A third self-described anarchist from the Pacific Northwest has been jailed by federal officials for refusing to speak before a secretive grand jury that the accused have called a politically-motivated modern-day witch-hunt.
Leah-Lynn Plante, a mid-20s activist from Seattle, Washington, was ushered out of court by authorities on Wednesday after refusing for a third time to answer questions forced on her by a grand jury — a panel of prosecutors convened to determine if an indictment can be issued for a federal crime.
Plante was one of a handful of people targeted in a series of raids administered by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force on July 25 of this year which the feds say were in conjunction with an investigation into acts of vandalism that occurred during May Day protests in Seattle nearly two months prior. As part of their probe, search warrants were issued at multiple residences of activists in the area, including Plante’s, demanding that dwellers provide agents with “anti-government or anarchist literature” in their homes and any flags, flag-making material, cell phones, hard drives, address books, and black clothing.
“As if they had taken pointers from Orwell’s 1984, they took books, artwork and other various literature as ‘evidence’ as well as many other personal belongings even though they seemed to know that nobody there was even in Seattle on May Day,” Plante recalls in a post published this week to her Tumblr page.
Only one week after the raid, Neil Fox of the National Lawyers Guild told Seattle Times that raids like this are create a “chilling effect” by going after lawful, constitutionally-allowed private possessions.
“It concerns us any time there are law-enforcement raids that target political literature, First Amendment-protected materials,” Fox said.
This week Plante still maintains her innocence, now she has reason to believe that the raid that has left her suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome may have been more than an investigation into an activity, but an ideology. Plante says a Freedom of Information Act request she filed in the months after her apartment door was broken down by armed officials reveals that the grand jury investigating her was first convened in March, two months before the vandalism she is being accused of even occurred.
“They are trying to investigate anarchists and persecute them for their beliefs. This is a fishing expedition. This is a witch hunt,” she says this week.
On the day of her third meeting with the grand jury on Wednesday, Plante wrote on her blog that she’d almost certainly be jailed on charges of contempt for refusing once again to testify about herself but said she was willing to face the consequences for exercising her right to remain silent.
“I do not look forward to what inevitably awaits me today, but I accept it,” she writes. “My convictions are unwavering and will not be shaken by their harassment. Today is October 10th, 2012 and I am ready to go to prison.”
Hours later, her Tumblr was updated with a note authored by one of her supporters confirming that Plante “was thrown into prison for civil contempt” after her court date. Plante is now the third anarchist to be imprisoned in the last month for refusing to answer questions about their belief and behavior before a grand jury.
Last month, Plante spoke openly about the grand jury before refusing their questioning for only her second time. “I believe that these hearings are politically motivated,” she wrote in a September 16 statement. “The government wants to use them to collect information that it can use in a campaign of repression. I refuse to have any part of it, I will never answer their questions, I will never speak.”
“While I hate the very idea of prison, I am ready to face it in order to stay true to my personal beliefs. I know that they want to kidnap me and isolate me from my friends and my loved ones in an effort to coerce me to speak. It will not work. I know that if I am taken away, I will not be alone.”
Katherine “KteeO” Olejnik, a fellow anarchist from the Seattle area, was taken into federal custody on September 28 for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury, a decision she said was based on humanity and her First Amendment protections.
“I cannot and will not say something that could greatly harm a person’s life, and providing information that could lead to long term incarceration would be doing that,” Olejnik wrote before being booked. “Icannot and will not be a party to a McCarthyist policy that is asking individuals to condemn each other based on political beliefs.”
On the No Political Repression blog, a support of Olejnik writes that she was prohibited from taking notes during her time on the stand, during which she says she resisted questioning.
Days before her imprisonment began, Matt Duran was also jailed for contempt. According to his attorneys, Duran was not only imprisoned by placed in solitary confinement, denied intimate contact with his lawyer, denied visitor requests forms, personal dietary requirements and sunlight an fresh air.
WE ARE MADE OF ST(A)R STUFF - Statement by Leah-Lynn PlanteOct 10, 2012On the morning of July 25th, 2012, my life was turned upside down in a matter of hours. FBI agents from around Washington and Oregon and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents from Washington busted down the front door of my house with a battering ram, handcuffed my house mates and me at gunpoint, and held us hostage in our backyard while they read us a search warrant and ransacked our home. They said it was in connection to May Day vandalism that occurred in Seattle, Washington earlier this year. However, we suspected that this was not really about broken windows. As if they had taken pointers from Orwell’s 1984, they took books, artwork and other various literature as “evidence” as well as many other personal belongings even though they seemed to know that nobody there was even in Seattle on May Day. While we know that knowledge is powerful, we suspected that nobody used rolled up copies of the Stumptown Wobbly to commit property damage. We saw this for what it was. They are trying to investigate anarchists and persecute them for their beliefs. This is a fishing expedition. This is a witch hunt. Since then, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, we have learned that this Grand jury was convened on March 2nd, 2012, two months before the May Day vandalism even took place.I was served a subpoena to testify before a Grand Jury on August 2nd, a week later. I hastily packed my life up into boxes, got rid of almost all of my personal belongings in preparation of incarceration. I was dismissed that day after refusing to testify and re-subpoenaed for August 30th, which was pushed back to September 13th. In that time I did a lot of self care, got my affairs in order and got advice from other people who have either resisted Grand Juries, gone to prison or both. I returned to the Grand Jury on September 13th where I was granted immunity. When you are granted immunity, you lose your right to remain silent and can be thrown into prison for civil contempt. Between consulting with my attorney and an hour long recess, I narrowly avoided a contempt hearing simply because they ran out of time. I was dismissed and was told I would receive my 4th subpoena. I walked out of the courthouse just in time to witness Matthew Kyle Duran, my fellow resister, being taken away to prison in a police van. It broke my heart to watch them kidnap an amazing and strong person and take him away from his friends and loved ones. Katherine “Kteeo” Olejnik has met a similar fate for refusing to testify on September 27th. Right now, Matt and Kteeo are both sitting in prison cells for doing nothing but remaining silent. I have nothing but love and admiration for them both and I know that thousands of others feel the same. On the drive home that night my brain felt like it was short circuiting. A few days later, I received notice that my next subpoena was for October 10th. They also notified my lawyer that they were preparing for a contempt hearing.Court dates aside, my life has been a roller coaster. Thanks to unrelated events, I have suffered with severe depression and PTSD for many years. These are now much worse and new things trigger me. For a while after the raid, I was in a constant state of panic and I could barely eat. Every time someone knocked on the door, every time I heard any sort of loud sound in my house, my heart sank and I thought “they’ve come for me.” To the day of this writing, I haven’t slept a full night since that cold July morning thanks to nausea inducing anxiety that wakes me up between 4:00 and 7:00 every single morning. After a couple months, the initial panic has faded into grim acceptance. Despite my mental health issues, I never once considered co-operation and never would. It is against everything I believe in. On my right arm I have a tattoo reading “strive to survive causing least suffering possible.” This is something I live by every single day and will continue to live by whether I am in a cage or not.I cannot express in words how grateful I am to all those who have shown us support and solidarity, especially our friends, partners and loved ones. We will all get through this together. I know I am a broken record with the following sentiment, but I feel like it’s worth repeating. They want us to feel isolated, alone and scared. I know that even though Kteeo has been held in what is essentially solitary confinement, she does not feel alone. I know that Matt does not feel alone. I know that I will not feel alone. When they try to mercilessly gut communities, we do not scatter, we grow stronger, we thrive. I view this State repression like this: The State thinks it is a black hole that can destroy whatever it wants. In reality, it is much more like a stellar nursery, wherein it unintentionally creates new, strong anarchist stars.I do not look forward to what inevitably awaits me today, but I accept it. I ask that people continue to support us throughout this process by writing us letters, sending us books, donating and spreading awareness.My convictions are unwavering and will not be shaken by their harassment. Today is October 10th, 2012 and I am ready to go to prison.Love and solidarity to all those who resist,Forever in silence.Leah-Lynn Plante
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