Friday, March 27, 2009

Message from Daniel McGowan on the Good Time Bill

March 2009

Dear family and friends,

Greetings from the "Communication Management Unit" (CMU) at USP Marion. I hope this letters finds you well and enjoying the springtime weather.

I am writing you today to let you know about a piece of federal legislation introduced in Congress recently that has the potential to reduce my sentence-and many federal prisoners' sentences-by increasing the level of 'good time' credit we receive. This bill, H.R. #1475, also known as the Federal Work Incentive Act of 2009, introduced by Representative Danny Davis (IL) has the potential to pass, given the dire economic situation and the Democrat-majority Congress. Nonetheless, this bill needs your support.

I am requesting that you write a letter to your House Representative urging them to co-sponsor the bill and vote for it when the time comes. (You can find out who your rep. is by typing your address into the tool at or

You can read the text of the bill, background information on the situation with federal prisons today, talking points and sample letters on the new website, This will be the only site you need to check for updates - feel free to contact them to get more involved at

When writing your Representative on this issue, it's OK to mention you know someone in federal prison but also, raise issues of cost and overcrowding as well [e.g. federal prisons are 40% overcrowded, costs U.S. taxpayers 7.6 billion annually and over 3/4 of the prisoners are serving time for non-violent offenses]. Currently, the population in federal prisons is 203,000 (and growing), parole was abolished 20 years ago and we serve about 85% of our sentence. This bill can begin to remedy these issues and give prisoners incentives for early release and good behavior.

You can sign up to receive more information or join the 'Good Time Bill' Facebook group by visiting the above website. In the next couple of months, we will be asking for you to follow your letter up with an email and before a vote, a simple two minute phone call to your Rep's office urging a 'yes' vote. Please do your part in addressing a very relevant problem in our society by working to pass this bill - it has the potential to reduce the sentence of the majority of the 203,000 peoples' sentences and return us to society to live productive lives.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and for all the support. Be sure to check the website for more information, updates and more detailed information about the Good Time Bill.

With love from Little Guantanamo,

Daniel McGowan
USP Marion-CMU
PO Box 1000
Marion, IL 62959

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Join in the National Day of Solidarity with the RNC8!

Join in the National Day of Solidarity with the RNC8!

Saturday, March 28th
Brooklyn, NYC

(Exciting RNC Protest Footage!)

(Delicious & Vegan!)

& Speakers
(Short & Sweet! Learn about the RNC8 & the current state of Domestic
Terrorism Laws)

How Much?

The Change You Want See Gallery
84 Havemeyer Street, Storefront
Brooklyn, NY 11211
L to Bedford
J to Marcy
G to Metropolitan

More Info:
The street battles that took place in St. Paul, Minnesota over the
course of the Republican National Convention are now a memory–battles
hard won by those brave protesters who defied the thousands of
police and National Guard in place throughout the Twin Cities to
guard what is most precious to those in power: law and order.

The authorities had hoped to preemptively contain the RNC protests by
unleashing a tsunami of repression against local organizers who
were involved in logistical support work. Eight people, after early
morning house raids and preemptive arrests mere days before the
action would begin, have now been charged as terrorists under a
state- version of the Patriot Act and are facing 12 and a half years
in prison and fines of $25,000 per person.

Just as the authorities failed to quiet the protests that engulfed
downtown St. Paul, we must act to once again disrupt their well-laid
plans! Through ingenuity and solidarity we can accomplish the most
amazing feats, as those on the streets of St. Paul can attest. The
prosecution of the RNC8 is a naked attempt to criminalize above-
ground legal organizing — and we will not let friends and fellow
travelers go to jail without a fight!


This case is pivotal! If the RNC8 are found guilty, this will serve
as a precedent for prosecuting those who organize in their
communities to resist the systems of greed and exploitation that
threaten us all.

snitch Ian Wallace gets 3 years

NY student gets 3 years in prison for eco-crime

A New York man who said he’s been "consumed by shame" for his time as a radical activist was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for attempting to firebomb two buildings at a Michigan university.

"My greatest blessing is that no one got hurt," Ian Wallace said.

U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell granted him a significant break. Wallace, 27, of East Setauket, N.Y., had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

In October, he pleaded guilty to attempted destruction of government property at Michigan Technological University in Houghton in the Upper Peninsula. Wallace was a member of the Earth Liberation Front, known as ELF.

He placed homemade incendiary devices outside two buildings at Michigan Tech in November 2001. The goal was to destroy tree research and intimidate the public, but the devices failed.

The judge said Wallace "didn’t intend to hurt anybody, (but) this is a serious offense," The Mining Journal reported.

After a tip, the FBI approached him twice in 2007. Wallace admitted his crime and led agents to three people linked to the damage or destruction of 500 trees at a federal research site in Rhinelander, Wis.

"I’m taking three years out of your life," Bell said. "You’re going to emerge from this experience stronger than you’re now."

Wallace said he was mired in drugs, depression and alcohol in 2001 _ "I hated myself."

"I have been consumed by shame for what I have done," he said.

Wallace is a graduate student in anthropology at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. His sentence won’t start until June 1.

Besides the Michigan Tech incident, he has acknowledged vandalizing vehicles at a Forest Service research station at the University of Minnesota in April 2000. He also has taken responsibility for an arson at a construction site at the university in January 2002. The loss was $630,000.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Serving 22 years: the environmentalist who fell victim to US anti-terror laws

'The government is trying to send a message,' Marie Mason tells the Guardian in her first interview since she was sentenced

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, Tuesday 24 March 2009

Eco terrorist or environmental activist Marie Mason

Marie Mason, an environmental activist from Cincinnati, Ohio, is serving 22 years after admitting 13 counts of arson and property damage. Photograph:

She is, in the eyes of the law, America's most dangerous eco-terrorist: a self-confessed serial arsonist who resorted to fire and destruction to register her opposition to the fur industry and genetically modified crops.

But to those who know her and to some legal experts, the 22-year jail term handed to Marie Mason, 47, is a consequence of America's preoccupation with terrorism in the post-9/11 world.

She is serving the longest sentence of any convicted animal rights or environmental militant, including several activists responsible for greater destruction.

"It is obvious the government is trying to send a message – to have a chilling effect, not only on my action, which of course transgressed the laws, but also on 30 years of above-ground actions in the environmental rights spheres," Mason told the Guardian in her first interview since she was sentenced last month.

Mason was convicted on the evidence of her fellow arsonist and ex-husband, Frank Ambrose. He was jailed for nine years.

"It's very, very sad. These are karmic things that Frank will have to deal with on his own," she said.

The explosive fire Mason and Ambrose set at Michigan State University on 31 December 1999 caused nearly $1m (£680,000) of damage to buildings and equipment, but no death or injuries. The target was the office of the director of a genetically modified crop research programme into moth-resistant food crops for Africa, funded by the US Agency for International Development and the biotechnology company Monsanto.

Professor Daniel Clay, who worked at the institute in 1999 and is now the director, said the attack had a severe impact on the staff. "It really was a shock," he said. "It was a very difficult period for all of us. People were frightened and we asked ourselves how close did this come to physically harming someone."

However, Mason's lawyer, John Minock, who filed an appeal against the sentence last week, argues that 22 years is excessively harsh. Mason got a much longer sentence than several militants recently convicted of setting fire to logging camps and vehicles in Oregon and Washington states – including Stanislas Meyerhoff who received 13 years for setting 11 fires and causing $30m in damage.

"Giving her a 22-year sentence is like using a cannon to shoot a mouse," Minock said. "She is a 47-year-old, mild-mannered woman with no previous criminal record other than trespassing."

The FBI had singled out militant environmentalists and animal rights activists as domestic security threats even before the 9/11 attacks. Since then, the courts have used domestic terrorism laws to stiffen the punishment for politically inspired violence.

Mason is a prime example. "We are definitely seeing more severe sentences post-9/11, no doubt about it," said Heidi Boghosian, the director of the National Lawyers Guild. "We have seen a trend of using the terrorist label and federalising a lot of criminal activities that would have gotten a far less stringent sentence before."

Lauren Regan, an Oregon lawyer who defends environmental militants, calls it the "green scare".

To those in Mason's home city of Detroit who know her, her elevation to the ranks of America's most dangerous criminals came as a shock. A fixture in activist circles, she was bright and charming, but unfocused – a woman who had an advanced degree in chemistry but lived near the poverty line.

They saw her as a doting mother to her adult son and teenage daughter, a soft touch who took in stray dogs and named them after revolutionary heroines, an amateur folk singer and a passionate supporter of various causes. But not, they say, the organiser of a series of attacks.

"She is one of those people that, whenever there would be a demonstration, she would be there," said Peter Werbe, a Detroit broadcaster who has known Mason for 20 years. "I don't think she ever rose to prominence as a figure in the city."

A long-time acquaintance said: "If you look at the court documents, Frank is always the one lighting the fire, she is always the one spray-painting the wall. That, in a nutshell, is who she is. Marie is always the support staff."

Mason met the man who was to become her third husband in 1998. Ambrose, now 34, was well-known among forestry activists in the mid-west and was leading a workshop for activists.

Mason says there was an instant attraction. The two were soon living together and married, although the relationship was troubled.

At about 9pm on New Year's Eve 1999, the couple entered an office in the Institute of International Agriculture at Michigan State University and doused it with petrol.

The arson, by Mason's own account, was botched. A fireball set her hair on fire, forcing the couple to run before she even managed to write her slogan, "No GMO".

The next day, the pair set fire to a logging camp. She has also admitted to burning boats belonging to the owner of a mink farm.

When asked whether the fires might have terrified staff and students at the university, she said: "It was intended as an enlightenment moment that people would see what is going on beneath the surface."

Clay argues his institute's research was aimed at creating a more sustainable agriculture, an ambition he believes should be shared by environmentalists. "It was most important to us that the perpetrators were caught and that justice was served," he said.

The couple nearly got away with it but were caught in March 2007. By then, the two had split up.

Ambrose, who was cleaning out his possessions, left gas masks, fuses, maps and explosives in a rubbish dump. The material was discovered by a man who called the authorities. Eventually, the gas masks led the FBI to Ambrose, who agreed to turn informer. He wore a wire and gave Mason a mobile phone, to help the FBI monitor her conversations.

Mason, in her jail cell, has often thought about those talks. "I did think that some of our conversations were very strained and strange but I attributed that to the fact that Frank was a very nervous person and he was under a lot of pressure," she said. "I was the last to know that Frank was unreliable."

Additional reporting by Damian Carrington.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Prison activist's death sparks uprising in women's prison of Thebe, Greece March 22, 2009

The second uprising in the Greek prisons in only two days was sparked by the death of Katerina Goulioni, inmate activist against vaginal inspection in jail. Clashes have erupted outside the prison between riot police and solidarity protesters. Koridalos Athens prisons also in turmoil.

The death of Katerina Goulioni, a female prison activist known for her struggle against vaginal inspection of inmates sparked a violent uprising in the Women's Prison of Thebes on Sunday 22/3. Inmates have refused to return to their cells, and are setting fires and smashing the jail premises, while a protest march in solidarity to Goulioni clashed with riot police forces outside the prison. One section of the prison is said to be seriously burned.

Tension is also evident in the central Athens prison of Koridallos where 200 inmates are staging a protest in solidarity to the Theban uprising. The Minister of Justice, Dendias, notorious for his recent police-state legislations, has refused to allow the Initiative for Prisoner's Rights to visit the rebel inmates, saying he will not tolerate "left wing threats".

Katerina Goulioni's last letter to the Initiative for Prisoners' Rights published in the Communist Newspaper Epoxi is revealing of the activist's struggle with the prison authorities: "I hit the chief-screw because besides everything he had me locked in isolation in Koridallos Prison and I had to pee in a bottle". Besides her struggle against vaginal inspection which she has termed "informal rape", in letters past, Katerina has denounced the conditions of prison transfer, a process during which many inmates lose their life under suspicious conditions, the lack of facilities for prisoners with special mobility needs.

Goulioni's co-inmates have sent the press the following goodbye note to their comrade:

"All your life was full of thirst. Thirst for struggle and justice. You fought for all and for everything without care for the consequences. And at the end the consequences of your struggles rewarded you in the worse of manners, with a violent, unexpected sudden death. But we are still here, Katerina, and we shall remember you and continue the struggle you began. You are everywhere. We sense you and we thank you for taking care of us. For us, you will live for ever. Have a great journey!"

Joined: 6 Jun 08
User offline. Last seen 6 hours 16 min ago.

During the clashes outside the prison one protester was wounded and is being hospitalised with a broken arm. Late in the evening the general secretary of the Ministry of Justice held talks with the rebel inmates, promising an immediate revision of vaginal inspection methods (hinting at the introduction of ultra-sound technology) and the improvement of prison conditions as a whole. An investigation over the conditions of Goulioni's death during her transfer from Crete to the mainland has been ordered. It is still unclear whether the inmates have returned to their cells.

Amnesty International's Greek department announced regarding the death of Goulioni:

«Accusations on unacceptable treatment of prisoners in greek jails are growing, while first reports on the conditions of Goulioni's death do not exclude the possibility of its connection with her struggle for defending human rights of prisoners. After so many deaths, brutalisations, and uprisings the authorities must at last left the veil of concealment over prison conditions, and allow access of control bodies and organisations into the prisons, as well as move into immediate and effective measures so as to guarantee, as they are obliged, respect of human dignity and human rights for the prisoners"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chilean political activist and ex-political prisoner Victor Toro

The known Chilean political activist and ex-political prisoner Victor Toro (La Peña del Bronx) was arrested by an agency of the Department of Homeland Security of the U.S. today, Friday, July 6, 2007. The agency that carried out the detention is known as the US Border Patrol.

Victor Toro is facing a FINAL deportation hearing on March 25th. We are going to have a protest outside of the cout on that date!

10am @ 26 Federal Plaza NY NY

We demand political asylum as he is a victim of the 17yr. bloody military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

No Human Being is Illegal!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Prison uprising in Chania, Crete, over dehumanising living conditions March 21, 2009

Uprising breaks up in Chania Prison, Crete, due to inhumane living conditions. Inmates pledge to fight state terrorism.

On Saturday 21/3 the prisoners of the Chania Prison, in the Greek island of Crete led an uprising against their captors decrying the conditions in the jail, occupying the prison yard and setting up barricades. The inmates are demanding the immediate decrowding of the cells. The uprising comes after the persistent failure of the Ministry of Justice to fulfill its promise to release several thousand prisoners from the Greek jails, given as a response to the universal hunger strike in Greek prisons last autumn. The uprising in the Chania Prison is the first in the country after the general prison uprising in spring 2007 (in response to the brutal beating of the anarchist prisoner Yannis Dimitrakis).

Chania houses 157 prisoners in cells with a capacity to only 70 and 108 beds, resulting in ten inmates per cell, with one toilet for every 57 inmates. The State persecutors asked the prisoners to end the uprising and return to their cells, pledging to come back to them after a week with proposals. The inmates refused the offer, and have established an insurgent assembly where decisions are taken by consensus. The direction of Chania Prison is infamous for its brutality, and only last week 20 immigrants were locked in isolation naked.

The insurgent prisoners first communique reads:

We, the inmates of the judicial prisons of Chania, today 21 of March 2009, reacting to the miserable conditions of living have refused to return to our cells, demanding the immediate decrowding of the prison. We believe that the solution is the immediate transference of a large number of inmates to other prisons of the country. What nobody tolerates to lack even for a single moment is HUMANE CONDITIONS OF LIVING AND DIGNITY! How could we not revolt when we are piled 157 people in a prison (ex ottoman fort) where there is place only for 70, and 57 of us are forced to share a section for 20, sharing a single toilet, having to arrange dates for using it; when we have to unite beds so that three sleep in two, when we lack warm water and when we are cold, when we cry and nobody hears us, when the State is hiding form society the unspeakable truth! For yet another time the State is the moral culprit of an uprising that is deemed inevitable! The threats voiced regarding the repression of the uprising and for the penalisation of those of us who take part in it, as rebels-villains-criminals do not scare us. The State will always be our enemy. State terrorism will not pass! We have voted by consensus and have agreed: We shall continue our struggle until we speak to a Ministry of Justice representative and our demands are met

Inmates of Chania Prison

Friday, March 20, 2009

Support Eric McDavid Tour Headed to the Northwest - Your Help Needed!

Support Eric McDavid Tour Headed to the Northwest - Your Help Needed!

author: Sacramento Prisoner Support
Mar 20, 2009 10:01 Seattle indymedia

We are headed north and would love to stop in your community...

Dear Friends,

We've almost made it through Winter and now we're itching to get back
on the road and continue our tour. Eric has been locked in a cage for
over three years now, and we refuse to remain silent about his case
and the wider implications it carries for anyone engaging in dissent.
Eric has suffered enormous injustices at the hands of the state – and
we want to do everything we can to make sure that people don’t forget
about Eric, that they understand how his case was created, and to
ensure that people learn what they can from our experiences these
past 3 years.

To that end, we will be heading to the northwest to educate folks
about Eric’s case, which we will use as a lens through which to study
the basic concepts of entrapment, the use of informants, and
government repression in general. Unfortunately, the use of these
tools by the state is becoming more and more prevalent, and it’s
imperative that people understand how they work.

In addition to the presentation itself, we will be accompanied by
friends who will bring us some beautiful musical catharsis. Nora &
Gnoll and Spoke Pants of the Flowering Skillet, from the
Anarchozarkian Music Collective will be touring with us, straight
from the bowels of the midwest. We assure you, you won't be
disappointed. (See below for links to music)

If you are interested in scheduling a presentation in your community,
please contact us at:

We will be on the road during the month of June. Below is a rough
estimate of when we’ll be in specific areas.

For more information about Eric and his case, please visit:

We hope to see you soon!

(Very) Tentative “Schedule”

San Francisco, CA: June 5-7

Arcata, CA: June 8-10 (OR July 1-2)

Eugene, OR: June 11-13 (OR June 29-30)

Portland, OR: June 13-16 (OR June 25-28)

Astoria, OR: June 16-17 (OR June 23-24)

Olympia, WA: June 18-20

Seattle, WA: June 20-22

Nora and Gnoll

Spoke Pants of the Flowering Skillet

Marie transfered into the federal prison system

Date: Thursday, March 19, 2009

We just received word that Marie has been transferred via plane by federal
Marshals from Newaygo County Jail to FCI Waseca. This is a federal low
security all women's prison about 75 miles south of Minneapolis, MN.

We do not know at this time if Marie is just being held there for
processing or if she will be held there long term.

As many of you know Marie is a committed Vegan and obtaining Vegan food
during her
incarceration has been spotty at best. She relies heavily on
her commissary to purchase items she needs to survive. You can find
detailed information on how to put funds in her federal commissary by
checking out the following link .

She was unable to take very little with her on the transfer likely no
longer has many friends and supporters contact information. Even if you
have done so recently, please write Marie a letter of support at the new
address below.

Marie Mason #04672-061
P.O. BOX 1731
WASECA, MN 56093

Got Your Back Collective
POB 10371
Columbus, OH 43201

For the latest updates see

Many Iraqis held by US to go free

AP March 19, 2009

CAMP BUCCA, Iraq – Thousands of Iraqis held without charge by the
United States on suspicion of links to insurgents or militants are
being freed by this summer because of little or no evidence against

Their release comes as the U.S. prepares to turn over its detention
system to the fledgling Iraqi government by early 2010. In the six
years since the war began, the military ultimately detained some
100,000 suspects, many of whom were picked up in U.S.-led raids
during a raging, bloody insurgency that has since died down.

The effort to do justice for those wrongly held to begin with, some
for years, also runs the risk of releasing extremists who could be a
threat to fragile Iraqi security.

As part of an agreement between the two countries that took effect
Jan. 1, Iraqi authorities have begun reviewing the cases of the
detainees to decide whether to free them or press charges. About
13,300 remain behind barbed wire in U.S. custody in Iraq.

But Iraqi judges have issued detention orders to prosecute only 129
of the 2,120 cases it has finished reviewing so far this year — or
about 6 percent, according to U.S. military data. As of Thursday,
1,991 detainees had been freed since Jan. 1.

An Associated Press reporter embedded for two days at Camp Bucca, the
largest U.S. detention facility in Iraq, and talked with military
officials about preparations to shut it down.

"God willing, God willing," said Layla Rasheed after learning that
her son, a former government worker from Baghdad, was likely to be
released. "He doesn't have anything to do with terrorists. I don't
know why he was picked up."

The military also expects to release another 600 detainees by the end
of March, a spokesman said.

The U.S. detention policy has been unpopular in a country where many
feel that thousands have been detained without cause, and where the
Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal will be remembered for a long time.

Iraq's biggest Sunni parliamentary bloc has called for the release of
virtually all detainees, arguing that even those who were militants
no longer pose a threat because so many Sunni groups have abandoned
the insurgency.

"It's very easy to go back and say, 'Well, you rounded up all these
innocent people.' Well, innocence has different shades," Brig. Gen.
David Quantock, commander of the U.S. detention system in Iraq, said
in an interview this week.

"It's not like we have a choice — it is prosecute or release. So it's
a huge undertaking right now to try to find as much evidence as we
can. We're not going after all of them, we're going after a certain

It is not clear that Iraqi judges will continue to issue warrants in
so few cases.

Those who have been freed since Jan. 1 make up what Quantock called
low-level threats that Iraqi security forces should be able to
contain if they return to insurgent groups. Extremists will be the
last to have their cases reviewed, giving the U.S. time to compile
evidence against what they consider the highest risk to Iraq's

Quantock cited the cases of about 3,000 detainees where U.S.
officials are scrambling to compile enough evidence to keep them
locked up. Additionally, 2,400 detainees have already been convicted
or are awaiting trial, a military spokesman said.

Most of the detainees — about 9,600 — are being held at Camp Bucca, a
sprawling, dusty military facility that sits a few yards north of the
Kuwaiti border, about 340 miles southeast of Baghdad. It is slated to
close this summer.

Its detainees included those whom Quantock called "the worst of the
worst" — suspected al-Qaida terrorists, Shiite militants and Sunni

And there are those like Sunni teacher Suhail Najim Abdullah, who was
released from Camp Bucca in March 2008 after being held there for
more than three years.

"They just simply apologized to me and said, 'You have been arrested
mistakenly,'" Abdullah said in an interview in Baghdad this week.
"They gave me a shirt and trousers and $20. It's like I started my
life over from zero."

Abdullah is suing two private U.S. security contractor firms that he
said tortured him for a month while being detained at Abu Ghraib in
2003. A U.S. military spokesman confirmed Abdullah's detention at
Bucca but did not provide details about his time at Abu Ghraib.

International law allows the capture and detention of people who are
considered an "imperative" national security threat during times of
war or conflict. However, human rights groups like Amnesty
International have argued that the United States violated detainees'
legal rights by holding them without charge after Iraq was declared a
sovereign nation in June 2004.

That argument largely became moot with the Jan. 1 agreement. The U.S.
currently is referring up to 1,500 detainees cases to Iraqis each
month for review.

Human rights groups worry about the detainees who will remain in
Iraqi custody.

"We have concerns for those who would be transferred to Iraqi custody
because of allegations of torture," said Nicole Choueiry of Amnesty
International in London. The Jan. 1 security agreement, Choueiry
said, "does not contain any guarantees for their safety."

At Camp Bucca, Quantock said 75 percent of detainees are Sunni and
nearly all the rest are Shiite. Nearly all are Iraqi: Only 137
detainees come from 22 other counties, most from Egypt, Syria, Jordan
and Iran.

Quantock said very few detainees who have been released are later
recaptured: Out of 18,600 who were freed last year, only 157 returned.

How much of a threat — if any — the detainees will pose once freed is unclear.

A potential danger, said one U.S. official, is whether hard-core
foreign fighters would head to Western Europe or the United States to
carry out attacks there.

One Camp Bucca imam said the majority of detainees are ready to
forgive once they are released — even if they are angry and confused
after being held so long.

"Some of them have decided to go outside Iraq to change," said the
imam, who identified himself only as Sheik Abdul-Sattar. "Some can
say, we can forgive everyone. The majority are like that. The
extremists speak of revenge."

The camp also is being closely watched as a test case as the Obama
administration grapples with releasing detainees or expanding legal
rights to those held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Bagram Air Base in

"It's a unique time in the history of warfare, with all of the
confusion and the chaos surrounding what to do with detainees, to
watch and see if it works," said Glenn Sulmasy, a professor of
international law and national security expert at the U.S. Coast
Guard Academy. "We don't know. And we're going to be dealing with
these same issues at Guantanamo and Bagram in the future."

Texas 2 Solidarity Statement / Felony
Working Group Statement, Twin Cities / Re-Trial for David McKay on

As the case of Bradley Crowder and David McKay, two individuals from
Texas who are being federally charged with Posession of an
Unregistered Firearm, has unfolded, there have been many confusing
and saddening developments. The Texas two were accused of making
molotov cocktails at the RNC. Amongst the controversies and
cloudiness has been the revelation that Brandon Darby, a well
known-activist, had been working as an informant for the FBI and was
heavily involved in the case against them. This fall, six activists
from Texas (including informant Brandon Darby) were subpoenaed to a
grand jury in connection with the charges against Bradley and David,
and had their subpoenas dropped. There have also been rumors
regarding whether or not either of the Texas two are co-operating
with law enforcement.

In early January, Bradley Crowder took a guilty plea. He has been
held without bail in prison since his arrest at the RNC and is
awaiting sentancing. The felony working group in the Twin
Cities—which has been doing legal support for those facing felonies
stemming from the RNC—has been unable to ascertain whether or not his
plea is a cooperating one (i.e., if he is implicating his
co-defendant and giving other information to the state in exchange
for less prison time). Bradley is also facing new felony charges in
relation to another incident at the RNC, and there is concern, but no
specific evidence at this point, that he may be cooperating in the
prosecution of two other people relating to this incident.

David McKay has plead not guilty to the charges against him. In late
January, his trial resulted in a hung jury. His retrial will begin on
Monday, March 16th.

Upon his arrest, David made statements to the police that may have
implicated himself. At his previous trial, David stated that he had
tried to “cover” for the other individuals who were allegedly
involved. It seems that McKay's discussions with law enforcement were
motivated not out of selfishness but naivete. Though irreconcilable
damage may have been already been done, it was clear at McKay's
original trial that he had not intended to implicate his co-defendant.

If we truly desire for our community of resistance to survive this
wave of state repression, we must make a habit of security culture
practices, including never speaking to law enforcement of any agency,
especially about actions that one or one’s friends have taken. A
common law enforcement tactic is to coerce those facing serious
criminal charges by encouraging them to implicate their co-defendants
and give up information on other individuals under the frequently
false impression that it will lessen the consequences that they face
personally. It is important to keep quiet even-- perhaps especially
so-- in cirumstances that are scary and unexpected and messy.

While both Bradley and David have taken actions post-arrest that may
seem questionable to members of the radical community, it is
important not to lose focus of who it is that enabled this
prosectution and created this situation. The work of FBI informant
Brandon Darby is instrumental in placing these two behind bars. Darby
is well-known amongst radical communities in the U.S. and has been
working with the forces he was presumed to oppose for at least the
past two years in relation to the RNC. Those who knew him felt he was
eager to suggest and encourage illegal actions, in particular those
involving explosives, weapons, property destruction or violence. It
seems clear that Darby exploited the Texas two’s desire to do
something powerful in response to a world full of systematic violence
and oppression. McKay’s lawyer intends to use this in his defense.
While Brandon Darby has justified his involvement with the FBI by
taking a moral high ground and has stated that the people whose life
he has handed over to be devoured by the state had no “legitimate”
motivation, his actions have reverberated beyond the lives of Bradley
and David. Brandon Darby has only given the state more capacity to
disrupt the communities of resistance that it finds threatening. We
feel that the case of the Texas two has relevance to our community
beyond supporting them as individuals. This case is being used as a
justification for repressive tactics, and will influence the
political climate that anarchists exist in.

At McKay’s first trial, it was mentioned to individuals who were
present to watch it that his lawyer and father would prefer if
scruffy anarchists weren’t there, potentially influencing the jury.
Some individuals chose to leave and others decided to stay. Be aware
that at least McKay’s father and lawyer expressed those wishes, and
they certainly didn’t ask for courtwatchers. But you may have other
reasons why it is important for you to be there, and it can be a good
thing to have a watchful, respectful presence in the courts when
radicals are facing charges. Notes from the first trial are available
here on twincities indymedia. Details on where the trial will be held
will be posted here later as well.

More information can be found on Bradley and David’s support site,

The felony working group’s webpage has updates about the Texas Two as
well as others facing felonies. A copy of Bradley Crowder’s plea
agreement can also be found there.

Activists accused in violent animal rights protests say their free speech rights are under attack

SAN JOSE - Four animal rights activists indicted by a federal grand jury for their alleged roles in violent demonstrations at the homes of UC biomedical researchers pleaded not guilty today, then held a rally denouncing what they call an attack on free speech rights.

Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo are being charged under the relatively new Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a 2006 law aimed at terrorism against scientists and others involved in using animals in their research. The San Jose charges are believed to be the second case in the nation brought under AETA, approved by Congress to "prosecute animal rights extremists" with a tougher law that includes stiffer penalties.

At the rally, which occurred just outside the federal courthouse downtown, supporters waved signs that called the law - known as AETA - unconstitutional. Some signs dubbed the four defendants the "AETA 4."

Well-known civil rights lawyer Tony Serra, who is representing Khajavi, said his client and the other defendants are idealist kids whose free-speech rights are being curtailed. Punishing youth for dissenting leads to the downfall of a society, Serra said.

"We represent the voice of tomorrow," he said.

Authorities say the activists are linked to the alleged crimes through video surveillance footage and fliers seized by federal agents in which they pledged violence against the researchers for using animals in experiments.

a two-count indictment filed March 12, prosecutors cite three specific protests, including a February 2008 incident outside the home of a UCSC professor in which demonstrators shook doors and hit the professor's husband with thrown objects. According to court papers, protesters, wearing bandanas to hide their faces, yelled, "We're gonna get you." The animal terror act prohibits "force, violence and threats involving animal enterprises."

In addition to the attempted home invasion attack of a UCSC researcher a year ago the four are accused of being involved in several demonstrations at the homes of UC Berkeley researchers in late 2007 and early 2008. No one has been charged in the most egregious of the animal rights protests - the July firebombings of two UCSC scientists' homes.

Robert Bloom, the attorney for Buddenberg, 25, said the government's case seems weak. The demonstrators were simply denouncing people who were terrorizing animals.

"This is not intimidation," Bloom said. "This is not threats. This is exposing people who are believed to be torturers."

Challenging the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act will be a part of the defense, according to the defense attorneys. The law is vague and violates free speech rights, Bloom said.

"It's really deplorable," he said.

Khajavi was the only defendant to speak at the rally. Reading from a prepared statement, the 20-year-old UC Santa Cruz graduate said she has never been in trouble before and is only being punished for trying to express her point of view.

"I'm a victim of free speech suppression," she said.

In court Thursday, the judge issued conditional release terms for Pope and Stumpo, who were arrested last month in North Carolina as they returned from a trip to Costa Rica. Pope, 26, was a one-time Cabrillo College student who lives in Oceanside. Stumpo, 23, had attended UCSC and now lives in Long Beach. Unlike the other defendants, Pope and Stumpo will be allowed to contact each other - but not discuss the case pending against them - because they are engaged, the judge decided.

About 40 people, most of them young and casually dressed, packed into the courtroom to watch the proceedings in front of Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd.

The defendants, all free on $20,000 bonds, return to court April 16. Defense attorneys are waiting for the prosecutor from the U.S. Attorney's Office to turn over evidence, including several DVD and reports from police and the FBI.

Serra said he anticipates the case will go to jury trial. It could take as long as two years to adjudicate, he said.

In court papers, federal prosecutors insist the defendants "conspired to use force, violence or threats to interfere with the operation of the University of California" and its animal research programs.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein co-sponsored the 2006 legislation, citing a number of violent protests at California research facilities, including a string of attacks at UC San Francisco between 2001 and 2005, and the 2003 firebombing at the Chiron Corp. in Emeryville.

The only other reported case the Justice Department has pressed under the domestic terrorism statute was the 2006 prosecution of seven animal rights activists in New Jersey. A federal appeals court in Philadelphia earlier this year heard arguments on a free speech challenge to the law in that case, a ruling that could serve as a test for whatever unfolds in the San Jose prosecution.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

David McKay Found Guilty: Court Report from Tues. 3/17

tc. March 17, 2009

In a tumultuous, somewhat stunning turn of events, David McKay's guilty plea was accepted in federal court in Minneapolis Tuesday, a day after Judge Davis indicated that he was unlikely to accept the plea on the basis of evidence pointing to entrapment by FBI informant and horrible human being-extraordinaire Brandon Darby at the original trial. McKay had been motivated to plea at the last minute - supporters and courtwatchers did not know about the plea until Sunday evening - when the state compelled co-defendant Bradley Crowder to testify against him, threatening additional prison time for noncooperation. The plea deal was to plead guilty to all three counts - possession of an unregistered firearm (the molotov cocktails), illegal manufacture of a firearm, and possession of a firearm with no serial number - in exchange for the government not to seek four additional sentencing points for "intent to use" the molotov cocktails.

At what was supposed to be the beginning of the retrial on Monday, Judge Davis called potential jurors to line up in the hallway, before reconsidering his position and giving the parties a night to "think it over" and argue the matter again Tuesday. The rollercoaster series of events left many feeling emotionally spent; many hoped that Davis would reject the plea and bring the matter to trial again to prove Darby's entrapment, feeling that McKay had been pressured into accepting the deal - although McKay in court affirmed there had not been any official persuasion for him to do so (but who knows?). A source close to the defense reported that at the original trial, the jury had been deadlocked at 6-6 on the question of entrapment.

Here's what happened on Tuesday:

Shortly after 9 o'clock, prosecutor and U.S. Assistant Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen went to chambers with defense attorney Jeff DeGree. Later they re-emerged entering the courtroom from the main entrance and at about 9:45, Judge Davis appeared. David stated that he met with both attorneys, and that he wants David McKay to be honest in his statements. He read the indictment all over again in the same procedure as the day before, and everyone went through the same process as Monday. DeGree began to question his client:

(paraphrasing below, except where in quotes)

DEGREE: what happened at the August 31 meeting after the shields were confiscated?

MCKAY: there was a discussion between myself, Brandon Darby and Bradley Crowder. I earlier testified that it was Darby's idea to make molotov cocktails. But I don't remember who actually brought the idea, and that is the truth. If Darby had not been there, Bradley and I would've done it anyway.

DAVIS: why is that? what was going through your mind?

MCKAY: because we thought it was a necessary tactic, in order for us to contribute something. if Darby was not there or if another person had made the suggestion, we would've followed through. we didn't need darby there.

DEGREE: then what?

MCKAY: i went to wal-mart, then to [248 Dayton] and built the molotovs with Bradley in the bathroom.

DAVIS: it wasn't just you at wal-mart, was it? who made up the plans to have women buy the tampons and so forth? did the women know what they were for?

MCKAY: we were organized in an affinity group, and did not share info outside of those groups. myself, [another activist], bradley and darby had built an AG, but now it was only myself, bradley and darby. we didn't talk with others about what we were doing, but soon they realized what was up.

DAVIS: so you and crowder came up with the plan?

MCKAY: yes

DAVIS: tell me in your own words.

MCKAY: "the concept of making molotov cocktails came from that conversation." i don't have a recollection of whose idea it was. after getting in the van to wal-mart, bradley and i made the plans.

DEGREE: where did the list of supplies come from?

MCKAY: the internet, i believe. bradley went online to find the list. after we built them, the plan was to bring them to the park...

DAVIS: how did you "you make your bombs"? who else assisted?

MCKAY: freia took us to the gas station to buy gas. the women helped buy supplies at wal-mart. after they realized what was up, they had a meeting and contacted us, but we had already made the cocktails. it was just me and bradley making them.

DAVIS: was brandon darby there?

MCKAY: i don't know where he was - maybe at another house. he didn't go to the store. ... to make the cocktails, we put gas in the bottles, then duct taped the tops.

DAVIS: did you lock the bathroom door?

MCKAY: there was no lock.

DAVIS: [he doesn't understand the concept of affinity groups at all.] this wasn't a "library book club," it was more like a "secret cell," wasn't it?

MCKAY: affinity groups set up an information barrier so as not to tell others about tactics and jeopardize things.

DAVIS: what was this based on? [long pause - davis takes an extraordinarily long time to ask this question, about two words at a time between pauses, grasping for words about something he doesn't understand] was it research... done by other groups... that have been.... labeled as.... terrorist organizations?

MCKAY: not to my knowledge.

DAVIS: "it's not a book club!" you've got cells. who came up with all this? was it... "i forget the name of the group" [but he's clearly referring to the RNC Welcoming Committee]

MCKAY: it was decided at our first meeting to form an affinity group. affinity groups are a way of staying safe.

DAVIS: safe from what?

MCKAY: "from getting caught doing something bad."

DAVIS: so you were predisposed to do something bad, and so you set up a barrier.

MCKAY: from the point we formed the AG to the time of the RNC, we simply wanted to keep our information amongst people we trusted, about things like the shields

DAVIS: but what are you protecting from?

MCKAY: cops, informants

DAVIS: why?

MCKAY: because what we were doing may have been illegal, or considered a threat or danger to the RNC

DAVIS: so you knew that before. back up you walked into an affinity group meeting... what was your reason for getting involved?

MCKAY: to be with a protest group. we were willing to be arrested, and wanted someone to have our backs - someone i could rely on

DAVIS: so this AG was not based on nonviolence?

MCKAY: no, it was not ... we understood that we had a great possibility of being arrested.

DAVIS: did you know about other peaceful groups coming to protest?

MCKAY: yes

DAVIS: and you decided to meet up with other affinity groups to infiltrate peaceful, nonviolent groups, to disrupt them.

MCKAY: our goal was NOT to infiltrate, but to meet with others to create a "disgruntled protest"

DAVIS: a violent protest, then?

MCKAY: perhaps violent

DAVIS: you did not come to St. Paul to peacefully demonstrate?


DAVIS: you were in the bathroom making bombs - how?

MCKAY: i was in the tub pouring the gas. brad put motor oil in and duct taped the tampon

DAVIS: how many?

MCKAY: eight

DAVIS: then what did you do?

MCKAY: put one in a backpack, the rest away

DAVIS: where?

MCKAY: next to the door [describes where in the apartment]

DAVIS: back up - why have freia buy the gas?

MCKAY: we had no vehicle and didn't want to talk through the RNC area

DAVIS: there would be problems if you walked?

MCKAY: most definitely. we were next to the STP cathedral, and there were constant police patrols

DAVIS: you didn't want to be detected? why?

MCKAY: we were doing something illegal

DAVIS: was Darby with you?


DAVIS: Brad Crowder was your good friend?

MCKAY: yes

DAVIS: what does that mean to you?

MCKAY: i've known him since 18, we were really close and hung out lots

DAVIS: when you came to STP, is it correct that you and crowder were leaders of the AG?

MCKAY: um... as i understand it there's not supposed to be a leader - we're all equal. you might say we were leaders of the shield concept. most people who came up with us were not there for the shield idea, though - they were mostly medics and observers.

DAVIS: so any activity with violence was you and crowder coming up with that plan?

MCKAY: our concept involved confrontation with police, but not by using the shields physically. the confrontation would only be by not obeying their orders to move.

DAVIS: we've seen the video of you in the street - you were active and agressive?

MCKAY: yes

DAVIS: Darby wasn't in your ear?


DAVIS: you were aware of the number of peaceful demonstrators coming to STP to peacefully demonstrate and voice their opposition to... policies?

MCKAY: my knowledge was limited - i knew people would be there, but that was not who i was associated with or getting info from

DAVIS: did you know your actions would disrupt peaceful demonstrations?

MCKAY: we took steps not to be part of their marches or "green zones" - we made a conscious effort not to run into peaceful protesters. we specifically wanted to not be near the march that went from the capitol to the xcel center, i believe

[DAVIS asks DEGREE to have david confirm the molotov cocktails were unregistered and had no serial number, and he does. tip for the future from the feds: apparently putting a random number on your molotov cocktails might lessen your sentence!]

PAULSEN: you admit you are guilty of the three counts?

MCKAY: yes

PAULSEN: you made them voluntarily?

MCKAY: yes

PAULSEN: you knew it was against the law?

MCKAY: yes... not to this extent.

[Davis asks DeGree to confirm with David that he understand the burden of proof for entrapment is on the government, and that's he giving up forever the right to say he was entrapped. he does.]

Davis asks David the same questions as Paulsen, and once again asks if he was forced into saying anything. David gives the same answers.

Judge Davis then pauses and, in a complete reversal from the day before, accepts the guilty plea. He says there will be a pre-sentence investigation soon, and an interview with a probation officer. Then a date will be set for sentencing, before which motions will be heard on sentencing.

Paulsen points out that in a "crime of violence", pre-sentencing detention is mandatory. The defense doesn't have any exception to this rule that fits, and so Davis orders David back into custody. David slowly takes off his suit coat, his necktie and his belt, takes a final look at his father and supporters in the room, then is escorted out a side door without looking back. It's very sad.

In the hallway, Paulsen is cornered by two reporters, who don't ask very hard questions, but he still acts like a prick - being an assistant US attorney, after all. He's asked if this case gives cause for the FBI to re-examine their use of informants, and he adamantly says no - the guidelines that were in place were used. Paulsen's asked why the conversation outside Hard Times Cafe wasn't recorded, and says that if the case were more serious, it would likely have been, but this case wasn't serious enough. Apparently it's serious enough to seek two trials, apparently engage in shady backroom deals, unfairly threaten co-defendants with additional prison time and force them to testify against each other, have the U.S. marshals create arbitrary rules to intimidate supporters, and most seriously pursue three counts carrying a possible 10 years in prison each.

It seems likely that David will be returned to Sherburne County Jail (a federal holding facility near the Twin Cities) to await sentencing. When the address for writing to him is confirmed, it will be posted on twin cities indymedia ( and the felony support webpage:

Solidarity to David, his family, friends and comrades. When one is in prison, none are free. To the feds: for every one you lock up, there are ten more of us who will see another world - run away now!

Mumia has new book on jailhouse lawyers, book launch parties on east and west coasts

Mumia Abu Jamal has published a new book: Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the USA. Details on the book are available here:

A book party held on Mumia’s 55th birthday will be held in Philadelphia on the 24th of April, 2009 at the Church of the Advocate at 6 PM and in New York City at the Riverside Church at 4 PM on the 25th . The flyer with event details is attached to this e mail. I will be among those speaking at both events. For those interested in prison, court access and jailhouse lawyering issues I hope you will be able to attend the event and or purchase the book. Please let others know about the events and encourage them to attend. Mumia is a prisoner on death row in Pennsylvania since 1982 and is a PLN columnist and the co jailhouse lawyer vice president of the National Lawyers Guild.

PLN Releases First book: Prisoners Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Courses in the US

As most people know, in 1994 Bill Clinton eliminated Pell Grants for prisoners which largely ended higher education behind bars for prisoners. Those prisoners desiring a higher education can still obtain one, but via the mail if they can pay for it. (there are a few limited exceptions to this). The Prisoners Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs In the United States and Canada, 3rd Edition is a guide to distance learning options available to prisoners aimed at the prisoner student, i.e., no internet or residency required. The original publisher retired and asked PLN if we would keep it in print.

Prison Legal News is now publishing books and we can announce the third edition of the PGH. If you or someone you know is in prison and interested in furthering their education while they are there, this is the book for them. Please let folks know about the book and its availability.

Also, if you are an aspiring author, we are interested in non fiction, reference books that would be of interest to prisoners. We do not pay advances but our royalty rate is the best in the industry: 10% royalty on the cover price for all copies sold with a simple, easy to understand contract.

Full details about the book and ordering information are at:

Prisoners Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs In the United States and Canada, 3rd Edition

Jon Marc Taylor and Susan Schwartzkopf

In 1994 the Democratic Congress and President Clinton eliminated Pell grants for prisoners. Within the next few years, most states followed suit and either totally eliminated or gutted their prison education programs. Prison and jail education programs beyond GED and Adult Basic Education (ABE) became, and remain, a rarity. Of course, prisoner illiteracy rates remain sky high; all that changed is that prisoners seeking a higher education can no longer seek one within the prison system. The other alternative is correspondence courses. While there are books on the market discussing correspondence courses, they are all aimed at non prisoners, virtually all of which require some degree of internet access or residency.

Prisoners' Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the U.S. and Canada, 3rd Edition (PGHCP) is written by Missouri prisoner Jon Marc Taylor who has successfully completed a B.S. degree, an M.A. degree and a Doctorate by mail while imprisoned. This book was initially published in the late 1990s. The second edition was published by Biddle Publishing in 2002. The publisher retired in 2007 and Prison Legal News took over the publishing of the book as the first title in its new book line.

With the expert assistance of Editor Susan Schwartzkopf, the third edition of PGHCP has been totally revamped and updated. Many colleges no longer offer correspondence courses, having gone totally to online distance learning courses. This book offers a complete description of more than 160 programs that are ideal for prisoners seeking to earn high school diplomas, associate, baccalaureate and graduate degrees and vocational and paralegal certificates. In addition to giving contact information for each school, Taylor includes tuition rates, text book costs, courses offered, transfer credits, time limits for completing course, whether the school is accredited, and if so by whom, and much, much more. What makes the book unique is Taylor’s first hand personal experience as an imprisoned distance learning student who has a basis for comparison and knows how to judge a college correspondence course from the perspective of an imprisoned student who doesn’t have e mail access and who cannot readily call his instructor.

Book editor Susan Schwartzkopf brings a masters degree in education and 12 years of experience teaching immigrants English language skills to the project. The book’s introduction by Vivian Nixon, the executive director of the College and Community Fellowship which advocates for the inclusion of released prisoners in higher education, further bolsters the masterful expertise and experience brought together in this book.

Taylor also explains factors to be considered in selecting an educational program and how to make meaningful comparisons between the courses offered for the tuition charged. No money to pay for school? Taylor covers that too. Diploma mills? The book addresses how to recognize and avoid them. Any prisoner seeking to begin or continue their education behind bars will find this to be an invaluable road map. This is not just the only book on the market to address the needs of prisoners seeking a higher education while locked up; it does a fantastic job accomplishing its goal. It saves the prospective student countless money and time researching the best course for their needs.

Paul Wright, Editor

Prison Legal News

P.O. Box 2420

West Brattleboro, VT 05303

802 257-1342

Seattle Office

2400 NW 80th St. Suite 148

Seattle, WA 98117


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Two New British prisoners

Urgent ELP! Bulletin (17th of March 2009)

Dear friends

ELP has the details of two new British animal rights prisoners. Bryan Griffiths and Nicole Vosper


As some ELP supporters will be aware, last week there was a terrible and tragic accident during whilst Hunt Monitors monitored a Fox Hunt to ensure they did not break the law.

Two Hunt Monitors were in a privately owned Gyrocopter. The Gyrocopter landed for fuel and at least one of the hunt suppoters went up to confront the Hunt Monitors. Sadly in doing so the hunt supporter was hit by the gyrocopter and died. It was clearly an accident.

However, despite the obvious facts this was an accident, the police decided to arrest the two people in the gyrocopter on suspicion of murder!!! As a result of that, Bryan Griffiths (the pilot of the gyrocopter) has now been formally charged with murder and has been remanded into custody.

This is such a blatent miscarriage of justice its unbelievable and if anyone is a member of Amnesty International we encourage them to contact Amnesty about this. In the mean time please send urgent letters of support to:

Bryan Griffiths XW8892

HMP Hewell

Hewell Lane

Redditch B97 6QS


Bryan is a vegetarian.

Please remember,when writing to Bryan that he is up on a very very very serious charge,so despite your views on fox hunting, don't say anything like "the bastard deserved it" or anything like that. This was a tragic accident and Bryan never intended to even injure the hunt supporter, yet alone kill him.


ELP has learnt that earlier today Nicole Vosper appeared in court and made a plea at Winchester Crown Court today charges relating to Huntingdon Life Sciences. We're unsure what those exact charges are as yet, but please send urgent letters of support to:

Nicole Vosper VM9385

HMP Bronzefield

Woodhthorpe Road



TW15 3JZ



Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network

BM Box 2407




Monday, March 16, 2009

Sara Jane Olsen Scheduled for Release... But Not Without a Fight

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)– A saga that began in the violent cauldron of California's 1970s radical counterculture and took a dramatic turn into a quiet middle-class neighborhood in Minnesota is about to come to an end.

Sara Jane Olson, who was a fugitive for a quarter-century after attempting to kill Los Angeles police officers and participating in a deadly bank robbery near Sacramento as a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, is scheduled to be released from a California prison next week.

Her bid for freedom after serving seven years is not ending quietly.

Police leagues in Los Angeles and Minnesota are objecting to the terms of her parole, her attorneys are nervous after Olson was mistakenly released and sent back to prison a year ago, and people in her home state have conflicting views about the return of a woman with two identities — a quiet, caring community volunteer and a domestic terrorist.

Olson was freed by California corrections officials a year ago when they miscalculated her parole date. She was re-arrested five days later as she was about to board a flight to Minnesota, the state she adopted as her home during her life on the run.

"After what happened last year, I think she won't feel comfortable until she's back in Minnesota," said David Nickerson, one of her lawyers. "She is just anxious about getting out ... until she's home, until she knows it's real. She wants to be with her family.

Olson, 62, her red hair turned long ago to gray, is scheduled to be released Tuesday from the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, about 150 miles southeast of San Francisco.

Where she goes next is a point of contention. Police leagues in Los Angeles and Minnesota object to having her paroled to Minnesota. Both have written to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, urging him to have Olson serve her parole in California, where her crimes were committed.

Former Los Angeles police officer John Hall was a target of one of two 1975 attempted bombings by the Symbionese Liberation Army, the urban guerrilla group most notorious for its kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. The pipe bombs were placed beneath two police cars.

One bomb, packed with nails, failed to explode as Hall and his partner drove away from a restaurant in Los Angeles' Hollywood Division on an August night. A similar unexploded device was found under another police car miles away.

"That bomb should have gone off that night," Hall said. "I would have been just one of many people that would have been dead. It just brings up a lot of anger knowing that she's going to be released.

Hall recalls that a girl about 8 years old was watching from the restaurant.

"That little girl was waving at us as we drove off. If that bomb would have gone off, she would have been killed along with her family," said Hall, who served 31 years with the department. "I haven't forgiven her (Olson) in the least for what she's done and what she could have done to many more innocent people.

In addition to the attempting bombings and the Hearst kidnapping, the SLA had a long list of high-profile crimes during the mid-1970s, including the assassination of an Oakland schools superintendent and the shotgun slaying of Myrna Opsahl, a 42-year-old mother of four who was depositing a church collection at a bank near Sacramento when the group robbed it.

Olson was in the bank during that 1975 heist, which netted the SLA $15,000.

After her 1999 arrest, she pleaded guilty to the attempted bombings of the police cars and the death of Opsahl.

Olson, was born Kathleen Ann Soliah in North Dakota and grew up in Palmdale, in the high desert north of Los Angeles.

If her release goes as planned, her attorneys say she will be paroled to her mother's house in Palmdale and will have 24 hours to report to her California parole agent. Unless there is a change, she then will be allowed to return to St. Paul, Minn., where she changed her name and married Dr. Gerald "Fred" Peterson.

"Her release of course is a great relief," Peterson said in an e-mail to The Associated Press, declining a request for an interview. "We need to regroup in our home, and preserve our privacy as much as possible, and get our lives coordinated again. We're very happy to reunite.

Many of Olson's friends and former associates in Minnesota declined to comment about her release, fearing any statements might hurt her chances of getting out on schedule.

And some have simply run out of patience with the attention the case has gotten.

"I don't have anything to say," snapped Wendy Knox, artistic director of the Frank Theatre and a longtime friend of Olson's. "Every time something happens in that case I get 50,000 calls from reporters.

Others said they couldn't wait to see her again.

"I'm planning on giving her a big hug when she gets back and am going to count on her to do what she did before, which was read the New York Times to the blind and volunteer in all sorts of activities to help the less fortunate," said Andy Dawkins, a longtime family friend from St. Paul.

Not everyone will be happy to have her back. After Olson's arrest in 1999, Minneapolis gun store owner Mark Koscielski (koh-SHEL'-skee) countered supporters with bumper stickers that said "Fight Terrorism — Jail Kathleen.

"She's a ... terrorist and she shouldn't be out of jail," Koscielski said.

The president of the St. Paul Police Federation, Dave Titus, wrote to Schwarzenegger last week arguing against letting Olson serve her parole in his city.

"Returning Soliah to the same neighborhood that harbored her during her 24-year flight from justice is hardly conducive to strict parole monitoring," Titus wrote.
"If having a convicted domestic terrorist living in their midst didn't bother her neighbors, why would the State Department of Corrections think they would report her if she violated parole?"

Olson, then Soliah, was in her late 20s when she joined the SLA. The small band of mostly white, college-educated children of middle-class families was started in 1973 by an ex-convict named Donald DeFreeze. He died with five members of the group in a 1974 shootout with police at their Los Angeles hideout.

After the attempted bombings of the LAPD police cars, Olson fled to St. Paul, 1,900 miles away, where she acted in community theater, joined a church, taught English to immigrants, worked with senior citizens and raised the couple's three daughters.

She was arrested in June 1999 on a tip from the "America's Most Wanted" television show.

Opsahl's son, Jon Opsahl, said he is glad the saga is coming to an end.

"She did her minimal time and has paid her debt to society after all these years," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, she can leave the state as soon as possible and get back to her life.


Associated Press writers Steve Karnowski and Doug Glass in Minneapolis, Minn., contributed to this report.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

American Grand Jury Prisoner

Urgent ELP! Bulletin (14th March 2009)

Dear friends

ELP has just learnt that yesterday, 13th of March, an American animal rights activist, Jordan Halliday, was jailed for contempt of court after he refused to testify before a Grand Jury.

Please send letters of support to:

Jordan Halliday #324013
c/o Salt Lake County Metro Jail
3415 S. 900 W.
Salt Lake City, UT 84119


Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network
BM Box 2407

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Two new American prisoners

Urgent ELP! Bulletin (8th of March 2009

Dear friends

On Thursday the 5th of March two Americans, William "BJ" Veihl and Alex
Hall, were raided and arrested accused of raiding a mink farm in Utah, last
August, and attempting to raid a second mind farm, in October 2008. Both
are being held at Salt Lake County Jailed charged with Animal Enterprise

Both BJ and Alex are vegan, but both are being denied vegan meals (this is
despite the fact their friends and supporters are being told, by the jail,
they are getting vegan food!!!). People are working on assuring BJ and Alex
get the food they require. But in the mean time please send urgent letters
of support to:

William Veihl
Booking #:906617
Prisoner ID: 323754
c/o Salt Lake County Metro Jail
3415 S. 900 W.
Salt Lake City
UT 84119

Alex Jason Hall
Booking number: 906610
Prisoner ID: 323748
c/o Salt Lake County Metro Jail
3415 S. 900 W.
Salt Lake City
UT 84119

E-mailed messages of support can be sent to
However remember no prisoner has access to e-mail, so if you want a reply
you'll need to include a postal address.


Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network
BM Box 2407

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Anarchist and SDSer Forest Student Serving 60 Days in Jail March 7, 2009

Anarchist, SDSer and community organizer Forest Student is currently spending 60 days in jail for crimes he did not commit on May Day 2008 in Olympia, WA.

Forest was rounded up along with five other anarchists on May Day in Olympia in 2008 during a march for a project initiated by SDS, MEChA, IVAW and the IWW to make Olympia a sanctuary city for both undocumented workers and war resisters. Some participants of the march targeted US Bank and Bank of America during the march and the police came en force, arresting six anarchists, and brutalizing many others at the march.

During the trial, Forest took an Alfred plea bargain (saying he didn't commit the crime he was charged with but pleading guilty because there is a chance he would loose in court and he couldn't take that chance), pleading a felony and a gross misdemeanor down to two gross misdemeanors. Forest's plea did not implicate anyone else.

The court said that Forest ran alongside someone who stole a cop’s cell phone and then tried to trade clothes. Forest denies this. Forest maintains that he was running away from a cop who had pointed a gun at him. At the sentencing Forest told the judge that he was a stable person, married and has a lease on a house. He talked about the work he does in his community, including but not limited to sexual assault prevention.

Forest’s lawyer asked the judge not to sentence Forest harder because he was protesting when the arrest happened and asked that the judge not silence and sentence political dissent.

Which is what the judge did.

For two gross misdemeanors Forest Student was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Forest was arrested for political reasons, charged for political reasons, convicted for political reasons, and sentenced for political reasons. This sentencing arises from a broader pattern of targeting and prosecuting anarchists in Olympia by the city and Thurston County. Anarchist and SDSer Shyam Khanna also fell victim this fall during a trial where he was charged with two misdemeanors relating to the Port of Olympia demonstrations in 2007. The police lied to the jury to get him convicted and he too has to serve time. Wally Cuddeford, another local anarchist was charged last month for felony inciting riot because he was standing on a sidewalk holding a bag filled with anti-police/police brutality signs. Professional fighter and Wobbly Jeff Monson is another Olympia anarchist who had his passport taken from him by the court briefly because he was deemed a flight risk for “being an anarchist”.

Forest is an active community member, organizer, activist and revolutionary in Olympia. He works in support of anti-imperialist struggles and Iraqi self-determination, sexual assault prevention/destroying rape culture, prison abolition and political prisoner support, port militarization resistance, organizes against police and police violence, is an active member of the Northwest queer and trans community and is active in SDS. Forest is also a trained street medic, a lover, a friend, a housemate, kind to children and animals, a great cook, a good neighbor and an all around good person to be around.

Forest has court fees (totaling $700) to cover and rent while he is in jail. If you can at all support monetarily it would be greatly appreciated. If you cannot, your kind words and thoughts will be cherished just as much.

Support your community

In Solidarity

For questions or contributions please contact

If you would like to write Forest (and please do) you can write him at

c/o Lewis County Corrections
23 SW Chehalis AVE
Chehalis WA 98532

He was originally serving his two months time in Thurston County Jail but was recently moved. There’s always a possibility that he will be moved again. He can also receive books in the mail but they must be sent by either a publisher or bookstore. The books must be paperback.