- Category: Occupy
- Created on Sunday, 02 September 2012 11:26
- Written by Mike Ely
On August 31 six Occupy activists were convicted of criminal trespass after a four-day jury trial Seattle Municipal Court. They were accused of participating in an act of civil disobedience demanding the resignation of Seattle police chief John Diaz – a man notorious for ordering violent attack on Occupy Seattle and for the daily police brutality against the people.
One person was sentenced after the trial -- to 2 years probation and community service.
A sentencing hearing for the other five people will be held on September 20 in Seattle.
One of the accused was convicted on an additional charge of “obstruction of a public official.”
The five people now facing sentencing are Liam Wright, Blake, Danielle, Bryce Phillips, and Miles Partman. Two are supporters of Seattle’s Red Spark collective and the national Kasama network. Two were part of the Chase 5.
A seventh defendant received a mistrial – but may now face a new prosecution on this charge.
Opposing police brutality and repression
What were these seven people being criminalized for?
For being active participants in the Occupy Seattle campaign to force the resignation of John Diaz, Chief of the Seattle Police Department, as well as the prosecution of all officers found to be repeatedly engaged in misconduct.
After years in which people on the streets of Seattle had been brutalized in racist and well-documented ways, Occupy Seattle was then targeted with outrageous police violence.
Liam Wright, one of the organizers of the “Bring Diaz Down!” campaign , said last January:
“The time is ripe. I’ve lived in Seattle my whole life and it’s always been like this. Excessive force, the explicit targeting of communities of color, constant abuse of the homeless. But we have a moment right now where the normalcy of it, the everyday acceptance, you know, is fractured. We have the possibility for something new.”
The prosecution charges that, on February 27, several dozen demonstrators marched on the Mayor’s office to bring their demand for the removal of Chief Diaz, and that a number of them occupied the foyer at the Mayor’s office. Ten people were arrested, allegedly for linking arms on the floor and refusing police orders to disperse.
A climate of repression and threat
This trial and conviction in Seattle takes place in the context of a wave of repression taking place on the West Coast of the United States in the wake of the Occupy movement.
Among the most serious were the coordinated FBI raids on July 25 which targeted anarchist forces in Portland, Olympia, and Seattle. There have now been Grand Jury hearings in preparation for future possible prosecutions.
A statement of 350 organizations pointed out:
“Though the FBI has said that the raids are part of a violent crime investigation, the truth is that the federal authorities are conducting a political witch-hunt against anarchists and others working toward a more just, free, and equal society.”
Raids had also been carried out earlier in Seattle and on squats in Portland.
Now comes sentencing
On September 20, the five Seattle activists will face sentencing. This charge that can lead to a sentence of up to 364 days in jail if they are convicted of any future actions over the next year.
The conviction of the original six is one way forces of political repression are seeking to suffocate revolutionary and progressive people.
This conviction itself is an outrage. A sentence of jail would be a further outrage.
Sometimes authorities use a conviction like this as an ongoing threat by "deferring" the sentence. Meaning: the sentence would not be carried out immediately, but the defendants would do serious time if they are convicted of another "crime" during the next year or two . Such deferral is highly political -- it threatens people to avoid future political activism. And that ttoo would be an outrage in this case, and in the lives of these 6.
Two years ago, John T. Williams, a Native American woodcarver, was shot four times by Seattle cop Ian Birk. Williams died. The murderer Officer Ian Birk was protected from criminal charges.
Cops go free for murder in Seattle and across America. And now 6 people have been convicted for opposing that. Now they face a day of sentencing.
There should be no punishment for opposing this system's racist, routine police brutality and murder.
These six were fighting for the people. Support them for doing the right thing.