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Judge orders May 15 trial for Carlos Montes

By staff |
April 26, 2012
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Supporters of Carlos Montes outside the Los Angeles court, April 26.
Supporters of Carlos Montes outside the Los Angeles court, April 26. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Carlos Montes (center) with supporters before April 26 court appearance in L.A.
Carlos Montes (center, wearing hat) with supporters before April 26 court appearance in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, CA - On April 26, Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli ordered a trial to begin on May 15 for Carlos Montes, a longtime Los Angeles Chicano activist in the anti-war, immigrant rights, public education and Chicano liberation movements. The trial will start at 8:00 a.m. at the Criminal Courts Building, 13th floor, Department 100, at 210 West Temple Avenue in Los Angeles.

At the court hearing on April 26, Montes said: “Thank you for showing your solidarity here today in the rain.” He is asking people to plan on attending a part of the trial the week of May 15.

After long oral arguments, Judge Lomeli denied the motion by civil rights attorney Jorge Gonzalez for discovery and to dismiss charges against Montes on the grounds of selective prosecution. This means that the court will not look at the role of the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force in initiating the case against Montes. That will have to be exposed during the trial.

In fact, Montes was singled out for prosecution because of his activism. He is being targeted as part of larger proceedings against anti-war and international solidarity activists. Legal documents show that FBI Special Agent Matt Weber contacted the L.A. County Sheriffs about a 42-year old legal case, the outcome of which is under dispute, and a gun purchase. During his arguments, the district attorney stated that freedom of speech has “limits” for people who are critical of U.S. policy and support oppressed people resisting U.S. wars.

At a previous court hearing, two felony charges were dismissed by Judge Lomeli, but four felony charges remain, dealing with the purchase of a gun in 2009. The trial will deal with these four felony charges. If Montes is convicted, he could face up to 12 years in jail.

Over 40 supporters and activists held a rally April 26 outside the courthouse, chanting, “What do we want! Drop the charges!” The supporters then packed the court room, to express solidarity with Carlos Montes. The activists and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression are launching a national campaign of letter and email writing to pressure L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley, demanding that the charges against Montes be dropped.

Montes was arrested May 17, 2011, in a raid by the FBI and the L.A. Sheriffs as part of an investigation of “material support of terrorism” targeting anti-war and solidarity activists. “The current gun charges are a pretext to attack Carlos for opposing U.S. wars,” said David Cid, a Los Angesles area teacher.

Carlos Montes is a nationally respected leader in the Chicano, immigrant rights and anti-war movements. He is a founding member of the Southern California Immigration Coalition, active in East L.A. in support of public education and active in the anti-war movement. Montes helped organize protests against the 2008 Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota; his name was listed on the FBI search warrant for the Minneapolis Anti-War Committee office raid of September 24, 2010, which was investigating “material support for terrorism.”

On May 17, 2011 at 5 a.m., the FBI, along with the L.A. Sheriff's SWAT team, carrying automatic weapons, busted down Montes’ door and raided his home, seizing his computer, cell phones, and files documenting decades of political work. Montes was arrested and released on bail the next morning.

All out for the start of the trial the week of May 15, 2012!

Plan on attending all or part of this important trial - it will take several days. Please send donations and letters of solidarity to our web site: www.stopfbi.net or call the L.A. Committee to Stop FBI Repression at 626-532-7164.