Thursday, October 05, 2006

Protester of neo-nazi rally found not guilty of 2 felony charges

After an intense 2 day jury trial, anti-racist activist Jacquelyn Winkler was found Not guilty of either of two felony charges placed on her during a protest against the national socialist movement (a neo-nazi group) on April 22nd 2006. The Lansing police charged Jacquelyn with Assault of an officer, resisting arrest, and attempting to disarm a police officer. Lansing needed to win this case because of the amount of money and effort spent to protect the nazis. There were approximately 500 fully armed police officers, many in full body riot gear. Thirty police vehicles escorted and protected the nazis bus. At the protest site massive fences spanning all the way around the capitol lawn separated the boneheads from the community. Protesters were told that to get close to the capitol lawn, they had to demonstrate inside of a "protest pen". To get in you had to be fully searched, (shoes and all) walk through metal detectors, and could carry nothing in. Once you were in you were fully fenced in, with riot police and cops on horse back.

Out side of this area where protesters that refused to be searched and put in a cage just to protest genocide. Here is where the police were most focused and inevitably, most violent. Other than creative signs and banners, protesters carried instruments, mega-phones, and bucket drums, in order to make a wave of sound so enormous the would be fascists would not be able to hear their own hate message.

In order for the city to justify such a force to the unattending community they needed and example of effectiveness. Jacquelyn Winkler became their scape goat.

The actual incident occurred when without direction or warning the police approached the line of demonstrators and began taking buckets that had been set down by people who were going into the protest pen. As Jacquelyn noticed this happening she moved to grab one of our buckets.The police claim that at this point Jacquelyn attacked a SWAT officer. The truth is without any orders the police came from all sides of this 110 pound womyn, grabbing her hair, and placing her in a head lock then thrashing her to the ground and placing a very heavy knee onto her head causing head injury and loss of consciousness. After the arrest she was carried into the police station. (Under oath, several officers testified that she was flailing wildly trying to get away, other officers claim she was "dead weight"). While being booked Jacquelyn told SWAT officer Relyea she was in pain, he told her she would "be hurting a lot more soon" (he admitted this statement at trial) while he continued to pull her hair. She was later taken to the hospital and treated for head and shoulder injuries then returned to jail. She was released with felony resisting arrest and obstructing. At the preliminary exam the city added another felony. Attempting to disarm an officer. SWAT Officers Beasinger and Eichenberg claimed that during the struggle she managed to get away from 5 large police officers get to her knees and place both hands on officer Beasinger's gun and tug on it twice. At the pre trial they added even another felony, Successfully disarming an officer. Now they claimed that Jacquelyn actually managed to get the gun from Beasingers holster. This charge was dropped before trial. As for the others, when asked at trial how a 110 pound womyn could over take large officers, Beasinger testified that it was possible if the subject was "drunk or on drugs". He looked directly at the jury when this was said, actually insinuating that she was intoxicated at the time, even though he made no mention of this in his report. The entire trial lasted 2 days from 8 am to 6pm. in this time a video that was shot by a fellow activists was shown to the jury. IT showed the defenses side clearly. The prosecution tried to combat this tape, by cross examining the author and making laughable statements like "isn't it amazing how you can miraculously shoot only the parts that fit your story". And asking irrelevant questions like "do you like police?" and, "so, police are your friends?" Insinuating that while he was being shoved back by police and trying to film, he purposely moved the camera away just before she fought of 5 police and pulled ones gun, and put it back just as the police got her back on the ground. The entire trial went on like this. The prosecutor making irrational statements, and the amazing pro bono defense team shooting them down. One of the highlights of the trial was when one witness testified that the amount of force used to take down Jacquelyn was equal to the amount of force she would expect to be used to take down a "6 foot man with an AK-47" . This witness was not only a lawyer her self, but had lived years of her life in Saudi Arabia. If anyone knew what they were talking about, she did. The jury found Jaquelyn Winkler not guilty on both counts.

I see this trial as an important event in many ways. Most importantly because while it permanently destroys your faith in those in authority, it gives you some desperately needed faith in humanity again. The jurors were not stupid and they didn't just take the lies that were fed to them just because it was the police, and the city. That being said, it is important to keep in mind that privilege plays a massive role in such situations. We were lucky that our friend, Jacqui, was a white traditionally gendered, straight looking womyn without a record. S**t, it really makes you think about all of the people who don't fit into that privilege structure. That situations just as irrational and vicious as this actually go through and the authoritarians win. it happens all the time. The jails are full of these stories. However this was a major victory for all protesters everywhere. It sent a very clear message to the cops, that we will fight back, on our turf or on theirs.

written by: (A)ndy of Dein Haus Collective