Also posted on CurrentTV
By Tom Eley
6 September 2008
On Wednesday eight members of the anarchist protest group the Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee (RNCWC) were charged under provisions of the Minnesota state version of the Patriot Act with “Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism.”
The eight charged are all young, and could face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison under a provision that allows the enhancement of charges related to terrorism by 50 percent. They are: Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald and Max Spector.
Among other things, the youth, who were arrested last weekend even prior to the start of the convention, are charged with plotting to kidnap delegates to the RNC, assault police officers and attack airports. Almost all of the charges listed are based upon the testimony of police infiltrators, one an officer, the other a paid informant.
Anarchistic groups like the RNCWC—with their emphasis on the “direct action” of small groups and their aversion to politics and the lessons of history—are quite easily infiltrated by agents and provocateurs. Nonetheless, there is little to suggest that the youth are violent or that they are anything more than politically naive. The police evidence is threadbare on the surface, and depends primarily on the counterfactual charge of “conspiracy”—that those arrested would have committed crimes, or that they are responsible for the crimes of others.
Several of those arrested were also members of the student group “Food not Bombs,” and were working in a soup kitchen at the time of their arrest.
There has also been widespread repression of the media that covered the protests during the RNC. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! was arrested on Monday, after protesting the arrest of several members of her news crew. Also reportedly arrested were Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke, two cameramen of Twin City CBS and NBC affiliates, and several independent videographers. There was also an unverified report that a Fox News crew was gassed.
The media reform movement Free Press has collected over 50,000 signatures demanding that charges against all journalists arrested during the RNC be dropped.