Occupy Grand Juries


Solzhenitsyn said it, Nobel winners said it, Mandela said it, everyone who has ever been persecuted, tortured or imprisoned by repressive, totalitarian regimes know it: THE ONE THING YOU MUST RESIST WITH EVERY FIBER OF YOUR BEING IS TO NAME NAMES.

Yet that is precisely what our grand jury system has been imprisoning our citizens for; activists who have spent their lives fighting for social and economic justice are now begin imprisoned for a refusal to betray their causes and name the names of other activists and causes which will be subsequently persecuted by these Star Chambers.

We must not let this happen. More than that, we must take back our grand jury system and constrain it to serving the interests of the people, not the 1% and the state-sponsored violence they unleash on the people with the tacit consent of our grand juries.

Ask yourself:

  • Why didn’t a single grand jury in the U.S. investigate or hand down an indictment of George Bush and Dick Cheney for war crimes?

  • Why hasn’t a grand jury been convened to investigate fraud related to the 2007-2008 financial crash?

  • Why have grand juries turned a blind-eye to the use of bogus “curfews” and “anti-camping” ordinances and other technical legal trivia to deny the citizens of this country the right to freely assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievances;

  • Why have grand juries permitted themselves to be managed and manipulated by government prosecutors who also serve as agents for state-sponsored violence on behalf of the 1%;

I know only a little about the grand jury system, and I think that ignorance is shared by most Americans. It’s there, it indicts “criminals”, and we know it’s become corrupted and hijacked to some extent. There are some who think it has been a Star Chamber from the beginning and ought to be eliminated. I don’t share that view. I think the grand jury system and its extraordinary powers to investigate, subpoena and indict, is essential as well as dangerous to a democracy.

The grand jury is the one institution that can shine a bright light on corruption, despite the forces that might wish otherwise (the government, the 1%, the corporations). In a healthy society, it is really the people’s version of ultimate oversight and regulation of our social structures, and can do so even when the people object or fail to understand what is at stake (as they do with initiative processes, recall of judges, electing presidents and other matters where their ignorance has consequences). It can be the people’s last bulwark against tyranny; and for that reason, I put it at the top of the list of all other institutions in need of rescue.

Interestingly, when a society is running well and healthy, the considerable powers of grand juries to investigate and indict are not dangerous at all. It can expose, but it has no power to correct or enforce. It can indict, but it has no law-making power nor can it try and convict. In a corrupted society its real danger is that its silence can leave corrupted powers to do their will. That is precisely what is happening today. Its one other danger, in either case, is its power to imprison its witnesses for refusing to cooperate. In a healthy society that power is what permits it to investigate high offices and conduct its inquiries wherever they may lead. In a corrupted society (as is now the case) it can use that power to abet other powers—the government, the courts—to terrorize and imprison its opposition. This is the case in Oregon at the moment, and in general across the U.S.

And that is why I’ve opened this Facebook page: the only way to correct the abuses of grand juries—without destroying their potential value—is for the people to take them back, own them and see that they do their proper job in a transparent and appropriate way. In that case, Romney wouldn’t have to “distance” himself from Bush-Cheney. They’d be in prison now, doing time for war crimes.

I’m soliciting fact-checked comments on the grand jury system, how it works, why it doesn’t work, and what to do about it. Don’t forget to refer any you know—lawyers, activists, civil rights people, etc.—to come and advise and educate and participate. That’s why I created this Facebook page: so we can all contemplate what a stunning instrument we might have for rescuing this country, if we only learn how to own and operate it.

Grand Juries sit at the intersection of the two coordinates of our society: the democratic processes and the economic structures by which they operate. Yet these two axes of our society have been thoroughly corrupted by the wealth and power of the 1%. The grand jury system, which ought to serve as the peoples flashlight and sunshine into the corrupt corridors and closets of power, has instead been used to mask them and to allow their shadow to shroud the people’s rights and responsibilities as citizens. Grand Juries now sit at the very heart of a corrupt process. THEY MUST BE OCCUPIED AND RETURNED TO SERVE THE PEOPLE BEFORE WE CAN EXPECT TO RECLAIM THE AXIS OF DEMOCRACY AND ECONOMY FOR OURSELVES. NO ELECTION, NO CONSTITUTION CAN DO THAT FOR US. WE MUST DO IT FOR OURSELVES, or plan to live under the shadow of the kind of regime Solzhenitsyn was trying to warn us about – an archipelago of brutality and injustice.

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