What does it mean for federal prosecutors to drag young adults into court, blanketing them with accusations of terrorism and citing political literature and social circles as evidence? What does it mean for these young people to resist “with every fiber of [their] existence,” going to prison and suffering the psychological exile of solitary confinement?

On July 25th, 2012, Leah Plante’s home was raided by federal antiterrorist agents she, along with her comrades Matt Duran and Kteeo Olejnik, were detained in the backyard and later arrested, allegedly due to their involvement with May Day protests in Seattle. This was, of course, just an excuse:

we suspected that this was not really about broken windows. [...] nobody used rolled up copies of the Stumptown Wobbly to commit property damage.

What the federal agents did do, however, was confiscate anarchist literature, black clothes, cans of spray paint. They interrogated Leah about any other anarchists she had been associating with and, when she refused to answer any questions, they put her on trial before a federal grand jury. In various public statements, Leah avowed that she would “[u]nder no circumstances [...] talk about other people.” The thing is, Leah was put before a grand jury proceeding, a particularly malicious judicial predicament in which the individual subject automatically forfeits his or her Sixth Amendment right to have a legal counsel represent them, as well as his or her Fifth Amendment rights; the individual can be charged with holding the court in contempt for refusing to answer questions.

A protest against the questionable judicial proceedings faced by Leah, Kteeo, and Matt

The federal grand jury, once an “independent bulwark protecting individuals from unfounded accusations by the government,” has, in recent times, evolved into the quintessential kangaroo court, allowing the feds to “rubber stamp” prosecutions while avoiding judicial procedures meant to curb abuses. The entire mechanism just seems remarkably shifty: the accused individual is deprived of the right to have a judge mediate the trial, and, get this, the entire proceeding is cloaked in secrecy: the prosecutor, jurors, and stenographer are prohibited from revealing anything about the trial unless ordered to do so in a judicial proceeding.

This has provoked many protests against federal investigations culminating in federal grand jury hearings. In the past, a similar hearing was used to interrogate  Bradley Manning in relation to Wikileaks. What all of these investigations have in common, besides the clear political motivations, is a deliberate manipulation of information intended to paint the accused individual as some sort of incredibly dangerous supervillian. Bradley manning is being questioned by federal grand jury and a prosecutor bent on a long sentence as some sort of Cold War agent provocateur ; the Seattle Three, on the other hand, are being tried on some trumped-up accusations or terrorism. One might also consider the fact that federal grand jurors really exist only as a canvas onto which the prosecutor can paint his damning conviction of the accused; they are neither instructed in judicial matter snow are they screened for biases which would make them ineligible to serve on a state or local jury.

If you see something, say something

This story ultimately indicates the continuation of a more general, and far more frightening trend: the implementation of judicial scare-tactics on the federal level to prosecute individuals for their political leanings. In a word, voicing opinions about overthrowing the government or using violent means to bring about change has become reason enough to be targeted by federal authorities. Neil Fox, president of the Seattle chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild, had this to say about the investigations:

When I see a search warrant that targets political literature, I get nervous.

Indeed, this whole situation seems like it was taken right out of 1984: homes raided by armed forces for what is essentially a thought crime, fluffed-up abuses of the judicial system used to intimidate individuals for “not snitching” on their comrades, it’s some scary shit. However, when you consider the depth of the federal government’s involvement in this, it really seems more like a surreal conspiracy more akin to The Crying of Lot 49. Most recently, the FBI has been targeting “anarchist terrorists” in relation to OWS-related activities. The May Day anarchists arrested in Cleveland, it later turned out, were supplied with bomb-making materials and instructions by the FBI. Indeed, agents and law enforcement officers have been briefed about what is perceived as an anarchist threat to homeland security. The cringing irony, that these federal agents are decimating   people’s feelings of security even as they attempt to preserve it, is clearly lost on yes-men who walk into homes, guns drawn, like horses wearing blinders. Here’s a page from the FBI’s briefing:

Doublethink logic abounds: the fact that anarchist activists are

  • paranoid precisely because their political ideology appears on such agent briefs
  • security conscious because they hear accounts of armed agents bursting into people’s homes at night
  • distrustful of authority because they see political structures abuse themselves repeatedly and corrode public trust, and
  • non-cooperative because they educate themselves on the psychological manipulation employed even in routing police encounters

seems to be lost on antiterrorist think tanks. The notion that this isn’t a deliberate act of political repression becomes harder and harder to believe.

They are scared. Now more than ever we must show solidarity

Before her October 10th trial, Leah Plante released an excellent video which explains her beliefs, convictions, and willingness to stand by them far better than any paraphrased article can:

If you’re afraid because you too possess all of the prerequisites necessary for becoming the subject of such a political investigation, you should be: I have black clothes, sticks, spray paint, and anarchist literature in my household, too. What we need to remember, however, is that the state would only be persecuting radical activists if they were actually scared of them. True anarchists, fighting for concrete change by any means necessary and refusing to be comfortably co-opted, are terrifying to the state and to the facade of a political system we are all constantly dulled and smothered with. Let’s take a step back though; let’s remember the media’s reaction to OWS activities when they started rising like a tide about a year ago, let’s remember the water-cooler cynicism and cholesterol-gurgling guffaws that made it seem as if this new, political awakening wasn’t a big deal.

Now it is a big deal; and now is the time for us to take our inspiration from infinitely brave activists like Leah Plante and to fight back, because they’re fucking scared of us, and we are a threat.

GOOSEBUMPS “SCARED TO SEE A DOCTOR” RECORD RELEASE SHOW AT 538 JOHNSON (FULL SETS FROM GOOSEBUMPS, AJAX, MERCENARY, LIBYANS, AND LA MISMA)

Like an episode of Jerry Springer, but with more fireworks.

FIGHT CLUB: THE BEST OF FRIDAY NIGHT THROWDOWN

Following the news of Throwdown’s return at SXSW this year with a Texas vs. NYC event, it seems only appropriate to take a look back at the history of Friday Night Throwdown, and the coverage we’ve had of it here on Superchief over the years. For the uninitiated; Friday Night Throwdown wasn’t just NYC’s best underground boxing event, it was NYC’s best underground party.

TEXAS VS. NYC: THROWDOWN RETURNS AT SXSW THIS YEAR

The organization that brought Ford models, Marines and Bloods together for New York’s best underground party is bringing their business to Austin, and bringing with them a Texas vs. NYC event…and Superchief will be covering the whole thing, from start to finish.

THIS APRIL: SUPERCHIEF GALLERY NYC PRESENTS JOHN FELIX ARNOLD III’S “EXCORRIGIA | THE SCOURGE”

From the world of UNSTOPPABLE TOMORROW, Superchief Gallery NYC returns this spring with John Felix Arnold III’s EXCORRIGIA | THE SCOURGE, an exhibition of new works in painting, drawing, mixed media, installation, and sound. The exhibition will run from April 3 through April 13, and there will be an opening reception on Thursday, April 3 from 6-10pm at CultureFix on 9 Clinton Street.

HIGH ON HUNGER: JANE CHARDIET

“High on Hunger” is Jane Chardiet’s new zine, featuring personal essay, photography and interviews with 12 artists, including some of our favorites, about their 2013 and their artistic goals in the new year, along with photographs of each licking fire. It’s good stuff, so I asked Jane about her 2013, because turnabout’s fair play and that’s how the game works.

12 O’ CLOCK BOYS (BALTIMORE STREETBIKE REALNESS)

Whatever your city is doing, what the homies out in B-More are doing is 10x as crazy. 12 O’ Clock Boys is one of the hardest movies we’ve seen in a long time, hands down, exploring a city and a culture that just doesn’t give a fuck (and featuring Baltimore himies like Schwarz on the soundtrack) the film gets more done in it’s 75 minutes than most documentaries do in twice that.

TAPE BAG #1: I HAVEN’T GOTTEN OFF MY COUCH IN DAYS.

Talking shit on random tapes cuz I wanna. Round one: Mongrel, Skinny Puppy, Madonna, Gowanus Mutant Kommandos, Temple of the Dog and MORE.

R.I.P RICKY LUANDA OF CHAIN GANG

Ricky Luanda of the experimental NYC punk band Chain Gang, one of the coolest bands ever, passed away earlier this week from esophogeal cancer. Watch 10 minutes of the bands’ rare, legendary, batshit crazy 1980′s film “MONDO MANHATTAN” right here.

ALWAYS KEEP THE CAMERA RUNNING: MAKS SUSKI’S VIDEOS OF THE NYC MUSIC SCENE

Maks Suski has been hard at work documenting live music in NYC on video for the last 4 years; we asked him to compile a list of some of his favorite videos that he’s shot, a list that includes Japanther, Action Bronson, Death Grips, Culo, Crystal Castles, Limp Wrist, Black Pus and more.

THERE IS A TINY LEG A QUARTER OF AN INCH BELOW YOUR TENTH RIB.

“Although Tiny Leg’s sound owes much of it’s inspiration to the Oakland glucose and thumbtrack scenes of the mid-nineties, and has been called by HotFridge magazine ‘a thumbcore homage to the sound of Velvet Curtis and Taco’ and ‘a slick-stale, neo-juicy, post-hipster alchemy, somewhere in between gluke-wave and puke-base’ by PeckerwoodsToday, those sentences are too journalistic and not souague enough, if one may permit my french.”

DAWN OF HUMANS, HANK WOOD & THE HAMMERHEADS, AND PHARMAKON PLAYED PS1 SATURDAY NIGHT (FULL SETS)

PUNK NOT ART NOISE NOT MUSIC ACK ACK ACK ACK

TOD SEELIE’S “BRIGHT NIGHTS” BOOK RELEASE & PHOTO SHOW AT SUPERCHIEF GALLERY AT CULTUREFIX (VIDEO)

Tod Seelie’s book release and photo show at Superchief Gallery at CultureFix was a celebration of the last 15 years of New York’s underground, for sure; but it also kept an eye on the future.

FUCKED UP CLOSED OUT 285 KENT’S LAST SHOW (FULL SET)

285 Kent finished it’s run last Sunday night; check out full video of Fucked Up’s headlining set right here.

SUPERCHIEF GALLERY AT MIAMI ART BASEL 2013: WILL SMITH CAN SUCK IT.

Superchief Gallery’s showing at Select Fair 2013 is even bigger, better and more batshit crazy than our 2012 showing was – check out photos here, and for homies in Miami, we’ll be at the Catalina Hotel all this week!

STACY KRANITZ’S SKATOPIA (50+ Photos From a Burnout’s Paradise)

Photographer Stacy Kranitz recently journeyed to Skatopia, a famed 88 acre skate park/commune in Ohio which was founded in 1995, documented in the 2010 film of the same name, and once described by writer Kevin Duffel as “a demented mess that meets halfway between an anarchistic Mad Maxian Thunderdome and a utopian skateboard society.” Goddamn if it isn’t one of the best things we’ve ever seen.