For Immediate Release
Ramsey County Charges Nonviolent Food Not Bombs volunteers Under State Patriot Act, Alleges Acts of Terrorism
MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL - In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002
Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors
have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee
with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. Monica Bicking,
Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor,
Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector, face up to 7 1/2
years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which allows for
a 50% increase in the maximum penalty.
Affidavits released by law enforcement which were filed in support of
the search warrants used in raids over the weekend, and used to support
probable cause for the arrest warrants, are based on paid, confidential
informants who infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They
allege that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates to the RNC,
assault police officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage
airports in St. Paul. Evidence released to date does not corroborate
these allegations with physical evidence or provide any other evidence
for these allegations than the claims of the informants.
"These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to
blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of
terrorism. This both trivializes real violence and attempts to place
the stated political
views of the Defendants on trial," said Bruce Nestor, President of the
Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. "The charges represent
an abuse of the criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any
person organizing large scale public demonstrations potentially
involving civil disobedience, he said."
Five Food Not Bombs volunteers were arrested in Minneapolis in early
morning raids on Saturday August 30th and are facing charges of
conspiracy to riot, conspiracy to commit civil disorder and conspiracy
to damage property. The five, who are being held in the Hennepin County
Jail, are Nathanael Secor, Garrett Fitzgerald, Eryn Trimmer, Monica
Bicking, and Erik Oseland. Officers from the Minneapolis Police
Department, the Hennepin and Ramsey county sheriff's departments and
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, armed with search warrants,
executed the raids. The FBI and county sheriff's departments held the
cooks face down at gun point for several hours as they video taped and
photographed their cooking equipment and other belongings. Later that
evening Monica Bicking, owner of the Food Not Bombs house at 2301 23rd
Ave. South in Minneapolis was interrogated in her cell by Ramsey County
Sheriff Bob Fletcher. She refused to talk. Eryn Trimmer reported this
morning in a phone call to his mother that 50 new prisoners joine
dhime in the county jail last night. Monica Bicking was released
FBI claims that Food Not Bombs had weapons stored at their homes are
false. Fortunately the FBI and Ramsey county sheriff's department did
clean out all the old belongings left behind in the garage by the past
owners saving Food Not Bombs a great deal of work. Volunteers held at
gun point reported that "we aren't even painting banners here. All we
have is food and cooking equipment. "
The FBI, Pentagon and other agencies have been investigating and
disrupting the Food Not Bombs movement since at least 1988 when
volunteers were first arrested for feeding the hungry. That same year
the San Francisco Police wiretapped Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith
McHenry's home phone. By 1997 the San Francisco Police had made over
1,000 arrests for sharing vegetarian meals. Mr. McHenry faced 25 years
to life in prison even though he has written many articles and a book
on nonviolent social change and has never participated in any violence
and promotes vegan and vegetarian diets, animal rights and peace.
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This past year Eric McDavid and Lauren Weiner were framed by the
Sacramento California office of the FBI after they paid a college
student $75,000 to join Food Not Bombs. Wren is starting a five year
prison sentence and Eric has been sentenced to 19 years. The FBI
provided their informant "Anna" with a special wired car and home. They
also gave her blasting caps, a book on how to build bombs and
instructed her to try and convince Eric and Wren to bombs a dam in
California. Eric and Wren refused but because they failed to stop
"Anna" talking about her plans they were convicted.
"This investigation pertains to actions of the RNC Welcoming
Committee," Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said in a statement at
midday Saturday. "The ‘Welcoming Committee' is a criminal enterprise
made up of 35 anarchists who are intent on committing criminal acts
before and during the Republican National Convention.
Food Not Bombs has spent the last year organizing to provide free
meals to protesters attending the demonstrations outside the
Republican National Convention in Minnesota and the Democratic National
Convention in Colorado in the United States.
Food Not Bombs is an all volunteer movement dedicated to nonviolent
social change. Food Not Bombs provides free vegetarian meals every week
in over 1,000 cities all over the world. Food Not Bombs volunteers
provided free meals to the rescue workers at the World Trade Center
after 9/11, to the protesters at the Orange Revolution in Kiev, Ukraine
and fed survivors in nearly 20 communities in the gulf region of the
United States in the months after Katrina. From Iceland to Chile,
Nigeria, New Zealand, Israel and beyond thousands of Food Not Bombs
volunteers will be sharing vegetarian meals, working for peace,
planting gardens, fixing up bikes for poor children and responding to
hurricanes and earthquakes. Please forward this to your local media and
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