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Chelsea Manning Challenges Grand Jury Subpoena, Support Committee Issues Statement in Solidarity

Chelsea Manning Challenges Grand Jury Subpoena, Support Committee Issues Statement in Solidarity

Alexandria, VA — Chelsea Manning has been summoned to appear and give testimony before a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) on March 5, 2019.  Following a rich history of contributions to activist communities, Chelsea will utilize every available avenue to challenge this subpoena. In support of Chelsea, activists have begun mobilizing through a support committee called “Chelsea Resists!” the following is the first statement from her support committee:

“By serving Chelsea Manning with a grand jury subpoena, the government is attempting once again to punish an outspoken whistleblower for her historic disclosures. We stand with Chelsea in support of her refusal to participate in this repressive and undemocratic process.

“Grand juries are notoriously mired in secrecy, and have historically been used to silence and retaliate against political activists. Their indiscriminate nature means the government can attempt to artificially coerce a witness into perjury or contempt. Chelsea gave voluminous testimony during her court martial. She has stood by the truth of her prior statements, and there is no legitimate purpose to having her rehash them before a hostile grand jury.

“Since her release in 2017, Chelsea has become a prominent public speaker, emboldening countless activists who resist fascism, white supremacy, and transphobic bigotry. Her 2010 disclosures exposed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and showed the public the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare. By employing these tactics against her, the government is using a roundabout method to further punish Chelsea for her past actions, adding to the seven years of trauma, imprisonment and torture she has already endured.

“Since its first day in office, the current administration has attempted to erase every last piece of Barack Obama’s legacy — from the Affordable Care Act to civil rights protections for transgender people. We reject the coercive tactics of the carceral state and its fascist leaders, who weaponize the law to target activists, immigrants, and anyone who dares speak truth to power. Today, we stand in solidarity with Chelsea, as well as all current and former political prisoners who have resisted grand jury repression.”

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Chelsea Manning is represented by Moira Meltzer-Cohen, appellate attorney Vincent Ward, and local counsel Chris Leibig and Sandra Freeman.

All are encouraged to support Chelsea any way they can.  To learn more about Chelsea Resists or to donate to Chelsea’s legal defense visit: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/chelsea-manning-needs-legal-funds-to-resist-a-grand-jury-subpoena

Questions regarding Chelsea Manning’s support committee should be directed to ChelseaResists@protonmail.com

Documents Show FBI Targeting Pro-Choice Movement as Violent Terrorist Threat

Documents Show FBI Targeting Pro-Choice Movement as Violent Terrorist Threat

Washington, DC — In an especially egregious case of “bothsidesism,” the FBI is training local law enforcement that the pro-choice movement represents a violent terrorist threat in ways akin to the extreme anti-abortion movement. This was uncovered in documents obtained via an open records request submitted by the transparency organization Property of the People.

The documents, along with other records obtained by Property of the People, reveals that the FBI has changed its domestic terrorism designation “Anti Abortion Extremists” to “Abortion Extremism” in order to include pro-choice activism within this official domestic terrorist category.

One of the newly-obtained documents, titled “Abortion Extremism Reference Guide for Law Enforcement,” was distributed by the FBI at a counterterrorism training for local law enforcement in 2017. The opening line of the document reads dubiously, “Both pro-life and pro-choice abortion extremists engage in criminal activity and seek to further their ideology, wholly or in part through force or violence.”

The FBI’s Abortion Extremism Reference Guide for Law Enforcement further informs that, “Catalysts which may lead to an increase in pro-choice extremism include […] “restricted access to abortion services.” The FBI’s Guide continues that, “Characteristics of pro-choice extremism include belief in a moral duty to protect those who provide and receive abortion services.”

“Pro-choice activists should not have to worry about being targeted as terrorist extremists simply for advocating for bodily autonomy and a woman’s right to choose,” said Gunita Singh, Staff Attorney for Property of the People.

“The FBI has a long, sad history of targeting progressive movements as threats to American security,” stated Ryan Shapiro, Executive Director of Property of the People. At its core, the FBI is, as it has always been, a political police force that primarily targets the left. However, what we’re seeing here is in some ways even more disturbing than the FBI’s routine policing of progressive dissent. Pro-choice activism isn’t even dissent. It’s literally a movement to uphold the existing constitutional order.”

The FBI’s message appears to be taking hold. As revealed in another document obtained by Property of the People, one Washington State Sheriff who attended the FBI’s counterterrorism training shared the Bureau’s Abortion Extremism Reference Guide for Law Enforcement (along with other FBI domestic terrorism reference guides) with the rest of his department. In his email distributing the guides, the Sheriff added, “I attended a counter terrorism meeting with the FBI and other agency heads a short time back. Attached is the latest and greatest about groups we should be aware of.”

About Property of the People

Property of the People is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to governmental transparency in the service of democracy. The organization’s motto is, “The records of government are the property of the people. It’s time we reclaim them.” Property of the People can be found on twitter at @propOTP

Property of the People is represented by Washington, DC-based FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light assisted by Property of the People staff attorney, Gunita Singh.

Document Reveals FBI Categorizes Proud Boys as ‘an Extremist Group with Ties to White Nationalism’

Document Reveals FBI Categorizes Proud Boys as ‘an Extremist Group with Ties to White Nationalism’

Vancouver, WA — An internal affairs report obtained by The Sparrow Project and published today by Property of the People reveals how the FBI categorizes the Proud Boys as “an extremist group with ties to White Nationalism.”  The report, which was produced by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Vancouver, Washington, outlines an investigation that ultimately culminated in the termination of Deputy Sheriff Erin Willey for violations of the Office’s General Order 01.29.180 regarding non-discrimination and anti-harassment for her affiliations with the Proud Boys and her production and sale of Proud Boys’ Girls merchandise benefitting the group.

The Proud Boys is a fraternal organization of self-described “Western Chauvinists” founded by CRTV talking head Gavin McInnis.  Violence, Nationalism, misogyny, Islamophobia, transphobia, and anti-immigrant animus are frequent themes at Proud Boy events and their forums online.  Jason Kessler, organizer of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, boasted of his Proud Boy membership in 2017 and Alexander Ramos, a Proud Boy from Georgia, was one of the men convicted of the vicious parking garage beating of Charlottesville native Deandre Harris.  Recently, 9 Proud Boys were arrested in New York City after the group engaged in a targeted beating of three anti-fascists following a reception at the Metropolitan Republican Club celebrating the 1960 televised murder of Japanese socialist Inejiro Asanuma. Proud Boys events regularly draw a motley crew of violent fascists and smarmy Trump supporters hoping for a fight, and according to the Clark County Sheriff’s report, the FBI has taken notice.

According to the report:

“The FBI categorizes the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to White Nationalism.  The FBI has warned local law enforcement that the Proud Boys are actively recruiting in the Pacific Northwest and that some in the group have contributed to the escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities like Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.”

The Report Continues:

“The Proud Boys were publicly categorized as an extremist group by the FBI in 2018 and a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2018.”

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Willey after The Columbian received a photograph of Willey in a Proud Boys’ Girls sweatshirt alongside a photograph of Willey in her patrol uniform.  According to the investigation’s findings, the photographs were sent by Graham Hayden Jorgensen, an abusive ex-boyfriend, who remains active within the Proud Boys in the Vancouver region. Court records indicate that Jorgensen had sent text messages indicating he hoped Willey would die or get injured on the job. Jorgensen was arrested on domestic violence charges earlier this year.

You can download a copy of the Clark County Sheriff’s report via Property of the People’s document archive HERE.

Charlottesville Anti-Racist Groups Issue Statement in Response to Over-Policing on Anniversary of Deadly White Supremacist Attacks

Charlottesville Anti-Racist Groups Issue Statement in Response to Over-Policing on Anniversary of Deadly White Supremacist Attacks

Charlottesville, VA — This weekend as Charlottesville community members prepared to mourn communal losses including Heather Heyer’s murder, reflect on the tragic events of last year’s deadly ‘Unite the Right’ white supremacist rally, and organize collectively against perennial systems of oppression, they faced the fifth largest deployment of law enforcement in Virginia history. This included hundreds of police, officers in riot gear, and the National Guard with military equipment. In response to these events, Black Lives Matter Charlottesville, Showing Up for Racial Justice Charlottesville, Congregate Charlottesville, and UVA Students United have issued the following statement:

“This weekend in Charlottesville, we were able to join together in grief, rage, and celebration of resistance. In spite of a massive police presence, we showed love for each other and took care of each other: with songs, snacks, marches, meals, small groups of mutual aid, smiles, tears, heartfelt embraces and with jail support for the three who needed it. Despite attempts by police to corral and intimidate us, we held space to listen to survivors of the physical and emotional trauma of last year’s white supremacist attack. We celebrated the collective resilience of our ongoing anti-racist community mobilization.

“The over-policing of this weekend failed to rectify the damage of last year’s police stand down. That lapse resulted in injuries to dozens, the death of Heather Heyer, and irreparable harm to the moral fabric of our city. We have been clear about the necessary steps to begin to rectify that harm, which include: full accountability from the University of Virginia for enabling white supremacists to attack students and community members on August 11, 2017;  the University of Virginia meeting the students’ demand to pay or forgive all remaining medical bills for survivors injured August 11-12, 2017; the Commonwealth Attorney not prosecuting Black community members for defending themselves against white supremacists who targeted them on August 12, 2017; the Charlottesville Police Department ending racist stop-and-frisk practices; and city planning that curtails the rising tide of gentrifying real estate development while building urgently needed public housing for very low income people. And Charlottesville must remove the racist Jim Crow monuments to the confederate antebellum slave regime.

“Together, we have refused to let our community be used as a platform for a white supremacist genocidal agenda. Together, we will continue to challenge the white supremacy inherent to policing and other institutions. We fight white supremacy in all its forms. We fight against fascism and for racial justice, and we will win.”

Charlottesville Rally Goers Refuse to Cede to Confines of Policing Apparatus Forced Upon Them

Charlottesville Rally Goers Refuse to Cede to Confines of Policing Apparatus Forced Upon Them

Charlottesville, VA — This evening UVA students and Charlottesville community members who intended to reclaim the North Plaza of the Rotunda and demand justice for those who have suffered at the hands of white supremacy arrived to a policing apparatus they did not agree to.  In response to this situation UVA Students United as issued the following statement:

“Last Year They Came With Torches, This Year They Come with Badges

“We will not be holding the rally within the confines of policing apparatus forced upon us by the University Administration. It is a betrayal of our ideals and our community.

“What you see around you is not what we asked for. We asked the university for the following demands:

  • Payment or Waiving of Medical Fees for ALL survivors of August 11th and 12th

  • Denouncement of White Supremacy in the form of issuing Lifelong No Trespass orders to identified White Supremacists present on August 11th

  • Transparency for the undisclosed profits raised by the Concert for Charlottesville

“Here is how the University retaliated:

  • To ‘require’ that we choose a select group of community members to join with us at the rally

  • They suggested we physically mark attendees with wristbands and prohibiting attendance to people without student IDs

  • They put up barricades surrounding the space, and police around and within the perimeter, armed with riot gear

  • They designated a space for white supremacist counter-protestors, protecting their violence

  • The University is housing nearly one thousand State Police in dorms that students pay for

  • They gave us an ultimatum–to accept their “security plan” or not hold the rally at all.

  • Last year, armed white supremacists surrounded and attacked students. The police watched from across the street until the torch-bearing mob left. As anti-racist protestors recovered from the attack, the Police barricaded those still inside of the Plaza and issued a dispersal order with the threat of arrest.

“You may think that the cops are here to protect us, but we disagree. We know instead that:

  • Cops have a history of violence against anti-racist protestors, as we experienced last year at the KKK rally and saw in the past 10 days in Portland and Berkley.
  • The institution of policing was created from the system of slave patrols. Today the function of the police continues to be to over patrol Black communities, target people of color and protect wealth.
  • Police are routinely exempt from punishment regardless of biased, excessive force and violence. Furthermore, the Courts, in the service of police control, intentionally punish anti-racist activists.
  • Increased police presence only results in increased police violence.

“The City and the University’s desire to control images and protect their brands has created a dangerous police state. They’re not here to protect us, they’re here to control us. We will not comply.”

Photo credit: Ned Oliver, The Virginia Mercury