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(en) US, STOP THE WITCH HUNT: DEFEND THE RALEIGH THREE!

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(plcnc-A-riseup.net)
Date Mon, 17 Jan 2005 09:38:17 +0100 (CET)


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WHAT HAPPENED IN RALEIGH?
On Friday, November 5th, shortly after the presidential election of
2004, over 200 people participated in a protest that took over
Hillsboro Street in Raleigh, North Carolina. According to reports in
such corporate news outlets as WRAL, the Raleigh News and Observer, and
the Durham Herald-Sun, the rally continued down Hillsboro Street
towards the state headquarters of the Republican Party.
Police arrived to find that the GOP office had been vandalized by
unknown individuals; a puppet depicting George W. Bush and John Kerry
as a two-headed monster was also left at the office. Shortly
thereafter, in a nearby neighborhood, local vigilante John Robbins
attacked and detained a young woman. On no grounds other than their
presence in the neighborhood, another young woman and a young man came
to her aid. All three were then arrested by the police officers who
arrived to find the young man being assaulted by two local vigilanties.
The three were then charged with felonies--"malicious destruction of
property with an incendiary device"--and had bail set at $50,000 each.
The vigilanties who had by this time wounded two of the "Raleigh Three"
were then allowed to leave.

There is no evidence linking these arrestees to the alleged vandalism.
Their inflated charges and excessive bails are clearly the result of
political pressure from the Republican Party and an attempt to cover up
the assault and illegal arrests.

Since these arrests, the FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force --in an attempt
to chill local activism and drive a wedge between direct action
advocates and student activists-- has repeatedly harassed local
activists, including members of the Green Party. Meanwhile corporate
newspapers such as the News and Observer have run editorials that
essentially proclaim the arrestees guilty until proven innocent. The
situation has all the trappings of a frame-up witch hunt.

WHO ARE THE RALEIGH THREE?

Vanessa, David, and Melissa, the three young people arrested
that night in Raleigh, are all ordinary working folks from Columbia,
South Carolina. Vanessa works long hours to support her boyfriend
Jason's child, whom she is helping to raise. David is a longtime
activist, raised by his mother--a member of the American Friends
Service Committee and Women in Black--to oppose injustice in all its
forms. His own activism began at the age of eleven, when he went to
protest against the widely opposed School of the Americas, a facility
at which soldiers and torturers were trained to serve in Latin American
dictatorships. He and Melissa have been instrumental in maintaining
Columbia Food Not Bombs, a program that collects, cooks, and serves
free meals to the homeless. The two also attended protests in Miami
against the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement, despite the
intense, quasi-militaristic repression demonstrators suffered there.

WHAT SIGNIFICANCE DOES THEIR CASE HAVE FOR THE REST OF US?

As soon as others heard of their plight, grass-roots community groups
formed to support the Raleigh Three. In less than a week and a half, a
full $15,000 was raised to cover the non-refundable bonds needed to
bail them out of jail. Countless individuals concerned with civil
liberties, due process of law, and freedom to dissent have donated
money, time, and effort to their support.

But their ordeal is not over yet. The state has brought new charges
against them of felony riot, and the district attorney has made it
clear he intends to make an example of these defendants, be they guilty
or innocent. The mainstream media has already pronounced them guilty,
without reference to evidence or due process.

If we do not oppose this travesty of justice, it threatens to
set a precedent for judicial harassment of innocents, one which could
come back to haunt us all soon as our civil liberties are further
eroded in this age of increasing repression. Simply being present in a
neighborhood near a demonstration is not sufficient grounds for anyone
to be arrested, let alone pronounced guilty in advance. Arbitrary
prosecution like this not only terrorizes those of dissenting views, it
intimidates anyone who desires to think freely or take a walk on a
Friday night without fear of being snatched up by riot police. Freedom
for the Raleigh Three means freedom for all of us.

THE RALEIGH THREE HAVE OBTAINED LEGAL AID

Thank you to the families and friends who have been so supportive to
this point. Thank you to all of the attornies we have gotten advice
from, National Lawyers Guild, and ACLU, members, and the NYC Peoples
Law Collective for being so helpfull. Thank you to those who have been
and will be donating labor.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

The Raleigh Three still need money to pay for adequate legal
representation. Without this, they will not get a fair hearing, and the
pernicious forces that wish to make an example of them will win the
day.

There are many ways you could help to raise these funds. Hold a benefit
dinner, or bake sale, or set up a benefit show. At the least, you could
make a small donation yourself, in hopes that others might do the same
should you ever find yourself in such a situation. Volunteer work,
whether with legal counsel, letter writing, or in other forms, is also
very much welcome.

Watch http://www.nc.indymedia.org for further updates.
Or email the Peoples Law Collective of North Carolina at
plcnc@riseup.net

To donate, you can send money through PayPal, at http://www.paypal.com.
Click on "send money" and enter in ealbiston@yahoo.com as the
recipient.
If you would like to send money through the mail, send it to:

Liz Albiston
PO Box 281
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-0281

If you do so, please email ealbiston@yahoo.com and state how much you
are sending.


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