Monday, May 27, 2013

Support Political Prisoner Jerry Koch

My longtime friend Jerry Koch has found himself in federal lockup for up to 18 months for refusing to testify in a investigation which he feels is a "witch hunt" targeting the New York ultra-left. This is not the first or second such case in the US recently, in which "witnesses" guilty of no crime have been compelled by the threat of imprisonment to submit to open-ended questioning carrying the threat of perjury should they not answer questions unrelated to the supposed subject at hand. We can naively label this an outrageous exception to the US justice system or blah blah blah, but it is in fact the rule. To call this a miscarriage of justice is to misunderstand what justice means in America, and to validate a system for which "justice" is just a pretense. As the federal government ramps up its repression of the US left, observable first hand in the brutal police repression of Occupy camps across the US, and continuing surveillance and infiltration of left groups across the spectrum, the grand jury is becoming an increasingly popular tactic for state harassment. By refusing to cooperate with this wack investigation Jerry has proven himself to be courageous and principled beyond measure. Here is a statement from his official supporters:

In 2009, Jerry was subpoenaed for the first time and refused to testify. Today, as in 2009, the grand jury is being used to conduct a witch hunt against anarchists and political radicals. In refusing to testify, 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.

Under the guise of an exploratory legal investigation, the grand jury is a secretive tool of repression that aims to intimidate and punish those who refuse to collaborate with the State. There is a long history of grand juries being used whenever the State focuses on a new “enemy”: they were used in the 1950s during the “Red Scare,” in the 1960s against the Black Panthers, and more recently against environmental and animal rights groups in what became known as the “Green Scare.”

This grand jury, like the ongoing targeting of anarchists in the Pacific Northwest, is part of a new, escalating wave of repression against anarchists nationwide, who are being persecuted specifically for their political beliefs and practices. It is no coincidence that the government would try to silence Jerry, as he has been an effective and tireless legal advocate for anarchists, Occupy Wall Street protesters, and others expressing political dissent. Jerry was the person everyone could count on to be waiting for them outside of jail, to support them in the courtroom, and to help with their legal defense. Although Jerry knew he would be in the crosshairs of the State for providing much needed legal support to hundreds of political activists, no one expected that the state would retaliate with a second subpoena. It is clear that the State’s goal is not just to pressure Jerry into informing on the radical community, but to take away someone who is an integral part of our community–someone who makes us all stronger.

By refusing to collaborate with the grand jury once again, Jerry demonstrates his great personal integrity, commitment, and support for the radical community. It is now our turn to stand by Jerry and show him the support and solidarity he deserves. It is time to send a message that, no matter how many times they come after us, we, like Jerry, will refuse to cooperate and to bargain for our freedom at the expense of our friends’ liberty.

–The Support Jerry Committee

Interested parties are encouraged to donate a few dollars to help with commissary expenses, or write to Jerry (using the following guidelines):

Gerald Koch #68631-054
MDC Brooklyn
Metropolitan Detention Center
P.O. Box 329002
Brooklyn, NY 11232

Jerry's imprisonment is only the latest incident of naked state repression aimed at the left and it won't be the last, especially as the economic crisis deepens and the state proves increasingly unable to subdue its population by economic incentives, and turns instead to raw force. The sooner people disabuse themselves of comforting illusions about "democracy" and "freedom" in the United States the fucking better. 

In solidarity with Jerry and countless other political prisoners like him,