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
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