(eng) Trial Of U.S. Anti-Fascist

counter@francenet.fr
Thu, 11 Jan 1996 12:40:49 +0100


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IT'S ON! KIERAN KNUTSON'S TRIAL TO BEGIN

After two years and eleven delays, the trial for Kieran Frazier Knutson
is finally set to begin. Jury selection for the case, which has
generated attention for the legal battle it created between the Hennepin
County Attorney's office and the Minnesota Daily, starts today (Tuesday,
January 9) at 9:00 am at the Hennepin County Government Center.

Hennepin County Judge Pamela Alexander ruled that the outstanding legal
issues that had prevented the trial from going forward before are no
longer an issue, and that prosecutors must try Knutson immediately.
Prosecutor Gemma Graham responded by immediately offering Knutson a plea
bargain, which he refused. She then offered three more progressively
generous plea bargains, which Knutson also refused, setting the stage
for today's trial.

"Basically, the plea bargains were unacceptable," said Justine Abinni,
spokesperson for the Anti-Fascist Defense Committee (AFDC), a
Minneapolis group that supports Knutson. "All of them required Kieran
to plead guilty of assault and to pay relatively stiff penalties, so he
refused them in order to prove himself innocent in court." Abinni also
claims that the four plea bargains offered by the County Attorney proves
that their case is weak. "Obviously, they have no case and they know
it, so they're trying to plea bargain their way out of it to save face."

INCREASE THE PRESSURE!

The prosecution has a weak case and they know it. Now is the time to
flood their office with letters, faxes, and phone calls of support.
Contact the Hennepin County Attorney's office (ask for Mike Freeman) and
demand that they drop the charges against Kieran. Tell them the plea
bargains are ridiculous--self-defense is not assault and it's not a
crime!

CALL:
o Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman: 612-348-5550
o Head of prosecution Pete Connors: 612-348-5505

FAX:
Mike Freeman's office @ 612-348-9712

WRITE:
Mike Freeman
C2000 Hennepin County Government Center
300 S. 6th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55415

BACKGROUND TO THE CASE

The trial has been delayed eleven times so far because the Hennepin
County Attorney's office has subpoenaed the Minnesota Daily, a student
newspaper, for unpublished photographs of the incident. The Daily has
refused to hand over the photos, arguing that doing so would be a
serious abridgment of the free press, effectively requiring the media to
collect evidence for state prosecutors.

The legal battle over the photos has been tied up in the courts for a
year and a half. In September, Daily editor-in-chief Michelle Ames
decided that the paper would no longer fight the subpoena in court but
that they would not hand over the photos, either. Ames said she would
go to jail for contempt of court before she'd hand over the photos. In
a Dec. 29 ruling, District Judge John Stanoch ruled that the Daily does
not need to hand over the photos because they "are not the only
evidence... not the best evidence, and may in fact contain no relevant
evidence." Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has asked the court to
overturn Judge Stanoch's decision. A decision is expected within the
next few days.

Knutson, 24, faces up to twelve years in prison and $20,000 in fines for
charges stemming from an anti-racist rally at the University of
Minnesota campus in October 1993. The prosecution maintains that
Knutson hit Daniel Simmer with a flashlight at the rally. Knutson does
not deny hitting Simmer but claims that Simmer is a neo-nazi skinhead
and that he struck him in self-defense.

For further information please contact Joel of the Anti-Fascist Defense
Committee. Thanks.

joel / Anti-Fascist Defense Committee
jolson@polisci.umn.edu
PO Box 7075
Minneapolis, MN 55407

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