Midnight Special Law Collective is an Oakland-based collective that supports people targeted by the state for their participation in social change movements. We are legal workers–activists, not attorneys–who are committed to supporting people in struggle, and to fostering the creation of community-based legal teams and support networks to keep us out of jail and in the streets. In October, 2009 we heard the news that our fellow legal worker and friend Carrie Feldman had been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in Davenport, Iowa. Since then, two other activists have been caught up in the repressive net of the fed’s investigation into a 2004 animal rights action. Scott DeMuth of Minneapolis and Leana Stormont of Virginia were both subpoenaed to appear in November and January, respectively. Currently. Carrie remains in jail for refusing to cooperate with the investigation, while Scott is out on bail and facing conspiracy charges under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). Leana and her attorneys and supporters are currently fighting against her subpoena.
Though we’ve been saddened by the news of their legal persecution, our collective has been inspired by the strength, commitment, and optimism in standing up against the unfounded attacks being directed against them. By resisting the efforts of the grand jury investigation, these activists become a wrench in business-as-usual state repression. We applaud the courage and conviction of Carrie Feldman, Scott DeMuth, and Leana Stormont. At the expense of their own liberty, these brave people have stood up against the long history of state repression and the power of the federal government. Their commitment protects us all from similar targeting. As Scott DeMuth writes, “It is not just animal rights activists and anarchists who have a stake in this case, in the abolition of the AETA, and in the overall “terrorizing” of political dissent, but everyone who lives within America, everyone who values our inalienable rights and liberties, and everyone who seeks a better way of living than the one we have been given.”
The history of grand juries in the United States highlights their use as a tool to suppress dissent in this country through secret evidence, biased jurors, and overreaching prosecutorial power. Though originally designed to screen out malicious or unfounded prosecutions, grand juries have been historically and contemporarily used to minimize, discredit and destroy social movements in the US. Abolitionists, supposed communists, Black Panthers, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, Palestinian activists, and white anti-imperialists have all been targets of grand jury investigations. These investigations have been used to gather information on political movements, spread mistrust and fear, and ultimately incarcerate activists and discredit their political campaigns as “criminal”. The development of the Green Scare investigations and prosecution of ecologically-committed activists in the last several years is a continuation of the same repressive campaign, which seeks to destroy movements for social change by increasing the risk involved and the consequences meted to those who dare speak out against our unjust social system.
In the spirit of the San Francisco 8, the Green Scare resisters, and political prisoners everywhere, Midnight Special Law Collective sends our support and best wishes to Carrie, Scott, Leana, and their friends, families, and supporters. Their resistance protects us all from state repression and reminds us of the power and dignity in resistance. We also tip our hats to the dedicated supporters in the Scott and Carrie Support Committee, as well as the supporters and friends of Leana Stormont. Their commitment to protecting their targeted friends is an inspiring example of mutual aid, and the strength we hold when we fight together.
With raised fists and solidarity,
Midnight Special Law Collective