have been for some time, used to investigate and intimidate those who would express dissent.

This is only effective when we are complicit, when we are frightened, when we are divided. Today my voice may waver, as I stand alone in this room. But I know I speak with the voice of every one of my friends, loved ones, and comrades when I say this: We will not be intimidated. We will not cooperate. I have nothing more to say to you.

We’re having another open meeting this Thursday! This month, we’re focusing on planning a community discussion about Coldsnap to see where are collective will go in the future. Now is the time to get involved! We need you!

Come learn more about our collective, how we help support the radical community through our legal support activism, and how you can help support the community as well!

Thursday, July 2, 7pm
Blue Nile Restaurant
2027 Franklin Ave E, Mpls

After the meeting, join us at the Nomad Pub (501 Cedar Ave S, Mpls) for a FREE show by our amazing and oh-so-talented friend and comrade, Nikki Schultz! (The show is 21+, but the meeting is open to everyone.)

Here’s a message from our friends in CRASS (Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure):

The Civil Litigation crew of CRASS has been patiently working to create a legal support framework for our community to fight against the police abuses and terrorizing of dissent that we experienced during last year’s Republican National Convention. We are ready to assist lawyers in going on the offensive against the system that had us jailed, attacked, prosecuted, and gassed. Civil litigation is a slow process but the lawyers are moving towards filing the first suit against the mass arrests of last year.

The framework has now been created and your participation as witnesses, volunteers, or plaintiffs is crucial. Our first focus will be on the mass arrests at Shepard Road. If you were arrested at Shepard Road, see below for information from an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild and consider contacting them to get involved. Attorneys and legal workers are currently looking into other RNC incidents from which suits may be filed. We hope as our capacity grows that lawyers will be able to take on additional cases of collective action against the state, police, sheriff, and other agencies who are responsible for the militarization of our communities and attacks on dissent last fall. Info about additional suits will come out as fast as we are able to get it together.

If you were not arrested at Shepard Roadd or another mass arrest situation and want to pursue civil action for how you were treated by police during the RNC, we can suggest 2 options:

  • Find a lawyer who will handle your case. We have some names of lawyers who may be interested in handling your case. You can contact us at suethebastards@riseup.net.
  • Fill out our intake form and send it to us. We will keep these forms in secure locations and we will make sure that lawyers are presented with your information to see if they are interested in your cases. Intake forms are available at http://www.rncaftermath.org/resources/civil-litigation-forms/

Thank you for your continued interest and participation. We intend to win these cases as one of many strategies we can use to fight back against state repression and police violence.

Yours in struggle,

CRASS

And now the note from the lawyers…

The Law Office of David L. Shulman, with the assistance of Robert Kolstad and volunteers from CRASS, is investigating violations of civil rights that occurred on September 1, 2008, at Shepard Road in St. Paul, Minnesota during the Republican National Convention. We believe that government actors violated the civil rights of persons by the use of unlawful detention and/or arrest, excessive force in the form of pepper spray and other chemical weapons, and other forms of excessive force. It is possible, even likely, that other civil rights abuses also occurred.

If you were at Shepard Road on September 1 and believe your civil rights were violated or if you witnessed the violation of others’ civil rights, we are interested in talking to you. Our purpose in doing so is two-fold: first, we want to hear first-hand from you what took place on Shepard Road. Second, we want to gauge the level of interest of individuals in participating in a civil lawsuit intended to hold responsible public officials and law enforcement personnel.

If you are willing to discuss your experience at Shepard Road, please call us at 612-870-7410, or you may email Robert Kolstad at bob@robertkolstad.com.

ADVERTISING MATERIAL

We haven’t quite been at our radical legal support thing for a year and a half yet, but we’ve done some pretty cool things nonetheless. With all your help, we were able to provide a lot of legal support before, during, and after the RNC…from Know Your Rights trainings to running the jail support hotline to the jail vigil to helping get CRASS (Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure) up and running, we were there with you in the streets, courts, and radical meeting spaces.

To recap what we’ve been up to, we put together this nifty newsletter. Check it out!

Coldsnap Year 1.5 in Review Newsletter

We can’t continue to provide radical legal support to the Twin Cities without your help, so we need your help. Throw us a coupla bucks, come to one of our trainings, or–better yet–get involved! Our next open meeting is coming up this week:

Thursday, May 7, 7pm
Blue Nile Restaurant
2027 Franklin Ave E, Mpls

See ya there!

Come to the next Coldsnap open meeting! Learn more about how we go about providing legal support to the radical community, and how you can get involved.

Thursday, May 7, 7pm
Blue Nile Restaurant
2027 Franklin Ave E, Mpls

For more information about us, check out http://www.coldsnaplegal.org or email us at coldsnap@riseup.net. For more information about yourself, request your file from the FBI.

We’re at it again, folks! “We Dissent: Taking Back Our Civil Liberties” is the title of the National Lawyers Guild Midwest Regional Conference this weekend, and we’re facilitating a discussion on legal rights on Sunday. The whole conference will be rad, so come for as much of it as you can. But definitely don’t miss the fun time with us on Sunday! Our discussion is at noon in the Law Building, Room 4 at:

Hamline University
1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104-1284

The conference starts on Friday afternoon and goes through Sunday afternoon. The conference fees are sliding scale, $10-20 dollars for students, legal workers, and community members, and they include lunch on Saturday (vegan options available!).

Here’s what the conference is all about, straight from the NLG:

Join the National Lawyers Guild for a radical law conference. Lawyers, law students, and political activists will come together for three days of workshops, trainings, and panels about social justice and law. Hear from legal activists and radical attorneys from the Twin Cities and national activist communities. Fourteen diverse event topics, including:

* Legal observer training
* Know Your Rights workshop presented by Coldsnap Legal Collective
* Ramona Africa of MOVE
* Ken Tilsen (keynote speaker)
* Domestic application of international human rights, with Ajamu Baraka
* Decriminalizing homelessness in the Twin Cities
* Securing the rights of refugees and detainees
* Access to healthcare
* Becoming a radical lawyer without selling out–how to finance a legal education
* People of color and queer legal activist caucuses
* Screening of “Terrorizing Dissent” (a documentary on political repression during the 2008 Republican National Convention)
* And much more!

This conference is open to all activists, legal workers, law students, and attorneys passionate about civil liberties, human rights law, and radical advocacy. Sliding scale registration–no one will be turned away for lack of funds!

For more info on the conference, visit http://law.hamline.edu/nlgmidwestconference.html. For the conference schedule, visit http://law.hamline.edu/nlgadditionalinfo.html.

See you this weekend!

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