(Josh Wolf isÂ a freelance journalist and anarchist. HeÂ has beenÂ jailedÂ for refusing to turn over videotapes of a protest being investigated by aÂ federal grand jury. Online Journalism Review has written about his case; here is a bit moreÂ from Wikipedia; andÂ from his own site.Â On Friday,Â December 1, 2006, I ran a reminderÂ of his incarceration. I will write aboutÂ his caseÂ every FridayÂ until he is freed.Â What will you do?Â Tom Abate, San Leandro, California; aka MiniMediaGuy).
LastÂ Friday I speculated that the federal governmentÂ must haveÂ better things to do than investigate aÂ street protest in San Francisco, andÂ that their true goal must beÂ toÂ pressure Josh Wolf, an activist who is overtly sympathetic to the protestors he covers, to reveal what he knows aboutÂ the anti-global, vaguelyÂ anarchist protest network that has arisen sinceÂ the 1999 World Trade Center protests.
AÂ March 27, 2006 articleÂ in theÂ Los Angeles Times lends credence to that surmise. LA TimesÂ reporter Nicholas RiccardiÂ revealedÂ how the Federal Bureau of Investigation has beenÂ investigating domestic protest groups associated with minor acts of political violence — includingÂ anarchists andÂ the grassroots media collective Indymedia.
Riccardi’s article isÂ repostedÂ by theÂ progressive group Common Dreams.Â ItÂ describes a Justice Department presentation to a college law class at the Univerisity of Texas, Austin, at which an FBI counterterrorism official showed:Â
“slides listing militia, neo-Nazi and Islamist groups . . . Â one slide, labeled ‘Anarchism,’ was a federal analyst’s list of groups that people intent on terrorism might associate with. The list included Food Not Bombs, which mainly serves vegetarian food to homeless people, and â€” with a question mark next to it â€” Indymedia, a collective that publishes what it calls radical journalism online.”Â
Josh Wolf’s troubles began on July 8, 2006Â when he covered an anti-globalism protest in San Francisco as a freelance videographer.Â According to aÂ San Francisco ChronicleÂ articleÂ written at the time, one police officer got a serious head injuryÂ at the event, which the paper described asÂ “a demonstration by anarchists who broke windows in the Mission District.” (IÂ am a business reporter for the Chronicle but I’veÂ had no role in theÂ paper’s coverage of this case.)Â An IndymediaÂ report on the protestÂ said “the FBI is investigating the incidents.”Â
There is no mention in either report of a burning police car — which is the reason offeredÂ in later newsÂ articles to explain why federal officials want to see Wolf’s un-aired video.
WolfÂ insists thatÂ he never videotaped whatever happened to that police car and that heÂ must have beenÂ elsewhereÂ taping other parts of the protest. HeÂ has asked the judge to watchÂ his video. The judge has declined to screen his tapes and has ordered Wolf to jailed until heÂ turn them over. Wolf has refused and so he sits in a federal facility in Dublin, California.
It is, of course, possible that Wolf erased his tapes and that an FBI analysis would reveal this.Â But I think it more likely thatÂ the SanÂ FranciscoÂ have used this incident as an excuse to pressure Wolf toÂ testify aboutÂ the the anti-global protest movement.
SoÂ while Osama Bin LadenÂ remains unfound andÂ unpunished federal prosecutors in San Francisco areÂ investigating the connection betweenÂ theÂ unpaid freelancers of IndymediaÂ and the window-smashingÂ protestors who tend to show upÂ at otherwiseÂ peaceful protests.Â
Where’s the clear and present danger?
AndÂ yetÂ theÂ United States governmentÂ hasÂ imprisoned a young man for several monthsÂ in a effort to pressure him to testify.Â Â Â
This is not law enforcement. This is bullying.Â The shortest path to justice is to free Josh Wolf.Â
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