- Aug 26th 2002 - FEDS TO INDICT RTF WEBMASTER AFTER PLEA IS REJECTED
August 26th, Federal prosecutors are indicting Sherman Austin, 19 year old founder / webmaster of Raise the Fist (http://www.RaisetheFist.com), an anarchist independent media / direct action network. Sherman is being charged with 2 felony violations of the following: 18 U.S.C. 842 (p)(2)(A): DISTRIBUTION OF INFORMATION RELATING TO EXPLOSIVES, DESTRUCTIVE DEVICES, AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION WITH THE INTENT THAT SUCH INFORMATION BE USED IN FURTHERANCE OF A FEDERAL CRIME OF VIOLENCE; 26 U.S.C. 5861(d): POSSESSION OF A FIREARM WHICH IS NOT REGISTERED TO HIM IN THE NATIONAL FIREARMS REGISTRATION AND TRANSFER RECORD.
Sherman rejected a guilty plea today in court offering him 1 month in jail, 5 months in a half-way house and 3 years supervised release. If found guilty in trial, Sherman could serve a maximum of 3-4 years in prison.
On January 24th, 2002, Sherman became one of the first victims of the new USA Patriot Act when 25 heavily armed FBI agents and secret service surrounded and raided his home in Los Angeles because of his anarchist web site http://www.raisethefist.com. The entire server was shut down, all computer equipment along with political literature, even protest signs were seized and loaded into a big white truck. Sherman was not arrested until a week later when he decided to attend the World Economic Forum protests in New York. He was arrested by New York police after being targeted law enforcement officials. After spending nearly 30 hours in jail, Sherman was taken into a back room in hand cuffs and interrogated by the FBI and Secret Service for several hours. 10 minutes later he was released from jail with charges dropped. Within minutes he was re-arrested by 6 FBI agents and placed in maximum security federal prison. At his bail hearing he was accused of driving 3,000 miles carry out his "plot" of mass destruction against the WEF event, and on the way back to "blow up" the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Even though federal agents searched his car in New York, and found absolutely nothing, and there was a blatant lack of evidence, he was denied bail and the judge ordered Sherman be transported to California with a US Marshal escort, as the judge felt "the Government has also shown by clear and convincing evidence that there is a very serious risk of danger to the community"
While awaiting finial extradition to California at a "hub" for prisoners in Oklahoma. Thomas Mrozek, public affairs officer for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said, "We have opted not to seek an indictment at this time. We are continuing to investigate the matter, but as of right now, he's off the hook."
6 months later, Sherman now faces federal felony charges as he awaits a grand jury indictment before trial.
- Aug 28th 2002 - PROSECUTERS KEEP DEAL ON TABLE, URGING A PLEA TO BE RECONSIDERED BEFORE INDICTMENT
Sherman rejected the plea bargin on the 26th, in his first attempt to challenge federal prosecutors, they responded in keeping the deal on the table, giving Sherman a second time to reconsider taking the deal. The deal is having Sherman plead guilty to only 1 felony; 18 U.S.C. 842 (p)(2)(A): DISTRIBUTION OF INFORMATION RELATING TO EXPLOSIVES, DESTRUCTIVE DEVICES, AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION WITH THE INTENT THAT SUCH INFORMATION BE USED IN FURTHERANCE OF A FEDERAL CRIME OF VIOLENCE. A grand jury indictment wouldn't be issued unless the plea is once again rejected.