The U.S. government has a long history of suppressing dissent and criminalizing movements for social change. From violent attacks on civil rights and anti-war activists of the 1960s to the disruptive and destructive counter-intelligence programs (COINTELPRO) employed by the FBI, the state has clearly abused its authority. More recently, the state has focused its attention on Muslims, Arabs and Arab-Americans, movements for environmental and animal liberation, as well as movements for self-determination, including Puerto Rican independence activists and former members of the Black Panther Party.
On November 17, 2009, Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth were jailed for contempt after refusing to cooperate with a federal grand jury in Davenport, Iowa, ostensibly investigating an animal liberation action at the University of Iowa in 2004. DeMuth was later indicted with “conspiracy” for the release of hundreds of animals and thousands of dollars of property damage. While DeMuth awaits trial, Feldman remains in jail for contempt, despite her principled refusal to cooperate with the grand jury and serious legal questions about the grand jury’s continued existence.
The Grand Jury Resistance Project (GJRP) stands in solidarity with Feldman and DeMuth in their effort to fight back against political repression. Given that there is no cause to keep Feldman imprisoned, she should be immediately released. Furthermore, given that the evidence against DeMuth is wholly insufficient to prosecute him, his charges should be dismissed. Instead of working to undermine and chill political speech, the state should abandon its abusive tactics and allow Feldman and DeMuth to get on with their lives, and to continue their activism without undue interference.
As one of the tools used by the state to suppress dissent, grand juries must be opposed and ultimately abolished. Until then, dissidents like Feldman and DeMuth will continue to shine a spotlight on the injustices of the state. The GJRP urges you to support Feldman and DeMuth in their principled stand and their effort to resist repression.