By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) – “I’m disgusted and I’m unhappy but I didn’t have the expectation that the judicial system, the state, would give me justice,” said immigration rights and anti-war activist Carlos Montes after a judge denied his request to dismiss all charges stemming from a federal grand jury subpoena targeting more than a dozen activists across the U.S.
“At this point, the fight is on … This tells me that they’re deadly serious about putting me in jail and trying to convict me on my political activism,” Mr. Montes told The Final Call.
His lawyer argued in Superior Court on Jan. 24 that there is no evidence supporting charges that Mr. Montes violated a firearm code. The FBI claimed to the local sheriff department that he was a convicted felon in possession of guns, and they went after him, according to Mr. Montes. Nearly 50 people crammed inside the courthouse in solidarity with the long-time activist, according to supporters of the activist.
Mr. Montes, along with 23 anti-war activists, have been targeted by the FBI over the past two years. Agents simultaneously raided their properties with federal subpoenas gained by claiming it was investigating individuals or organizations that were supplying resources to terrorist groups. The FBI served subpoenas to activists in Minneapolis; Chicago; and Grand Rapids, Mich.
“We did make a good argument to drop the charges on grounds of insufficient evidence, but they continued to allege that I have a felony conviction that’s 42-years-old, stemming from a demonstration at East LA Community College, where I participated with hundreds of Chicano and Black students, demanding Black and Chicano studies,” Mr. Montes said.
His next hearing is Feb. 8 and he believes he can beat the case if he’s allowed to present it before a jury of his peers. He faces 18 years in prison if convicted, but has vowed to continue to mobilize and urged support for the other 23 activists, as well.
He continues to receive letters of support, most recently, resolutions from the California Teachers’ Association and local United Auto Workers. “People understand that this is political repression against me as an activist, who has denounced U.S. wars of aggression and who has also stood up for the rights of Chicanos and African Americans here in the United States,” Mr. Montes said.
He vowed to fight all the way, saying there would be no deals and no plea bargains.
If people unite the case can be won and political repression can be overcome, said Mr. Montes. “It happened in the Black community in the1960s and ‘70s and continues today in the Chicano community,” Mr. Montes added.
“We know that Carlos Montes has done nothing wrong. It’s shameful that the judge in this case denied our motion to throw out the whole case against Carlos, for lack of evidence,” said Jess Sund of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression.
The FBI manufactured the case for strictly political reasons and the committee will keep working to build a political movement to stand by Mr. Montes and pressure the government to drop its case against him, she said.
According to Ms. Sund, no formal charges have been brought against the 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists subpoenaed by Chicago grand jury more than a year ago.
The government continues to operate in secrecy and withhold information about who might be prosecuted or when, she said.
“None of us has been jailed for our refusal to testify at the grand jury, and we believe that is thanks to the outpouring of support we have received from around the country, since our homes were raided in September 2010,” she said.
The group has planned a national phone conference for Jan. 31, much of which will be dedicated to building support for Mr. Montes. Participants will also review and plan for mobilization in the case for the other 23 activists, and other political prosecutions, Ms. Sund said.
The Coalition to Stop FBI Repression is asking that calls be made to President Barack Obama (202-456-1111) and Attorney General Eric Holder ( 202-514-2001) to demand all charges against Mr. Montes be dropped for lack of evidence.
The activists plan to make their case in national demonstrations, including a May protest in Chicago against the NATO/G8 summit and the August Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
It is challenging for social movements to keep their momentum in the midst of a presidential campaign, but as the candidates fall over one another to prove who is the toughest on terrorism, activists will continue to build an anti-war movement that challenges the legitimacy of the endless war on terror, she said.
“Reality is turned on its head when peace and solidarity activists are called terrorists, by a government that has killed millions of people and destroyed whole nations,” Ms. Sund added.
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