Jeremy Hammond, by Molly Crabapple
From Free Jeremy Hammond
Rebel greetings on this year’s May Day international worker and immigrant rights day, commemorated around the world with street marches, strikes, and sabotage against the system that oppresses and exploits us all. After the May 1, 1886 general strike in Chicago, in which workers fighting for the eight-hour day were shot by police, eight anarchist labor organizers were arrested and sentenced to death for a retaliatory bombing none of them had committed. 128 years later and the rich ruling class still maintain their wealth and power through a monopoly of violence, exemplified by the brutal repression of Occupy Wall Street and targeted prosecutions such as the NATO 3, who recently received lengthy prison sentences for yet another fabricated “bomb” plot.
True to the Chicago Police Department’s legacy, they sought to disrupt protests in advance of the 2012 NATO conference by passing city ordinances limiting free speech, spending millions on new “less lethal” crowd control technology, and sending infiltrators to entrap unsuspecting activists resulting in the arrest of the NATO 3. They hoped to demonize them as “terrorists” based on a molotov cocktail plot cooked up by the CPD itself, charges so trumped up and ridiculous even the feds wouldn’t pick it up. At trial, the jury did not go for the “terrorism” charges – a victory in itself against the post-9/11 hysteria – but they were sentenced to several years in prison anyway for possession of incendiary devices and mob action.
In sentencing the three, Judge Thaddeus Wilson lectured, “As a society, in the face of threats, we don’t wait for a building or property to be damaged … peaceful protest is not synonymous with rioting,” setting yet another precedent that you can be imprisoned for even thinking about committing a crime even if you were entrapped by an undercover cop. In crafting this spectacle, the authorities wanted send a message to protesters dictating which methods of protest are “legitimate” and if you think about crossing the line you could be charged as a “terrorist.” They hoped that Occupy Wall Street, which many wanted to brand as a “non-violent movement,” would join with the police and media denouncing those arrested for unapproved forms of resistance. It was a cheap shot, and it is terrible that our friends are having to do years behind bars so that the powerful can make a political point. Fortunately, their plan failed: most everybody rallied to support those arrested, and through solid legal defense and PR, were able to convince the jury to acquit of the most serious charges and sway the public against the prosecution. (more…)