In 2009, New York City anarchist and legal activist, Jerry Koch, was subpoenaed for a federal grand jury. During federal grand jury proceedings, according to the National Lawyer's Guild, "You are not allowed to have a lawyer present and can be required to answer questions about your activities and associations." Investigators have subpoenaed Jerry, who was having a drink in the area, in relation to a bomb plot against a military recruitment center located in one of the most visible locations in New York City, at the heart of Times Square. Jerry refused to testify in 2009, and for a second time in 2013, because he believes the connection to have been fabricated in order to conduct a "fishing expedition" to collect information on anarchist networks. And he has good reason to believe so. (For more background on grand juries, check the bottom of this post.)
I am the only one in OWS Mutant Legal Services, I believe, who has crossed paths with Jerry Koch. I honestly don't know much about the case, but in terms of background... I must say this type of circumstance is unique. I have seen cases before where activists have been framed in activist related activities, and we have seen countless Muslim men across the US become radicalized and entrapped by the State, but we have never seen the State use "an act of terrorism" to fish anarchist circles. The false-flag model, up until now, has been enacted against Black and Brown populations for over half a century.
It reminds me of the old adage "First they came for...and when they came for me..." The anarchist movement (and the modern "Left" on the whole) is predominately white, educated, from a range of backgrounds, but generally middle class. COINTELPRO and private agent provocateurs traumatized and destabilized the anti-war and black power movements, while everyone else tuned in, turned on and dropped out.
So by the time the environmental, animal rights and anti globalization movements stirred up, the Law Enforcement Agencies were well poised to discredit, disrupt and neutralize people's movements. I know BLA members who spent upwards of 15-20 years in prison for things they had nothing to do with. And because the Left moved forward into the '80s and '90s letting their generation's heroes rot in prison, it's new to some of the younger generation on the Left that: this is how the State rolls.
Jerry has become much more professional since his first subpoena and I find the timing fascinating. The subpoena went out only a few weeks before the Boston Bombing, and Assata Shakur, the mother of all framed activists, was put on the FBI's most wanted list. They are finishing the last stages of criminalizing dissent, and Jerry's persecution is only the beginning of the end. Activist communities need to become more secure and think more tactically.
The State has all the tools it needs at its disposal to manipulate reality, make the innocent guilty, and destabilize our last stand. We may not all be Trayvon Martin or Kimani Gray, but we are surely all Jerry Koch.
According to the National Lawyer's Guild, "the government has frequently used grand jury subpoenas to gather information about activists and political organizations. It is common for the FBI to threaten activists with a subpoena in order to elicit information about their political views and activities and those of their associates." According to the United States Department of Justice itself, "Probable cause is not a prerequisite to the issuance of a subpoena...The Government may not use a subpoena to conduct a 'fishing expedition'; however, a subpoena is rarely invalidated because of a finding that it sought information irrelevant to the grand jury's investigation. In the face of general allegations that a subpoena seeks irrelevant information, the standard of 'relevance' is easy to meet." For his principled stand against the excesses of the grand jury system, Jerry risks being held in contempt of court and faces incarceration in a federal prison for the duration of the grand jury, which could be up to 18 months. He was found in contempt of court on May 21, 2013, and is currently being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Write to Jerry
- Gerald Koch
- # 68631-054
- MDC Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center
- P.O. Box 329002
- Brooklyn, NY 11232