Seattle Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild Urges FBI and US Attorney to Drop Grand Jury Subpoenas

August 1, 2012
For Immediate Release

The Seattle Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls on the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington to drop federal grand jury subpoenas recently served in Portland, Olympia and Seattle. It also calls for an end to raids on political activists. The NLG is concerned that raids and subpoenas are being used as a pretext for harassing political activists.  FBI agents served these subpoenas at the same time that heavily armed FBI agents raided homes in the Portland area, reportedly seizing anarchist literature, black clothing, and computers.

While grand juries are part of our federal criminal justice system, the grand jury was intended to serve as a protector of people’s rights and should not be used as a mechanism for intimidating those who speak out against social and economic injustice in our society.  “Movements and individuals working for social change in the United States have historically been at the receiving end of grand juries being used to harass political activism,” said Neil Kelley, an officer of the Seattle NLG. 

Any time that federal security forces burst into homes and seize political literature, the NLG is concerned about state repression of First Amendment rights to free speech and association. “Given the present climate, when people from Wall Street to Tahrir Square to Anaheim have risen up to challenge government and corporate economic and social equalities, we want to ensure that raids and subpoenas are not used as a pretext to spy on law abiding dissenters,” Mr. Kelley said.

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.  The NLG offers several resources for activists, including the booklet “You Have the Right to Remain Silent,” available for download or in hard copy at, as well as a national hotline for individuals visited by the FBI: 888-NLG-ECOL (888-654-3265).


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