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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 27, 2009
Contact: Earth Warriors are OK! (EWOK!) hotline (Natalia Shulkin) 612-293-9657, firstname.lastname@example.org
Federal Prosecutor Tries to Keep Minneapolis Activists Jailed for Their Political Beliefs
Federal court hearing scheduled Monday for Scott DeMuth charged under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
Davenport, IA — Using sensational and inflammatory language, the federal government accused recently indicted activist Scott DeMuth on Wednesday of being a “domestic terrorist” in an effort to keep him imprisoned until trial. DeMuth, a Dakota activist from Minneapolis who has worked for many years to support political prisoners, was indicted November 18th for conspiracy to “commit animal enterprise terrorism and cause economic damage to the animal enterprise in an amount exceeding $10,000.” The indictment is related to an Animal Liberation Front (ALF) action at the University of Iowa in 2004, in which research equipment was damaged and hundreds of animals were set free. The indictment came a day before the statute of limitations on the 2004 action was to expire. DeMuth will be tried under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, widely criticized by groups such as the Center for Constitutional Rights as unconstitutional.
What: Ruling on the release of federal defendant Scott DeMuth
When: By 4pm on Monday, November 30th, 2009
Where: U.S. District Court, 131 E. Fourth St., Davenport, Iowa
Prosecutor Cliff Cronk argued that DeMuth’s association with anarchist movements makes him a domestic terrorist, illuminating the larger issue of “terrorism” being redefined in order to suppress dissent. Anarchism is a political ideology whose adherents believe in cooperation rather than coercion.
“Political beliefs are not a legitimate reason to detain a defendant awaiting trial,” said Thomas Addo of Earth Warriors are OK! “By sensationalizing DeMuth’s political work and beliefs, the federal government attempts to divert attention from the fact that they have little to no evidence with which to prosecute him,” continued Addo. “As a graduate student in the Sociology Department, as well as a Dakota language student at the University of Minnesota, DeMuth is well integrated in the Minneapolis community and should be released in order to continue his studies.”
DeMuth was jailed on November 17th along with Carrie Feldman, another activist from the Twin Cities, after both of them refused to cooperate with what they called a politically motivated grand jury. Feldman, who was found to be in civil contempt, may be forced to remain in jail for the life of the grand jury, up to 11 more months. In a statement made to the grand jury before she was found in contempt, Feldman denounced the use of grand juries as a coercive “tool of the prosecution,” and asserted that they are used to “investigate and intimidate those who would express dissent.” Supporters have organized a call-in campaign on Monday to demand that U.S. Attorney Nicholas Klinefeldt dismiss the subpoena issued for Feldman and secure her release.
After a psychological evaluation concluded that DeMuth was emotionally healthy and at no risk of flight, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Shields ruled that DeMuth did not have to remain in jail until trial, and on Tuesday issued an order for his release. Federal prosecutor Cliff Cronk responded by filing a motion to keep him in custody on Wednesday, claiming DeMuth is a danger to the community and a flight risk. So far, the only evidence Cronk has supplied has been a journal of DeMuth’s children’s stories and a lock-picking device found in the common foyer of his home. Both items were seized by police four years after the incident in a raid prior to the 2008 Republican National Convention that targeted activists.
Supporters claim that DeMuth has become yet another target of the “Green Scare,” a term used to refer to the Federal government’s campaign to intimidate animal and earth liberation activists. The Green Scare is just one campaign among many that the Federal government uses to repress social movements. Other recent targets of grand juries have included the San Francisco 8 case against former Black Panthers, and the Puerto Rican Independence movement following the FBI assassination of movement leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios in 2005.