11/17/09: Two MN Activists Incarcerated for Resisting Political Repression

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2009
Contact: EWOK! (Earth Warriors are OK!) hotline 612.293.9657 (Natalia Shulkin), ewok@riseup.net

Two MN Activists Incarcerated for Resisting Political Repression By Federal Grand Jury in IA

Supporters to escalate pressure against the U.S. Attorney Cliff Cronk to end the unjust incarcerations

Davenport, IA – Today, Minneapolis-based activists Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth refused to testify in front of a grand jury in Davenport and were found to be in contempt of court. They were immediately taken into custody and, according to District Judge John Jarvey, will remain incarcerated until they agree to testify. In this case, this essentially means they could be held for the duration of the grand jury, another 11 months. Both activists refused to cooperate due to their deeply held ethical convictions and the duty they feel to resist political repression.

“The harassment and incarceration of Carrie and Scott are part of a larger pattern of repressing dissent we’re seeing across the country,” said Thomas Addo of EWOK! (Earth Warriors are OK!), a prisoner-support group based in Minneapolis. “The crime this grand jury is investigating is merely a pretext for a wider fishing expedition. This is about the state – and U.S. Attorney Cliff Cronk, in particular – seeking to prevent people from being part of social movements. We stand in solidarity with Carrie and Scott in their refusal to be complicit in their own repression, and we’ll stand with them every day until they are free.”

While the law does not compel the U.S. Attorney’s Office to disclose the subject of the grand jury investigation, supporters believe that it is likely related to an unsolved Animal Liberation Front action in 2004 at the University of Iowa. At the time, Feldman was only 15 years old and DeMuth was only 17 years old, and both were residents of the Twin Cities. However, both have more recently been involved in supporting political prisoners who were incarcerated as a result of the government’s Green
Scare tactics, which target animal-rights and environmental activists. Feldman, DeMuth, and their communities feel that this support work has now made them targets as well.

The support rally this morning and the subsequent court proceedings were characterized by a disproportionate law enforcement presence and a sense in the courtroom that the contempt hearings were perfunctory. The presiding judge dismissed out of hand arguments offered by both Feldman and DeMuth’s counsel regarding the need for them to remain free. For instance, Feldman is her ailing grandmother’s caretaker and DeMuth is currently a graduate student whose intellectual and professional integrity
would be irreparably damaged by participating in a sealed investigation.In response, the judge simply read verbatim the legal language about contempt charges and then ordered the two taken into custody immediately.

The community members who attended the morning’s rally – as well as those who publicly gathered in support from Minneapolis to Dallas, TX – nevertheless vowed to mount pressure on U.S. Attorney Cliff Cronk’s office demanding Feldman and DeMuth’s release, and made clear that the attention currently being cast on these intentionally secret proceedings is only
going to grow.

Prior to appearing before the grand jury, Feldman and DeMuth prepared statements regarding the repression they are facing:

Carrie Feldman

Today I have my second appearance before a federal grand jury that is investigating animal rights actions that occurred at the University of Iowa in 2004. Last month, after being subpoenaed in Minneapolis with one day’s notice, I appeared before this grand jury and plead my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Today, that right will be sidestepped with technical legal “protections” that have little or no substantive value. I will once again be put in front of a grand jury with no lawyer present in the room, and once again they will attempt to coerce me to testify.

The prosecutor has filed to grant me immunity. I do not need immunity from prosecution for a crime that I was not involved in and have no relation to. This will not change my decision to refuse to cooperate with the grand jury. I stand here today in solidarity with everyone who has stood up to resist the exploitation of the environment and animals, the repression of the state, and the abuses of the justice system.

In anticipation of my refusal to cooperate, the court has scheduled a contempt hearing for today at ten o’clock. And they’re right. I do feel contempt for a justice system that prosecutes people for property damage that is done in defense of life, while real violence is committed at the hands of vivisectors, the police, and the military on a daily basis. I feel contempt for the federal agents that would use these prosecutions as a pretext to investigate above ground movements and activists like me, with no apparent grounds other than my political beliefs and legal activities. I will not help them to do this, and I will not let them
violate my rights and privacy.

Today, I may be taken to jail for up to eleven months, solely for taking a moral stand against an institution that I believe to be corrupt and obsolete. I have not been accused of any crime. So let me ask you this, Clifford Cronk. Is it worth it to you? Is it worth it to you when my friend’s eight year old sobs, wondering if her mother could be going to jail next? Is it worth it, Tom Reinwart? Is it worth it to you when my elderly grandma is without a caretaker? Is this what you work for, Melissa Hendrickson? Is it worth it to tear an innocent 20-year-old woman away from everyone that she loves and cares for? Is this justice?

Thank you for your support.

Scott DeMuth
If you are receiving this statement, it is because I am being held in jail for contempt of court for my refusal to cooperate with the grand jury proceedings.

Grand juries are an important part of our constitutional process by preventing over-reaching prosecuting powers. However, they have been an integral tool of state repression against political movements. When investigative techniques of law enforcement fail, grand juries have been used as a tactic to intimidate movements and coerce testimony from movement members. This tactic is an abuse of constitutionally mandated process.

I will be exercising my 5th amendment rights and my right to remain silent. For this, I may face punitive charges for contempt of court and possibly jail time. To participate in these proceedings will threaten my academic and professional integrity as I may be asked to divulge information or identities from confidential research. I am legally bound to this confidentiality. Further, my participation would only validate an abuse of our justice system.

I want to thank everyone who has given me strength in this difficult situation. I want to thank all the communities that have supported me, including my academic peers and communities striving for liberation.

I want to also thank my mother, my father, my sisters, brothers, and cousins for all their love and support. I love you all. And I will stay strong.

Yours,
Scott

For more information and updates about Feldman, DeMuth, and the subpoenas, please visit https://davenportgrandjury.wordpress.com.

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