A Few Drops of Soda Can Be A Federal Offense! Just ask Robert Middaugh, political prisoner & Chicano anti-racist activist...
Robert Middaugh (aka Ruckus), was released from Avenal State Prison last week, after serving two years for trumped up charges stemming from his involvement in the now infamous 2001 Long Beach May Day demonstration, which resulted in over 100 arrests. The prosecutor wielded every possible charge he could at Rob. He was charged with assaulting an officer, refusal to comply with a police officer, conspiracy to commit a crime, and riot. He was already on parole due to an earlier incident that occurred with the LAPD, which led to his first strike.
Rob was initially looking at 16-17 years in prison if found guilty for the May Day charges, so his only viable option was to accept a plea bargain. He was sentenced to three years and given his second strike.
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the police harassment. After he was released from Avenal, Federal Marshals came for him. He is now being charged with assaulting a government official, wearing a mask to conceal his identity, and possession of a dagger.
The incident in question took place at a July 4th demonstration in 2000, at the Westwood Federal Building in Los Angeles. An anti-immigrant hate group rallied on the south side of Wilshire Blvd. with a sound stage on the Federal Building lawn (granted by federal authorities). Meanwhile, anti-racist demonstrators gathered on the north side of Wilshire Blvd. In response to racial slurs and other taunts, a contingency of anti-racist protesters crossed the street and conflict ensued. LAPD officers swiftly intervened on behalf of the anti-immigrant protesters (surprise!). During the scuffle, unknown person(s) allegedly used unopened cans of soda as projectiles. According to the prosecution's complaint, a can exploded and splashed one of the officers with the carbonated contents. The officer (Thomas G. Goldsmith) proceeded to arrest Rob for "assaulting an officer." In this case, BEING SPLASHED WITH SODA supposedly constituted federal assault charges.
Furthermore, the officer alleged that he "...saw Middaugh with a soda in his right hand throw the can at [him]." However, ROB IS LEFT-HANDED. Why would a left-handed individual hurl a projectile with his weaker hand?
Finally, the charges were initially filed on January 11, 2002. Rob demanded a speedy trial, which should have taken place 180 days after the charges were filed. In August 2003, the case is barely going to trial. This is an aberration that further illustrates how the "justice" system is a farce and fails to adhere to its own policies.
Rob has been active with several organizations and has protested against various issues, such as police brutality, racism, indigenous relocation, environmental destruction, animal rights issues, and militarization of the Mexican border. The disparity in this case between what occurred and the charges filed against Rob is an outrage. Clearly, he was targeted for his outspokenness and his political activities. This case is a travesty and a mockery of the justice system, and illustrates how far the government will go to squash dissent.
His first court date is on Monday, August 18, 2003 at 8:30 AM.
Federal District Courthouse
255 E. Temple St., 3rd floor, Roybal Building
Los Angeles, CA
Show up to protest this injustice! Rob also needs help with his legal defense. For more information, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org