Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Support Committee Statement - Scott DeMuth pleads guilty to lesser charge

Reply-To: scottandcarrie@riseup.net

On Monday, September 13, 2010, Scott DeMuth pled guilty to one count
of misdemeanor conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism under
the Animal Enterprise Protection Act for his role in the April 29,
2006 ALF raid on Lakeside Ferrets, Inc., in Howard Lake, Minnesota.

The plea was to a lesser included charge of the second superseding
indictment (available here:

for an action causing less than $10,000 in damage, and carries a
maximum of six months in prison and a period of supervised release.
As a condition of Scott's plea, the government has agreed to ask for
a sentence of the full six months in prison, but not to ask for the
imposition of any fine.

This is NOT a cooperating plea agreement; Scott has not been asked to
testify against anyone else, nor would he do so. Though the action in
question was committed in a different federal district and, according
to Judge Jarvey, lacked any connection to the Southern District of
Iowa, Scott also agreed to waive his right to contest the venue in
which it was prosecuted. Scott's sentencing has been scheduled for
December 15, 2010, with a surrender date likely to be set for early 2011.

In the meantime, the government raised no objection to his continued
release, and agreed to the removal of his electronic monitoring,
stating that he "poses no flight risk." The plea agreement is
available at:

Though Scott has accepted responsibility for the Lakeside Ferrets
raid, we fundamentally disagree with the government's position that
such acts of liberation warrant punishment, and we do not believe
that the resolution of this case is a simple matter of guilt versus
innocence. Despite the nominal right to a jury trial in US courts,
the legal system functions in a manner that deprives defendants of
just options. As happened with Scott, people are routinely threatened
with overblown charges and disproportionate sentencing should they
exercise their right to a trial in order to coerce guilty pleas.
Prosecutors often take things a step further, ensnaring the friends
and family of the accused.

In this case, Assistant US Attorney Cliff Cronk subpoenaed Carrie
Feldman and Sonja Silvernail to testify at Scott's trial. Both Carrie
and Sonja decided that they would refuse to testify, meaning that
they would almost certainly have been held in contempt of court and
could have been incarcerated for months or even years (there is no
maximum sentence for criminal contempt). Thus, the risks associated
with Scott going to trial included not only his own possible
conviction and imprisonment, but also that of two friends and comrades.

We also think it is important to remind everyone of the way this case
began, as it reveals much more about the system than does the
resolution. In August of 2008, a multi-agency investigation into
anti-RNC protest activity in the Twin Cities culminated in raids,
arrests and conspiracy charges against eight anarchist organizers. As
Special Agent Maureen Mazzola testified to on the stand in Scott's
pre-trial hearing, the FBI used the pretext of this raid as a fishing
expedition, searching Scott's room for anything linking him to
"criminal activities" that fell well outside of the scope of the
search warrant being executed. In this process, Mazzola came across a
journal that she mistakenly believed linked him to the 2004 ALF raid
at the University of Iowa. FBI agents later reviewed this and other
seized materials, including his computer, and we believe that at some
point in the year after the RNC, they began communicating with US
Attorney's offices throughout the Midwest in hopes that the items
taken would lead to some sort of prosecution. Apparently, the only
office that bit was Cronk's, and he began a zealous effort to inject
new life into the case around the 2004 UI raid.

In the fall of 2009, he subpoenaed Carrie and Scott to a federal
grand jury, offering them immunity in exchange for their testimony.
They refused to cooperate and were jailed in Iowa on civil contempt,
where Carrie stayed for four months before being released with no
real explanation. On the other hand, after only a few days in jail
Scott was indicted for conspiracy to commit "animal enterprise
terrorism" and accused of having some involvement in the 2004 UI
raid. Likely due to the fact that Scott was not guilty of this, the
original indictment (and, later, the first superseding indictment)
failed to establish what Scott was actually alleged to have done to conspire.

Cronk deftly avoided dealing with the problem by issuing superseding
indictments each time Scott's attorneys filed motions to dismiss,
rendering the arguments moot. But at some point in all of this, Cronk
became aware of evidence linking Scott to the 2006 Lakeside Ferrets
raid, and in the second superseding indictment, he tacked this action
on to the alleged conspiracy, hoping that Scott's involvement in it
could be used to finally convict someone for the UI raid. In the end,
Cronk has had to settle for a guilty plea to a lesser offense, one
that occurred outside of his district and which had no connection to
the case he wanted to build.

The raid on the University of Iowa remains unsolved, and it is
clearer than ever that the case Cronk originally brought against
Scott was abusive, vindictive and lacking in any factual basis. In an
era where "fighting terrorism" is the justification of choice for all
manner of racist, xenophobic and COINTELPRO-type assaults on
marginalized communities, the reality we face as radicals is that we
are all terrorists in the eyes of the state. Evidence linking Scott
to the Lakeside Ferrets raid had apparently existed for several
years, but the fact that this wasn't important enough for the
government to pursue until four years later demonstrates how little
his misdemeanor activity in and of itself really mattered at all.

The more significant truth in this case is that the state
criminalizes political dissent and targets individuals and
communities because of their political beliefs and associations, with
a single-minded dedication to locking people up and little concern
for the truth. And in their dedication to destroying any movement
that threatens their hegemony, law enforcement and prosecutors
collaborate in throwing mountains of shit at the wall just to see
what sticks. The mere fact of Scott's vocal support for radical
actions and ideas made him a target of the FBI several years ago, and
he was swept up in a case that he had nothing to do with simply
because he lived in a house with other anarchists, who themselves
have been singled out by the state for their politics.

While we're of course glad that Scott is no longer facing the
possibility of three years in prison, those of us who have supported
him throughout this process find little cause for celebration at this
moment. Nonetheless, we support Scott in his decision, we urge others
to do the same, and we are proud to stand in solidarity with him and
all those who take radical action in defense of animals and against
systems of exploitation. Although the courtroom portion of Scott's
ordeal is almost over, his struggle is not. He still faces large
legal expenses, for which we need to raise another $5000 as quickly
as possible. And there will be additional support needed for his
commissary when he's taken into custody in January. We ask all (who
are able) to help us meet this need. Donations can be made online at:
http://davenportgrandjury.wordpress.com, or checks or money orders
can be made out to Coldsnap Legal Collective with EWOK in the memo
line and sent to EWOK! c/o Coldsnap, P.O. Box 50514, Minneapolis, MN 55405.

Lastly, we would like to say thank you to everyone who has shown
support for Scott, Carrie, and Sonja over the months since the
initial subpoenas. We hope that the work done on this case so far has
contributed positively to our movement's ability to deal with state
repression, and that as we face situations such as this in the
future, we continue to come together and build stronger communities
of resistance. In solidarity, the Scott & Carrie Support Committee (SCSC)

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