2011-08-12 "Protest demands “Drop the charges against Carlos Montes” at August 12 court appearance" from "Fight Back!" newswire
Los Angeles, CA - More than 60 people joined a spirited picket line here at the Criminal Courts Building, Aug. 12, to demand all charges against veteran Chicano leader and anti-war activist Carlos Montes be dropped. Montes previously appeared in Alhambra Court July 6, where he declared himself not guilty of six felonies relating to California’s firearm laws.
Montes told supporters in front of the Los Angeles courthouse, “I have done nothing wrong. The government is using any pretext they can come up with to prosecute me for my activism opposing U.S. wars and interventions and for standing in solidary with people in Colombia and Palestine.”
Inside the courthouse, supporters, family and friends of Montes packed the court room where the first order of business was picking a judge to preside over the case. The first judge assigned to the case was Marylou Villar Longoria, the sister of Los Angeles’ Mayor Antonio Villarigoza. Judge Villar Longoria stated that she was a friend of Montes 28 years ago, and a friend of his lawyer, Jorge Gonzalez, ten years ago. She also stated that she could judge the case fairly. The prosecutor then exercised his right to get a different judge, so Judge Rehm will now be presiding.
In other legal developments, the prosecution agreed to return property seized in the May 17 raid on Montes’ home. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the FBI conducted the raid. The property includes Montes’ computer, cell phone and files documenting current political activism and decades of political activism. The prosecution refused a request from Montes’ attorney Jorge Gonzales for information about communications between the FBI and Sheriff’s Department, so that issue will be taken up in the discovery process.
Attorney Gonzales told the crowd of supporters inside the courthouse that the next important court date in Montes case will be a preliminary hearing on Sept. 29.
After the court appearance, picketing resumed and the chant “Drop the charges now!” echoed off the court house.
Mick Kelly, one of the Midwest anti-war activists raided by the FBI on Sept. 24, 2010 and a spokesperson for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, told the crowd, “The attack on Carlos Montes is a part of the larger case involving the 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists in the Midwest who were raided by the FBI or subpoenaed to appear in front of a Chicago grand jury.”
Montes’ name was listed on the search warrant when the FBI raided the offices of the Twin Cites based Anti-War Committee on Sept. 24, 2010. Public statements from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department confirm the FBI was behind the raid on Monte’s home. In addition, FBI agents tried to interrogate Montes about Freedom Road Socialist Organization, one of the groups being targeted by the Chicago Grand Jury, while he was being held in squad car during the May 17 raid on his home.
Kelly stated, “Across the country activists are holding, events, protests and call-in days to demand all charges against Carlos Montes be dropped now. The attempt to put Carlos in jail is an attempt to silence all of us who are speaking out for peace and justice. We will not let this happen.”