Yesterday another person was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in California investigating animal rights activists.
Priyesh Patel of Portland, Oregon, was served a subpoena Thursday while at work, and is scheduled to appear at the San Francisco federal courthouse on January 29th.
Grand jury proceedings are secret, but this grand jury appears to be investigating arson and other property crimes in Santa Cruz that occurred in 2008, in relation to animal rights campaigns against animal experimentation by the University of California system.
Other animal rights activists have been subpoenaed as well. In November, I wrote about the case of Brittany Kenville. [For background: “I plan on exercising every right that I have” to oppose California grand jury, activist says“]
Patel, Kenville, and other activists subpoenaed are not charged with any crime. Grand jury proceedings are used to determine if there is sufficient evidence to bring a criminal indictment against someone else. Ostensibly, this may act as a safeguard against overzealous prosecutions. However, grand juries have historically been used as a tool to harass, disrupt, and spy upon social movements.
When political activists are subpoenaed to a grand jury, they are not allowed to have an attorney present. They can be asked about who they are friends with, what they believe, and what types of activism they are engaged in. If they refuse to answer questions about their political beliefs and political associations, and refuse to participate in this fishing expedition, they can be imprisoned.
That’s exactly what has happened in Seattle. The grand jury there is investigating anarchists, and those who refuse to talk about their community have been thrown in jail. [For background: “Fourth Person Jailed for Refusing to Talk about Other Anarchists in Grand Jury”]
I’ll post more information leading up to this grand jury date, but in the meantime please consider writing a letter to the grand jury resisters who are in jail for remaining silent.