Two Portland residents say they will appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle Thursday in an investigation of anarchist activity, according to a statement they released on Wednesday.
Grand jury subpoenas have also been served to activists in Olympia and Seattle who may be connected to an ongoing investigation of May Day vandalism, according to the Seattle Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which identifies itself as an association of progressive lawyers. In a statement, the guild urged the U.S. Attorney’s Office to drop the subpoenas out of suspicion they were being used “as a pretext for harassing political activists.”
Of primary concern to the guild has been the seizure of political literature from those subpoenaed, said guild spokesman Neil Fox.
“It concerns us any time there are law-enforcement raids that target political literature, first amendment-protected materials,” Fox said. “There’s a chilling effect these things have on people.”
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington has sealed all legal documents concerning the subpoenas and search warrants issued to seize evidence and provided no comment on the investigation.
Two weeks before a heavily armed, July 25 FBI raid that Dennison Williams and Leah-Lynne Plante said took place at their Portland home, the Seattle Police Department SWAT team seized evidence connected to the May Day investigation from a Judkins Park apartment of Occupy Seattle members.
In both cases, those searched told media that law-enforcement charged into their homes early in the morning and used a stun grenade, a non-lethal object that creates a disorienting loud bang and bright light.
SPD’s online blotter said detectives involved in the Seattle evidence seizure contacted four individuals in the apartment on the 1100 Block of 29th Avenue South before entering. The blotter item said SPD was successful in finding what it wanted and that the material “will be useful in the investigation.”
Williams told The Oregonian that the FBI took his laptop computer, cell phone, two thumb drives, multiple pieces of black clothing, and a T-shirt that read on the front “Multi Death Corporations.”
Wednesday night, activists unfurled banners in downtown Seattle “sporting a message about grand juries and witch hunts, and an anarchist symbol,” according the SPD blotter. A man and woman were arrested for releasing a home-made smoke bomb down on Third Avenue near Pine Street, but were later released after police interviewed them at the West Precinct.