To All My Friends,
First, I just want to say thank you for all the support. Even a simple post card that says “Thinking of you” can brighten an inmates day. I look forward to making many more friends and also having much correspondence with all of you. I would love to promise a response to all of you. However , I’m only allowed 100 contacts and I am not able to respond to anyone residing outside of the United States. Luckily, I’ve been able to respond to all non-international letters so far and I want you all to know I will absolutely read every piece of mail that is sent and isn’t denied and I will try my hardest to respond. If I am ever unable to respond please don’t think I am ungrateful or ignoring you.
I was asked by Because We Must to write a bit about grand juries. As I’ve mentioned countless times in the past, I just want to reiterate the need to read up on the grand jury system. I know it may seem overwhelming and like a lot of information at first, but the best way to protect yourself is to learn. Knowledge is power. I think Crescenzo Vellucci said it best.
“To understand the threat and power of grand juries is to empower yourself. And if you can become empowered, you will not feel fear. And without fear, the state and the abusive grand jury system cannot do anything to you.”
I was recently reading about the anti-war group the “Lexington Six” who were jailed for their refusal to collaborate with a grand jury almost half a century ago, yet what they said still holds true today. “People must MOBILIZE AROUND THESE ISSUES. To do this, people must first become familiar with the grand jury and its abuses, PUBLICIZING THE FACTS AND EDUCATING OTHERS AS TO THEIR RIGHTS. Secondly it is important to engender in others a commitment to the resistance of these abuses including, but not limited to ones refusal to testify before the grand jury. Thirdly, it is necessary to keep in mind that while court battles can be fought and sometimes won, these abuses of the law are not abnormalities in a basically good system. They rather illustrate the true intentions of a BAD system more openly and graphically than other insidious practices (and) THIS SHOULD DOMINATE OUR THINKING AS WE ORGANIZE.
The grand jury systems goal aside from harassing and intimidating activists is to gather information on them, their friends, their family, and the community. So, as a community, we should have a similar goal to gather information on the grand jury process. So we will all be prepared to resist its abuse when an agent comes knocking. Another thing we should do is inform our “non-activist” friends, family, and co-workers. Help them learn their rights. Ask them not to cooperate and to let you know if they are ever approached or contacted. For in the end, they are just as much a part of the community as we are.
As was the case with some members in my own community, I was asked “What’s the harm of testifying if you know nothing?” An old lawyers joke use to say “a grand jury could indict a sandwich if it wanted.” Because in a grand jury there is no defense attorney and people can be indicted from mere rumors, innuendo and hearsay. And to choose to just testify and get it over with enables you to be put on a list of people they “know will talk” and your chances of being subpoenaed again and harassed in the future are increased significantly. But even more important is the fact that grand juries are a violation of our basic civil and political rights. And its abuse needs to be addressed and protested. Trust me, I had no desire to go to prison for refusing to testify about something of which I had no knowledge. But, some issues are more important than saving my own skin. And this is one of them.
For the Earth, For the Animals, For Ourselves,
“Fear of knowledge is natural: all of us experience it, and there is nothing we can do about it. But, no matter how frightening learning is, it is more terrible to think of a man without knowledge.”- Don Juan Matus