Revolution #281, September 23, 2012

Grand Jury Convenes Following FBI raids in the Northwest

On July 10 and 25, the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force carried out a series of coordinated military-style raids on activists' houses in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. Heavily armed SWAT teams used flash-bang grenades and in at least one case drew guns on people as they invaded their homes.

In the wake of these raids, a federal grand jury has been convened in Seattle and has already issued subpoenas in an attempt to force five people to testify.

The whole way these raids and grand jury investigation are being carried out is under a veil of secrecy. According to the Seattle Times, the U.S. Attorney's office in western Washington "has sealed all legal documents concerning the subpoenas and search warrants issued to seize evidence and provided no comment on the investigation." The raids seem, however, to be connected to targeting and suppressing radical opposition in the Occupy movement in the wake of events in Seattle on May 1, when hundreds joined the national Occupy protests and strikes. In the course of these protests, some businesses and a federal courthouse had their windows broken out.

A warrant in connection with one of the raids obtained by the Stranger, a Seattle weekly, specifically mentioned the FBI was in part looking for "anti-government or anarchist literature or material": The Stranger also said that the FBI "rifled through bookshelves" during the raid. In these raids the FBI has seized computers, cell phones, thumb drives, clothing, literature, etc.

It has also been reported in some of the local press that the FBI has approached activists to try to turn them into informants or to ask them who they associate with.

There has been important beginning resistance to the government's repression. A statement against the raids and grand jury investigation has been released by a Portland-based group called the Committee Against Political Repression has been signed by many organizations and individuals.

Two people from Portland who were ordered to appear before the grand jury made a public statement saying they would refuse to cooperate with the grand jury investigation and would not testify except to give their names. They were allowed to leave but have been required to reappear before the grand jury again in mid-September. Protests have been held in Seattle against the raids and grand jury investigation. The Seattle National Lawyers Guild has spoken out against the government's actions. It has called for dropping the subpoenas and has brought up how grand juries are used as fishing expeditions and are aimed at suppressing political dissent and have a chilling effect on people.

It's important for people very broadly to oppose and resist the government raids and grand jury investigation.

For more on what a grand jury is, see the article "What Is a Grand Jury and What Threats Does It Pose to Activists? The Grand Jury—The Grand Inquisition," Revolution #215, October 31, 2010.


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