In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges
under the 2002 Minnesota version of the federal USAPATRIOT Act, Ramsey County prosecutors
have formally charged eight alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee with
conspiracy to riot in furtherance of
Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik
Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector,
face up to 7� years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which
allows for a 50 percent increase in the maximum penalty.
Affidavits released by law enforcement, which were filed in
support of the search warrants used in raids over the weekend and used to
support probable cause for the arrest warrants, are based on paid, confidential
informants who infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They allege
that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates to the RNC, assault police
officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage airports in St. Paul.
Evidence released to date does not corroborate these allegations with physical
evidence or provide any other evidence for these allegations than the claims of
�These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans
to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism.
This both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political views
of the defendants on trial,� said Bruce Nestor, president of the Minnesota
Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. �The charges represent an abuse of the
criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any person organizing large
scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil disobedience,� he said.
Five Food Not Bombs volunteers were arrested in Minneapolis
in early morning raids on Saturday, August 30, and are facing charges of
conspiracy to riot, conspiracy to commit civil disorder and conspiracy to
The five, who are being held in the Hennepin County Jail,
are Nathanael Secor, Garrett Fitzgerald, Eryn Trimmer, Monica Bicking, and Erik
Officers from the Minneapolis Police Department, the
Hennepin and Ramsey County Sheriffs� departments and the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, armed with search warrants, executed the raids. The FBI and
county sheriffs� departments held the cooks face down at gunpoint for several
hours as they videotaped and photographed their cooking equipment and other
belongings. Later that evening Monica Bicking, owner of the Food Not Bombs
house at 2301 23rd Ave. South in Minneapolis, was interrogated in her cell by
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher. She refused to talk. Eryn Trimmer reported yesterday
morning in a phone call to his mother that 50 new prisoners joined him in the
county jail last night. Monica Bicking was released yesterday.
The FBI claims that Food Not Bombs had weapons stored at
their homes are false. Fortunately, the FBI and Ramsey county sheriff�s
department did clean out all the old belongings left behind in the garage by
the past owners saving Food Not Bombs a great deal of work. Volunteers held at
gunpoint reported that �we aren�t even painting banners here. All we have is food
and cooking equipment.�
The FBI, Pentagon and other agencies have been investigating
and disrupting the Food Not Bombs movement since at least 1988 when volunteers
were first arrested for feeding the hungry. That same year, the San Francisco
Police wiretapped my (Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry) home phone. By
1997, the San Francisco police had made over 1,000 arrests for sharing vegetarian
meals. I faced 25 years to life in prison even though I have written many
articles and a book on nonviolent social change and have never participated in
any violence and promote vegan and vegetarian diets, animal rights and peace.
This past year Eric McDavid and Lauren Weiner were framed by
the Sacramento California office of the FBI after they paid a college student
$75,000 to join Food Not Bombs. Wren is starting a five-year prison sentence
and Eric has been sentenced to 19 years. The FBI provided their informant �Anna�
with a specially wired car and home. They also gave her blasting caps, a book
on how to build bombs and instructed her to try and convince Eric and Wren to
bomb a dam in California. Eric and Wren refused but because they failed to stop
�Anna� talking about her plans they were convicted.
�This investigation pertains to actions of the RNC
Welcoming Committee,� Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said in a statement at
midday Saturday. �The �Welcoming Committee� is a criminal enterprise made up of
35 anarchists who are intent on committing criminal acts before and during the
Republican National Convention.
Food Not Bombs has spent the last year organizing to provide
free meals to protesters attending the demonstrations outside the Republican
National Convention in Minnesota and the Democratic National Convention in
Colorado in the United States.
Food Not Bombs is an all volunteer movement dedicated to
nonviolent social change. Food Not Bombs provides free vegetarian meals every
week in over 1,000 cities all over the world. Food Not Bombs volunteers
provided free meals to the rescue workers at the World Trade Center after 9/11,
to the protesters at the Orange Revolution in Kiev, Ukraine and fed survivors
in nearly 20 communities in the Gulf region of the United States in the months
after Katrina. From Iceland to Chile, Nigeria, New Zealand, Israel and beyond
thousands of Food Not Bombs volunteers will be sharing vegetarian meals,
working for peace, planting gardens, fixing up bikes for poor children and
responding to hurricanes and earthquakes.
forward this to your local media and community groups.