• Planning a Protest? Plan Ahead for Legal Support!

    If you or your organization are planning a protest/rally/demo/action/vigil etc. in the Richmond area, consider contacting for legal support BEFORE you run into trouble. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure! Contact Richmond Copwatch to get trainings on Know Your Rights, and to get trained Copwatchers with video cameras to your event. sbhcopwatch@gmail.com or 804 303 5449 Contact Richmond Legal Observers to get a trained observer in a neon hat to come out to your event. Email - bakhtiarijj {at} vcu.edu We are working on getting a group of lawyers together who will be able to offer help/ advice/ contact/ and hopefully even representation to activists in Richmond. If you are a lawyer who would like to support social justice movements in the way please get in touch with the organizers of this website at rvaabc@gmail.com
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Jeremy Hawthorne

Results from Jeremy’s trial on February 1st:

Today (Feb. 1st 2012) was Jeremy Hawthorne’s trial for charges brought against him back in September. Numerous posts on this website and others (www.richmondlegalsupport.org) detail the charges and circumstances around them. He was facing felony charges for vandalism that happened to 7 tires of VCU vehicles, including 2 cop cars in August.

Over 40 friends showed up to the court building today to show their love and support for Jeremy. It was clear that he is part of a large community that likes and appreciates him.

Unfortunately, today he was found guilty. There were many aspects of this case which were bogus, including the last minute cancellation of his lawyer, leaving him stranded with a public defender unfamiliar with the case. Jeremy was found guilty of Felony Destruction of State Property worth greater than 1000 dollars. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail, and a fine of over 1300 dollars (the alleged cost of replacing the tires).

Fortunately, Jeremy is being allowed to remain out of jail until April 6th, when the details of his sentence will be decided in court. His lawyer will also hopefully be able to begin an appeal process before that date. We hope that court on April 6th and any future appeal dates go in Jeremy’s favor.

Our friend Kontra has written a very good article explaining in more detail the situation today in court, as well as the context which helps to better explain the overall case. Please take the time to check it out here:

http://kontradictions.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/apolitical-politics/

Jeremy Hawthorne is an asset to the Richmond community, loved by many, friend to many, and will continue to be supported by these people and community, including us. Solidarity and hugs to Jeremy.

~~~~~~~

Jeremy Hawthorne, arrested September 5th, 2011 while on a Copwatch patrol, is going on trial before a jury for allegedly slashing 7 tires on Virginia Commonwealth University vehicles, including two police cars. The charge is Destruction of State Property > $1,000, a Class 6 Felony.The case is clearly politically motivated; as a part of Richmond Copwatch, Jeremy is one of several who have been targeted by Richmond police in past months for their work against police brutality and poor jail conditions in the city. The notoriously heavy-handed RPD and its officers, ever the subject of much controversy, have bristled and taken a particularly antagonistic attitude with activists, protestors, and copwatchers, reacting in a consistently aggressive, violent, and reckless manner. Accountability, on the other hand, has been elusive.

The “evidence” used to indict Jeremy is insubstantial, and many details surrounding testimonies evidence gathering, and the circumstances leading to Jeremy’s arrest, are questionable at best.
Commonwealth Attorney Christopher Toepp is handling the case per his personal request, intent on a full conviction. Toepp has had a long year of high-profile cases, having been on the prosecution for the Monroe Park Occupation, and the African burial ground demonstration. If Chris Toepp has his way, Jeremy would face 5 years in prison.
The description of the person depicted in the so-far unreleased surveillance footage is incredibly mundane: a beard, a hat (maybe camo, brown, or black?), tattoos, a black sleeveless or rolled-up shirt, a bag, and a step-thru frame bike. In Richmond, this could easily be thousands of people. The alleged acts occurred on August 23rd, the Monday proceeding Best Friends Day, meaning hundreds more out-of-town hipster look-alikes were wild in the streets.

We encourage all those who think they may roughly fit this description to come to the hearing, inside the courtroom and out, as part of a “beard bloc.”

Folks who wish to come out in support- the hearing will be in courtroom 305 of the John Marshall Court Building, 400 N. Ninth St., Richmond, Virginia; 9:30AM Wednesday, February 1st.

For more information, you can contact rvaabc@gmail.com and check richmondlegalsupport.wordpress.com for updates.
We ask all to donate to his legal fund, via the Richmond Anarchist Black Cross (2005 Barton Avenue, Richmond, VA 23222).

The next court date for Jeremy Hawthorne will be on February 1st 2012.

If you can come support Jeremy, who was arrested during a Richmond Copwatch First Fridays Patrol in September, show up for a 9:30 am court at room  305 (Judge Stout) at the John Marshall Courthouse located at 400 North 9th Street in downtown Richmond.

Jeremy is being charged with Felony destruction of state property- he was arrested during Copwatch on Sept. 2nd. This spurious charge is very clearly political in nature.

From Oct. 12th –

On September 27th, several of us went to the Manchester court building to support Jeremy at his preliminary hearing for the charges filed against him by the VCU Police. For those of you who might not know, Jeremy was arrested on charges of slashing 7 VCU car tires, worth $1,330.00, making the charge a felony destruction of property. Jeremy and his public defender, at the hearing, were allowed to see some of the evidence that VCU has against him, and surprise surprise, without having any physical evidence (besides a few pictures of Jeremy AFTER he had been arrested and the picture of a tool confiscated after his arrest), the judge ruled that the case would be continued in a Grand Jury hearing on November 7. The Commonwealths’ attorney, Christopher Toepp, is the same friend of the police who tried to convict those arrested in the Monroe Park Occupation at the beginning of the year, as well as the Defenders in the African Burial Ground protest. He lost both of those cases,  but Jeremy was also told that he specifically requested this trial because “he wants to see it done right” and that he is looking for a felony conviction and jail time for Jeremy.

Jeremy will be sticking with his public defender for the time being, and has been fundraising for the last month or so to raise money for another attorney. Unfortunately, lawyers are unrightfully expensive, and the person he has in mind to represent him requires a $2,500 retainer fee to even start working on the case. Any help would be greatly appreciated, whether it be financial, advice, a friendly word, or  helping to put on a fundraising event to benefit his legal fund.  Also Jeremy has requested that as many people who can attend further trial dates as supporters is essential and appreciated, the more eyes and ears during this ordeal the better.  There has been no word yet as to whether or not Jeremy will be able to attend the Nov. 7 date, as it is usually private to the judge and attorneys involved.

Anyone who wishes to donate can do so using our handy PayPal button on the website, and be sure to specify what you want the money to be used for.

Thanks everyone for your support so far and in the future!

From September 4th-

I was at home on Friday night, not participating in Copwatch due to other conflicting activities. The phone rang, and on the other end was Copwatch Member D, who quickly related that another member of Copwatch, M, was being detained by the police. D said that the police were not allowing them to get anywhere near M, and that because all of the Copwatch cameras had been placed in M’s bag, the police had them all. I got the location, called to Copwatcher X, and jumped in the car to get to the scene as quickly as possible.

Upon arrival we met up with D, and walked to the street where M was being detained. I walked down the sidewalk on Monroe Street, off of Broad (headed South). Quickly, 2 members of Richmond Police Department informed me that if I was going to walk down the sidewalk I would be arrested. I asked what for, and they said Obstruction of Justice.

I got into an argument with them, explaining to them the definition of Obstruction of Justice in Virginia, and how my walking down a sidewalk to observe and record the police did not count. Then the cop informed me that he had specific orders not to let the three of us down that street. This whole time other people were walking down the street. I informed the cop that what he was engaging in was illegal, selective enforcement, and a violation of our right to observe and record as well as move freely. He kept repeating that he would arrest me if Iwalked down the public sidewalk.

We spotted Brass on the opposite sidewalk and crossed to inform him that that officers under his command were breaking the law and violating our rights. This was 4th precinct commander Mike Snawder. He repeatedly told me that he advised against me walking down the sidewalk, and that if I did so I might get arrested for obstruction of justice. I explained to him his and his officer’s misuse of that concept. He did not appear to want to be reasonable.

At this point, the police had our friend M down a dark alley off of Monroe behind New York Pizza. I was frustrated at the illegal behavior of the Richmond Police, commander Snawder and all. I crossed the street away from him and walked down the sidewalk despite their repeated threats. One of the officers followed me up and down the block as I walked back and forth. I was able to see M in cuffs on the curb before they were loaded into a VCU PD Wagon in the alley.

The repeated attempts and insistence on violating our rights, trying to intimidate us, and threatening us based on vast misinterpretations of the law by the Richmond Police Department on September 2nd are just symptomatic of the many problems of the police state we are currently living in. If it weren’t for our knowledge of the law and willingness to assert our rights in the face of threats from armed goons, they would have gotten away with breaking the law and intimidating us.

From Jeremy on September 3rd:

After a long and relatively uneventful night of doing Copwatch for first fridays on Broad Street, S and I were ready to make the trek back to the Wingnut to review the footage acquired over the course of the night. It had been an evening of very large groups of very bored pigs, standing in groups of up to ten up and down Broad St., most likely very upset that there were no younger folks of color to push around to pass the time on a Friday night. After a humorous impromptu interview with the 4th precinct commander, Mike Strawder, S and I had made it back to our bikes, parked in front of the New York Pizza restaurant. S had unlocked his bike, and as I bent to unlock my bike, I felt handcuffs close over my left wrist as another pair of hands closed around my right arm. I looked up, and there were at least 15 VCU and Richmond police officers surrounding S and I, and I was promptly told that I was under arrest and that I had a felony warrant out on my head, though they were not, at that moment, very forthcoming about what I the warrant was for. S jumped to his feet and immediately had his camera trained on the officers and myself, and watched as they moved me to an alley “where  no one could see me”. My pockets were searched, my knife confiscated, and my bag taken from me as two undercover agents kept their video cameras trained on me throughout the ordeal.

Soon, a VCU paddywagon pulled up, and I was shuffled away to the VCU police station, under the impression that I would be going to jail for whatever it was they thought it necessary to charge me with. After my arrival, a detective and a police officer sat me down in a waiting room, took my picture a few times, and shot the shit with other passing officers while a large, sloth-like pig played a game of Bejeweled on an office computer across the room, intermittently taking long sips from what was probably the largest Big Gulp I had ever seen. After a few minutes of wishing that I could take a nap, or at least know my reason for being there, I was carted even deeper into the bowels of the VCU cop shop, and finally was able to shed some light on the current predicament. The detective informed me that on August 23rd someone matching my description (someone with tattoos, a hat, and a bike….. in Richmond, during Best Friends Day) had slashed an undetermined amount of tires belonging to, I’m guessing, VCU. Though confused about the situation, I spoke to the magistrate via some technological doohickey, and was told that I would be taken to processing, and then released on a $5000 unsecured bond. I was also told that my bike, hat, and knife would be held as evidence until the investigation was over with. The officers involved used their wily charms to try and talk about the Wingnut and Copwatch, and allowed me to call S to come and pick up my bag.

After a short ordeal with fingerprinting, signing documents, and getting even more pictures taken at the processing station, I found myself right back out onto the streets of Richmond, dazed and slightly weirded out by the strange turn of events that had taken place over the course of the night. My court date is on Tuesday the 6th, at 9 A.M., so you can be sure that there will be plenty of updates regarding the case as it progresses. If anyone might happen to have contact with a decent (and cheap) lawyer in town who is friendly towards Anarchists, you can contact the house at 804-303-5449, or through the website.

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