RNC 8 final four reach plea deals and avoid prison

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Photo courtesy Friends of the RNC 8
Garrett Fitzgerald, Max Specktor, Nathanael Secor and Rob Czernik
Two years after they were arrested in a gun's-drawn raid by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department, Rob Czernik, Max Specktor, Garrett Fitzgerald and Nathanael Secor of the RNC 8 have reached plea deals in Ramsey County.

They'll pay a fine, do a little community service and serve some probation. But they won't be going to prison for their planned political protests ahead of the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Case closed. With a whimper. And with "The Lorax."

The four men, along with fellow anarchists Monica Bicking, Luce Guillén-Givins, Eryn Trimmer and Erik Oseland, were originally charged with felony conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism under the Minnesota PATRIOT Act. More charges were added later, tagging each of the eight with four felonies.

They were among hundreds arrested before the convention. But their high-profile case brought by county attorney Susan Gaertner, fueled by the work of paid informants and undercover cops, eventually went nowhere. All charges against Bicking, Guillén-Givins and Trimmer had already been dropped. And Oseland has pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge.

All four read defiant statements before their sentencing. And Fitzgerald tried to read the classic Dr. Seuss environmental parable "The Lorax" in court before judge Teresa Warner cut him off.

"We have long held that the charges against the RNC 8 were politically motivated, as the defendants were openly organizing resistance to the Republican National Convention as anarchists," said Jaime Hokanson of the RNC 8 Defense Committee. "We are pleased the state did not succeed in sending eight respected activists to prison."

Gaertner said she was happy with the deal because she wanted to deny the final four a political platform in court. "It was a pragmatic decision to not expend any more criminal justice resources on the case," she said.

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