Jesse James Forrey, 27, was one of over 800 people arrested at the RNC protests in the Twin Cities in September 2008. He has spent the past year in Minneapolis waiting for the state to schedule his trial, while maintaining his innocence of this crime. In August 2009, he was found guilty of felony damage to property in the first degree. On September 17, he will return to court to be sentenced.
Jesse is a friend, a brother, a musician and artist, writer and student, teacher and dog lover from Santa Cruz. He spends his time helping raise his friends’ children, playing the banjo, taking and offering classes through Free Skool Santa Cruz, and volunteering his time to help create healthy communities. He has continued similar work while in Minneapolis, working with children and supporting other RNC arrestees. The past year has been difficult and Jesse says “not a day, not a single day…. have I not thought about the West Coast, my friends and my family. The struggle inside of me to accept that I can not be with them, the distance and sadness has made this one of the hardest times of my life. And I have done nothing wrong. I am not even accused of hurting anyone, yet my life has been irrevocably altered.”
In total, 818 people were arrested during the RNC. Over 100 people, including Jesse, were charged with felonies on the first day of the protest alone. The prosecutor’s office is still pursuing charges wherever they can in an attempt to justify the exorbitant amount of money spent on the protection of war-profiteers, power elite and neoconservative bureaucrats. Some RNC protestors are being charged with absurd crimes like “felony conspiracy to incite to riot in the furtherance of terrorism” while others are given additional charges when they pursue fighting their cases in court. For more information on RNC arrests, see RNC Aftermath. In Jesse’s case, the judge allowed the prosecutor to bring in an extra witness at the last minute, only to talk about the RNC Welcoming Committee, a organizing group Jesse had no connection with. The judge in Jesse’s case has been known for handing out high bail amounts and long jail sentences in order to make an example of political protestors.
We cannot change what has happened, but we can support Jesse and let him know that he is cared about and loved. There are things you can do to help:
- Write a letter — before September 17 asking the judge to not assign jail time. Jesse has already had the past year of his life controlled by the court system as he waited trial call. In this letter please describe your relationship to Jesse, what you know of the changes in his life, whether you consider him to be an asset to the community and anything else you feel is appropriate. This letter should be addressed to The Honorable Judge Paulette K. Flynn, Ramsey County Court. The letter can be sent directly to Jesse’s attorney, Barbara Nimis, 350 River Road, PO Box 50812, Mendota, MN 55150 or you may sent it to Jesse at 3924 Elliot Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN, 55407. You also could email it as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sign the support petition— it will be presented to the judge at Jesse’s sentencing. Every small sign of support helps. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/supportjessejames
- Donate money — Jesse is expected to pay around $18,000 in legal fees and restitution. Because he has been on trial call for the past year in an unfamiliar city, he has been unable to hold a steady job and has very little money. You can donate money through Jesse’s website at http://SupportJesseJames.wordpress.com. No amount is too small.
- Throw a benefit for Jesse — holding an event is a great way to raise money for Jesse and also educate people about the RNC and the police state. For help in holding a benefit, contact email@example.com.
“You, too, probably have dreams and wishes and pains that you would like to affect. It is my hope that we can share this with each other, in a way that is enabling and inspiring. I suppose that is what this is about: sharing our lives in an inspiring way. Support…. There are things we can not ignore, and there is so much we have to gain.” — Jesse James Forrey