Los Angeles, CA - Veteran Chicano leader Carlos Montes was back in court here, Feb. 8, winning a small legal victory. Superior Court Judge Lomeli agreed to review records on the sheriff’s deputy who transported Montes the East Los Angeles jail after the FBI-orchestrated raid on his home last year. The judge will review the files and turn over to Montes’ attorney any relevant documents.
Supporters of Montes rallied outside the court house, where Montes told of the May 17, 2011, 5:00 a.m. raid on his home, where the L.A. County Sheriffs Emergency Operations Bureau/ SWAT Team, armed with automatic weapons, smashed down his door, creating a life threatening situation.
“The government knows its case against Carlos Montes is really weak,” said Mick Kelly, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. “This a political prosecution and they have made up a lie that Montes admitted to a felony record while he was being held in squad car after the raid on his home.” The point of the Feb. 8 proceeding was to get to the bottom of this false allegation.
Carlos Montes is one of the 24 anti-war and international solidarity activists who have been hit by FBI and grand jury repression since Sept. 24, 2010. Like many of the others who have been caught up in this witch hunt, Montes was one of the organizers of the massive protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Montes' defense has challenged the state’s claim that he has a felony record from his 1969 arrest for leading a student strike demanding Chicano Studies and Black Studies at East L.A. College. That the legal record does not support the claim of a past felony should rule out the District Attorney going ahead with this case. The government is alleging that it was a crime for Montes to buy several guns at a local sporting goods store, because of the (nonexistent) felony record.
The prosecution is basing their evidence on a 42 year old incident, where, during this student strike and rally, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department invaded the East L.A. college campus, beating and arresting student protesters. In the aftermath of the turmoil, Montes was arrested while driving home with a fellow activist and family. He was charged with assaulting a sheriff’s deputy. Even then, the sheriffs targeted Montes because of his politics - he was a leader of the La Vida Nueva on campus and the Brown Berets in the community.
Support for Montes and 23 other activists under attack by the FBI and U.S. federal grand jury is growing. Recently, Montes received a letter of support from the 350,000-member California Teachers Association and the 40,000 members at LAUSD United Teachers of Los Angeles and the UAW local at UCLA. Solidarity events, demanding the charges against Montes be dropped, have taken place across the country.
“Carlos Montes is a hero who has worked tirelessly to build the anti-war, trade union, immigrant and education rights movements. We must not let the government put him in jail,” said Kelly.
Montes is facing up to 18 years of prison time.
FBI the issue at next court appearance
The next court hearing will be on March 2, in Department 123, where Montes’ attorney Jorge Gonzalez will press a motion to obtain documents on the role of the FBI in instigating the raid and prosecution of Montes.
There is ample evidence that the FBI was behind the attack on Montes. When Montes was placed in a squad car after the May 17 raid, an FBI agent tried to question him about Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
The LA Committee Against FBI Repression is urging all supporters of Montes to attend this hearing.