Today, Thursday, August 15th, 2019, a grand jury will hear testimony regarding several local far right activists and fascists. Several local self-identified anti-fascists will be testifying at the grand jury against these members of the far right. While we must challenge all forms of fascism and far right activism in Portland and across the United States, we cannot collaborate with the state in any form in order to do this. Whether the state is after someone in the left or right, the state’s intervention and outcome will be harmful. The cops and the district attorney will use people’s testimonies during the grand jury as an opportunity to dig more deeply into the left and find ways to repress our growing and thriving movement. The best and most effective way to keep our community and movement safe is to NEVER cooperate with the state, to refuse to testify at any grand jury, and to never talk to the police. We must refuse to accept the state’s version of “justice,” which involves policing, surveillance, and cages–all forms of systemic violence, that will always be wielded most heavily and disproportionately against those who subvert dominant power structures. As committed leftists, we do not seek justice in an unjust system, nor are we willing to submit others to this system and become our own oppressors.
If someone is subpoenaed and forced to be present at a grand jury hearing, in order to build trust and solidarity with their comrades and community, they can: 1) contact a criminal defense attorney ASAP for preparation; and 2) write down a transcript of everything that was said in the hearing, including anything they said; and 3) release the transcript publicly and broadly.
The process of a grand jury is purposely set up to be disempowering. It is typical for investigators to make attempts to serve a desired witness the day before a grand jury is scheduled. This short turn around is designed to make consulting an attorney extremely difficult. Grand juries are conducted in secret and without any attorney except the prosecutor present. These secret hearings serve as a mechanism for the state to go on broad fishing expeditions. Information the state gathers can be used against anyone. This means not just against the potential defendant, but in other cases or ongoing investigations.
You may think talking to the state is okay because you believe that you and your comrades are “innocent,” and that what you are saying is completely harmless or innocuous. However, the state is talking to many witnesses whose testimony, that when put together, can build a case against someone. It is never a good idea to talk to the state.
While defense attorneys are not allowed into the grand jury itself, they can help you prepare. Sometimes this preparation can look like filing motions to delay or prepare you for legal outcomes for non comply with the state. It is important to note that you should NEVER talk to the police or state. This includes district attorneys and investigators. Sometimes contact is made by door knocks or by phone. Do not answer the phone or door unless you know the person and are expecting them. If you are called by an investigator to appear in a grand jury by phone this is NOT considered personal service and you do NOT have to appear to the Grand Jury. The state must serve you with written personal notice. If you hear your full legal name in public, do not respond and walk away.
The criminal legal system, the police, and the district attorney are not our friends. Remember, the district attorney is a cop higher up on the law enforcement hierarchy. So are investigators for the DA. They do not have the same goals as us. They do not want a liberated world free from capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, transphobia, and other forms of oppression. They want to keep things mostly as they are. They want to maintain the current systems of power that exploit and oppress people across North American and the globe. We cannot and should not trust them. Again, the best and most effective way to keep ourselves and our comrades and friends safe is to NOT testify at grand juries, to NOT talk to the police, and to NOT cooperate with the state in any way. If you identify as an anti-fascist, do not work with the biggest fascists of all: agents of the state.
The state will tell you not to talk about what is happening to you. You should do the opposite. This injustice system is designed to silence and isolate people while throwing them into crisis. If you testified in the grand jury today and want to be accountable to the community, you can email a transcript of your testimony to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions or information to share, you can contact these same emails as well.
If you are considering testifying, you will not get justice for your community this way. It’s never too late to change your course of action. Let’s build solidarity and trust with one another and continue to organize and resist grand juries!