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Awake at the Wheel

by Laro Nicol Tuesday, Dec. 02, 2003 at 9:26 AM 480-968-7329 2126 East Palmcroft Road, Tempe, Arizona, 85282

Phoenix social justice activist and active member of Copwatch being railroaded by BATF.

Phoenix activist becomes Arizona's first target of the Patriot Act

by Free Laro support group • Thursday April 17, 2003 at 07:36 PM

On Tuesday, March 4, 2003, Laro Nicol - a long-time peace and justice activist in Phoenix - was taken into custody after his home had been raided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco and Firearms agents.

On Tuesday, March 4, 2003, Laro Nicol a long-time activist was taken into custody after his home had been raided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco and Firearms agents. Several items were confiscated from the home, including items used to make model rockets, books and guns. According to testimony given by ATF agent, Tristan Moreland, these items were not necessarily illegal and could be purchased at local retailers such as Wal-Mart by anyone who was a permitted gun owner.

Detained for Political Reasons

Laro's first appearance before a judge was his detention hearing, which determines whether he will be set free or jailed prior to his trial. The federal prosecutor did not argue against Laro's release during his detention hearing. However, presiding Judge Duncan did. Duncan, (who also signed the search warrant) pulled several maneuvers that made it clear that he did not want Laro to be released. He asked the prosecution to put ATF agent Moreland on the stand. He allowed Moreland to speculate during his testimony and even made it clear during an objection by Laro's lawyer that he was asking the agent to do so. He warned Laro's lawyer that he faced an "uphill battle" to win Laro's release. Clearly, Judge Duncan had made up his mind to detain Laro before Laro entered the courtroom. He did not want to be the judge who let the "terrorist" go.

Who is Laro Nicol?

Since he was taken into custody, Laro has been painted in the media as a violent criminal, a dissident and a drug addict by the media. The truth? Laro Nico is a father of three, a husband, and activist and a valuable member of the community.

Laro is a long-time peace and justice activist in Phoenix. He has been a member of several organizations, most recently Phoenix Copwatch, a local anti-police brutality organization. He is also the former editor of The Current, a local peace and justice newsletter. In addition, Laro has participated in the Valley Leadership Program, which teaches non-violent conflict resolution and consensus building. Laro has been a longtime critic of government repression and injustice.

The Patriot Act Comes Home to Roost

Laro's arrest, detention and coming trial are clearly the result of post September 11 repression.

Since September 11, 2001, the federal government has begun a steady assault on our constitutional rights and civil liberties. As a result of the Patriot Act, for example, citizens are now subject to search, seizure, arrest and incarceration as the government as the government sees fit. In this climate, advocates of civil liberties are being equated to protectors of terrorism.

As the "war on terror" is increasingly used as justification for denying basic civil rights, cases like Laro's will become more widespread. Seemingly harmless activities like owning guns, political texts, and speaking out against the government will be grounds for house raids and arrests. Our whole lives can be scrutinized as quickly as the handcuffs can be slapped on. That's why we have to speak out for Laro. Unless we stand up for Laro, he will only be first in a long line of people who will be arrested by the government, declared "high risk" suspects, and unjustly detained merely for expressing dissent. This will have a chilling effect, as people become more fearful of the consequences of speaking out.

We will not be silenced by this act of repression by the state. We demand that Laro Nicol be released and that his charges be dropped. We will continue to raise our voices until our demands are met.

Laro was released from prison on appeal after two and a half months. Since this time, test results of items seized from Laro's home have tested negative for the presence of any dangerous narcotics. No explosive devices were found, only model rocketry supplies and store bought fireworks. It appears, as we head to trial, that the basis of this raid on Laro's home was flawed in the first place. The only evidence available to warrant this raid was the information of a paid government informant that is proving to be false by the government's own testing.

Since his release, Laro has been working on getting the word out on his own case, as well as getting back to work on support of anti-police brutality issues. He is currently assisting in the support of the Madrigal's, a Mesa, Arizona family who's 15 year old son was shot to death in their home by three Mesa police officers after the family called for help in talking with their intoxicated son. Laro has hosted Sherman Austin's mother, Jennifer, for a talk in Tempe during the month of October. His voice could not be silenced by the government, and his activism will not be curtailed.

Support for Laro Nicol has been broad based and immediate. Those who know him, know he is not the "criminal" portrayed by the federal prosecutors office.

For some of the latest information including talks given by Laro Nicol, go to Google and type in "Laro NIcol".

What You Can Do Now

Letter Writing: Laro has asked for folks to correspond with him. You

can write him at:

Laro Nicol

2126 East Palmcroft Road

Tempe, Arizona 85282

Fundraising: Laro and his family are in need of financial support to feed his three children, for legal and personal expenses . Send funds to Phoenix Copwatch, PO Box 1543, Phoenix, AZ 85001.

Legal Support: We are going to need help with legal support. We are in the process of consulting his lawyer, to see what needs to be done prior to his trial date, which has been continued to February 24th, 2004.

Raise Awareness: Send press releases, contact community organizations and individuals and let them know about Laro's case. Contact us for materials and any other help regarding this.

If you are able to offer any support, please email

Report this post as:

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