On Wednesday, July 25, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Joint Terrorism Taskforce raided homes in Portland, OR, seizing evidence and serving subpoenas for a federal grand jury that will convene in Seattle, WA on August 2. No arrests were made, but agents took electronics, black clothing and anarchist literature as evidence. Subpoenas were also issued in Olympia and Seattle.
The raids transpired at 6 AM at three addresses in Portland: 7129 NE 8th Ave., 6846 Greenwich Ave., and 4820 NE 31st Ave. Flash-bang grenades were reportedly used in the raids and neighbors reported a helicopter flying low over one of the addresses. As many as 80 federal agents participated. Some were dressed in heavy green military gear and were armed with automatic weapons, while carrying out the raids. Five subpoenas were issued in the three cities: two in Portland, two in Olympia and one in Seattle. It cannot be confirmed exactly how many have been served. The names of those subpoenaed or present during the raids were not immediately known. The subpoenas are sealed, as grand jury documents and proceedings remain secret.
The raid follows on the heels of a July 10th raid by the Seattle Police Department of a home where members of Occupy Seattle and Kasama, a communist organization, live. Police in the Seattle raid were looking for “anarchist materials” and clothing in connection with the May Day riots in Seattle this year. Further repression this year has included five self-described Cleveland anarchists who were accused of terrorism in a federal plot in which agents supplied a weapon, drugs and material resources to young, poor and inexperienced activists. Five activists in Chicago, who were planning to protest the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in June, were accused of possessing molotov cocktails by the government and face terrorism charges.
In a statement of solidarity, a group calling itself the Committee Against Political Repression wrote,
“Though the FBI has said that the raids are part of a violent crime investigation, the truth is that the federal authorities are conducting a political witch-hunt against anarchists and others working toward a more just, free, and equal society… these raids and the grand jury hearings are being used to intimidate people whose politics oppose the state’s agenda. During a time of growing economic and ecological crises that are broadly affecting people across the world, it is an attempt to push back any movement towards creating a world that is humane, one that meets every person’s needs rather than serving only the interests of the rich.”
At press time over forty groups across the West Coast had signed in support of this statement.
Grand juries are allowed to admit evidence normally deemed inadmissible in normal trials, such as hearsay. Persons subpoenaed can be jailed in contempt if they choose not to speak for the duration of the grand jury. Juries are selected by the prosecution and not screened for bias. Those called before a grand jury are not allowed to have an attorney present while testifying. Though grand juries were originally created to protect defendants from overzealous prosecution, they have been perversely applied to target and persecute political movements, as a way to compel information from dissidents. Combined with legislation that makes the definition of “terrorism” extremely broad and with the enormous police and surveillance powers granted the government since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, they have a chilling effect on vital political work.
In a statement, the Puget Sound Anarchists website urges people not to talk to federal agents:
“In many cases of federal repression of activists and anarchists, cooperators have even wound up with similar sentences to those who have stood their ground. To put it simply: nobody talks, everybody walks.”
They urge anyone who is subpoenaed to contact the National Lawyer’s Guild at 888-NLG-ECOL (888-654-3265), or contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. They also urge people in radical or activist communities not to engage in speculation or gossip pertaining to why one would be targeted for state prosecution.
A solidarity demonstration has been announced at the federal courthouse, 700 State St., Seattle on August 2, at 7:30 AM and an unnamed group has placed a call-out for solidarity actions, which was posted on Anarchist News.
As an anarchist publication, the Portland Radicle stands in utmost solidarity with our comrades and anyone that is the target of state repression. That the government is reportedly collecting political writings as evidence in a criminal matter is an Orwellian step in criminalizing political thought. We will do everything in our power to assist our communities in resisting these attempts to intimidate us and, while these dramatic police actions are meant to cow us, we assure the state that we are not afraid.