Oct 22 2012
Mic Check – Announcement of Hearing – Notice of Rally and First Court Appearance for Ten Young – Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 23rd, at 2:30 PM,
We just have a brief announcement for your consideration. We thank you in advance for taking the time to read it.
A Whatcom activist, Ten Young, a participant in Decolonize Whatcom, is currently experiencing the burden of of state repression, and he needs your support.
Earlier this year, in February, he led a “mic check” action against the Whatcom County Council, in response to a change in rules which shut out and marginalized the public from the decision-making process of County government.
Using a call-and-response technique developed at Liberty Plaza, New York City, known as the “People’s Mic”, Ten read off a brief statement in short chunks – each of which was repeated by some 15-25 participants in order to forge, using only the strength of their solidarity, their many distinct voices into a single, irrepressible force. Together, they read a statement in which they stridently chastised Whatcom County Council for the Council’s anti-democratic politics, and County Council, almost to a person, fled the room. Their videographer cut the recording in violation of the Public Meetings Act.
Almost immediately afterwards, a witch hunt to find the leader of the mic check began. After a suspicious and potentially questionable police investigation, formal proceedings against Ten began.
What is the charge for which Ten is being prosecuted? Not, as you might expect, for a violation of RCW 9A.84.030.1(b), “Intentionally disrupt[ing] any lawful assembly or meeting of persons without lawful authority”, which would be the only thing it would make sense to prosecute him for, but rather, RCW 9A.84.030.1(a): “Us[ing] abusive language and thereby intentionally creat[ing] a risk of assault.”
Scaring the County Council by using strident, strong language means there was a “risk of assault” created, in the eyes of the prosecutor, in contradiction to all prevailing legal standards concerning the matter. Ironically, assault did occur: someone at the meeting assaulted an independent photojournalist who was documenting the action. It is bitterly ironic that a protester should be prosecuted for creating the risk of assault, yet the actual assailant at the meeting, one Gregory Brown, should not only walk free, but has also been rewarded with a position on the Steering Committee for the Lummi Island Ferry.
If this were not enough to make one suspicious of the way the case has been handled, it is worth noting that this prosecution of a mic check is unique in the nation in that the leader of the mic check has been singled out for retaliation – although other participants were personally known to the Council. Every other mic check prosecution like this which has occurred, to our knowledge, has been a prosecution of the entire group, and the charges have never been for intent to incite violence or a similar charge – it has always been for disruption of a public meeting.
Truly, the extremes to which the local government has gone to single out and prosecute this peaceful activist on trumped-up charges can show nothing more than political motivation. These are not criminal proceedings: this is a witch hunt, meant to make an example of a courageous and creative activist who spoke truth to power.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 23rd, at 2:30 PM, there is a hearing scheduled for his case. Due to a communication failure the time and date of this hearing did not make it to the defense before very recently.
It is extremely important that the community show up to support this activist who has come under such fire. He stood up for our rights; now let’s stand up for his.
The transcript of the statement which the protesters read is attached as a plain text file to this e-mail, and full video of the action is available online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYorbYxkVP8
Sincerely, Friends of Ten Young Solidarity Committee