Friday, May 05, 2006
Sunday, April 30, 2006
The Anti-Minutemen Defendants Defeat the State's Efforts to Put Them in Jail... and the Battle Continues from Here!
On Tuesday, April 25, in Rolling Meadows, IL, the Anti-Minutemen defendants defeated the attempts of the state's attorney's office to put them in jail and convict them on trumped-up charges stemming from a peaceful protest against the Minutemen para-military vigilantes.
The Minutemen are the semi-official shocktroops of the viciously anti-immigrant agenda coming down from the top levels of government right now. Like the brownshirts in Nazi Germany, they act as the mostopenly rabid enforcers of a fascistic agenda, who both gain praise from people in their camp (including Congresspeople and Governors), while at the same time are sometimes distanced from important leaders (like the President), in tactical maneuvers of a very strategic alliance. Distancing yourself is quite different than opposing the Minutemen. Part of the goal here is to make draconian laws like the Sensenbrenner Bill, or others that greatly expand the grounds for mandatory detention and deportation, legalize indefinite detention, expand detention capacity, and further militarize the border, look like the rational "middle ground" between the vigilantes and those righteously calling for amnesty.
On Oct 15th, 2005 the Minutemen held an "America First National Summit Bootcamp" at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights. A Confederate flag, with its legacy of slavery, lynchings, and Jim Crow oppression, hung prominently at the America First Summit. This conference brought together national leaders of the anti-immigrationvigilante movement, white supremacists, politicians (Congressman Tom Tancredo was on the "invited" list) and ex-military personnel to strategize on how to round up and hunt down undocumented immigrants on the borders and throughout the country.
At the request of the Minutemen, the police attacked this protest, singled out five activists, and filed false charges of resisting arrest and battery. On Tuesday, the state's attorney, after a conference in which he was pressured by our lawyers and the judge, threw out thecharge of resisting arrest, and we took a plea bargain on the charge of battery. We were given one year of court supervision; have to complete 240 hours of community service by April 2007, and if we are arrested for any reason within that year, we risk returning to court for these charges.
With these charges, we faced the combined forces of the State's Attorney, the police, and the Minutemen, all of whom were working together to try and make us spend time in jail for opposing this dangerous and well-connected hate group. The intimidation was clear:The Assistant State's Attorney gave subpoenas to media that had covered the protest or that had written articles about us. He threatened to subpoena one of our press volunteers, and harassed our supporting organizations. On the Friday before the trial, a support rally at Arlington Heights City Hall was met with an absurd geared-up police force triple their size and hounded by cameras at every move. They wanted to make an example out of the Anti-minutemen defendants and make everyone around the country afraid to oppose the Minutemen.
According to the State, the Minutemen can arm themselves, take the law into their own hands to hunt down human beings like animals and whip up hatred of people who are or look like immigrants, and that's supposed to be "legitimate". But when people link arms to protest one of their meetings, they are met with snipers on the roof, and the police attack the protesters and then force them to take responsibility for "battery" on the cops. This is a profound injustice, and even unjust within the rules of this system.But it is also true and important that the Minutemen and the State did NOT get what they wanted. We turned this case around on its head; we mobilized many supporters to defend us and we brought the opposition to the Minutemen onto the national stage. The news coverage we received finally brought the other side to the repeatedly one-sided media coverage of the Minutemen. It even featured one of our lawyers, Jed Stone, saying that the Minutemen are the "new Ku Klux Klan."
The state's attorney first attempted to throw us a "deal" of 30 days in jail, and then a "deal" requiring an apology under oath! We refused to take these so-called "deals", and stuck to our principles, even though taking them would have meant getting the case over with quicker.The plea bargain that we took on April 25 did involve a compromise, and it's not without potential problems. At the protest on October 15th, we were singled out for arrest based on passionately speaking out against the Minutemen, and now, under supervision, we are living under the threat of again being singled out for attack by the police, and being forced to go back to court for these original charges. And the Minutemen, who have photographed our supporters at demonstrations and sent us threatening emails, are furious that we were not jailed. The cofounder of the Illinois Minuteman Project called for us to be jailed for ten years. Despite what happened in court, we refuse to compromise on opposing this hate group, and we will need our supporters to be prepared to defend us if we come under further attack.
We understand that we do not deserve these hours of forced and assigned community service, and we do not deserve the year of court supervision. But, we did not deserve to have been arrested on the 15th either, and we did not deserve being brought to court, either. We made a tactical decision to take this deal, because we knew we faced a very difficult battle to defend ourselves against these false charges. In particular, the charge of resisting arrest is notoriously difficult to defend; it is often used by cops to attack protests, because it is very easy to convict someone of this charge and then supervision isnot an option.
We have spent the last six months battling the Minutemen in the courts. The battle for the rights of immigrants and against the Minutemen will be won by taking to the streets and organizing with the people. Sometimes in the course of this, people can be made to defend themselves for opposing injustice and must fight in the courts. However, we definitely do not make the rules, in the courtroom, everything is stacked against defendants, and innocent people get convicted all the time. In a perfect world, we would not have had to take this deal, but in a perfect world, we would never have needed to be at the protest to begin with.
We give our deepest thanks to our friends, our supporters, and our lawyers Jim Fennerty, John Curnyn, and Jed Stone. If it had not been for their many efforts, hard work, and sacrifice, we would not have made it through and won the victories we were able to achieve- including further laying the basis to get the Minutemen out of our communities altogether.Many people have been afraid to stand up against the Minutemen. And many people also hold illusions that the Minutemen are "just a bunch of crazies" or do not hold much power, hoping that if we ignore the Minutemen they will just go away. But everything we have learned in these last 6 months shows us that not only are the Minutemen a seriousgrowing threat that must be exposed, confronted and stopped, but that the struggle of the people can defeat this hate group. We hope that everyone takes these lessons to heart.
We believe that people should be willing to take risks to fight for what is right and in these times of extreme attacks on immigrants, what is needed is courage. We always knew that we might be punished severely for standing up for the right thing and for defending those who come under attack. We will continue to risk our freedom and oursafety for a better future but we will also continue to fight fiercely against any effort to punish anyone for standing up for what's right. Just because people are willing to be unjustly punished for their actions in support of justice, does not mean we accept that punishment or grant any moral ground to those who would punish us.
The protest on October 15th is one we will always remember. Not just because it started us on a long legal battle, but for something else. That day was one of the most beautiful displays of unity amongst diverse groups of people from different communities and different backgrounds. For us, this spirit of solidarity did not end there. The Anti-Minutemen defendants- white, Latino, Muslim- were a microcosm of that day. Only two of us knew each other from before, but we worked together, bonded by our similar convictions, seeing everyone's fate as linked together. We see our broad mix of nationalities and backgrounds as an incredible strength, and helped bring togethermany different communities of supporters. Together with our supporters we prevented the State from jailing us and helped to reveal the true nature of the Minutemen, their connections all the way up, and to the whole anti-immigrant agenda, into the media and into public discourse.It is this solidarity between different groups that is needed if we are to stop the Minutemen and stop the attacks on immigrants. Together we fight for a better future for immigrants and all people. As the defendants prepare to march proudly with our sisters and brothers from many different nations on May 1st, we will look at the people around us joined in solidarity, and see the seeds of a much brighter future.
The Anti-Minutemen Defendants:
Kara "Penny" Norlander
Rehana Sabah Khan
Cynthia Linda Gomez
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Anti-Minutemen protesters reach deal!!!!
Read more below: (from the Daily Herald)
"This is an important victory for those of us who believe the Minutemen are the new Ku Klux Klan," said Jed Stone, a defense attorney representing one of the protesters. Read more:
Monday, April 24, 2006
Press Release -- Trial Starts Tuesday!
Press Contact: Jo Jessup
Phone: 773-220-6338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Anti-Minutemen Trial Begins April 25th
Press Conference 12:00 noon Rolling Meadows Court House
The trial of the Anti-Minutemen defendants begins April 25 2006. This group of young people-white, Latino and Muslim were arrested for peacefully protesting against the racist paramilitary vigilantes known as the Minutemen. Their trial will be held at 2121 Euclid Street, Rolling Meadows, IL and presided over by Judge Hyman I Riebman in courtroom #107 at 9 AM.
A press conference will be held at 12:00 noon at the Rolling Meadows Court House opening day of the trial in support of the defendants. The defendants Cynthia Gomez, Kara Norlander, Eric Zenke and Rehana Khan are being represented by Jim Fennerty, past president of the Chicago National Lawyers Guild, Jed Stone, past president of the Illinois Association of Criminal Lawyers and attorney John Curnyn.
On Oct 15th, 2005 the Minutemen held an “America First National Summit Bootcamp” at Christian Liberty School in Arlington Heights. A Confederate flag hung prominently at the America First Summit. This conference brought together the national leaders of the anti-immigration vigilante movement, white supremacist, politicians and ex-military personnel to strategize on how to round up and hunt down all undocumented immigrants on the borders and throughout the country.
In response to this summit a multinational demonstration came together from all over the Chicagoland area to protest the escalating attacks and draconian laws that are aimed against all immigrants. Hundreds of people, families and organizations participated in this protest.
Acting on orders from the Minutemen and without provocation the police attacked this protest. The police selectively arrested these young people on multiple charges of battery and resisting arrest. These defendants face a year in jail and $2,500 fine.
In an attempt to intimidate the growing support for this case, Assistant State's Attorney Lance Northcutt told the court he would issue subpoenas to media outlets and at least one organization present at the protest. Subpoenas were said to be issued to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, La Raza Newspaper, WRTE FM, Daily Herald and other reporters and news organizations. Northcutt has even listed a press volunteer for the Anti-Minutemen defendants as a potential witness for the prosecution and threatened to subpoena them. These subpoenas ordered the media to turn over their audio, video and print articles pertaining to the event on October 15, 2005, no later than April 19, 2006.
Rather than oppose the threat of contempt of court charges, the Daily Herald supplied hundreds of photographs to the Assistant State's Attorney, most of which were never published. At this time, the defendants do not know how other media outlets have responded to this outrageous demand that they become the eyes and ears of the prosecution.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Report on the actions of Friday, April 21, in Arlington Heights:
A small but spirited picket line demanding the charges be dropped against the anti-minutemen 5 took place outside the temporary offices of the city of Arlington Heights.
Carrying signs that read "No to the Minutemen!" "Drop the Charges Against the Anti-Minutemen 5!" "No one is illegal!" people marched to the beat of drummers in front of the offices.
We chanted to the passing cars and those stopped at the traffic lights:
"No to the Minutemen
Drop the Charges
No one is illegal
Si se puede!"
"Drop the charges, it's gone to far.
Stop putting protestors behind bars!"
In response to this small but disciplined action, the police of Arlington Heights had surrounded the entire parking lot with yellow police caution tape. They had police officers stationed on the roof of the building and about 30 police deployed in riot gear throughout the parking lot.
The police took still pictures and video taped our protest!
The Anti-Minutemen 5 go to court Tuesday April 25 at 8:00 a.m. to start their trial. Below is information:
April 25 is the first day of our trial. Rally at the Rolling Meadows Courthouse at 8:15 a.m.
At this rally, we need an unmistakable show of support, with many people demanding:
-- NO to the Minutemen!--
DROP THE CHARGES on the Anti-Minutemen Defendants!
-- NO JAIL TIME for a peaceful protest!
-- Defend the rights of immigrants!
The Courthouse is at 2121 Euclid, Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
There are two places where we will meet to carpool at 7:00 a.m. sharp:
-- Casa Michoacán: 1638 S. Blue Island Avenue (at Loomis/18th). We are planning to get a bus leaving here as well. Click here for a Google map: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=1638+S+Blue+Island+Ave,+Chicago,+IL+60608&ll=41.861635,-87.660255&spn=0.025953,0.073214
-- the World Can't Wait office, 1741 N. Western, Chicago
Click here for a Google map:
Thursday, April 20, 2006
News and Updates for Thursday