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Public statment from anarchist grand jury resister Cyprus Hartford

by Cyprus Hartford
The state seeks to isolate and atomize us from each other, but we are stronger when we stand together.
Image for GoFundMe taken from reddit.
My name is Cyprus Hartford. I’m a 20-year-old musician, trans woman, and anarchist. On June 5, 2024, I was stopped on the highway by federal agents and served a subpoena to testify before a Federal Grand Jury in Charleston, South Carolina on August 13, 2024. After consulting with friends, family, and attorneys, I’ve made the decision to challenge this subpoena, and if necessary, to refuse to give testimony before the grand jury. I will not allow the state to intimidate me. I will not put my community at risk by giving the state information that has nothing to do with harmful behavior, but discloses private information about our first amendment-protected beliefs, activities, and associations.

Grand juries are an archaic and secretive process by which the state secures indictments. They have been abolished everywhere they were ever implemented, except for the USA and Liberia. As an anarchist, I don’t believe that any court should have the power to condemn human beings to imprisonment, but this is especially true for grand juries. Grand juries undermine witness's rights to protect against self incrimination by forcing them to testify under threat of indefinite federal imprisonment via Civil contempt of court. This is what I will be facing for refusing to cooperate. Grand Juries nearly always vote to indict, with one exception. Grand juries almost never indict white police officers who shoot and kill Black people. This legal process is essentially a kangaroo court. It has no place in a supposedly free country. I refuse to participate in the process of rubber stamping an indictment. Unlike every other legal process in the U.S., federal grand juries happen behind closed doors. There is no defense attorney, no judge, and no press or public. Secret proceedings are inherently undemocratic, and susceptible to politically motivated abuse.

Although I don't think this subpoena is justified, I wasn't surprised to receive it because of similar repression happening in the Charleston area. In March, the same ATF agent who served me the subpoena left a card at the door to my family's house. During the spring of this year, several others in the Charleston, South Carolina area were subpoenaed and did give testimony. State and federal repression is ramping up all around the country. After years of successive mass protest movements, the state is cracking down even further on dissent. We have the tools to be able to fight against this in court. When I was served this subpoena, I called movement attorneys associated with the National Lawyers Guild. They connected me with people who had been in the position I’m in. I was assured that I am not alone. People have been in my position before and made the decisions I am making. The state seeks to isolate and atomize us from each other, but we are stronger when we stand together.

At the present time, I’m currently attempting to find a lawyer to represent me in court. This is a somewhat expensive and difficult process. A gofundme link to support me with this, as well as living expenses in the meantime and potential funding in the event that I am incarcerated for my refusal to cooperate, can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-cyprus-against-state-repression . Any money left over after all this is done will go to others facing state repression.

With Love and Rage, Cyprus Hartford

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