Defend J20 Resistance Newsletter, September 2017

On January 20th, 230 people were mass arrested during demonstrations against Donald Trump’s Inauguration. The arrests were made by use of a “kettle” technique of individuals on the corners of L and 12th Street, without orders to disperse. After multiple rounds of charges, the 194 remaining defendants could now face up to 75 years in prison on 8+ identical felony charges.

This e-mail newsletter exists to keep supporters updated about the case and plugged in for when support and solidarity initiatives are being organized. The first trials are scheduled for this fall, so now is the time to stand up in solidarity. If you know someone who’d like to be added to our newsletter, please e-mail us at defendj20-newsletter@riseup.net and let us know or sign-up here.

In this newsletter:

  • #Defend J20 Week of Solidarity
  • Motions to Dismiss & Reveal Grand Jury Instructions
  • Petition to Drop the Charges
  • Police investigation
  • DreamHost Updates
  • Charlottesville
  • Support Dane!
  • Fundraising

#Defend J20 Week of Solidarity

In response to a call for a week of solidarity with J20 Defendants from July 20 - July 27, a number of events and actions took place in dozens of cities internationally to publicize the case, generate support, and demonstrate solidarity with the defendants.

Banners with messages demanding the charges be dropped were hung in public spaces. Benefits and events where information was spread about the case were organized in multiple cities. Flyers, stickers, and posters were put in public areas around the US. For more information, and to see all the posters and banners, check out this report back:

http://defendj20resistance.org/2017/07/31/defendj20-solidarity-actions.html

Motions to Dismiss & Reveal Grand Jury Instructions

On July 27, a motion to dismiss the charges for all the defendants was presented in court. In addition, a motion was argued to compel the court to release the instructions given to the grand jury which led to the charges being filed. The motions to dismiss the charges were built on a number of different grounds, including constitutional rights and challenges to case law related to the case. On September 14, Judge Lynn Leibovitz issued an order denying all the motions to dismiss except for one count- an additional misdemeanor charge of assault of an officer that included some but not all defendants. In light of this denial, we are continuing to stand in solidarity with each other and take these charges to trial.

Please visit the Support J20 blog for a statement on the judge’s order and a link to the order itself:

http://defendj20resistance.org/blog/

Drop the Charges

Looking for a way to help out with the case? Check out this petition addressing U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips demanding all the charges be dropped: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/dropj20-end-the-repression/

Or visit our “Drop the Charges” campaign and call or write U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips and demand directly that they drop all charges against J20 protesters:

http://defendj20resistance.org/dropj20

Investigation of Police Misconduct on J20

Earlier this year, the District Council approved $1.5 million in funding for an investigation of police misconduct on J20. The call for an investigation stems from a critical report issued after the Inauguration Day protests by the Mayor’s Office of Police Complaints (OPC), detailing how police were indiscriminately violent and used unlawful tactics to mass arrest more than 200 people. Funds for the investigation become available on October 1, 2017. Please urge the OPC to begin investigating the police as soon as possible, before the first trial in November: http://defendj20resistance.org/investigate-the-mpd.html.

Call Rochelle Howard at the Office of Police Complaints at (202) 727-3838 or e-mail: dcpolice.complaintsoffice@dc.gov

The DreamHost Case: Mass Surveillance by the Department of Justice

In early August, the Department of Justice subpoenaed the webhosting company DreamHost for all data they had on the hundreds of thousands of visitors who viewed the disruptj20 website, which had publicized the demonstration before the inauguration. This data grab led to public anger and to pushback by a judge. The DOJ pared down its request to target only defendants and alleged DC organizers in response, but as the Electronic Frontier Foundation documents, the subpoena remains a threat to internet and general freedoms. DreamHost announced in early September that they plan to appeal the ruling.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/08/doj-backs-down-overbroad-j20-warrant-problems-still-remain

Charlottesville

Our condolences go to the family and comrades of Heather Heyer, murdered by a Neo-Nazi during the clashes in Charlottesvile, Virginia, and to all those who were injured and arrested fighting back against white supremacy. The Charlottesville clashes demonstrate that the movement kicked off on J20 - against Trump’s chauvinistic aim to “Make America Great Again” continues across the US. This article highlights where the police fall politically in this context, as they move to repress anti-fascist and anti-capitalist demonstrators in DC, while they actively ignore Neo-Nazi gunfire against unarmed anti-fascist protestors in Charlottesville:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-police-threw-the-book-at-trump-protesters-in-dc_us_59a57c35e4b0b234aecad23b?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004

Support Dane!

Dane Powell, the first of the J20 Defendants to see jail time, was recently transferred to a federal prison in Florida, where he’ll likely be until November. After this four month sentence, he will be on probation for over a year. In the meantime, check out this page for more information on how to support him with commissary, sending books, and writing him letters. http://defendj20resistance.org/blog/

He can be written to at this address:

Dane Powell BOP Register number 82015007 Federal Correctional Institution – Low PO Box 1031 Colman, Florida 33521

Fundraising

The first two trials are scheduled for November and December. Defendants are going to trial in groups of 8 at a time and could last for weeks. We are in need of money for travel, housing, and other associated costs. Support is needed in terms of fundraisers, info-nights, and donations directly to the website. Please click the link below and donate to trial costs:

http://www.dclegalposse.org/donate/

As always, for detailed information about the case, check out http://defendj20resistance.org. We greatly appreciate all supporters out there who are paying attention to this important legal case. More updates coming soon!

–Defend J20 Newsletter Crew

Letter from #J20 Anarchist Prisoner Dane Powell

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From It’s Going Down:

Throughout my whole life, I’ve had a running list of worst fears that changed over the years, as many times as I have. My latest, having been the most likely to occur were fears of houseless-ness and prison. I used to have nightmares of the two where I would wake up in sweats. I’ve since been cured of them both but only by living through each.

With work inside our local communities, most, if not all, activists see people when they need solidarity the most. The houseless, the jobless, the drug addicts, the ones that have been tossed out, abused, and left for dead by our capitalistic system are the ones who we eat dinner with, laugh with, seek treatment with or aid mutually more than most others. A lot of these people have hit the preverbal bottom with unwavering abandonment from the state. The presence of these fears was only the state legitimizing itself in my subconscious mind. Facing my fear of houseless-ness was voluntary and a choice I made before leaving for Standing Rock last year. My arrest on Jan 21st was not voluntary what so ever and I would soon learn how to de-legitimize the state through control of ones own fears.

After the courts released me on January 26th, my fears were put into overdrive after five days in DC jails’ intake wing. Our culture is centered around punishment. Our TV’s highlight it, our movies romanticize it, our politicians run on it’s platform, and our judges make a mockery of it by sending youth to “Scared Straight” programs. The latter of these I had the honor of attending at the youthful age of 14. Having grown adults insinuate that they would kill you if given the chance at such a young age is a shining example of just how loving our justice system is. Occupied Turtle Islands’ obsession with punishment is unavoidable and a symptom of society’s sickness in the same way that cops are glorified and reality TV stars become president.

This fear was so crippling that it started to consume my personal life. I allowed it to consume me so much that the state had already won. I lost my closest comrade and became closed off to others. The only way I was able to de-legitimize the fear was by living through it. I hope these words find the eyes of my J20 codefendants and others who may be in similar situations. I hope through my own experiences to assist others in helping to deal with their own fears that they may be holding in with the possibility of becoming another statistic to the state. What my codefendants are facing now is real, but nothing new for those who seek a better world on the ashes of theirs. We should never seek their cages, but if we happen to find them our work will continue and we’ll become more caring, more loving, more understanding, and more reliant as we use that time to improve ourselves and the others around us.

I challenge the reader to find a revolutionary who has stood against the imperial, capitalistic, and centralized state while not finding the inside of a cell throughout their course of work. It almost seems like a right of passage in many revolutionary autobiographies. There’s a distinct reason for this; jail cells radicalize. What is radicalize but another word for educated. Not educated with their reactionary lessons but an education from our own teachers based on revolutionary thinking. They fear this education which is why the word “radicalize” has become so stigmatized.

Even those who are on the fringes of political space, know exactly what is keeping them from their loved ones and freedom when they’re locked up, the state. If one enters in prison with a support structure of radicals, that captive will be digesting Kropotkin, Bookchin, Goldman, and Proudhun in no time. Free of the excuses one gives when they have access to Netflix, YouTube, or the vast diversity of services that we have filled the void of cable TV with, these captives are drawn to their books and the ideas within them. The education gained behind bars is greater than any to be found at Ivy league colleges. Prisons have always been the colleges of the revolutionaries.

As a present day anarchist I have felt my main weakness was in my theory. I knew the basics of our theories, but I never made it a priority to improve my revolutionary theory. What I failed to realize was that a clear understanding of theory allows the revolutionary to criticize current models, including their own, instead of just being a parrot with no ideas they can call their own. Lessons learned in prison provide the revolutionary with the proper re-education to be able to hold a conversation on something as basic as whether an issue is reformist or reactionary and the reasons why. So many of us are able to walk the walk but can’t talk the talk when the time presents itself, and what does that make us but a rebel without a cause. Not being able to properly put voice to our beautiful ideal de-legitimizes our movement more than any reactionary can. As revolutionists’ we need to be as well rounded as possible to be able to bring our beautiful ideal to the masses in a way that divorces reform; with theory and action. We need to turn our weaknesses into our greatest strengths.

One thing that revolutions of the past have in common is that the common people were facing oppression from above that was unbearable. In this way, prisons are a micro-cosism consisting of those same conditions that breed revolutions and could very easily become the revolutions vanguard. Washington DC jail is 98% people of African decent. Once prisoners learned of my charges I was sought after for questions on my leftist views. I planted as many seeds as I could in that short amount of time. I left books and zines that I’m sure are still being passed around today, and for months to come. Was the BPP main recruitment not done in the prisons and jails? Like our martyr August Spies said before he was executed, “Here you will tread upon a spark, but there and there, and behind you and in front of you, and everywhere flames will blaze up.” The conditions are the tinder and we are the sparks of Spies’ blaze.

When I first got to prison in Florida the guard who was processing me in exclaimed to his co-worker, “We got our first Trump protester!” They laughed at my expense for a couple of hours but I didn’t play into their games. I was soon approached by the prisons gang task force and threatened over organizing in their prison. They said that if there was a strike they were coming for me and my time would be extended. The state knows our capacities and they’re threatened by it. Earlier this year saw one of the largest prison strikes in history. We have what it takes and the most important denominator in that equation is time.

The legitimizing factor of all oppressive centralized states is the complacency and domination over the masses through state sponsored murder, kidnapping, and extortion. The regime of occupied Turtle Island is no different. A wise man one said that when we no longer fear death, we can truly live. Once these chains of the mind are removed so too will the physical ones of the body follow. Change has always proceeded the de-ligitimization of the state. Just as in the past, occupied Turtle Islands’ regime will do the same, but we can help speed that process up.

Until the last wall is torn down, we need to use their own weapon against the regime as best we can while simultaneously dismantling the power structure it creates. While doing time we can make others and ourselves better comrades. While outside, we should remove the power the state holds over us and, while not seeking it, we should lose the fear of prison for this is the best way to delegitimize the power it holds over us. Doing so will help us attain our goal that a more just world is possible for all instead of the few.

Write to Dane Powell:

Dane Powell

BOP Register number 82015007

Federal Correctional Institution – Low PO Box 1031

Colman, Florida 33521

Statement in response to Judge Leibovitz’s refusal to dismiss our charges

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Inauguration Day (J20) defendants continue to stand in solidarity with each other and against state repression despite Thursday’s denial of a motion to dismiss our charges filed by our defense on July 27th.

An overwhelming majority of J20 defendants remain committed to “points of unity” which include a refusal to testify or cooperate with the state against any of our co-defendants.

We did not need to “politicize” our cases; the federal government has done that for us. By conducting a mass arrest, charging over 200 people with eight identical felonies, and threatening us with 75 years in prison for protesting in the streets, the state is escalating their war on dissent.

Everyone should be concerned about the precedent this case sets. Free expression is at stake, and not just for black-clad radicals. Anyone who stands up and opposes the Trump administration is at risk unless we put an end to this legal charade.

The first trials in this case start in November of 2017 and we need your support. Please:

  • Join us in calling on the government to drop the charges!
  • Join us in condemning the violent acts of police and the unlawful mass arrest they carried out. Police misconduct must be investigated before our cases go to trial, otherwise we would be ignoring and giving credence to the true perpetrators of violence.
  • Donate to our legal fund.

Also, stay connected via DefendJ20Resistance.org, signing up for our email list or following us on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) for additional ways to support defendants as the case develops.

An Update on Our Comrade in Prison

From Dead City Legal Posse:

Dane Powell was recently transferred from the DC Jail to a federal facility, which is luckily much closer to his family. His transfer is finally complete. We and his loved-ones have been in regular (but somewhat sporadic contact) throughout the transfer process. Now that his transfer is final, all of us can be back in touch with him!

Dane continues to amaze us all with his capacity to take on this challenge, and to rise to it, at every turn. Please know that Dane is really looking forward to hearing from everyone!

☆☆ Dane’s Birthday is NEXT Thursday (September 7th). It would be so wonderful if everyone who reads this update could send him a birthday card right away (and a gift from his wishlist ONLY if that is financially manageable for you). Amazon Wishlist Link: http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/1304CQUAW2GEG

Some of the rules and regulations in federal prison are different from DC Jail and others are the same. Please carefully review all of this updated info. Thank you!

Dane Powell
BOP Register number 82015007

Jail Mail

Jail Mail Address
Dane Powell
BOP Register number 82015007
Federal Correctional Institution – Low
PO Box 1031
Colman, Florida 33521

Jail Mail Regs

  • Hardcover books may be sent from publishers only
  • Paperback books may be sent by friends & family (at most 2-3 at a time)
  • Magazine subscriptions are okay
  • Photos: 25 photos or less may be sent in personal mail, so long as the content is permissible.
  • Return Address is required
  • Greeting cards are okay with no music or noise maker built in. Send him a birthday card as soon as you read this because his birthday is next Thursday (September 7th)
  • Some drawings are allowed on envelopes, so long as it is permissible content and doesn’t obstruct address information

☆ It is important to remember that ALL MAIL will be opened and read by BOP staff. Please daft your jail mail accordingly!

Commissary

Dane has a new commissary account. DCLP will be feeding that Commissary account from Dane’s Generosity Fund, at Dane’s instruction and in accordance with his wishes.

Please donate what you can (if you can) there OR make a selection from the Amazon Wishlist, which has been updated with the latest transfer details, as to mailing address.

Generosity Link:
https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/support-our-friend-dane-powell

Amazon Wishlist Link
http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/1304CQUAW2GEG!!!

Visitation

Visits are also monitored, and require pre-approved authorization. Additionally, there are limits upon how many folks can be listed (beyond primary family). Luckily, because he is back on his home turf, his friends and loved-ones have his visitation covered. Please reach out to us well in advance of any planned travel to Dane’s neck of the woods, if you wonder if a visit might be possible.

#DefendJ20 Solidarity Actions

In response to a call for a “week of solidarity” with J20 defendants from July 20 to July 27, numerous events events were held across the United States to raise awareness about the J20 case.

In addition, numerous other gestures of solidarity – from banner drops to graffiti – took place during the week. The following list compiles many of these autonomously undertaken intiatives.

Demonstrations / Actions

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International Solidarity

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Statements

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Posters

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Graffiti

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Graphics, Posters, and Stickers

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The Week of Solidarity with J20 Defendants Starts Tomorrow

From Crimethinc:

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The Week of Solidarity with J20 Defendants begins tomorrow! July 20 marks six months since the mass arrest on L and 12th Street in Washington, DC; more than 200 defendants are now facing up to 75 years in prison apiece on Trumped up charges. We’re calling on all supporters to organize events and actions in solidarity with the J20 defendants throughout the week. Send reportbacks, photographs, and inquiries to J20solidarity@protonmail.com.

Ongoing Solidarity Actions

Before the week has even begun, we’re already learning of solidarity actions around the country:

  • Graffiti reading “200 People, 80 Years, Just for Protesting?” along the Atlanta Beltway;

  • Graffiti on a Starbucks in Binghamton, NY that says “Dismiss J20, Drop the Charges!”

  • Banner drops in Pittsburgh, PA and Elgin, IL demanding that the charges be dropped;

  • And a shout-out from Camp White Pine, the action camp in Pennsylvania currently resisting the development of the Marine East 2 Pipeline.

Organizations across the country have signed on to the Statement of Solidarity issued by DefendJ20Resistance, while a campaign is underway to demand that the DC Office of Police Complaints release $150,000 allocated for an investigation into the DC Metropolitan Police Department.

Events

A host of events is planned across the country to keep the pressure on throughout the week:

New York City, NY

Durham | Chapel Hill | Asheville, NC

  • July 20 • Anarchists on the Silver Screen @ Firestorm Books & Coffee

  • July 22 • BBQ, Bakesale and Benefit Show @ the Back House, 6:00PM

  • July 24 • Letter-Writing/Call-In Party @ Northgate Park, 6:00PM

  • July 25 • The Nightlight Presents “Institute”, A Benefit for J20 Defendants @ The Nightlight, 9:00PM

  • July 26 • Resisting State Repression, A Press Conference @ Durham Central Park, 12:00PM

Pittsburgh, PA

  • Roundtable discussion with Jude Ortiz of the Tilted Scales Collective for Pittsburgh J20 Defendants

  • Film Screening of “Born in Flames” @ 40th Street Bridge in Lawrenceville

Ypsilanti | Lansing, MI

Richmond, VA

  • July 20 • Screening of “Trouble - Episode 4: No Justice, Just Us” @ Community Room, 6:00PM

  • July 22 • Solidarity Demo @ Carycourt, 12:00PM

More events are being organized each day, and there are plenty of ways to plug in and plan one in your local area!

Resources

We’ve put together a resource kit specifically for tabling, so you can use these materials to explain the case to people where you live. It includes:

  • How the Government is Turning Protestors into Felons - a zine produced from an article written by Natasha Leonard describing the state’s intention to use the J20 case to set a precedent for mass arrests in the era of the Trump regime.

  • Why I Am Facing 75 Years - a zine produced from an op-ed written by Carlo Piantini, a J20 defendant, about the political nature of the J20 case, its connection to the larger scope of political repression in the United States, and the need for continued resistance.

  • An Unpresidented Case - a brief graphic zine composed of recollections from defendants about the Inauguration Day protests, the kettle, and the repression that has followed since.

  • “Week of Solidarity” - A new flyer and web graphics for this second Week of Solidarity to use for wheat-pastings and social media blasts.

  • “Show Up For Dane Powell” - A flyer calling for solidarity with Dane Powell, the first political prisoner of the Trump regime.

  • “#DropJ20” - A flyer to announce #DropJ20, a campaign demanding that the US Attorney’s Office drop the J20 charges.

  • “I Want You!” - A set of six flyers calling for action to demand an investigation into the conduct of the DC Metropolitan Police Department on Inauguration Day.

The kit also includes an archive of previous J20 solidarity flyers and a host of resources on legal support and prisoner solidarity, analysis and theory on Trump and anti-Trump resistance, anti-policing zines, and material for newcomers on how to join the resistance!

Stay in the Loop

Visit Defendj20resitance.org to sign up for email updates about the case, or follow “Defend J20 Resistance” on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

PRESS RELEASE: Rights Groups File FOIA to Uncover Details About Police Use of Force, Infiltration of Inauguration Protests

From Defending Rights & Dissent:

####Rights Groups File FOIA to Uncover Details About Police Use of Force, Infiltration of Inauguration Protests

FOIA filing comes as D.C. Council moves to investigate police misconduct on January 20

Contact:

Chip Gibbons, Defending Rights & Dissent (202) 529-4225 chip@rightsanddissent.org

Maggie Ellinger-Locke, DC National Lawyers Guild (314) 805-7335 Ellinger.Locke@gmail.com

JULY 11, 2017 - DC National Lawyers Guild (DC NLG) and Defending Rights and Dissent, two groups who defend the right to protest, are demanding answers about the Metropolitan Police Department’s conduct during anti-Trump inauguration protests.

Earlier today, the two groups filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking for records pertaining to police use of force against protesters, including the deployment of chemical and projectile weapons, and the use of police infiltrators leading up to the January 20 protests.

“The police assault on the right to protest on January 20 is part of a broader trend of cracking down on dissent taking place across the nation,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, co-chair of the DC NLG Demonstration Support Committee. “We hope that shedding light on the MPD’s actions during the inauguration will be an important step to promoting real police accountability.”

In an unprecedented move, U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips indicted more than 200 people in April on eight felony charges each, punishable by up to 75 years in federal prison. Both the DC NLG and Defending Rights and Dissent have strongly condemned the charges as being an intimidation tactic meant to severely punish Inauguration Day protesters and deter people from participating in future activism.

As the FOIA Request describes, “This is one of the largest, and harshest en-mass prosecutions of political demonstrators in U.S. history.”

On January 19 and January 20 police repeatedly and indiscriminately used excessive force against protesters, including the use of pepper spray, tear gas, and new weaponry called stingers which have a combined pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bang deployment. The police assaults included attacks on children, journalists, legal observers, medics, passersby, and protesters. On January 20 police entrapped, or “kettled,” over 200 people, holding them for eight hours and arresting everyone en masse.

The filing of today’s FOIA comes just a month after the District Council approved $150,000 for an investigation into police misconduct during the Inauguration Day protests. The Council’s action comes after the Mayor’s Office of Police Complaints issued a report in February critical of the MPD response to protests on January 20. Notably, the report found concerning multiple potential violations of the D.C. First Amendment Assemblies Act, and the indiscriminate use of weapons such as stingers without adequate warnings.

In addition to the use of force against protesters, both groups were deeply troubled by revelations that an undercover member of the MPD infiltrated organizing meetings ahead of the protests. Under D.C. law, infiltration of First Amendment activity requires prior written approval by a MPD commander or similarly ranked official. For authorization to be received the officer must submit a written memorandum. As part of the FOIA Request, both groups hope to obtain the memorandum requesting authorization, as well as, the authorization itself.

“There is a reason why the City Council imposed statutory restrictions on investigations involving First Amendment protected activity. History shows that such infiltrators oftentimes purposefully sow chaos. Even under the best of circumstances such agents chill speech and deter political participation,” said Chip Gibbons, Policy and Legislative Counsel for Defending Rights and Dissent.

Support Our Comrade in Prison!

From Dead City Legal Posse:

On Friday, July 7th, Dane Powell became the first of the #DisruptJ20 arrestees sentenced to prison. Dane is a father, veteran, water protector, and active community member, but will now forever be known as the first political prisoner of the Trump era. Today, he needs your support more than ever for the four months he is behind bars. Please share far and wide—we want him to be flooded with love and support from every continent. So if you know anyone in Antarctica …


Dane Powell

DCDC #358 530

Commissary

Funds can be added in person in cash at the machines in the CTF building. Now that the account has been initiated, folks can also add funds remotely at www.connectnetwork.com (through the website or phone app) using Dane’s name and DCDC number. Commissary funds can be used for either commissary or for phone, but phone account funds may only be used for phone.

Mailing Address:

Dane Powell DCDC #358 530 DC Jail 1901 D Street, SE Washington, DC 20003

If it would be easier to email rather than post letters, you can email jailmail@dclegalposse.org and we can either print out and mail the letters, or read them aloud to him during visits. Bear in mind that in addition to being read by DOC staff, anything you send to that email address will be read by DCLP.

Jail Mail Regulations & Suggestions

  • Photos are okay with permissible content: up to 10 per envelope
  • Greeting cards okay with no music
  • Nothing on the outside of the envelope except the address (no decorative designs, stickers, notes, etc)
  • No staples (likely best to number multiple sheets of paper)
  • No supplies: everything must come through commissary, which Dane can use for either commissary or for phone. Phone account funds may only be used for phone.
  • No content you wouldn’t say directly to a cop. Every letter WILL BE opened and read by jail staff before Dane sees it. Note: this clearly means nothing incriminating against anyone else either.

☆ It would be wise to include your phone number and your mailing address on every letter so that Dane can write back to you or call you collect. Return addresses are preferred by the DOC, but not required on the envelopes in order to be received.

☆ Nothing incriminating against anyone else! Every letter will be opened and read by jail staff.

Mailing Books

Books must be mailed directly to Dane at the address above from the publisher, from Amazon (wishlist on the way), or from a bookstore. No hardcover books. Dane has specially requested books from AK Press, PM Press, and Feminist Press.

Video Visits

Dane is permitted two visits a week. All visits are done by video now, even “in person” ones. You can visit on-site at the DC Jail’s Video Visitation Center on the on DC General Complex:

Note: once you have a visitor ID set up, you can add multiple inmates and store their info in your account.

J20: Call for an International Week of Solidarity, July 20-27, 2017

From Crimethinc:

We are calling for a Week of Solidarity with the J20 defendants from July 20 to 27, 2017. July 20 marks six months from the initial actions and arrests during Donald Trump’s inauguration, and on July 27, a motion to dismiss the charges will be argued in court. The case has finally begun to receive the media attention it warrants; with this court date approaching and the cases underway, this is a crucial time for a second Week of Solidarity. Send reportbacks, photographs, and inquiries to J20solidarity@protonmail.com.

On January 20, 2017, thousands of people came to Washington, DC to protest the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. In the early morning, blockades shut down security checkpoints and discouraged people from attending the inauguration itself, while impromptu marches and direct actions occurred throughout the day. There was a spirit of defiance in the air.

Iconic images circulated almost immediately, from the punching of white supremacist Richard Spencer to pictures of a limousine on fire. These were only the most spectacular images, however, of a day that was characterized by generalized disruption.

Midmorning, an “anticapitalist and antifascist” march of several hundred people made clear its opposition not just to Trump but also the system that made Trump possible. Led by banners reading “MAKE RACISTS AFRAID AGAIN” and “TOTAL LIBERATION FROM DOMINATION,” the disruptive march took the streets of DC to the sound of fireworks and anticapitalist chants. After about half an hour, the march was brutally attacked by police, who used chemical and crowd control weapons along with physical force, then boxed in (“kettled”) and mass-arrested people. Everyone on an entire city block was arrested and given the same charge of felony rioting. Approximately 214 arrestees now face a total of eight felony charges, including conspiracy and destruction of property. All of the J20 defendants are now facing up to 75 years in prison.

A great deal has happened in the six months since the inauguration. Confrontational protests have taken place across the continent, challenging the political landscape shaped by Trump’s election. Participants have stood up to emboldened white supremacists, disrupted airports in the face of anti-Muslim bans, blockaded proposed pipeline routes, set up sanctuary spaces and rapid response networks against ICE deportations, and much more. In turn, states are passing legislation aimed at further criminalizing protest and limiting resistance.

The J20 case fits into this wave of repression. The police seized and hacked phones in an attempt to strengthen the government’s case, and subpoenaed social media accounts. They raided an organizer’s home in DC. Arrestees had their personal information leaked online. The prosecution filed additional charges, essentially accusing the entire group of breaking the same handful of windows. All this has disrupted the lives of the defendants in the J20 case, who have lost jobs, incurred legal expenses, and been forced to make repeated trips to DC. The majority of cases are now headed to trial, with a handful of trials set for November and December 2017 and the rest scattered throughout 2018. Despite the fact that the state forced a large number of strangers into this situation at random, the majority of defendants are working together, responding to the charges in a collective way.

In order to continue to build our capacity to counter state repression and strengthen our interconnected struggles, we are calling for a Week of Solidarity from July 20 to 27, 2017, to make support for the J20 defendants widely visible. July 20 marks six months since the initial actions and arrests; on July 27, a motion to dismiss the charges will be argued in court.

We call on supporters to organize events and actions in solidarity with the J20 defendants throughout the week. Be creative and strategic! Help cultivate a spirit of resistance and mutual aid! Some ideas and areas to focus on during the week include:

Fundraising – As with any legal case, fundraising for legal and travel costs continues to be important. You can consult a list of regional fund-raising sites here and make donations to the general DC fund here. One easy fundraiser activity would be to organize a screening of the new subMedia film “No Justice … Just Us: Movement Defense against State Repression”. Other ideas include bake sales, raffles, speakers, or benefit shows. Some folks have also made t-shirts and tote bags.

Take Political Action – The J20 arrests were so plainly illegal that even the DC city council has funded an investigation into police abuses that day. This could turn up evidence useful to the defendants, but only if it takes place soon! During the Week of Solidarity, flood the DC Office of Police Complaints with demands that the investigation happen NOW. For more details, go here.

Outreach – One reason these prosecutions are possible in the first place is the lack of visibility around the case. Find ways to spread the word, with an eye toward translating visibility and public awareness into the capacity for material and emotional support. If you are part of an organization or have connections to one, ask it to endorse the “Statement of Solidarity,” or write and release your own statement against the prosecution in solidarity with those arrested on J20. Circulate statements widely among all the networks you have access to.

Increase Visibility – Design posters and decorate your town with them. Several poster designs are available here, but more designs are always welcome. Consider designing handbills or other agitational materials. Share them in the days before the Week of Solidarity. Drop banners. Paint graffiti. Set up an information table at a public event or space. Spread the word on social media; try to persuade people who are well known to take a public position. Organize public visibility actions to spread the word about the case; international readers could consider taking action at US embassies to demand that the charges be dropped as a means of raising awareness.

Build Connections – Use the Week of Solidarity as a means of connecting struggles. The J20 defendants aren’t the only ones facing felony charges for their resistance or presence at political events. Organize joint events to benefit other defendants as well. Think of ways to connect across movements, using such events as a stepping-stone toward building robust and combative movements that can withstand repression and take the initiative.

Build Capacity - It’s also important to remember the many and varied reasons that people took to the streets on January 20. Those are at least as urgent now when so many people are facing charges. It is imperative that people not turn away out of fear of repression or isolate themselves. That is what the state wants. We must meet these charges with defiance and continued resistance. We must respond not just as supporters but also as active comrades in a shared struggle.

Finally, we encourage folks to visit Defendj20resitance.org to sign up for e-mail updates about the case, or follow “Defend J20 Resistance” on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

#J20 Defendant Speaks Out Against Ongoing Repression

From Unicorn Riot:

UNICORN RIOT VIDEO

Recently in Chicago, IL we spoke with Olivia, one of the 200+ people charged and indicted after police surrounded and mass-arrested everyone in the vicinity of the antifascist ‘black bloc’ march during Trump’s inauguration on January 20.

In February a federal grand jury returned an indictment on counts of Felony Riot, with sentences of up to ten years, for 214 individuals swept up in the kettle. On April 27, a new superseding indictment was issued, adding several more felony charges to all defendants, with many now facing potential sentences of up to 80 years.

The indictments generally do not refer to individual defendants but refer to the collective guilt of those who chose to engage in an anarchist protest, at times citing protest chants, or black clothing, as evidence of a “conspiracy.”

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against DC police over constitutional violations, physical and sexual abuse, and other violations carried out by DC and US federal authorities during the mass arrest.

Trouble #4: No Justice… Just Us: Movement Defense Against State Repression

From subMedia:

SUBMEDIA VIDEO

The struggle for a new, better world is not for the faint of heart. Movements of collective liberation, if they are effective, will inevitably face repression. The institutional pillars of domination and exploitation are well-entrenched in society, well-versed in manipulation, and utterly ruthless in their efforts to crush any and all threats to their legitimacy. At this critical juncture in history, our movements are confronted by incredibly powerful enemies, who use a variety of sophisticated methods to discredit, disrupt and deter resistance. Far-right populist movements, goaded on by corporate fear-mongering and neo-fascist propaganda, are increasingly resorting to violent vigilante attacks against their perceived enemies. And as if this wasn’t enough… standing firmly behind these new reactionary movements lies the naked power of the state – namely its heavily-militarized police, racist legal system and vast network of prisons. Yet despite this terrifying political atmosphere, our movements continue to grow. Our future success and growth demands that we develop the capacity to anticipate the strategies and tactics that the state will use against us, build our own infrastructure to defend against these attacks, and incorporate meaningful solidarity and collective defence into all facets of our organizing. In this month’s episode of Trouble, anarchist media collective subMedia interviews a number of individuals engaged in legal defence and prisoner solidarity, and looks at some of the ways we can begin to build movements that are more resiliant in the face of state repression.

Check out the Tilted Scales collective’s book: The Tilted Guide to Being a Defendant

To support the J20 Defendants, click here

To donate to the Water Protectors Legal Collective, click here

PRESS RELEASE JUNE 21; ACLU Lawsuit Against MPD, D.C. Police Chief Newsham for Excessive Force, Invasive Bodily Searches

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 21, 2017

CONTACT: media@acludc.org

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia today filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia, Metropolitan Police Department officers, and D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham for making unconstitutional arrests, using excessive force, denying arrested people food, water, and access to toilets, and invasive bodily searches of protesters exercising their First Amendment rights on Inauguration Day.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a legal observer, a photojournalist, and two others arrested that day.

While the overwhelming majority of Inauguration Day protesters demonstrated peacefully, a small number caused property damage. In response to the vandalism, MPD officers employed a controversial crowd-control tactic known as “kettling,” where officers corralled more than 200 protesters—including many who had broken no laws—by trapping and detaining them for several hours before formally arresting them. Officers also deployed nonlethal crowd-control devices—including pepper spray, tear gas, flash-bang grenades, concussion grenades, and smoke flares—upon protesters and others both on the street and inside the kettle, without warning or threat of harm to officers or other members of the public.

The complaint filed by the ACLU-DC also outlines incidents in which MPD officers handcuffed detained individuals so tightly as to cause injury and subjected some individuals to unlawful manual rectal probing.

“The MPD’s extreme tactics against members of the public, including journalists, demonstrators, and observers, were unjustifiable and unconstitutional,” said Scott Michelman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU-DC. “People from all over the country come to the nation’s capital to exercise their constitutional right to protest. MPD’s wanton and vindictive conduct on January 20 chills free speech, which is a vital part of our democracy.”

The ACLU-DC’s lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Washington, seeks monetary compensation for the four individuals in an amount to be determined by a jury.

Among the plaintiffs in today’s case are New York resident Shay Horse, who was covering the protests as a photojournalist, and Baltimore resident Elizabeth Lagesse, an activist who travelled to D.C. to peacefully protest President Trump’s inauguration. An MPD officer witnessed Horse taking photos to document the protest, then pepper-sprayed him. Lagesse did not participate in any acts of vandalism whatsoever. Both Horse and Lagesse were kettled and subjected to pepper spray, tear gas, and painful handcuffing, and they were denied food, water, and bathroom access for several hours.

The ACLU-DC also represents D.C. resident Judah Ariel, a legal observer whose neon-green hat clearly marked him as an observer and who was monitoring the conditions of the people trapped in the kettle when he was pepper-sprayed by MPD officers without warning or justification.

The ACLU-DC is also seeking damages on behalf of Horse and fellow detainee Milo Gonzalez, who were subjected to invasive manual rectal probe searches while in police custody.

“I’ve been documenting protests for years and I’ve never seen police act like this in America in such an open, blatant way in broad daylight,” Horse said. “So many of us suffered tremendously just for exercising our First Amendment rights to cover the demonstrations or participate in them. With this lawsuit, I want to stand up for all the protestors who were abused and bullied and assaulted and molested.”

In addition to the constitutional claims under the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, the lawsuit charges MPD violated D.C.’s First Amendment Assemblies Act. That act specifies that tactics that “substantially encircle” protesters are unlawful unless police have probable cause to believe protesters “have committed unlawful acts” and “police have ability to identify those individuals.” The lawsuit also raises claims for assault and battery and false arrest, among others.

The lawsuit is titled Horse v. District of Columbia. The complaint can be found here.

Video Panel Discussion: The RNC 8, Standing Rock, and J20 Cases

From Crimethinc:

Crimethinc Video

This is our second live video presentation about how to respond to the wave of repression sweeping the United States, with outrageous charges being brought against arrestees from Standing Rock, Trump’s inauguration, and more. This panel includes a defendant from the conspiracy case that followed the protests against the 2008 Republican National Convention and legal support workers responding to the repression of Standing Rock and J20 defendants. They discuss how to survive a politically motivated court case, how to organize a collective strategy against outrageous charges, how to engage with the criminal legal system as radicals, and other important questions facing current and future defendants. View the video here on this page or via facebook.com/CrimethIncDotCom.

Fighting State Repression: An Overview of the J20 Prosecution

Reposted from Crimethinc.com

DCLP Crimethinc Presentation

NLG Denounces Politically Motivated Superceding Indictment in DC Inauguration Felony Cases

NLG Denounces Politically Motivated Superseding Indictment in DC Inauguration Felony Cases Posted on May 2, 2017 by Communications Director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 2, 2017

Contact: Jude Ortiz, NLG Mass Defense Committee Chair
612-466-0770
jude.ortiz@riseup.net

NEW YORK—The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) decries US Attorney Channing Phillips’ recently filed superseding indictment against hundreds of people indiscriminately rounded up and arrested on President Trump’s inauguration date, January 20. After the Washington, DC police “kettled” protesters, journalists, bystanders and legal observers, leaving them on the streets for hours without water or restrooms, the police conducted a mass arrest in violation of their policy for handling protests. The prosecutors then furthered this draconian attack against protesters and others by charging more than 200 people with felony charges for allegedly inciting a riot.

In court Friday, a group of defendants who were scheduled to attend status hearings were instead re-indicted on the superseding indictment, including new felony charges for “conspiracy to riot” and “assault on a police officer while armed.” Three additional people were indicted for the first time under the superseding indictment, including one who was the target of a destructive police raid in Washington, DC a few weeks ago.

As a progressive bar association active for the last 80 years, the NLG is all too familiar with the government’s use of politically motivated charges to punish dissent and target activists who take the streets in resistance of oppression. In particular, the NLG has seen prosecutors across the county use conspiracy charges to target and repress communities ranging from leftist activists at political gatherings to Arab Muslims in their mosques and community centers. Conspiracy charges are one of the government’s preferred tools of repression, although by no means the only one.

The NLG condemns the ongoing prosecution against the activists and others arrested and targeted by the government in relation to the alleged incidents of January 20. The NLG calls on the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia to immediately drop the charges against all the defendants. The NLG also calls on all people of good conscience and other legal organizations to endorse endorse the call to drop these charges.

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.


Related:

2/2/17 NLG Calls on DC Prosecutors to Drop All Charges against J20 Demonstrators, Legal Observers and Journalists

1/23/17 Lawsuit Challenges DC Police Dept’s Unlawful Use of Chemical & “Less Lethal” Weapons, Felony Riot Charges on J20

New Blanket Felony Charges Pressed against J20 Arrestees

This is reposted from Crimethinc:

On January 20, when downtown Washington, DC was crowded with massive protests against Trump’s inauguration, police cordoned off an entire city block and mass arrested over two hundred people, slapping the same charge of felony riot indiscriminately on every one of them.

On April 27, the prosecution filed a superseding indictment adding several more felony charges to each of these defendants: inciting to riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot, and destruction of property. About half of the defendants are also charged with the same count of assault on a police officer. This is punitive charging: the intention is clearly to terrorize the defendants into taking plea deals so that these inflated charges will never come to trial.

Adding additional felony charges to hundreds of defendants rounded up in a mass arrest is unprecedented in the contemporary US legal system. It marks a dramatic escalation in the repression of protest in this country. Essentially, over two hundred people swept up for being in the vicinity of a confrontational protest are being accused of breaking the same handful of windows.

Imagine if everyone in the vicinity of an Occupy or Black Lives Matter demonstration at which a little property destruction took place had been charged with eight felonies. Thousands of people would have charges now. If the prosecution is able to set this precedent for blanket intimidation and collective punishment, it will mark a significant step in the rise of tyranny.

This case is of concern not only for the hundreds who face these charges, but to the tens of thousands who might face similarly indiscriminate prosecution if the prosecution is able to set this example.

Please print out these handbills and spread the word.

Download handbills here

Donate to support arrestees

Defend J20 site

For more information…

March 29 Update from Dead City Legal Posse

This is reposted from the Dead City Legal Posse:

Comrades,

It’s been a busy week: we testified against the very bad interim police chief who ordered the mass arrests on J20, saw the first plea deal get taken (deep breath: it actually matters very little in this case, which we’ll explain), and learned current schedule for groupings. We’re going to review all that, plus do some housekeeping. And, once more with feeling: none of the following is legal advice. We are not lawyers.

Travel Reimbursements

We are able to reimburse defendants for their travel to and from DC. You must save your receipts to receive reimbursement. This includes receipts for gas and tolls. To submit a reimbursement request, fill out the DCLP Travel Reimbursement Form and email your receipts to reimbursements [at] dclegalposse.org. We are happy to answer any questions about reimbursements and travel at that email address as well.

Groupings

You can skip this section if you read last week’s update. It’s a repeat for those who did not:

The most significant development was that the government prosecutor, Kerkhoff, submitted her proposed “case groupings” to Leibovitz: Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, and Group 4. Leibovitz has yet to accept Kerkhoff’s proposed groupings, which vary in size from 12 to 138. Additionally, Leibovitz instructed Kerkhoff that she wanted 6 person trials, because it would be too burdensome on the jury to hear more than 6 cases at a time. Kerkhoff was resistant to this and said she would put a response in writing about why her grouping system is important particularly regarding Groups 1 and 2. There are different options for how to respond to the grouping system that you should inquire about and discuss with your attorney.

The basics seem to be that Kerkhoff is making plea offers, at discovery conferences, to defendants in Group 3 and Group 4, which include a misdemeanor charge reduction and require an allocution (or statement of facts), but do not require cooperation (which means that these pleas include a non-cooperation clause).

What was less clear at this point were Kerkhoff’s intentions with regard to plea offers to defendants in Group 1 (and potentially Group 2). We are not sure, obviously, if this means that those plea offers with not include the misdemeanor charge reduction(s), or if they will seek to require cooperation (meaning they would not include a non-cooperation clause). This is potentially alarming news, but folks should remain calm and strategic in their thinking. Contact your attorneys to discuss your specific situation (and the degree to which this update reflects your circumstances).

Groupings Schedule

The numbering of the groupings corresponds to the order of status hearings and trials. You will receive notice of hearing dates both in the mail and from your attorney. We’re not publishing it here for your safety: email us if you want to get on our update list: info [at] dclegalposse.org.

At Friday’s round of status hearings on 3/24, every defendant who showed up was told that they did not actually have to be there. If you have an upcoming hearing before April 20th, no matter which grouping you are in, please check with your lawyer and confirm whether you must be there. It’s very possible you will not need to come. On Friday, the court stated that attempts had been made to communicate this to defendants’ respective attorneys. The court said they had sent e-mails and some lawyers simply misunderstood or never got the e-mails.

We’re also working on meeting with defendants in a safe, non-court space either the night before hearings, or immediately after the hearings. Timing would depend on when folks are meeting with their lawyers. We wouldn’t be able to discuss legal strategy or speculate on case theories with you, but we can set up the interaction and talk about what support we’re providing, what support is needed, and give you all the space to talk. Though, another important note: no conversations with fellow defendants or support are privileged or protected like your conversations with your lawyer are.

The Great Plea Deal Caper You May Have Already Heard About

Here’s the deal: this is unfortunate but we don’t think it has much bearing on anyone else’s cases. The plea deal that was accepted on Friday by one (1) defendant was both a bad deal and irrelevant to everyone else’s cases. The defendant who took the plea deal was sentenced under the Youth Rehabilitation Act (D.C. Code §§ 24-901 to 906), which allows for a young person who “will derive benefit” to get special treatment under the law. Said defendant in this case is 18 and about to start college in the fall, and was accompanied the whole time by their parents. They pled guilty to one count of misdemeanor rioting or inciting to riot, a suspended 180-day sentence, 1 year of supervised probation, a $500 fine, and 50 hours of community service.

There was no discussion of cooperation, and we have no evidence of the defendant cooperating. We suspect the prosecution had no identification of the defendant beyond the fact of his presence (as evidenced by his arrest). Where it gets interesting is after the plea deal was accepted, when the prosecutor is required to say what the government “would have been able to prove,” they claim they could have proven that said defendant:

  • Joined a black bloc with 200 other people.
  • Marched with the black bloc for 30 minutes.
  • Had multiple opportunities to leave and did not.
  • Wore black and goggles.
  • “Knew or reasonably should have known that the black bloc was causing destruction.” (yes, direct quote)
  • “The actions of the black bloc caused and constituted a riot.”

The defendant was in Grouping 4. That, above, is literally all they had on him. As one of our wonderful NYC defendants said, “This was a terrible plea … the burden of proof is high and the evidence is very weak.” (See above!). “Keep in mind that because they gave us super exaggerated charges, it makes their lives so much harder. It gives them leverage with pleas, as in they can offer you something slightly less insane, but it makes the actual going to trial thing much much harder for them as they have to prove something way more intense. If you go to trial, you’ll be on trial for your charge, not the best plea. Which is to say if they offer you misdemeanor disorderly conduct or something, no jail no fine 12 hours community service and you say no, they still have to prove that you were engaged in felony riot, not disorderly conduct.”

We’re not saying this is legal advice, because we’re not lawyers and neither is this defendant, but, and we quote: “The state has a terrible case. They want you to plead because they won’t be able to convict you. That is how this works.”

Discovery

Discovery has not exactly proceeded very quickly. We have a summary of this lovely exchange between Judge Leibovitz and the prosecutor, Kerkhoff, to offer: the judge asked if she had extended the same plea deal (or any other plea deals) to any other defendants. Kerkhoff demurred and prevaricated: she started to say that yes other plea deals had been offered but then simply said that pleas will be discussed with those attorneys with whom she has had in-person discovery conferences. The usual line of discourse followed (as shown by this loose court reporting):

Leibovitz: With whom have you had discovery conferences?

Kerkhoff: A lot of people. Not that many. None. I’ll get to it when I can. There’s a schedule. These people will get their chance eventually. I swear.

Leibovitz: Okay great, well obviously y’all are on it and hey attorneys who keep asking about it, I am going to give the government time to finish up and really give them a wide berth on other motions and rulings because I want them to have all the time they need to do the discovery, but I’m going to say this in a way that convinces any random journalist who shows up for the first time in a month that what I’m actually doing is STERNLY INSISTING that Kerkhoff really put her nose to the ol’ grindstone on this.

This conversation has more or less been unchanged for more than a month.

Housing

As you can see by the groupings schedule above, it is going to be fun finding housing for everyone coming into town on those days. If you need housing for one of the above dates, please email us! We are confident that we can house all of you, but we need to know in advance: housing [at] dclegalposse.org. If you are planning to reach out to someone who hosted you previously, please cc us on the email, or email us once you’ve confirmed with them.

Newsham Hearing

On Friday, four members of the Dead City Legal Posse testified against the appointment of Peter Newsham as police chief. He’s the one who ordered the arrests on J20, and infamously cost the city $13 million in a lawsuit filed against him after the 2002 Pershing Park arrests.

Media Coverage

We’ve got a Facebook and a Twitter: follow us! We post cool things, like news of the new lawsuit filed against DC MPD over Inauguration Day by the Partnership for Civil Justice (their executive director also testified against Peter Newsham). There’s also this piece from Evan Engel, one of the journalists arrested in the kettle, on why he left Vocativ, his former employer. He wrote about the J20 arrests for the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Going Forward

If you are reading this on our website, and you would rather receive it in your inbox, please email info [at] dclegalposse.org. Thanks y’all.

Love and solidarity,

The Dead City Legal Posse

Learning As We Go:

An Interview with a J20 Defendant

ItsGoingDown

March 20 Update from Dead City Legal Posse

This is reposted from the Dead City Legal Posse:

Comrades,

It’s been a busy week, and several significant things have already happened—you may have already seen the two motions that were shared, about grouping cases and cell phone data. In this update we’re going to attempt to provide some context for what happened in court on Friday where those motions were presented for the first time, in addition to some updates on CJA contribution options, attorneys, the schedule, a crucial reminder that court is not a safe space: you are in the company of prosecutors, U.S. marshals, cops, and other assorted people you do not want knowing your business. When you’re in court, even in the bathroom, or the hallway, you must act and speak as though you are being surveilled, because you are.

You’ve heard this before, but we’re stressing again: none of the following is legal advice. We are not lawyers. Sorry about the length of this email: a lot happened, and information is power.

CJA Contributions

Several lawyers have requested that their clients be re-interviewed regarding their CJA contributions. In court on Friday, Leibovitz indicated that she would be accepting motions filed for defendants seeking to be re-evaluated for contribution by CJA. This is good news because it could decrease your financial contribution to your appointed counsel, and it has already proven successful in at least one case. If this is relevant to you, ask your lawyer whether they will file a motion to be re-evaluated/re-interviewed for your CJA contribution. If they are, email us so that we can give you more information.

Attorney Update

Prior to Friday, the most significant thing we learned from the litany of court dates was about attorney qualifications. Judge Leibovitz confirmed that she has been screening all of the attorneys that she has been appointing in this case for felony experience (which is not always required of CJA panel attorneys). This is good news because it means that all appointed attorneys will be technically qualified to handle felony trials. Hopefully many of you are satisfied with your attorneys—those who aren’t should still make that fact known (along with the rationale for your dissatisfaction).

The Dead City Legal Posse is also actively seeking lawyers with extensive criminal defense experience who would be willing to take on cases pro bono. We are somewhat limited by the fact that many firms who we would contact are already on this case, but there are ways to use out-of-town counsel (who are not necessarily barred in DC). If you have connections to any criminal defense lawyers in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, or Chicago, please let us know. We are ready to reach out.

Court Update

This next section is intended to serve as a bit of an update on recent in-court developments. None of the detail included herein is intended as legal advice, nor is it case-specific to any named defendant. The reason for this intentionally generalized update is that none of this information is veiled by attorney-client privilege. Because it isn’t private or protected, we will not risk jeopardizing any named defendant by sharing the specifics of their case. That is a choice for individuals to make in conjunction with their attorneys (and loved ones).

As many of you already know, there was a group of felony arraignments and re-arraignments on Friday, which were much the same as the many felony arraignments that have come before. People who were not previously arraigned under the superseding indictment were.
Groupings & Pleas

The most significant development was that the government prosecutor, Kerkhoff, submitted her proposed “case groupings” to Leibovitz: Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, and Group 4. Leibovitz has yet to accept Kerkhoff’s proposed groupings, which vary in size from 12 to 138. Additionally, Leibovitz instructed Kerkhoff that she wanted 6 person trials, because it would be too burdensome on the jury to hear more than 6 cases at a time. Kerkhoff was resistant to this and said she would put a response in writing about why her grouping system is important particularly regarding Groups 1 and 2. There are different options for how to respond to the grouping system that you should inquire about and discuss with your attorney.

The other significant development was that Kerkhoff and Leibovitz had their first substantive exchange about Kerkhoff’s plea offer plans. One person’s counsel acknowledged, in open court, that their client had been offered a plea, which was now under consideration. That person’s name and specifics will not be shared here, out of an abundance of caution for their case. Instead, an explanation follows of the exchange between Kerkhoff and Leibovitz.

The basics seem to be that Kerkhoff is making plea offers, at discovery conferences, to defendants in Group 3 and Group 4, which include a misdemeanor charge reduction and require an allocution (or statement of facts), but do not require cooperation (which means that these pleas include a non-cooperation clause).

What was less clear at this point were Kerkhoff’s intentions with regard to plea offers to defendants in Group 1 (and potentially Group 2). We are not sure, obviously, if this means that those plea offers with not include the misdemeanor charge reduction(s), or if they will seek to require cooperation (meaning they would not include a non-cooperation clause). This is potentially alarming news, but folks should remain calm and strategic in their thinking. Contact your attorneys to discuss your specific situation (and the degree to which this update reflects your circumstances).

Schedule for Groupings

The numbering of the groupings corresponds to the order of status hearings and trials. Although a certain set of dates were announced on Friday with regard to those groupings, the court docket does not appear to reflect that yet. The most reliable source for status hearing dates will always be your lawyer, and the notice mailed to you by the government. If and when the court dates become solidified by grouping, we will send another update.

According to Kerkhoff, discovery for Groups 1 and 2 will be available in 2 weeks. Group 3 will be ready in a week and a half. Nothing was said about Group 4. However, attorneys must contact Kerkhoff to schedule a discovery conference wherein she is supposed to be pointing to individualized evidence. If she continues to fail to provide evidence attorneys will likely continue to sustain and file pre-trial motions requesting relevant discovery such as Bill of Particulars, Rosser Letters etc.

Motions

The last two generalized developments that were significant on Friday were both related to motions. You should also check with your attorney to see if you are impacted by these motion developments. Firstly, there are a several different conflicts that have been asserted by attorneys. Kerkhoff has committed to responding in writing (by Omnibus motion) to a specific subset of these motions by the 24th (this Friday).

Secondly, the government issued a motion for a protective order regarding the collection of cell phone data. Cell phones will be used as evidence, which we anticipated. Kerkhoff has requested in her motion that attorneys be restricted to sharing only “relevant data” to clients’ cases with them. It’s important to note, though, that neither of these motions have been granted yet by Leibovitz. Kerkhoff filed them in court on Friday, but Leibovitz has yet to grant either the groupings motion or the protective order regarding cell phones.

Media Coverage

In case you missed it, Buzzfeed wrote a surprisingly in-depth article on the case, and the Washington Post provided an update as well.

Going Forward

Again, this is not legal advice, nor is it privileged or specific to anyone, nor is it an admission by anyone of anything, nor is necessarily an accurate description of the case specifics being faced by any specific individual. We’re hoping to empower you through information on both what has happened and what to expect. We will be sending out another update next weekend with the results of Kerkhoff’s response to the conflicts motion, above, along with anything else that comes up.

Please also remember, as we said at the beginning, that court is not a safe space and you should speak and act as though you are under state surveillance. We’ve amped up our physical presence in court, and will have people there for every hearing this week—both before and afterwards. Look for the DC Legal Posse badges.

If you need anything, or have any questions, you can contact us as ever. And if you need housing for any upcoming court date, please try to ask a week in advance!

Love and solidarity,
The Dead City Legal Posse