Los Angeles, CA – In the first significant victory in the case of veteran Chicano leader Carlos Montes, Superior Court Judge George Lomeli handed down a ruling March 27, dismissing two of the six felony charges that are pending against Montes. Thanking supporters outside the courtroom, Montes said, “The success we have had here today is due to your efforts and to those of my attorney, Jorge Gonzalez. Two charges down, we need to get the other four dropped.”
Before the court appearance, protesters gathered in the front of the court building to demand “Justice for Carlos Montes, drop the charges.” Also on March 27, supporters of Montes from across the country placed phone calls to President Obama and Attorney General Holder demanding an end to the prosecution.
Montes is one of the 24 anti-war and international solidarity activists who are up against FBI repression. Standing in front of the courthouse, Mick Kelly, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression stated, “The FBI, along with the L.A. Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Sheriff’s Department has manufactured a crude frame-up against Carlos Montes. They say that he violated gun ownership laws when he did no such thing. They take a charge against Carlos, from 42 some years ago, stemming from a protest where Sheriffs attacked students at East L.A. College demanding Chicano and Black studies. The Sheriffs and District Attorney claim that Carlos has a felony on his record so he can not own a firearm. The legal record does not support that.”
The two charges against Montes were dismissed on the grounds that the statute of limitations had passed. In the discussion of the dismissal motion, the prosecution admitted that Department of Justice records on Montes’ legal history were contradictory.
Also, in the March 27 court hearing, Montes’ attorney, Jorge Gonzales introduced a motion on selective prosecution. “It’s a motion for discovery and a motion to dismiss,” said Gonzalez. The motion argues that Montes is facing prosecution because he exercised his first amendment rights - specifically he is an outspoken opponent of U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Colombia. As such, Montes was an organizer of the massive anti-war march at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Currently, he is calling on people to unite and march on the protest against NATO on May 20, 2012 in Chicago to denounce that war alliance.
The motion also demands that the government produce information on the role of the FBI in the case against Carlos Montes. Early in informal discovery process of Montes’ case, the District Attorney responded to requests for communications between L.A. Sheriffs and the FBI by stating “none existed.” Given that government legal documents introduced into evidence show that FBI Special Agent Matt Weber contacted Sheriff Department Detective Donald Lord to orchestrate the May 17, 2011 raid on Montes’ home, this claim of ‘no communications’ is obviously untrue.
The next court appearance is set for April 26. Carlos Montes and the LA Committee to Stop FBI Repression are mobilizing people for a picket outside and to pack the court room, to demand the government drop the charges!