Gerald “Jerry” Koch, a New York City anarchist and legal activist, has been subpoenaed for the second time to a federal grand jury investigating the same event. In 2009, Jerry was subpoenaed for the first time and refused to testify. Today, as in 2009, the grand jury is being used to conduct a witch hunt against anarchists and political radicals. In refusing to testify, Jerry risks being held in contempt of court and faces incarceration in a federal prison for the duration of the grand jury, which could be up to 18 months.
Under the guise of an exploratory legal investigation, the grand jury is a secretive tool of repression that aims to intimidate and punish those who refuse to collaborate with the State. There is a long history of grand juries being used whenever the State focuses on a new “enemy”: they were used in the 1950s during the “Red Scare,” in the 1960s against the Black Panthers, and more recently against environmental and animal rights groups in what became known as the “Green Scare.”
This grand jury, like the ongoing targeting of anarchists in the Pacific Northwest, is part of a new, escalating wave of repression against anarchists nationwide, who are being persecuted specifically for their political beliefs and practices. It is no coincidence that the government would try to silence Jerry, as he has been an effective and tireless legal advocate for anarchists, Occupy Wall Street protesters, and others expressing political dissent. Jerry was the person everyone could count on to be waiting for them outside of jail, to support them in the courtroom, and to help with their legal defense. Although Jerry knew he would be in the crosshairs of the State for providing much needed legal support to hundreds of political activists, no one expected that the state would retaliate with a second subpoena. It is clear that the State’s goal is not just to pressure Jerry into informing on the radical community, but to take away someone who is an integral part of our community–someone who makes us all stronger.
By refusing to collaborate with the grand jury once again, Jerry demonstrates his great personal integrity, commitment, and support for the radical community. It is now our turn to stand by Jerry and show him the support and solidarity he deserves. It is time to send a message that, no matter how many times they come after us, we, like Jerry, will refuse to cooperate and to bargain for our freedom at the expense of our friends’ liberty.
Gerald Koch #68631-054
MCC New York
Metropolitan Correctional Center
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007