Funds Update from the RNC 8 Defense Committee

by Webmaster ~ November 1st, 2010

Dear Friends, Family and Supporters,

As we’ve stated in recent emails and on our website, the resolution of the RNC 8 case means that we have no further fundraising needs and, thus, that we are no longer accepting donations. However, this leaves us with a sum of unused money, much of which had been set aside to cover anticipated costs at trial. We have already made final payments to attorneys who worked on the case, and have set aside money for Erik’s commissary and support expenses while he serves his jail sentence. We’re also taking the time to make sure that all remaining defense-related expenses are covered, but we still expect to have funds left when all is said and done.

We believe that this money was donated to us for a specific purpose (supporting defendants through a trial and covering any related costs) that no longer applies, and we feel an obligation to donate it elsewhere in a manner reflective of the intentions of our supporters. However, knowing that we cannot promise to meet the wishes of every single donor, we have decided to return individual donations upon request. For logistical reasons, we do have to put some limitation on this, and so we’re asking that anybody who has donated in the past year and who wants a refund please email us at info@rnc8.org before November 15, 2010. Please include the form (cash, check, Paypal), date and amount of the donation, as well as a name and address.

After lengthy discussion and a lot of thought, defendants and members of the defense committee, together, have come up with the following plan for handling of the remaining money. We will be meeting once more before making final commitments and may make adjustments at that point, but our intentions as portrayed below will remain consistent. Continue reading »

“Hope You’re Listening, Sheriff!” Text of Speech by Betsy Raasch-Gilman

by Webmaster ~ October 26th, 2010

Following is the text of the address by St. Paul activist and RNC 8 Defense Committee member Betsy Raasch-Gilman following the plea hearing of October 19.

October 19, 2010

I was a member of the RNC Welcoming Committee for 18 months, and I am proud to have worked with all of the defendants who are now known as the RNC 8 during that time. I would have been a witness for them, had they gone to trial, and I want to outline a few of the things I might have told their jury.

Back to the beginning. The RNC Welcoming Committee was one of many groups who organized protests of the Republican National Convention in 2008. The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War (which included several major national anti-war groups), the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Students for a Democratic Society, the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Coalition, and the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee were some of the groups who worked closely with the RNC Welcoming Committee. Their politics ran the range from liberal to socialist, while Welcoming Committee members identified as anarchists and anti-authoritarians.

In my own opinion, organizing against the RNC was a matter of real necessity. Think back to the widespread outrage around the world due to actions of the Bush Administration: the illegal invasion of two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), the complete bungling of the response to Hurricane Katrina, the criminalization of impoverished people who move to the US from Mexico and Central America looking for work, the maintenance of torture camps around the world, the ridiculous denial that global climate change was even happening, the support for corrupt and oppressive governments in many other countries ….! My friends in other countries kept asking me, “Why aren’t the people of the United States out in the streets? Why do you let George Bush get away with this? Don’t you understand how much damage he’s doing?” And of course, the damage kept mounting up at home, as well, with mortgage foreclosures, the loss of well-paying union jobs, the de-funding of public education, and the imprisonment of more than 2.3 million citizens. Continue reading »

Mini-Documentary on the Post-Hearing Speeches

by Webmaster ~ October 23rd, 2010

If you missed the speeches outside the courtroom last week, check out the highlights here:

Scheduled Fundraisers Still On!

by Webmaster ~ October 21st, 2010

As we were gearing up for trial, we made plans with lots of our friends to put on super fun events to help raise the funds we needed for trial. Our plans for court have changed, but our plans for fun have not!

All the fundraisers we had scheduled will still happen as planned, but now all the funds will be going to other great causes around the nation (no proceeds
will be going to the RNC 8 Defense Committee). Mark your calendars now! Continue reading »

Community, Solidarity, Resistance: The Conclusion of the RNC 8 Case and Some Lessons Learned

by Webmaster ~ October 19th, 2010

from the RNC 8 and RNC 8 Defense Committee

More than two years after the 2008 Republican National Convention, it appears that the last legal and political defense work is finally reaching a conclusion. Two years of standing together, not always in agreement, but bound by our outrage against a state which systematically destroys our supposed rights. Two years of coming to understand that we are not exceptional and that these rights do not actually exist for anyone except the richest of the rich. Two years of standing and fighting together anyway, retaining our dignity and our strength in our own separate ways.

Earlier today (October 19, 2010), Max Specktor and Rob Czernik pled guilty to gross misdemeanor Conspiracy to Riot, and Garrett Fitzgerald and Nathanael Secor pled guilty to gross misdemeanor Conspiracy to Damage Property. These are all non-cooperating plea agreements; they will not be called upon to testify against anyone else. All of them received 100 hours of community service to be served over 10 months, no jail time or restitution, and a $200 fine. Max and Nathanael were sentenced to one year supervised probation; Garrett and Rob, two years. We recognize that the plea deal may come as a surprising development to supporters, especially considering that the prosecution originally branded the RNC 8 “terrorists” and was still committed to securing felony convictions for certain defendants only two weeks ago.

This is not a rallying cry or a desire to spin a victory from this development in the case. There is no value now in spin, no worth in declaring victory when the situation is more complicated. Rather, this is a moment for reflection upon all the tensions and trade-offs of these last years, and a call for renewed dedication to our highest ideals. Continue reading »

Press Conference – Garrett Fitzgerald’s Post-Hearing Speech (Text)

by Webmaster ~ October 19th, 2010

After the hearing on Tuesday morning, October 19, members of the RNC 8 Defense Committee and defendant Garrett Fitzgerald addressed a large crowd of reporters and supporters. Here’s the text of Garrett’s statement to the crowd outside the courthouse on Kellogg Boulevard.

These halls are advertised as a house of justice. In reality, this is a catacomb, where cries for justice come to die. I am still strong, standing here before you, because I never simply called for justice. I knew this call would go unanswered. I demand justice, yes, but I know the courts better than to believe they would or could grant it. That is why when I stand here now I say, “I stand for justice,” and I say this regardless of the courts position on the matter.

I look around this city and everything I see is made or controlled by people. Even the great river is channeled by concrete. People could have created anything, none of it is absolute, yet this is what was fabricated. This is what has been constructed and a new world will not be built upon its rotten foundation. Instead, the bricks and mortar, the ideas, the systems, all must be deconstructed.

Expressions of unrest come not from one person, or even one group of people alone, but from tumult in the social fabric. War, economic crisis, environmental devastation – that annoying boss at work – that’s what brings people out into the street. And, out in the streets of St. Paul on September 1st, 2008, for a brief moment, authority lost control.

In their absence, real people began to remake the world. There were dance parties, debates, cries of pain and protest, and raw deconstruction of the old, all together in one voice rejecting this fabrication. I was in jail for those two hours when authority lost control, but if anything I did helped to bring them about – I couldn’t be more proud and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

In a heartbeat because my heart still beats, and until the day that it stops, I will fight for true freedom and an end to all oppression.

To quote 80′s pop sensation Pat Benatar:

We can’t afford to be innocent
Stand up and face the enemy
It’s a do or die situation
We will be invincible.

Press Release: Remaining RNC 8 Defendants Accept Plea Agreements for Gross Misdemeanors; No Jail Time

by Webmaster ~ October 19th, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2010

Contact: Jude Ortiz (RNC 8 Defense Committee), 612.886.4565,
press@rnc8.org

REMAINING RNC 8 DEFENDANTS ACCEPT PLEA AGREEMENTS FOR GROSS MISDEMEANORS
Case Resolves with Community Service Sentence but No Jail Time

St. Paul, Minn. — The remaining four RNC 8 defendants announced today that they will accept plea agreements to resolve their over two-year legal and political felony battle. Rob Czernik and Max Specktor plead to one count each of gross misdemeanor conspiracy to riot. Garrett Fitzgerald and Nathanael Secor plead to one count each of gross misdemeanor conspiracy to destroy property. Continue reading »

Sentencing Statement from Max Specktor

by Webmaster ~ October 19th, 2010

The following statement was read by Max Specktor before his sentencing at the plea hearing of October 19, 2010.

I accept total responsibility for my actions in this case, but this conspiracy is only part of the story, so I would like to share some other thoughts and plans of mine, to provide some context for these actions.

I refuse to participate in the spectacle of democracy; the idea that two parties, or 3, or 100 parties, can represent all the opinions in this country. Instead, I believe in self-determination and autonomy. In practice, this means that I alone make decisions about things that only affect me. And in a group setting, we make our decisions together.

I refuse to accept the logic that our world is for sale. I don’t believe that everything can be bought and sold, or that appearing happy is more important than true happiness. Instead, I choose a world that is free. In practice, this means decentralizing the power and wealth that is so concentrated in the hands of a few, and prioritizing real needs over conspicuous consumption.

I refuse to sleepwalk through life. Instead, I’ve chosen to celebrate life and fight to defend it. In practice, this means I am an active participant in my community, and work to provide resources to assist in supporting that community. In these hard times, I believe that communities need to learn how to support themselves and I am committed to furthering that goal.

I accept the fact that I have a lot of privilege in being able to explain my motivations today. I also owe a lot to the hard work of others for supporting me throughout this process. However, there are too many people who do not share this privilege; they lack a proscribed channel for articulating their demands. Instead, their desires and frustrations explode out of them: in the streets, on their jobs, in their homes. My only hope is that out of this chaos, we can maintain the wisdom and foresight to build the world we wish to see. These are my motivations.

–Max Specktor

Garrett Fitzgerald: Sentencing Statement

by Webmaster ~ October 19th, 2010

The following statement was read by Garrett Fitzgerald before his sentencing at the plea hearing of October 19, 2010. Without giving a reason why–representative of her childish behavior all along–Judge Teresa Warner refused to allow him to quote the passage below from “The Lorax” in its entirety.

1.

Judge, I have pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Damage Property and you are preparing to judge and sentence me. Acting in your official capacity on behalf of this system, you will stand opposed to any law being broken. But as you pass judgment, by your own rules, you are encouraged to consider my motives and character. While I’m sure I have done things in my life that you would look down on and have ideas in my head that you would disagree with, I can’t help but wonder if beyond the veil of slander hung by the prosecutors and the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, there aren’t actions I have taken and paths I have chosen in my life that you may not only agree are good, but–dare I postulate–you may even find noble. Continue reading »

Nathanael Secor’s Sentencing Statement

by Webmaster ~ October 19th, 2010

The following statement was read by Nathanael Secor before his sentencing at the plea hearing of October 19, 2010.

While this case has always been about the criminalization of dissent, it would be disingenuous to characterize me as a victim of the state. I openly admit before the court and everyone assembled that I conspired to commit criminal damage to property. This decision was mine, and was not swayed by the blockading strategy of the RNC Welcoming Committee, a group of which I was part but which never advocated property destruction.

Others have been similarly charged in the resolution of their cases, but there are many people and departments who will never be held accountable for the actions they have actually carried out. The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office and other cooperating agencies broke down unlocked doors and used violence and threats for the political purpose of repressing activists and agitators working to expose the injustices of colonial wars and environmental destruction. We are told this is called “keeping the peace” and was done in the name of “justice,” yet when other people find it necessary to go beyond the sanctioned means of protest, they are called “terrorists”. And the stakes are high – at the RNC we saw hundreds of protestors arrested and subsequent terrorism charges both used to justify a $50 million security budget and an absurd degree of social control on the part of the police.

The message is clear: there are those who make the decisions, those who enforce the rules, and if you fail to acknowledge this or if you work to change this inequitable distribution of power, there are consequences. And while some of us are able to walk away from this situation relatively unscathed, there are segments of the community and the world that the state deems it acceptable to harass and intimidate on a daily basis, who face severe consequences. For these people, survival is a political act and breaking the rules means risking routine physical violence or death. This is why struggling against this system of exploitation is so integral – because many of us as people of relative privilege are uniquely positioned to address the legacies of colonialism, hetero-patriarchy, and classism that are the sources of so much violence.

We must seize every opportunity to abolish these institutions of domination. We must be prepared to firmly face the politics of business-as-usual. And we must continue to work for nothing less than full liberation.

–Nathanael Secor

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