FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Court Affirms Prosecution’s Attempt to Criminalize Activism, Proceeds in Case Against RNC 8

by Webmaster ~ June 10th, 2010. Filed under: Press Releases.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 10, 2010

 

Contact: Melissa Hill (RNC 8 Defense Committee), 612.886.4565, press@rnc8.org; Attorney: Robert Kolstad, 612-721-3425

 

Court Affirms Prosecution’s Attempt to Criminalize Activism, Proceeds in Case Against RNC 8

 Defense Attorneys Argue Against Unwarranted Raids, Misleading Affidavits and Elusive FBI Informant

 

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Yesterday, the RNC 8 completed the probable cause hearing, begun last month, a key step in determining whether their charges of conspiracy to riot and conspiracy to damage property will go to trial in October. Judge Teresa Warner is expected to issue a ruling on the defendants’ motion to dismiss the charges due to a lack of probable cause sometime in August. 

 

The probable cause hearing concluded without the testimony of paid FBI informant Andrew Darst, who has successfully evaded a subpoena for the hearing. Darst is currently being paid $1500 per month by the FBI to be on hand for testifying in the case and is legally required to keep a current address with his probation officer. Even so, all attempts to locate Darst have failed and Warner declined to compel him to appear.

 

“The prosecutors seem intent on using twisted logic to continue pursuing these trumped-up charges,” said Jude Ortiz of the RNC 8 Defense Committee. “We hope that a respect for the right to engage in political organizing will guide the ruling on the probable cause motion and that the charges will be thrown out.”

 

The judge also affirmed the prosecution’s arguments against suppressing evidence from the preemptive raids during the weekend before the 2008 Republican National Convention. Judge Warner agreed that police officers neglecting to include information about the obvious satire in the “We’re Getting Ready” video did not affect the legitimacy of the affidavits supporting the search warrants used in the raids. Previously, Ramsey County deputies had testified that they did not recognize satire in scenarios such as a bottle resembling a Molotov cocktail being lit and thrown into a barbecue grill to light a fire for cooking. Prosecutors also argued that people detained and searched in the politically motivated raid of the RNC Welcoming Committee Convergence Center, a political organizing space for protesters and their supporters, could not expect to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures because they were in a place open to the public.

 

“What we saw in court was the prosecutors and judge using technicalities in Minnesota law to negate 1st and 4th Amendment protections against government attempts to repress dissent,” said Ortiz. “If you were to ask the court, it seems they would say that you have the right to dissent as long as you do it on your own at home. It seems that if you associate with others, particularly in public, then it’s fair game for the police to trample your rights whenever they disagree with your perceived political beliefs.”

 

The next pre-trial hearing is scheduled in September. This hearing will be to determine trial logistics, including jury selection.

 

The RNC 8 may be available for media interviews. All inquiries and requests can be sent to the contact information above. For more information, visit http://www.RNC8.org. For late-breaking news, follow us on twitter@defendthernc8. Copies of the legal motions from the May and June hearings are located at www.rnc8.org/info.

 

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