Saturday, August 28, 2010

Minneapolis 'zombies' give $4000 to 'targets of state repression'

By Stephanie Dearing.

Minneapolis - One of the seven people who put on a zombie street performance in downtown Minneapolis in 2006 to protest mindless consumption announced Thursday is donating a portion of his settlement to other anarchists who are fighting legal charges.
Infoshop News reported on a video announcement made by Raphi Rechitsky Thursday, when Rechitsky said he and the others who make up the group now known as 'the Zombie 7' would donate at least $4,000 of the $165,000 they will receive from the City of Minneapolis to other anarchists fighting legal charges. The Zombie 7 have decided to donate the money to eight people known as the RNC 8 and a separate activist, Scott DeMuth. Rechitsky explained the decision in his video release, saying
"... We wanted to hold the city accountable for suppressing political action. And this week we were awarded a $165,000 settlement from the City of Minneapolis. In my opinion, this money doesn't just belong to me, but all those who work for a better world. For that reason, I'm asking winners of political settlements to pay it forward and donate to targets of state repression."
Rechitsky said he personally was giving $1,500 to the RNC 8 and Scott DeMuth. "Repression is not isolated," Rechitsky explained. "Neither is resistance." Playing on the zombie reference, Rechitsky concluded,
"Use your brains. Pay it forward and defend all targets of state repression."
A press release accompanied the video announcement posted at Vimeo, explaining the Zombie 7 had donated a minimum of $4,000 towards the RNC8 and Scott DeMuth. In the release, Rechitsky said the Zombie 7 were motivated to donate a portion of their settlement because
"The Zombie 7 were not slapped with criminal charges after being absurdly arrested for 'simulating weapons of mass destruction. But countless others are prosecuted for their artistic and political expression, views, and associations, much like the RNC 8 and Scott DeMuth. They face not only jail time and exhausting legal proceedings, but also costly legal defense. My fellow zombies and I have come to understand that with a flip of a coin, we could have been the ones to face criminal charges on outrageous accusations of 'violence.'"
The donation answers some of the questions asked by the public since the Zombie 7 settlement was announced earlier this week. The group also said it will split the $165,000 award with their lawyer. The RNC 8 are a group of eight anarchist activists who were arrested pre-emptively for their organizing efforts. The group was preparing to launch political protests at the Republican National Convention, which took place in Minneapolis in the spring of 2008. Police zeroed in on the eight after they posted a video promoting protests at the convention in 2007 they called."We're Getting ready! RNC Welcoming Committee trailer ." According to the website, Defend the RNC8, the eight face serious charges.
"... The “RNC 8″ were originally charged with conspiracy to riot in the 2nd degree in furtherance of terrorism, a felony which was the first ever use of Minnesota’s PATRIOT Act. In December 2008, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner (who is also running for Governor of Minnesota as a Democrat) added three more felony charges: 2nd degree conspiracy to riot (without the terrorism enhancement), 1st degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in furtherance of terrorism, and 1st degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property (without the terrorism enhancement). Then, in April 2009, Gaertner dropped the two “in furtherance of terrorism” charges due to political pressure from RNC 8 supporters. The other two conspiracy charges still remain, and the RNC 8 still potentially face several years of prison time."
The eight charged, Luce Guillen-Givins, Max Specktor, Nathanael Secor, Eryn Trimmer, Monica Bicking, Erik Oseland, Robert Czernik and Garrett Fitzgerald, say their arrests are an attempt to 'criminalize activism.' In a press release issued in June, the group maintains they were arrested without probable cause. Just prior to the 2008 Republican National Convention, St. Paul police arrested over 200 people. Common Dreams reported that 27 of those arrested filed a class action lawsuit against the city. In May this year, Democracy Now and journalist Amy Goodman also launched a lawsuit against Minneapolis for arresting Democracy Now journalists while they were covering the protests at the 2008 Convention. In spite of the preemptive arrests, protests still took place. Attempts by police to control protesters resulted in at least one lawsuit filed against police for police brutality. 22 year old Scott DeMuth was arrested under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act in Iowa. He was arrested and charged with conspiracy after he refused to testify "... before a federal grand jury in Davenport that was investigating an Animal Liberation Front (ALF) raid at the University of Iowa in 2004." DeMuth is alleged to have participated in the 2004 raid of the University of Iowa. During that raid, activists removed 401 animals from the University of Iowa, while vandalizing research labs and offices; destroying research. The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) claimed responsibility saying
"... If not for the brave efforts of these compassionate activists, these animals would have been forced to continue to face horrific treatment at the hands of the university’s researchers, having holes drilled into their head, being forced to suffer through severe dehydration, electrocution, and extreme cold, as well as the forced ingestion of cocaine, methamphetamine and PCP."
Those who support DeMuth say the charges against him are 'politically motivated.' A press release posted to Davenport Grand Jury explained
"... the prosecutor, Cliff Cronk, has repeatedly stated in court that DeMuth is a “domestic terrorist” because of his alleged political beliefs and associations."
The ALF alleges the investigation is fraudulent. Preemptive arrests prior to major events have become a preferred way to police protests around the world. Denmark gave police power to arrest people preemptively just before the December 2009 UN climate change negotiations that took place in that country. The Guardian reported the new law meant police could arrest people solely on the suspicion that those arrested might commit a crime in the near future. Police were also allowed to detain people for 12 hours without charges. The latest examples of preemptive arrests took place in Toronto, Canada during the G20 summit meeting. Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom summed up the issue as being a case where
"... those in charge of the police found civil liberties inconvenient."
Walkom concluded his article by saying preemptive arrests are "... the totalitarian’s recipe for public order." Update: City Pages reported Zomie 7 would donate $4,000 to Scott DeMuth and another $4,000 to the RNC 8. Correction: The title originally had the wrong city (Minnesota) ... and the title has been corrected to reflect this du-oh moment on the part of the author. Many apologies.

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