Charges Against RaisetheFist Webmaster Dropped. What’s Going On?

  • Charges Against RaisetheFist Webmaster Dropped. What’s Going On?
    Urbana IMC’s ML points out a Newsbytes article:

    “‘We have opted not to seek an indictment at this time. We are continuing to investigatate the matter, but as of right now, he’s off the hook,” said Thomas Mrozek, public affairs officer for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.’”

    Cryptome has the transcript of the court hearing on detaining Sherman, which is interesting reading. In it the FBI says that it found moltov cocktails at Sherman’s home and fertilizer in his car which they say they believed he would use to make a bomb to be used at the Plaza Hotel on 59th Street and Fifth Avenue in NYC. In response, his attorney said that he came to NYC for the WEF demonstrations, and when first arrested by NYC police he was not charged and then released. Further,

    “He was booked by the New York City police for unlawful assembly, which is a B misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct for blocking pedestrian traffic, which is a violation. He was arrested under his own name, despite the fact that the assistant claims that he came three thousand miles to commit crimes of violence, and to disrupt, and use weapons, and bombs, and weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Austin was arrested under his own name. He didn’t commit, any acts of violence. He didn’t have a weapon.”

    As to the alleged fertilizer in Sherman’s car and the alleged molotov cocktails, his attorney responded:

    “On January 24th, the FBI executed the search warrant that they had obtained eight days earlier. obviously this investigation was significant, and they were worried about Mr. Austin having violence and bombs and making equipment. But yet despite the seriousness, the FBI waited eight days in order to execute the search warrant. When they executed it, they executed it in the house, and they claim that they saw through the window of Mr. Austin’s car a bag of fertilizer. They did not search the car, Judge. They did not go back to a magistrate to ask for permission to search the car. All it is is an allegation that there was a bag of fertilizer. Judge, it was approximately a half empty bag of potting soil that was disposed of. So that’s the alleged fertilizer, Judge….

    “And despite the fact that they claim to have found two Molotov cocktails in his house, they don’t arrest him on January 24th. They don’t arrest him on January 25th. They don’t arrest him on January 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, or 31st. They don’t arrest him on February 1st, but on February 2nd he’s arrested with twenty-seven other people for unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct in New York. He’s released. He’s released by the New York City Police Department, and in fact is arrested by FBI agents inside the building at the Manhattan Criminal Court…. It’s not until ten days later, when all of a sudden Mr. Austin, who drives across the country, and eighteen year[s] old, to legally demonstrate against — for issues that he thinks are of some significance and some importance — the FBI arrests him three thousand miles away from his home. ”

    A final thing I want to point out is how some quotes on the RaisetheFist website apparently influenced the Judge’s decision to have him held rather than released on his own recognizance. The FBI alleges that the following was posted to the site:

    “Yeah, motherfucker, I’m a terrorist to the U.S. Government. I’m a terrorist to capitalism, not to innocent people. I’m a terrorist to the evil system that’s terrorizing all of us. Fuck the Government. I hope they burn in fucking hell right back where they came from, motherfuckers. You can’t fool all the people. We know your fucking style.”

    In response, the Judge said, “Comments like that give me no confidence that Mr. Austin would abide by an order of the Court directing him to appear in California,” despite the fact that so far Sherman had been cooperative, including submitting to a urine drug test.

    Indeed, it’s all rather curious that Sherman should be released with charges dropped after the FBI seemed so damned sure that he was dangerous and the Judge believed he was a dangerous flight risk. Do any of the explosives the FBI claims to have found really exist? Although his firey rhetoric is not what he was formally charged for, it is crystal clear that it played a role in his treatment by the Court — and not a good one. It does give one some reason to consider how your right to free speech can nonetheless be used against you. In this case Sherman got 9 miserable days in jail, in solitary, only to have the charges dropped. Assumed innocent?

    A final thought occurs to me — would Sherman have been released if he agreed to cooperate with the Feds somehow? Right now it just doesn’t all add up, unless their case really did just fall apart.


  • Webmaster Arrested in NYC 2/6/02
  • Mainstream Reports on RaisetheFist Bust 2/4/02

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