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Major raids in US Pacific Northwest target anarchists and occupy movement


On Wednesday last week, the FBI and US Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) carried out major raids in Portland Oregon, Olympia, Washington and Seattle, Washington targeting anarchists and people involved in the Occupy movement.

Will Potter, investigative journalist, reports from his site that:

“Three homes were raided in Portland, by approximately 60-80 police including FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force. Individuals at the homes say police used flash grenades during the raid.

Grand jury subpoenas have been served to individuals in all three cities: 2 in Olympia, 1 in Seattle, and 2 in Portland. The grand jury is scheduled to convene on August 2nd at the federal courthouse in Seattle.”

No arrests were made.

The FBI says that they are investigating ‘serious crime’ but the search for anarchist literature and the questions put the locals about political organising suggests their investigation is really about targeting activists.

The local paper in Portland reports that a neighbour 'described the former tenants as "anarchists" who ran an information booth at Alberta Street's Last Thursday event.'

Grand juries: divide and rule

Grand juries are now a uniquely American institution. They were abolished in New Zealand in 1961. Required by the US Constitution as a check on judicial and prosecutorial abuse, it has often been used as a tool of abuse against political dissidents.

Grand Juries in the United States are used to decide if there is a case against someone. They can force people to testify (subpoena them).  A person called to testify is NOT allowed to have a lawyer present in the courtroom with them, and refusal to testify results in contempt for which a term of imprisonment lasting until either the person agrees to testify or the grand jury concludes is imposed. In other words, your right to silence does not exist. Grand Juries are shrouded in secrecy, although witnesses are not bound by that secrecy.

Following the presentation of evidence, jurors vote on the proposed charges (the indictment), which were drafted by the prosecutor. If a majority of the jury believes the evidence shows probable cause of a crime, the jury "returns" the indictment. This act initiates criminal proceedings. ( from The Grand Jury in the United States, by Kathy Gill )

Occupy a real threat

There has been some recent discussion and debate on Indymedia about the Occupy movement in Aotearoa. One person suggested that open organising was the way to avoid police surveillance and suggested that Occupy didn’t suffer from police brutality because of its tactics. What is irrefutable is that the Occupy movement in the United States has been met with extreme police violence across the United States regardless of the tactics used.

Noam Chomsky has described Occupy as the ‘first response of middle America to thirty years of class war’. As such, it has scared the elite and provoked the extreme repression. From Zuccoti Park to Oakland, the police came out swinging. And it seems that what started as simple brutality has turned into a much more concerted effort to once again criminalize anyone seeking social change.

It remains to be seen what will happen with these grand juries. Many courageous people have resisted giving evidence at grand juries and have done long stretches in prison.

The pictures of the FBI raiding party look just like the Armed Offenders Squad here, with the exception of the colours of their uniforms.

The struggles to come

While life here in Aotearoa is not yet that of the US, the passage of the Search and Surveillance bill has brought a significant shift in power: power to the police to search you, surveil you, and even require that you answer questions under threat of imprisonment.

With the recent acquittal of Ewan McDonald in the murder trial of his brother-in-law, and the coroner’s findings in the Kahui case, there is even discussion of removing the right to silence altogether. This is a terrifying prospect.

Without a doubt, civil liberties are not universally enjoyed in this country. We have a racist justice system which means that rights accorded to pakeha are seldom extended to Maori, Pacifica or other ethnic minorities. Nevertheless, the answer to that injustice is not to abolish those rights altogether or to say because some do not have them, it does not matter if they are there. Rather, part of the fight for freedom should be for the full enjoyment of basic rights by all people, and an expansion of the power of the individual against the state, most particularly when they find themselves up against a criminal prosecution.


Interesting and worrying developments

Well, is the fact that this forums is hardly being frequented these days perhaps the result of certain actions in NZ?

Do people perhaps fear about being "followed up", having their emails found out and followed up for finding out their identities? Maybe they fear being suspected as being "terrorists" of sorts also?

It is very "interesting" indeed, same as worrying.

I have recently detected how senior ministers of the Crown go about lying to media and the public, I commented on this on certain media, sent factual information to journalists, even copied in some MPs, but for some very peculiar reason, NOBODY appears to either take such matters too serious, seems to rather listen to what ministers tell them, and the media is busy distracting us with sports news from the Olympics, celebrity news about Bieber and co, about lifestyle matters and "serving" us with endless commercials to tell us what to buy and think about.

Sadly the populace at large appears to be lulled into some peculiar sense of all being somehow "looked after" and nothing being there too much to worry about. Nobody raises serious questions and challenges anyone in charge.

Are there still people out there "thinking" independently and clearly? I hear nothing much, I regret.



Thanks for your comments.

Thanks for your comments. Indymedia has definitely suffered from some lack of attention of the last couple of years for a vareity of reasons. The collective is working on re-building the content and the user base over the next six months.We would encourage you to consider writing articles for the site.

Surveilliance does have its desired effect: people are made afraid and weary of participating.

I do, however, see resistance everywhere. There is a real movement against mining and fossil fuel extraction that continues to grow. Christchurch people are angry and organising against the concentrated powers of redevelopment. Students are blockading and fighting the cops. It isn't huge, but it is happening. And resistance happens everyday in workplaces and schools around the country.

It is easy to look around and see the particular evil of this government but ministers have always lied. They only win if we give up fighting and start believing the bullsh*t scooped out on the daily news.

Unless you're playing silly

Unless you're playing silly buggers in the bush with guns, balaclavas and molotov cocktails, I doubt the High Court is going to grant warrants for said surveillance.

Then again, given what "Peaceful Activists" and "Anarchists" like to get up to when they think people aren't watching perhaps the FBI was in the right.


Cows with guns

What about a bunch of white nationalists "playing silly buggers in the bush with guns, balaclavas and molotov cocktails"?

BTW the FBI operates in the USA. We are in Aotearoa, or if you prefer New Zealand.

Thanks for a thoughtful

Thanks for a thoughtful article. Nice to see the overseas events linked back to the implications for us here in Aotearoa.

"One person suggested that open organising was the way to avoid police surveillance and suggested that Occupy didn’t suffer from police brutality because of its tactics."

That would be a reference to me, although to be fair, my comments have been taken *way* out of context. Here's the original:

The comparison I made was specific to Aotearoa - obviously the USA State were much rougher on the occupiers there than the NZ state. Also, I didn't say open organising avoided surveillance, just that it rendered it ineffective (although still offensive). Having said that though, the US regime totally failed to demonize Occupy using their media tools (Fox News etc), and it's also interesting that:

"No arrests were made."

I doubt this is what happens when raids are made on people accused planning or carrying out covert sabotage.

Finally, Chomsky's comments need to be understood in the context of what he means by "middle class". In the USA, anyone with a job, and a high school education, who has a home is "middle class". There was a time in this country when we considered these things as minimum standards for a decent society, and someone who has them here is just as likely to be considered "working class".

It looks like two of those

It looks like two of those subpoenaed won't be talking:

We are releasing this statement to make clear our intention to resist the grand jury. We will not co-operate with their investigation. If we appear before the grand jury, we will not answer any questions other than our names. If we are asked additional questions, we will invoke our First, Fourth,and Fifth Amendment rights. Under no circumstances will we talk about other people.