Jordan Halliday Update
For Immediate Release:
Jordan Halliday Pleaded Guilty to Contempt
Utah animal rights activist Jordan Halliday pleaded guilty today July 27, 2010 to criminal contempt of court for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating a series of mink releases in Salt Lake and Davis Counties.
In court Tuesday, before the US District Judge Ted Stewart, Halliday admitted that he willfully & knowingly violated an order by US District Judge Tena Campbell. The order demanded that he answer questions put to him by a federal prosecutor within the confines of a federal grand jury inquisition.
The Prosecution asserted that Halliday refused to take oath and responded with "no comment" to essentially every question asked, even to innocuous questions such as where he lived.
Outside the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City, approximately one dozen protesters expressed their support for Jordan as well as their disagreement with the grand jury process. Protesters displayed signs stating "Resist Grand Juries" and "Support Jordan Halliday."
Halliday was subpoenaed twice in March 2009 to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the activity of the animal rights community of Utah. After resisting on March 11, 2009, Jordan was held in civil contempt of court and jailed for four months. While in jail, Jordan was re-subpoenaed to the same grand jury. When he was released from jail, he was indicted with criminal contempt of court for the same act of recalcitrance. He is one of the first activists in decades to face criminal contempt for merely asserting his constitutional rights to not answer questions put to him by a secretive grand jury witch hunt.
Criminal contempt of court is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor but rather considered sui generis by the court. Literally meaning in latin: "of it's own kind". This being the case it carries no maximum punishment and it is entirely up to the Judge to decide the sentence. Jordan faces possibly one year in federal prison for this charge.
Jordan is currently out on the same pretrial requirements while he awaits sentencing on October 19, 2010. Jordan cannot leave the State of Utah and cannot have contact with known ALF members or members of the Vegan-Straightedge animal group.
Speech made in Portland, OR in May, 2010
My name is Nadia Winstead. It's good to be here with all of you and everyone on this panel. I think it is very important that we are having this conversation and dialog. These issues are very close to my heart and I am happy to share my story with you tonight.
I've been involved and a supporter of the animal liberation movement for many years. I took part in the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign (AKA: SHAC). During that time I helped organize and participated in many pubic demonstrations. As people in my movement started dealing with process servers, law suits, restraining orders, and ending up in jail or prison for their activity, I began to focus on prisoner support. I learned how important it is to show strong solidarity with our comrades who are imprisoned. This gave me the opportunity to make connections with other political prisoners and their movements. Everything really came to a head for me when I was subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in May 2005. I resisted it fully and with a lot of luck and an amazing legal team didn't go to jail after a year and a half of continuous court appearances and harassment. So this is why I have been asked to speak here tonight. I want talk about what happened to my community, how we got through it, and the bridges that were built in the face of oppression.
On May 24th 2005 myself and 9 other individuals were served subpoenas to appear before a federal grand jury in San Francisco. For a few of us, these subpoenas followed the raids of our homes, which happened a month earlier.
As soon as we got our subpoenas, we started organizing our legal team. The subpoenaed made it very clear to each other and to our lawyers that we would be resisting completely and that probably meant going to jail. We took the time to develop the frame work of our support. We knew we weren't going to go down quietly so we got a media point person, a few folks to work on the press release, had a friend create a support website & list-serve, came up with slogans for signs, and got ready to put out a call for a mass resistance demonstration. This kind of solidarity, knowing my community, friends, and family were there every step of the way made it possible to face the potential and likelihood of going to jail.
I would like to talk about how it was very natural for me to resist. I hope I can inspire some of you here this evening to stand in solidarity with all grand jury resisters and if the authorities
ever harass and question you, that you will not talk to them, at all. This means not answering any questions asked by the authorities- no matter how harmless the question may seem- because they can twist your words to use them against you and the people you care about.
Grand juries have been used against radical movements in this country since the abolitionist period. Anti-slavery activists were called before grand juries in efforts to intimidate and destroy their movement. Through out the decades, individuals from just about every movement fighting for social change have been called on by the State to give information about their communities. Grand juries have been used as a tool to silence and intimidate the following struggles; Women's Liberation, the Puerto Rican Independence movement, Black Panthers & Black Liberation, anti-imperialist and anti-war activists, and (AIM) The American Indian Movement. More recently individuals from indy-media, the radical environmental movement, Anarchists, Animal Liberationists and again Black Panthers have been called to testify.
Three things shaped my understanding of grand jury resistance:
One: Learning the history of State oppression against all liberation movements
Two: Knowing that there is a legacy of resistance to grand juries &
Three: Knowing that every person subpoenaed to a grand jury has a chance to be part of that legacy of active resistance against the State to protect their movement.
This was not my first experience with the State harassing and imprisoning my community. Grand juries, home raids, surveillance, infiltration, and intimidation are not new to animal liberation supporters. We have been dealing with these forms of harassment for years. But as our movement continues to grow and persist, the frequency and severity of these incidents has escalated. (case in point: The AETA4) It is ingrained in most of us to never compromise our beliefs and our struggle, especially in court. Having this ethic as a constant in my political life, made me realize that I had no other option. I knew that I had to risk my freedom to resist the grand jury to stay true to my core values and ethics.
I saw our subpoenas as a plot by the government to continue the intimidation of our movement and not something that was happening to us as individuals. I understood that we weren't exceptional, that there was a backdrop to the oppression that was coming down on us. It helped to know that we were feeling this new pressure because our movement was becoming more effective and a potential threat (not to life and limb, but to industry & above all- profit). In a way, I took it as an affirmation and decided that the best thing to do was to connect with other radical people who had similar experiences and try to do some effective community building in the face of harassment by the State.
Right around the same time we got our subpoenas, 5 former Black Panthers in their 50s & 60s were subpoenaed to a CA State grand jury. Without talking to each other before hand, each of them chose not to cooperate with the grand jury and each of them was jailed. To this day, it was one of the most important and beautiful things I had witnessed politically. The fact that each of these men resisted hands down after the State basically pulled them out of retirement, to harass and intimidate them about something that happened in the 1970s, - the fact that they still held true to their politics after more than 30 years- was truly beautiful. It was very clear to me. They have always been under attack- for being who they are and for fighting for self-determination. These men & their community will never cooperate or do business with the State -who has for decades upon decades done it's best to delegitimize, intimidate, oppress, torture, and assassinate them. I got to witness their spirit 'Once a Panther, always a Panther' and I knew that if they could resist at this stage of their lives, that I as a younger healthy person could handle the simple task at hand. My friends and I took this as an opportunity to humbly show our support to these extraordinary people who came before us in struggle and who inspired us to fight in the first place.
After I was found in civil contempt for not answering questions, the judge let me stay out of jail pending appeal. On December 22, 2006 we got our response from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They agreed with our appeal that the government had not met their burden of proof to whether they had used illegal electronic surveillance against me. They overturned my contempt order and remanded the case for further proceedings on our motion. We didn't hear back from the US attorney's office and the harassment pretty much stopped. No indictments came from this grand jury and as far as we know it died at the end of it's second session.
I would like to touch on the AETA4 before I close- These individuals are facing terrorism charges for allegedly using tactics that used to be protected under the 1st and 9th amendments. These same tactics were very popular and effective during the SHAC campaign, now they are considered acts of terrorism. My community went through the SHAC7 indictments and trail with our friends who were convicted of Inter-State stalking by way of a website. Since their conviction, we have supported them through prison. When the AETA4 were arrested on these bogus charges we offered our experience and support. Their struggle has not been easy and they have a long road ahead of them and the burden of fighting this for all of us.
They will continue to need our support. It is important that the government is fought every stepof the way as they try to set this unconstitutional precedent which would make certain forms of public activism acts of terrorism.
Should the State come knocking for you, know that you are not alone. There are resources and very experienced people to support you and offer solidarity. We need to set consistent examples of non-cooperation. We must stand in solidarity with all the resisters who came before us and use everything in our power to oppose the State's unjust system. We can send a message that they can try to lock us up but we will not talk, we will not contribute to their on-going oppression. Please stay strong and stay safe.
Thank you for having me here this evening and thank you for your future resistance.