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Political Convictions? by Brendan Kiley - Seattle News


On Thursday, August 2, at roughly 12:45 p.m., a small woman with long black hair and a red cardigan sweater stood on the lawn of Seattle’s federal courthouse, surrounded by a few friends and around 75 protesters. On the steps behind her, a few dozen law-enforcement officers watched as she nervously spoke into a megaphone, announcing that she would not cooperate with the federal grand jury proceedings taking place inside. She said she would go into the courthouse, give the jury only her name and date of birth, and refuse to answer any further questions. “Under no circumstances,” she said, speaking for herself and another recipient of a subpoena, “will we talk about other people.”

The woman, a 24-year-old from Portland named Leah-Lynn Plante, was prepared to go to jail for refusing to talk about who may have been involved in the politically motivated vandalism in downtown Seattle on May Day, when activists smashed out the windows of several banks and stores—including Wells Fargo and Niketown—as well as a federal courthouse door.

Refusal to testify before a federal grand jury can result in jail time for contempt of court. (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.)

In a follow-up interview with The Stranger, Plante said she wasn’t even in Seattle on May 1 and is neither a witness to nor a perpetrator of any related crimes. She is, however, a self-declared anarchist and thinks the FBI singled her out because of her political beliefs and social affiliations.

“We support the efforts of all those who will be resisting this grand jury,” she said quietly into the megaphone on the courthouse lawn. The crowd cheered.

“We love you, Leah!” somebody shouted. Plante smiled wanly. Then she walked up the courthouse steps past the line of officers, hugged two friends, wiped some tears from her eyes, and pushed her way through the revolving glass door. She was headed to a courtroom where she was not allowed to have an attorney to represent her or a judge to mediate—just a jury listening to a prosecutor who is looking for an indictment. (Because grand jury proceedings are secret, the US Department of Justice was unable to comment on any elements of this story.)

Plante had been summoned to Seattle by a federal subpoena, delivered to her in the early hours of July 25, when the FBI raided her home—one of several raids in Seattle and Portland in the past couple of months. FBI agents, she said, smashed through her front door with a battering ram with assault rifles drawn, “looking paramilitary.” According to a copy of the warrant, agents were looking for black clothing, paint, sticks, flags, computers and cell phones, and “anti-government or anarchist literature.”

The warrants for the related raids used similar language. One warrant for an early morning raid at a Seattle home also listed black clothing, electronics, and “paperwork—anarchists in the Occupy movement.” In effect, witnesses in Portland and Seattle say, federal and local police burst into people’s homes while they were sleeping and held them at gunpoint while rummaging through their bookshelves, looking for evidence of political leanings instead of evidence of a crime. (For the record, I executed a quick search of my home early this morning and found black clothing, cans of paint, sticks, cloth, electronics, and “anarchist literature.”)

“When I see a search warrant that targets political literature, I get nervous,” said attorney Neil Fox, president of the Seattle chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. (The Seattle chapter released a statement urging the FBI and the US Attorney to end the raids and drop the grand jury subpoenas.) Raids like those can have a chilling effect on free speech, he said, and a long-term “negative effect on the country—you want to have robust discussions about political issues without fear.” He also has concerns about the scope of the warrants: “‘Anti- government literature’ is so broad,” he said. “What does that include? Does that include the writings of Karl Marx? Will that subject me to having my door kicked in and being dragged in front of a grand jury?”

Grand juries, Fox explained, were originally conceived as a protection for citizens against overzealous prosecutors and are enshrined in the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. A petite jury—the more familiar kind, from 6 to 12 people—determines innocence or guilt during a trial. A grand jury is larger, from 16 to 23 people, meets with a prosecutor but no defense attorneys, and determines whether there’s enough evidence to indict someone for a federal crime.

Nowadays, Fox said, grand juries are often used by prosecutors and investigators who have run out of leads. But grand juries are secret, so it’s difficult to know what the prosecutor is really doing. And the effects of raids and subpoenas like the ones in Seattle and Portland may be more about putting on the dramatic public spectacle of dragging people through the mud than investigating a crime.

Doug Honig, communications director at ACLU of Washington, echoed Fox’s concerns: “If it’s not carefully conducted, it can end up becoming a fishing expedition looking into people’s political views and political associations.”

Journalist Will Potter, author of Green Is the New Red, who has written extensively about US law enforcement and its relationships with political dissidents from the 1990s onward, said such investigations don’t just incidentally chill free speech—in some cases, he believes, they’re trying to do that.

“Sometimes, law enforcement believes this knocking-down-the-door, boot-on-the-throat intimidation is part of a crime-prevention strategy,” he said. But a more pernicious goal may be social mapping. The anarchist books and cans of spray paint can be sexy items to wave around a courtroom, he said, but “address books, cell phones, hard drives—that’s the real gold.”

During the raid at her home, Plante said, some of the agents were initially hyperaggressive, but seemed “confused” by finding nothing more sinister than five sleepy young people. “It seemed like what they expected was some armed stronghold,” she said. “But it’s just a normal house, with normal stuff in the pantry, lots of cute animals, and everyone here was docile and polite.”

“That’s a really important point,” Potter said when I mentioned that detail. “There’s a huge disconnect between what the FBI and local police are being told and trained for, and what the reality is. There are presentations about ominous, nihilistic, black-clad, bomb-throwing, turn-of-the-century caricatures—the reality is that many anarchists are just organizing gathering spaces, free libraries, free neighborhood kitchens.”

He directed me to a 2011 PowerPoint presentation from the FBI’s “domestic terrorism operations unit”—posted on his blog—that described the current anarchist movement as “criminals seeking an ideology to justify their activities.” Following that logic, the very presence of anarchist literature could be construed as evidence that someone has motivations to commit a crime. And it makes attorneys, journalists, and others who care about First Amendment protections nervous about a law-enforcement practice that conflates political beliefs with criminal activity.

Forty-five minutes after Plante pushed through the revolving door at the courthouse, she reemerged. She smiled shyly while the crowd of protesters cheered. Plante told the crowd that she gave the grand jury her name and her date of birth, refused to answer any other questions, and was released.

But Plante’s ordeal isn’t over—the court issued another subpoena for her to return on August 30. Whether she cooperates, and whether she faces jail time for noncooperation, remains to be seen. recommended

(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)


The Stono Rebellion in 1739


South Carolina, September 9, 1739: A band of slaves march down the road, carrying banners that proclaim “Liberty!”. They shout out the same word. Led by an Angolan named Jemmy, the men and women continue to walk south, recruiting more slaves along the way. By the time they stop to rest for the night, their numbers will have approached one hundred.

What exactly triggered the Stono Rebellion is not clear. Many slaves knew that small groups of runaways had made their way from South Carolina to Florida, where they had been given freedom and land. Looking to cause unrest within the English colonies, the Spanish had issued a proclamation stating that any slave who deserted to St Augustine would be given the same treatment. Certainly this influenced the potential rebels and made them willing to accept their situation. A fall epidemic had disrupted the colonial government in nearby Charlestown (Charleston), and word had just arrived that England and Spain were at war, raising hopes that the Spanish in St. Augustine would give a positive reception to slaves escaping from Carolina plantations. But what may have actually triggered the rebellion on September 9th was the soon-to-be-enacted Security Act.

In mid-August, a Charlestown newspaper announced the Security Act. A response to the white’s fears of insurrection, the act required that all white men carry firearms to church on Sundays, a time when whites usually didn’t carry weapons and slaves were allowed to work for themselves. Anyone who didn’t comply with the new law by September 29 would be subjected to a fine.

Whatever triggered the Rebellion, early on the morning of the 9th, a Sunday, about twenty slaves gathered near the Stono River in St. Paul’s Parish, less than twenty miles from Charlestown. The slaves went to a shop that sold firearms and ammunition, armed themselves, then killed the two shopkeepers who were manning the shop. From there the band walked to the house of a Mr. Godfrey, where they burned the house and killed Godfrey and his son and daughter. They headed south. It was not yet dawn when they reached Wallace’s Tavern. Because the innkeeper at the tavern was kind to his slaves, his life was spared. The white inhabitants of the next six or so houses they reach were not so lucky — all were killed. The slaves belonging to Thomas Rose successfully hid their master, but they were forced to join the rebellion. (They would later be rewarded. See Report re. Stono Rebellion Slave-Catchers.) Other slaves willingly joined the rebellion. By eleven in the morning, the group was about 50 strong. The few whites whom they now encountered were chased and killed, though one individual, Lieutenant Governor Bull, eluded the rebels and rode to spread the alarm.

The slaves stopped in a large field late that afternoon, just before reaching the Edisto River. They had marched over ten miles and killed between twenty and twenty-five whites.

Around four in the afternoon, somewhere between twenty and 100 whites had set out in armed pursuit. When they approached the rebels, the slaves fired two shots. The whites returned fire, bringing down fourteen of the slaves. By dusk, about thirty slaves were dead and at least thirty had escaped. Most were captured over the next month, then executed; the rest were captured over the following six months — all except one who remained a fugitive for three years.

Uncomfortable with the increasing numbers of blacks for some time, the white colonists had been working on a Negro Act that would limit the privileges of slaves. This act was quickly finalized and approved after the Stono Rebellion. No longer would slaves be allowed to grow their own food, assemble in groups, earn their own money, or learn to read. Some of these restrictions had been in effect before the Negro Act, but had not been strictly enforced.

Number of young African American women in prison rises


Nikki Jones, a sociologist from UC Santa Barbara and Meda Chesney Lind, University of Hawaii, and attendee of the conference, has studied the statistics of imprisoned black girls for over 10 years and explained, “we have never seen these kind of numbers before,” reports EthnoBlog.

So far, the cause for this epidemic has been attributed to national zero tolerance policies and a justice system that treats girls of color differently than white girls.

“Here’s a lesser-known red flag in the black community: the fastest growing incarcerated population in the country is African American girls and young women. What does not seem to be rising however, is the number of black girls who are actually committing crimes.”


Let's stop beating around the bush: The NYPD is a racist organization. Each day, police officers are employed to carry out a racist agenda to criminalize black people whether they are actually criminals or not. Your skin color marks you as a target (or saves you from being a target) of the NYPD

(via deliciouskaek)


Zimmerman gets charged with second degree murder


second degree murder for stalking, instigating and then shooting someone point blank while being told by the authorities to remain in your car and not pursue…. all the damn blank stares. you cant PLAN it and then say its second degree murder. getting in your car with a gun loaded looking for a victim is planning. following said victim in the car is planning, disregarding the INSTRUCTIONS that go against said plan and confronting Trayvon Martin is planning. I think saying these coons always get away and running AFTER the victim is planning. I AM NOT SATISFIED ZIMMERMAN SHOULD BE FACING 1ST DEGREE MURDER CHARGES


Sign the petition. Lets get justice for Trayvon Martin.


If you care about human beings and their right to walk freely down the street without facing harm… if you care about human beings regardless of color, sex, pgp, or creed and their murderers running free…. if you think its wrong to hold someone else’s life as less than simply because he is black than sign the petition for Trayvon Martin. sign it because you are aware this world isn’t fair. you are aware that being a person of color in this world means that you may be shot and killed and your white murderer runs free. sign this because no parent should have to bury their child especially because of racism. Justice for Trayvon Martin.

Sign the petition, share the petition and call and email these people and tell them to release the 911 tapes and arrest Trayvon’s MURDERER

Bill Lee (Sanford chief of police) 407.688.5070 email:

Jeff Triplett (Mayor of Sanford) 407.688.5001 Email:

City Attorney for Sanford FL 407.322.2171 email:

A. Bryant Applegate (County Attorney) 407.665.7257


I’m reblogging this even though I’m sure it will help because it might make some folks feel better to do something.

(via isitis)




Do not let the nypd get away with this.

(via peechingtonmariejust)

American justice is not like the lady that is holding the scales blindfolded, it is more like a very rich, white lady peeking through the blindfold to see what color and how wealthy you are.

Anonymous (via invisibletape)

Pretty much.

(via witchsistah)

(via witchsistah-deactivated20111007)


You can give a man the death penalty for killing a cop with no evidence, but give a cop 2 years for killing a man with video footage of the murder.

(via polerin)