We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Some of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

A Raise The Fist Primer, no.1

by John Kawakami Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002 at 5:00 AM

This is an overview of the RTF case, the social condition, FBI, terrorism, and cyberlaw, as relates to this case.

A Raise The Fist Primer, no.1

This document is meant to be a "reader" or "pathfinder" presenting an overview of the social and legal situation surrounding the Raise The Fist raid and arrest. It's being produced to clarify what's happened. I hope it helps the reader understand the current conditions of political protest, social dissent, cyberlaw, and the FBI's understanding of anarchist groups and hackers. Follow the links to get deeper information.

Facts About the Case

- Sherman Martin Austin was the webmaster of RaiseTheFist.com, an anarchist website.

- He lives in Los Angeles County with his siblings and mother. It was raided on the 24th by a team comprising the LAPD, Secret Service and FBI. He was not arrested at that time.

- He drove to the east coast, with the intent of protesting the WEF in New York. At the protests, he was arrested on misdemeanor charges.

- The charges were dropped, and he was immediately re-arrested by the FBI on charges of publishing bomb-making information, an alleged violation of the USA PATRIOT act.

- Sherman is scheduled to be extradited to California on Wednesday the 13th.

More information about this case is available on the LA IndyMedia, SF IndyMedia, and Cryptome websites.

Contemporary Political Dissent and the Law

Contemporary acts of political dissent are being prosecuted under increasingly harsh laws with fines that are larger, and prison terms longer, than in the past. The following excerpt by Patricia Nell Warren, taken from the online anthology The Darkness Arrives, compares what political people today face compared to those of the Civil Rights era. (The linked article also includes information about the IMC case against the FBI.)

In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, in a time of unrelenting segregation law, when blacks were still lynched in the South. Was Parks jailed for a year? No. She was arrested and fined . In 1958 the Rev. Martin Luther King was fined for ignoring a police order at a demonstration. (King chose fourteen days in jail rather than paying the fine.) Through the '60s and '70s, the campus takeovers, anti-war marches, and grape-pickers' strikes, these arrests were usually treated like parking tickets. Charges were summary, and the cops let you go. A long arrest record was an activist's badge of honor. Only a few did serious prison time because they advocated overthrow of the government.

Today the United States has suddenly junked its respect for civil disobedience. Quietly, when Americans weren't looking, law enforcement and legislators have slapped a high markup on the penal price of protest. They now consider that kind of activism to border on "domestic terrorism," and are prosecuting it under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the way organized crime and harassment of abortion clinics are now prosecuted. A key court decision, NOW v. Scheidler, has "created outrageously prohibitive sanctions for what are essentially minor violations of law," according to Crisis magazine. Nonviolent protesters are being hammered with huge bails, huge fines, multiple counts, and many months, even many years, in prison. A single arrest can now destroy your life. -- Patricia Nell Warren "Fourteen Dollars"

The DOJ on Terrorism and Anarchism

The media spin has been generally negative, presenting the story in the most sensationalistic and accusatory narrative (see LA Times article). Most articles almost state that publishing bomb making information is illegal. In fact, the legal precedent, as restated in a lengthy DOJ report published in 1997, shows that it is legal, protected speech. Later, in 1999, the court found, in a case by Planned Parenthood against groups listing abortion doctor's home addresses, that some specific kinds of speech were illegal if they were a "true threat" against individuals described in the speech. It's unclear whether there were any specific individuals being threatened on RaiseTheFist, as the bomb information didn't specify an individual to target.

Regardless, what matters isn't that the text of USA PATRIOT law forbids the bomb information, but whether the law itself is constitutional. That's what will be determined in court.

"Anarchism" is showing up as a threat on the FBI's radar. A recent report, Threat of Terrorism to the United States, listed "anarchist" groups along with foreign terror groups, right wing militias, and the ELF (which this author regards as actual terror groups).

In the report, the FBI haphazardly threw together leftist groups to create the appearance of a large threat, demonstrating some basic lack of understaning about the groups they were demonizing. They listed as "anarchist" three things which are not anarchist groups: Reclaim the Streets (is an unlicensed rave), Workers World Party (is a communist, not anarchist group -- see link), and Carnival Against Capitalism (is an umbrella term for a style of protest with planned entertainment).

An Overview of the FBI and Hackers

IMPORTANT: Sherman is NOT being charged with computer tresspass at this time. By my own amateur estimation, there's not sufficient evidence that proves that he was involved with entering computers and changing web pages. He's only being charged with violation of PATRIOT. This information is presented to shed some light on government raids of computer systems in homes.

The FBI has a long and strange history with computer hackers. Their early efforts involving bulletin board shutdowns in the 80's were generally ham-handed and appeared to be driven by a fear of savvy computer users. More recently, computer tresspass and vandalism has taken on a more social edge and is being used by young people to spread political messages. Penalties for cybercrime are considered, by many, to be far out of proportion for the actual damage inflicted. Wheras spraypainting a wall is a misdemeanor with a fine ranging from 0 to ,000, computer tresspass is a felony with fines that typically range in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Secret Service - an anthology of the Secret Service targeting of computer hackers (2600, hacker magazine, late 80's early 90's)

The Hacker Crackdown - about SS and FBI attacks on hackers in the 80's. (book published in 1990)

Global Hell - story about the youth who hacked whitehouse.gov (CNN story, 1999)

Pimpshiz, pro Napster cracker who propagandized for music trading (CNET)

This document is incomplete...

This document lacks information about the USA PATRIOT act, First Amendment case law, and probably other information relevant to the case. There's also been an inflammatory article in the NY Post that could use some deconstruction. These subjects require some coverage, and any assistance researching these issues is appreciated.

Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 7 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
elf Sk! Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002 at 6:29 AM
ELF johnk Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002 at 6:50 AM
Some Articles and Cartoons I posted Charles Amsellem Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002 at 7:59 AM
okay... looked closer at elf website johnk Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002 at 8:07 AM
Checked slashdot.org? Direct Democrat Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002 at 3:50 PM
Linking... johnk Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002 at 8:06 PM
Charges not part of PATRIOT Act mark Thursday, Feb. 14, 2002 at 11:26 AM
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy