In 2007, a parody video urging people to protest the 2008 Republican National Convention prompted a massive undercover investigation by local police and federal agents on a group of Twin Cities-based organizers: the ironically-named RNC Welcoming Committee. The investigation culminated in armed raids of activist homes and meeting spaces; hysterical press conferences about curtain rods, cans of paint and other "weapons" uncovered during the raids; and the arrest of eight alleged ringleaders of a "criminal anarchist" plot. The eight were initially charged with conspiracy to commit riot in furtherance of terrorism. They aren't accused of committing any violence, nor did they make it to the protests. It appears their crime was to organize food, housing and communications for the thousands of people who converged on St Paul to resist the truly violent policies of the corporate and political elite.
How to respond to this prosecutorial lunacy? Make another parody, of course!
The case was slammed by the Duluth Central Labor Body and Duluth DFL, among others, as a "politically-motivated prosecution" and threat to civil liberties. In response, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner dropped the terrorism enhancement, but added another felony count of conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property. If convicted, Luce Guillen-Givins, Max Specktor, Nathanael Secor, Eryn Trimmer, Monica Bicking, Erik Oseland, Robert Czernik and Garrett Fitzgerald each face years in prison.
A full year and a half after the raids, the RNC 8 have finally been given a trial date of October 25. Please mark your calendars and consider traveling to St Paul to show your support! If the state is successful at prosecuting the RNC 8, any one of us who struggles for justice and peace could be next. For more about the case and to donate to the RNC 8 legal defense, visit rnc8.org.