Workers Vanguard No. 1009
28 September 2012
FBI Raids Target Northwest Activists
(Young Spartacus pages)
At daybreak on July 25, FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents armed with assault rifles raided the homes of three anarchists in Portland, Oregon. During this coordinated raid, Feds broke down doors and stormed in behind a volley of flash grenades while a helicopter circled overhead.
Dennison Williams was rousted out of bed while pleading for his life and then placed in a chair while handcuffed and half-naked. Over a dozen FBI agents ransacked his apartment and seized his cellphone, laptop and eleven items of black clothing as “evidence.” He was slapped with a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle. At least four others were subpoenaed, including Leah-Lynn Plante of Portland and Matt Duran of Olympia. Duran has since been imprisoned for refusing to testify. Free Duran now! Stop the grand jury inquisition and return all the belongings that were seized!
Revealing the real political motive behind the raids, the sealed search warrant shown to Williams stated that the FBI was to seize “anti-government or anarchist literature or material.” SWAT raids that targeted Occupy Seattle activists in Washington weeks earlier were also searching for “anarchist materials.” Williams’ warrant justified confiscating anarchist paraphernalia, supposedly used in the “Destruction of government property” and “Conspiracy to travel interstate with intent to riot.”
At an August 1 press conference held the day before the first hearing, Williams read aloud from a statement by Plante and himself, in which they courageously vowed not to testify before the grand jury. He said, “This grand jury is a tool of political repression. It is attempting to turn individuals against each other by coercing those subpoenaed to testify against their communities.”
On September 13, the court held Duran in contempt for refusing to testify and shipped him off to SeaTac federal prison in Seattle. According to a September 17 update on saynothing.info (a Web site run by supporters of the Northwest activists), Duran is being held in solitary confinement. Meanwhile, Plante was released and subpoenaed yet again. She and the other activists could face Duran’s fate if they continue to refuse to testify.
It is vitally necessary to defend these activists, who have been targeted for their political views. If the capitalist state can raid the homes of these young leftists, rifles in hand, and drag them before a witchhunting grand jury—simply for supposedly reading Bakunin and having a penchant for wearing black—they can do it to anyone. An injury to one is an injury to all!
An August 2012 “Grand Jury Resistance in the Pacific Northwest” statement signed by pugetsoundanarchists.org and saynothing.info notes, “The purpose of this Grand Jury seems to be an investigation of what occurred in downtown Seattle on May Day 2012.” At that march, police claim that 75 “Black Bloc” anarchists allegedly damaged branches of Wells Fargo, Bank of America, HSBC and Homestreet banks, a Nike store and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Cops assaulted protesters and arrested at least eight activists. The next day, Seattle police chief John Diaz stated, “I am convinced there are a lot of people who will be spending some quality time in prison for what they did yesterday.” It was announced the same day that a task force was formed to review footage from the protest.
One of the Seattle PD’s first victims was Cody Ingram, who was arrested and charged with destruction of government property. Ingram spent a month in jail before pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and being sentenced to time served. At his hearing, an FBI special agent accused him of saying that the “government needs to be replaced.” (Last we knew, that was still a democratic right.) Activist Robert Ditrani was pressured to plead guilty on charges of disorderly conduct after allegedly spitting on a cop.
The May Day protest in Seattle was organized as part of a nationwide “general strike” initiated by the last holdouts of the populist Occupy movement, who issued flyers and posters calling for “no work, no school, no shopping, no banking, no chores.” In fact, this “general strike” was simply a protest that in no way shut down production. Notwithstanding the movement’s insistence on having no demands at all, the program embodied in the Occupy protests that began one year ago is simple liberal reform that is very much in line with the Democratic Party. Occupy’s slogan “We are the 99 percent” denies the fundamental class division in society between the capitalists and the proletariat.
While exposing its tepid reformism, we have defended and do defend Occupy against all attacks by the capitalist state. Similarly, while the political bankruptcy of anarchism has been evident particularly since the Russian Revolution of 1917, it is the duty of all opponents of capitalist state repression to come to their defense now.
Since the beginning of the Occupy movement, the protesters have been hit with vicious state repression. Brutal crackdowns swept cities across the U.S. last November, and Democratic Party mayors carried out most of them. So-called “progressive” Democrat Jean Quan, mayor of Oakland, admitted to participating in a conference call with officials from 18 cities nationwide to discuss how to disperse the encampments last year. The state continues to persecute the few remaining Occupy activists, as evidenced by the Northwest raids and the arrests of 185 protesters in New York on September 17 during the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Drop all the charges!
The FBI raids, the grand jury subpoenas and the arrests of political activists are of a piece with the vicious attacks on civil liberties that have been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The government’s prohibition of “material support to terrorism” originated with the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act under Clinton and was expanded by Bush’s “war on terror” Patriot Act following the September 11 attacks.
For his part, Obama renewed the Patriot Act and added to this arsenal of repression the indefinite military detention of U.S. civilians and legalized political assassination of citizens abroad (see “Obama Ramps Up ‘War on Terror’ at Home,” WV No. 993, 6 January). A 21 June 2010 Supreme Court ruling expanded the definition of “material support to terrorism” to include engaging in political advocacy of groups deemed enemies of the state.
The state began its “war on terror” by targeting Muslims, but the laws crafted to justify state terror are increasingly used against anyone advocating ideas contrary to the status quo (see “More Subpoenas Against Midwest Leftists: FBI Infiltration Exposed,” WV No. 973, 4 February 2011). Dissenters are deemed “enemies of the state” or “terrorists”—i.e., people with no rights the state is bound to respect and to whom the government can do anything.
The ultimate target of “anti-terror” and other measures of repression is the multiracial working class, which has the social power and objective historic interest to overthrow the capitalist order. The Spartacist League and its youth auxiliary, the Spartacus Youth Clubs, aim to build the vanguard workers party necessary to establish working-class rule and put the system of racism, poverty and war out of business once and for all.
Defend the Northwest grand jury resisters! Free the imprisoned Occupy protesters! Down with police and FBI raids!