juries are a tool of political repression which the government uses to frighten
activists, create mistrust, drive people out of the movement, and cause others
to inform on friends out of fear. Grand juries are the modern day Inquisitions.
But instead of scapegoating innocent people as "witches" and "heretics,"
they target innocent activists as "terrorists." At grand juries, your
rights are stripped away and chucked out the window! You have NO right to remain
silent, NO right to be represented by an attorney, and NO right to a trial should
you be jailed. In fact, you can be jailed for up to 18 months without even being
charged for a crime!
Yes, grand juries are unconstitutional. Yes, grand
juries are wrong. And yes, grand juries are often used by the FBI's as part of
a COINTELPRO efforts against activists because they steal our rights. That is
why we cannot cooperate with them. And that is why we have the following strategy
on combatting these true threats to democracy:
1. Organize Early. As soon
as you hear a grand jury is convening, start organizing to fight it. The sooner
you start working against it, the more options you will have to fight it through
legal and political channels.
2. Get Help. Start organizing by contacting
other animal groups who have experience and expertise in fighting grand juries.
( See the resource groups below.)
3. Stick Together. Typically, when a
grand jury convenes, activists avoid those targeted with subpoenas for fear that
associating with them will make them a potential target --YOU MUST NOT DO THIS!
Activists must stick together and support each other -- not isolate targeted activists
as the authorities want us to do! Thankfully, the nationwide coalition of grassroots
militant activists who have helped support the LA3, Barry Horne, Tony Wong, and
Sue McCrosky, as well as other activists, will not abandon you should you be targeted
for government harassment. Be sure to contact the resources group's below to tap
into their support.
4. Set Up a Defense Committee. To organize support,
resistance, and educational efforts locally, a defense committee should be formed.
They will be responsible for coordinating media, organizing news conferences,
support protests, producing educational literature, working with the lawyers of
the targeted activists, supporting the activists in other ways, and coordinating
jail support should anyone be imprisoned.
5. Expose the Authorities Abuse
of the Grand Jury System. Conduct news conferences, send out news releases, organize
protests, and distribute literature exposing the government's harassment of activists,
the FBI's COINTELPRO activities, and the unconstitutional and undemocratic nature
of the grand juries. Exposing the authorities abuse of our civil liberties in
the media typically causes them to back off. And right now the FBI are most vulnerable
to bad press because of FBI whistle-blowers who say the crime lab has falsified
evidence to gain convictions, and because their blunders at Waco, Ruby Ridge,
and Atlanta City are still fresh in the minds of most Americans.
Cooperate with the Authorities. This means knowing your rights, and asserting
them. You do not have to talk to the government agents. Even if arrested, you
do not have to talk to them. If arrested all you have to give is your name and
address -- tell them no more. You do not have to let them search your house or
car without a warrant -- so don't. In fact, you don't even have to answer your
door when the police are there unless they have a warrant. By asserting your rights,
you again frustrate their attempts to get information on activists to further
their COINTELPRO actions and harassment against the movement.
Other Activists. Be sure to educate other local activist on what their rights
are and how grand juries work. Let them know that, should they be a subpoenaed,
there is a support committee of people available to help.
8. Utilize All
Legal Strategies. There are plenty of court strategies that can be used to frustrate
the authorities' grand jury witch hunts. Motions to quash the subpoenas, or motions
for discovery of electronic surveillance can be used to tie them up in the courts
for months and force them to give over information they would prefer to keep secret.
Have Patience. Resist the temptation to "get it over with" by testifying
at the grand jury or going to jail. It is important to resist for as long as possible.
Activists who are quick to go to jail, can be used to scare other activists into
cooperating with the authorities. Instead, be sure to exhaust all of the many
legal, political, and constitutional solutions. Grand Juries last for 18 months,
and the longer you can stall them, the less time activists will have to spend
in jail, should they be jailed.
10. Do NOT Testify or Capitulate to Their
Demands. Never enter the grand jury chamber. And unless you are going to be issuing
some motions, don't even go to the courthouse. If they want your fingerprints,
or mailing lists, don't give it to them. Resist and fight! The stronger you resist,
the better it will turn out for you. According to a publication by the National
Lawyers Guild, "For many political activists, the historic and principled
way to avoid these dilemmas (informing, perjury) has been the invocation of absolute
non-collaboration with grand jury investigations of political movements. While
this has resulted in many instances with the witness' incarceration for contempt,
it has also discouraged the subpoenaing of further witnesses, and on some occasions,
the withdrawal of all subpoenas."