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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Activists Summoned Once Again Before a Federal Grand Jury

Posted by on Thu, Sep 13, 2012 at 2:45 PM

A month ago, I met Leah-Lynn Plante, a Portland woman who had been summoned before a federal grand jury in Seattle—without an attorney present, which is how grand juries work—ostensibly to testify about the May Day smashup during which a federal courthouse was vandalized.

But we don't know what, exactly, the grand jury wanted to know—she came to Seattle, but refused to testify. She was told to come back today and has returned, along with several dozen demonstrators.

Leah-Lynn Plante
  • The Stranger
  • Leah-Lynn Plante


Plante was not in Seattle on May Day, and she says the prosecutors know that—but she is a self-described anarchist. Her house was raided by the FBI, part of a series of raids in Seattle and Portland by local and federal law-enforcement officials, who, according to the warrants, were looking for items such as black clothing, sticks, paint, computers, cell phones, and "anti-government or anarchist literature or material."

"The assumption that this is about broken windows on a courthouse is a false one," she said in an interview on the courthouse steps this afternoon. "This is a witch hunt."

Emily Langlie, from the US Attorney's office, disagrees—this afternoon, she reiterated that "we do not prosecute people for their political beliefs."

Nevertheless, Plante thinks she has been targeted for her political and social affiliations, and suspects prosecutors are hoping that she, along with other people who've received subpoenas, will incriminate others. If she refuses to cooperate, she could be jailed for contempt of court. Plante was scheduled to go before the grand jury at 2:30 pm.

She also explained that she's not condoning the May Day vandalism. "Just because I'm taking this stand does not mean I endorse anything that happened on May Day," she said.

Adrienne Weller
  • The Stranger
  • Adrienne Weller

She's been told she's not the target of the investigation and was recently granted immunity from prosecution in the case, which is more problematic than it sounds. Once she's immune from prosecution, she says, she loses some legal ground in her right to remain silent, because she can't plead the Fifth. Last month, she was prepared to be jailed. Today, she's prepared to be jailed. "It's the last thing I want," she said. "No—that's not right. The last thing I want is for people to give into this kind of pressure."

Other folks—non-anarchists—at the courthouse today made similar arguments. Adrienne Weller, a longtime socialist, said "the widespread raids and intimidation tactics discourage our freedom of speech and dissent against a government that desperately needs dissent."

Weller said this issue is important, not just for activists, but for "people if they care about their right to strike, or even if they care about their right to speak."

 

Comments (23) RSS

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seandr 1
Is this overkill? Not really sure.

The fact is, a group of self-described "anarchists" has repeatedly caused thousands of dollars in property damage throughout the city (not to mention rioting and throwing shit at police). If you repeat a serious crime over and over and over again, at some point law enforcement is going to focus its attention on you.

Also, Brendan, you focused exclusively on the ethical issues of how law enforcement does its job while entirely neglecting the ethical issues surrounding Plante's decision to invoke the "code of silence" in order to spare her fellow gang members jail time.
Posted by seandr on September 13, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
seandr 2
P.S. Brendan - did you ask Adrienne Weller whether she considers property destruction to be a form of protected speech? Is breaking other people's stuff the kind of radicalism her sign refers to?
Posted by seandr on September 13, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
dangerousgift 3
Commitment to stay strong against state repression is a far cry from an endorsement of property destruction.

If you recall, the police kicked in the front door of their home with assault weapons drawn against people they now claim they KNOW to be uninvolved in any vandalism. VANDALISM for christ's sake!

And gang members? I know these are internet comment boards where hyperbole is norm but come on!

Solidarity with all grand jury resistors!
Posted by dangerousgift on September 13, 2012 at 4:09 PM · Report this
4
@ 1. "... you repeat a serious crime over and over and over again, at some point law enforcement is going to focus its attention on you."

Who is "you"? Plante? Any given anarchist? Any given person with "anarchist literature" in his or her home?

It is good to remember that a person is a person, no matter what his or her political beliefs, ethnicity, or anything else.

So I ask you again: Who, specifically, is this "you" you speak of?
Posted by Brendan Kiley on September 13, 2012 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 5
Could be worse. Could be the blond haired jackass that keeps "tagging" the Fremont Troll.

Just saying.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on September 13, 2012 at 5:07 PM · Report this
6
You know, white supremacists are always griping about how they're persecuted for their political beliefs, too.

Paint a few swastikas on some buildings, burn a little cross here and there, and suddenly the FBI is rounding them up and interrogating all sorts of innocent, politically white supremacist people who personally had nothing at all to do with the particular incidents of vandalism under investigation! It's a travesty!

It would be rather different, of course, if there were more than a few hundred individuals committed to either belief in our region, but in reality-land, fringe political extremists of any stripe have a very strong tendency to be acquainted with one another.

Like it or not, when the police investigate crime, part of the job is interviewing known associates of their suspects.

I do notice that not every anarchist in Seattle has been summoned to a grand jury for this. Why do you suppose they've selected this one?
Posted by robotslave on September 13, 2012 at 7:51 PM · Report this
7
The window breakers were cops. Now they are fishing for some crimes among the non-cops because it is wildly fishy that no groups of anarchist vandals who do their thing right out in the open ever get arrested and convicted. We are supposed to believe they are just that good...
Posted by cracked on September 13, 2012 at 8:45 PM · Report this
Ian Awesome 8
Good write-up, Brendan, and excellent point in response to @1. Leah wasn't even in Seattle during May Day. Why, by virtue of association with groups of people that may or may not have committed a crime (I was really flummoxed by the media labeling everyone who smashed windows on May Day anarchists... did they question every single one of them and ask them their political ideology?), should this woman be forced to travel with frequency to another city in order to show up and give information that she doesn't know?

It's only because she's an anarchist. THAT IS ALL.
Posted by Ian Awesome http://oneangryqueer.blogspot.com on September 14, 2012 at 9:24 AM · Report this
9
Plante and Duran aren't charged with anything. The fact that they are going to be charged with contempt indicates they are not the target of this investigation. The FBI acknowledges that these two weren't in Seattle on May Day. They just refuse to do the FBI's job for them by providing them with information. Solidarity/Silence is not a crime, except in archaic secret Grand Juries.

Leah is a prominent anarchist blogger, they just want to drag her through the mud.
Posted by mmhmm37 on September 14, 2012 at 9:30 AM · Report this
10
Plante and Duran aren't charged with anything. The fact that they are going to be charged with contempt indicates they are not the target of this investigation. The FBI acknowledges that these two weren't in Seattle on May Day. They just refuse to do the FBI's job for them by providing them with information. Solidarity/Silence is not a crime, except in archaic secret Grand Juries.

Leah is a prominent anarchist blogger, they just want to drag her through the mud.
Posted by mmhmmbob on September 14, 2012 at 9:33 AM · Report this
11
Plante and Duran aren't charged with anything. The fact that they are going to be charged with contempt indicates they are not the target of this investigation. The FBI acknowledges that these two weren't in Seattle on May Day. They just refuse to do the FBI's job for them by providing them with information. Solidarity/Silence is not a crime, except in archaic secret Grand Juries.

Leah is a prominent anarchist blogger, they just want to drag her through the mud.
Posted by mmhmmbob on September 14, 2012 at 9:35 AM · Report this
seandr 12
@Brendan - I don't understand your point, but to answer your question, "who" would be the douchebags who like to amass on the street wearing masks, break shit, throw rocks at the cops, and spray paint trite slogans on their neighbors' fences. I don't know their names, if that's what you are asking, but I imagine finding that information out is the whole point of the grand jury.

Are you suggesting that prosecutors are barking up the wrong tree with Plante? That they've arbitrarily picked her out simply because of her beliefs? Maybe, maybe not, but if you had any information suggesting that were the case, I imagine you would share it with us.

Having thought about this some more, here's what really bothers me about your coverage. From ages 18-20, I was one of these assholes. Immature, bored, full of testosterone, looking for thrills, no money, under the spell of a political ideology that said the world owed me something, and feeling perfectly justified in stealing or breaking shit that didn't belong to me. The last thing I needed back then was some journalist from an upper middle class background egging me on and romanticizing my self-defeating, delusional, and misguided behavior because he gets a vicarious, philosophical thrill out of it.

Are you, Brendan, willing to risk fucking up your entire life by putting on a mask and pointlessly breaking some windows? No, of course not. You are too smart and too soft for that kind of shit. So why are you encouraging these kids to do the same? Will you be there for them the day they apologize for their actions and tearfully beg the judge for a merciful sentence?
Posted by seandr on September 14, 2012 at 12:28 PM · Report this
13
@12
I have to challenge your assumption that these grand jury witnesses are in fact in contact with the vandals. Your arguments are based on assumptions, not facts. Your assumptions are not facts.

Hey, if they want to grant immunity or get people to cop a deal to avoid conviction, why don't our authorities ever arrest the vandals in the act?

The only answer I ever come up with is that the vandals are actually government employees.

Always plenty of arrests of bystanders and here we see dramatic SWAT type sweeps by jack boot thugs to put on a good show, but with all these resources, they never arrest anyone on the scene. It just looks like an excuse for political repression.

Posted by cracked on September 14, 2012 at 1:22 PM · Report this
14
Regardless of whether she's completely innocent, or whether she planned and committed the "may day" crimes by herself, is irrelevant. She is entitled to due process just like anyone else, and having black clothing, cell phones, computers, and "anti-government" literature is not grounds to issue a warrant, nor is it evidence of a crime. This is a clear case of the legal system completely overstepping it's authority, and a huge show of incompetence by the judge who issued this warrant, the police department that asked for it in the first place, and the D.A.'s office for prosecuting such a case. Way to totally fail at your jobs.
Posted by Stormchi on September 18, 2012 at 3:18 AM · Report this
15
Anarchy = No rulers, which is not the same as without rules. For the brainless assholes who think they know so much, think about one simple thing: You own your body and the actions it performs; no one else does. You move your hands with which you create things and those things belong to you. You create your home, plant your crops and those are yours to keep. You kill someone, and you own that responsibility too. The crime is YOURS and only YOURS. Government has NO moral stand to dictate how much they will take in "taxes" from you (theft) and a Court filled with tax supported judges and no jury is nothing but a group of government thugs trying to dictate their whims onto others. A true anarchist does not initiate violence against others; doing so makes that individual violate his or her main belief that we should not have rulers and any ethics or principles his or her philosophy is based on would crumble instantly (in short, he or she would be nothing more than hypocrites). The reality is that the owners of GOVERNMENT are very afraid that people will realize that anarchy is not there to harm but to free the people from the real evil. Most propaganda you read or see on TV about anarchism is produced by the same people that would not let any free-minded individual talk to the public. Government, as in this case, will exert any force they need to eradicate any person that is capable of thinking outside of the government indoctrination limits they have been teaching us and our children for many years in "public" —government paid— schools which only teach government approved educational programs. If you don't realize that, maybe you should consider reading the writings of the founders (those who also wrote the Constitution) of this country. They were true anarchists when they decided to stand against the British crown. If they were not, they would not dare to do such thing and would rather accept whatever arbitrary laws their rulers would create for them.

Free your mind and stop being a government drone.
More...
Posted by Yura on September 19, 2012 at 4:55 PM · Report this
16
Anarchy = No rulers, which is not the same as without rules. For the brainless assholes who think they know so much, think about one simple thing: You own your body and the actions it performs; no one else does. You move your hands with which you create things and those things belong to you. You create your home, plant your crops and those are yours to keep. You kill someone, and you own that responsibility too. The crime is YOURS and only YOURS. Government has NO moral stand to dictate how much they will take in "taxes" from you (theft) and a Court filled with tax supported judges and no jury is nothing but a group of government thugs trying to dictate their whims onto others. A true anarchist does not initiate violence against others; doing so makes that individual violate his or her main belief that we should not have rulers and any ethics or principles his or her philosophy is based on would crumble instantly (in short, he or she would be nothing more than hypocrites). The reality is that the owners of GOVERNMENT are very afraid that people will realize that anarchy is not there to harm but to free the people from the real evil. Most propaganda you read or see on TV about anarchism is produced by the same people that would not let any free-minded individual talk to the public. Government, as in this case, will exert any force they need to eradicate any person that is capable of thinking outside of the government indoctrination limits they have been teaching us and our children for many years in "public" —government paid— schools which only teach government approved educational programs. If you don't realize that, maybe you should consider reading the writings of the founders (those who also wrote the Constitution) of this country. They were true anarchists when they decided to stand against the British crown. If they were not, they would not dare to do such thing and would rather accept whatever arbitrary laws their rulers would create for them.

Free your mind and stop being a government drone.
More...
Posted by Yura on September 19, 2012 at 4:56 PM · Report this
17
fuck these people they aren't real anarchists -real anarchists don't use violence because that is the status quo -that is what the state uses. STOP CO-OPTING WORDS LIKE ANARCHY, LIBERTY, FREEDOM, LIBERAL, PEACE, etc. You freaks are not fighting for freedom. When ever you use violence you are the state's puppets. Just look at the result. Even Ghandi, though he was a collectivist idiot too, knew better than these idiots. Wake up America!
Posted by fred flinstone on September 20, 2012 at 1:57 AM · Report this
18
Okay... students and young activists, deemed "anarchists" by an authoritative body of government who frowns on any behaviour that disrupts and challenges corporate interest, are criminals. It would seem in this case because they might possibly know more about the homeless guy who broke some court windows, and who has ALREADY BEEN ARRESTED, as well as possibly having knowledge about some people who may have caused "physical pain" to some police officers. Aw.. muffin. Poor police officers. Or, you know, just generally disagreeing with the state, but in no violent way disagreeing. They probably just aren't buying as much as they should.
Though I did not take part, I spent the better part of the beginning of my summer watching young people peacefully protesting being corralled, arrested, and violently beaten by police officers. A 17 year old lost his eye when a police officer hit him in the face with a baton. These people were doing nothing to harm each other or the citizens around them. They are not criminals. They are individuals of a nation like you are I, who have the freedom to express what they believe, and to protest peacefully. Which is what they get punished for.

What about all those kids on wallstreet who rushed in a global economic collapse by fudging the housing market so they could make lots and lots and lots of money for forever and ever? Lots of OUR money. What about Allan Greenspan who's suggestion to up the risk with investments, etc.,
started the whole collapse? What about Magnetar Capital, an organization that found a loop-hole in the sub-prime mortgage system and exposed it, taking home hundreds of millions and worsening the crisis for the rest of us. Us being the poor and working folk on the planet; not just one country, but everyone on Earth who is a part of this system. What about the generation of people in control of this system who do not have the responsibility or the foresight to control it?
No, these people aren't criminals. They keep us happy. So long as we share their views and let them take our money.
"Shut up and buy."

I do not protest the system because I take part in it and I do buy products. But I am not about to protect those who try and keep their own citizens down when expressing contempt, anger, or frustration with how they are governed. I am not going to protect uneducated people who think the real problem is with the youth who are seeking alternatives, and not with the corporations that would take everything from anyone if they thought they could make a few dollars doing it.
More...
Posted by Nico D. on September 20, 2012 at 11:56 AM · Report this
19
"...you focused exclusively on the ethical issues of how law enforcement does its job while entirely neglecting the ethical issues surrounding Plante's decision to invoke the "code of silence" in order to spare her fellow gang members jail time."

Ethics aside, how about the legality of breaking in this woman's door and searching her house for common, LEGAL household items, just to try to get her to testify when it is her right not to? Worse so KNOWING she was not at the location of the incident in question.

OK so, let's go back to your question of ethics:
Where is the ethics of trying to grant immunity against her wishes to try to force her to give up her right to the 5th amendment?

Where is the ethics in violating her right against unfair search and seizure?
A Subpoena to the grand jury would have sufficed, but they had to try to include her in the crime WITHOUT EVIDENCE!

Where is the ethics in claiming that she is in a conspiracy because she is an anarchist and associates with other anarchists?
Unless some new law that we do not know about is correct, non felons have a legal right to associate with any other person they wish. They have the right to discuss ANYTHING they wish! Just doing so in and of itself does not make for a conspiracy as is being claimed this woman is a part of.

I am unable to find any other information about what led law enforcement and the grand jury to believe either this woman or the man likewise dealt with has ANY connection to the persons or crimes involved in the May Day event. If they have no connection, what was the point in the first place? If the connection is ONLY because they know the persons involved, this is setting a dangerous precedent. Either way I would appreciate being able to hear the 'other side' of the story here.
More...
Posted by Enigma63 on September 21, 2012 at 4:02 AM · Report this
20
@seandr: Wow, what a piece of shit you are.
Posted by hoien on October 12, 2012 at 7:04 PM · Report this
21
They did not kick her door in. She was squatting in a house that did not belong to her.
Posted by Reyka on October 13, 2012 at 2:14 PM · Report this
22
by Jay Taber
October 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm
While you are correct in noting the psychological warfare strategy of fostering distrust within the resistance community, it is also true that prior to her incarceration, Plante stated she was terrified and depressed. Any psychologist or astute human being would recognize that she was unlikely to hold up in a federal detention facility. Either she would talk, or she would have a nervous breakdown. And that is something federal prosecutors knew going in. So regardless of what transpired, the lesson must be taken to heart by those who have anything at risk. Communications security is not to be taken lightly.

by pinbalwyz
November 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm
Leah was a vulnerable young woman. Her tattoos amounted to a prayer to be left unharmed and to regain control over her life. She cried going into that courthouse. Nobody (other than her attorney) walked through those courthouse/jailhouse doors with her! She denies being in Seattle on May Day. Nobody has contradicted her. She denies planning/conspiring to promote those activities. In fact, she publicly denounced the street violence. (Plante explained she’s not condoning the May Day vandalism. “Just because I’m taking this stand does not mean I endorse anything that happened on May Day,” she said.)

An anarchist needn’t subscribe to vandalism/violence. She’s since angrily declared she doesn’t *owe* anybody anything, while admitting her mental health had been compromised and her PTSD had been exacerbated, that she’d had nightmares and panic attacks.

It’s a fool’s errand to expect this fragile young well intentioned woman to bear all the sins of her peers like she was some Christlike figure on the cross. She deserves control over her own life without being pressured or 2nd guessed. Shame on it!–the CAPR, that is. (amicuscuria.com/wordpress)
More...
Posted by pinbalwyz on November 3, 2012 at 3:07 AM · Report this
23
"They did not kick her door in. She was squatting in a house that did not belong to her."

Now THAT is something I hadn't heard before. Is this really true?
Posted by pinbalwyz on November 3, 2012 at 4:28 AM · Report this

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