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October 30, 2012

Grand Jury Resister Released Reportedly Cooperated with Investigation of Pacific Northwest Activists

Posted in: FBI,Right to Dissent

Leah Plante, grand jury resister who reportedly decided to cooperate

(update below)

There are people who by choice describe themselves as anarchists, who are being jailed for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury in Seattle. They have been subjected to surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They have been issued subpoenas to testify to a grand jury or be held in contempt and held in prison. Some of them have had their homes raided by  the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). Some have had property seized for an investigation that is allegedly into property damage the FBI believes occurred in Seattle on May Day, however, the surveillance of activists by the FBI began in April.

Three people subpoenaed have been imprisoned. One of them, Leah Lynn-Plante, pledged to resist the grand jury and was jailed on October 11 for a period she knew could possibly for months. Less than a week later she was released and would not speak about why she had been released or what happened while she was in prison.

Now, according to Not Yr Cister Press, “an insurrectionary distro based in San Francisco, CA” that distributes texts that destroy conventional gender theory, Plante testified before the grand jury and that is why she was released:

Leah Lynn Plante cooperated with the grand jury. The first time she cooperated was in her first grand jury appearance. She confirmed that she knows Dennison, another grand jury subpoenut. Dennison released a statement noting this was insignificant knowledge, as they had posed together for resister press photos.

Leah delayed the grand jury long enough that day that she could not have a contempt hearing before the courthouse closed. She was re-subpoenaed. At her next court date, she declined to answer any questions and was taken into custody. Less than a week after she was incarcerated, Leah requested a way out of prison from her lawyer. Her lawyer returned with a subpoena for October 17, 2012. She entered that grand jury, spoke, and was released from prison that day…

The statement posted is mostly hearsay. It is being considered as credible. And it goes on to report Leah left Portland. Many do not know where she went. She has declared “safety concerns prevented her from saying what happened during the grand jury at which she appeared.” However, she at some point told people she provided this testimony:

…[S]he answered “an anarchy sign” when asked what a circle-A means and described some man as “a neo-Nazi” who had attempted to infiltrate anarchist circles before being outed. According to Leah, when the prosecutor asked her about various things, she answered “I don’t know,” or “I don’t remember.” Beyond those questions, what Leah said remains unknown. Due to the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, short of information coming out in discovery, there is no definitive way of knowing what was said in the grand jury chamber.

The group contends she has helped “facilitate” the investigation by cooperating. The group says she knew from “grand jury resistance trainings” that answering “harmless” questions could have “highly damaging outcomes.”
What appears insignificant could be an essential link in the prosecutor’s case. Further, stating “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” could potentially open you up to perjury charges. Finally, the State had, until October 17, encountered a mostly solid wall of resistance. Their strategy had failed to break solidarity among anarchists. In coercing testimony from Leah, the State damaged the credibility of those who publicly resist.

This all may be true. Another person, Matthew “Maddy” Pfeiffer, has been subpoenaed. On October 25, two FBI agents served Pfeiffer with a subpoena to appear before the grand jury.

I am being asked to testify before a Grand Jury on November 7th and will likely be detained on that date for refusing to cooperate. The vultures of the state will try to imprison my comrades and me until we give in. We will never give in.

From so many different perspectives, for so many reasons, snitching is never an option. I will never betray the people I care about, the ideas which I hold dear, or the commitments I have made. I will never give any information about crimes, should I have any knowledge of them, nor will I give information about my personal relationships. I will never cooperate with this or any attempt to stop struggle. I will never cooperate with the systems of control which I loathe. If the federal government chooses to imprison me for my refusal, then so be it. I expect no less from them.

Plante made a similarly bold and courageous statement before her imprisonment. Though there are two other anarchists in prison right now, Matt Duran and Kteeo Olejnik, who are resisting the grand jury, should the public think Pfeiffer will end his resistance as quickly as Plante did?

The Committee Against Political Repression (CAPR), a group formed to support those being targeted by this investigation, has withdrawn support for Plante too:

…Leah was released from prison on October 17 after appearing before the grand jury investigating anarchists. We do not know what was said at that hearing. In the time since her release, Leah has not offered details regarding the subjects of the hearing, her response, or about her release. CAPR is withdrawing support for Leah until we get information regarding her grand jury hearing…

This decision by CAPR does not mean Not Yr Cister Press is providing the truth of what happened to Plante, but it certainly does not conflict with the group’s conclusions.

Has she committed an “unacceptable betrayal,” as the group said in another posting?

Plante made a bold statement that was recorded on video before going to jail. She definitely made it seem like she could fight. But, in prison,  she may have found the conditions of her confinement were worsening her mental illness. In the same statement, she mentioned she had been dealing with bouts of depression and effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which she had struggled with for years.

…For a while after the raid, I was in a constant state of panic and I could barely eat. Every time someone knocked on the door, every time I heard any sort of loud sound in my house, my heart sank and I thought ,“They’ve come for me.” To the day of this writing, I haven’t slept a full night since that cold July morning thanks to nausea inducing anxiety that wakes me up between 4:00 and 7:00 every single morning. After a couple months, the initial panic has faded into grim acceptance…

Psychologically, Plante may have been unable to withstand the repression of the State, which imprisoned her. She reportedly “requested” a way out from her lawyer before a week had passed. The lawyer likely told her she would only get out by testifying before the grand jury. Plante did and must have dreaded the thought that the State had broken her and she had betrayed her political beliefs because she could no longer tolerate imprisonment. And, she has probably chosen not to talk to people who were allies or friends because she is ashamed.

These groups may be justified in their decision to distance themselves from Plante,  but it should also be said that this benefits the State. It benefits from conflict amongst those being targeted, amongst people struggling to support those being investigated. It increases the chances that someone will turn on another and go cooperate and testify. It hopes people stop supporting one another so the people subjected to this fishing expedition can be further isolated from the wider society. Divide people and then there is no resistance that can check the repression being served.

One may want to be cautious and limit contact with Plante in case she is now an informant. It’s also true that one might want to keep Plante’s story at the fore of any discussion of this bogus investigation into people for their political beliefs. Her story exemplifies how ruthless the State can be to activists. Those imprisoning her knew she was mentally ill and, though it is unknown what she experienced in prison, they could have pressed on her until she just could not take it anymore.

As people support Duran and Olejnik, who continue to resist, what happened with Plante shouldn’t be forgotten. She is as much a victim as the activists who remain in jail for refusing to help government target people for their views.

UPDATE 1 

I’ll call attention to this comment, simply because it highlights another dimension of what numerous anarchists believe has happened with Plante. This was posted at AnarchistNews.org:

…OF COURSE she cooperated, because she was released, and the federal government will onlyrelease those who play ball. Those who don’t naturally spend the full term of the grand jury in prison. It wouldn’t possibly occur to them to release her for other reasons, most of which are being demonstrated in these forums and the various denunciations aimed her way. So, congratulations, feds — you’ve met one of your objectives, which is to set off a round of doubt, ostracizing, and forever baseless speculation. Occam’s Razor cuts two ways on this case: she cooperated (easy answer), or she was released anyway, with the likelihood that it’d set people at each other’s throats and destroy the unity that existed when she went to jail on the 10th. The latter seems like it accomplishes a hell of a lot more for the state than the former. And let’s say she didn’t “cooperate” other than what she has told others she said. Do you think that was sufficient reason for her release? They might well have thrown her right back in that cell.

It’ll be interesting if for some reason others are released before their expected terms are up and what type of knitting-circle gossip envelops them. Because that’s essentially what this is and all it ever will be.

 


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