We are happy to announce that as part of our efforts to organize in defense of political prisoners, Red Aid has signed on in support of Water Protector, Jessica Reznicek. As part of this support, we are demanding that Congress and the Biden Administration act to reverse Jessica’s “domestic terrorism” enhancement on her charges, as this enhancement not only doubled her sentence, but sets a chilling precedent for how the state may repress future political prisoners.
Jessica Reznicek is one of many activists who has been targeted by the state for their opposition against the Dakota Access Pipeline, an oil pipeline that was poised to run through indigenous territory, specifically the Standing Rock Reservation. In 2016, the construction of this pipeline was met with multiple protests in an attempt to end its construction. These protests were met with heavy repression by the state, and hundreds of arrests on trumped-up charges. One such activist, Red Fawn, was convicted on phony charges and incarcerated for nearly five years. Now free again, she has stated that despite the hardships of her sentence, she would do it all over again.
This highlights the importance of the struggle against these pipelines for the people, while the harsh sentences these activists face show why our support of them is a necessary part of the struggle!
Under normal conditions, the Jessica’s conviction would have amounted to a sentence of three years. However, now facing a domestic terrorism enhancement, however, she is looking at an 8-year sentence, followed by three years supervised probation. This enhancement was born out of the Biden Administration’s “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism” report, which classifies those who “oppose all forms of capitalism, corporate globalization, and governing institutions, which are perceived as harmful to society” as domestic terrorists. With this language, the administration is explicitly giving courts the ability to target progressive activists as terrorists, thereby intensifying the repression they face to a disturbing degree.
As part of the #DropTheCharges coalition, we had the opportunity to speak with Jessica’s attorney, Bill Quigley, in a virtual meeting on the 18th. Regarding the impact of the terrorist enhancement of Jessica’s case, Bill said:
“She never was charged with terrorism, she didn’t plead guilty to terrorism, but even despite those things, the government advocated and the judge agreed…because her work was calculated to influence or affect the government.”
While domestic terrorist status usually refers to actions taken against the government, and Jessica was charged with damage to a private company, the implications of this enhancement are far-reaching in that they can include damage to any private property, so long as such damage was done to “influence the government.” This motion shows plainly how much more the Biden Administration cares for private companies than clean water, and such a pattern will likely be repeated in other cases like Jessica’s!
While Jessica may be one of the first to face the increased repression provided by this report, as struggle against this violent system continues, we can be sure she will not be the last. By signing on, then, we are not only showing our support for Jessica, but our opposition against the state’s attempts to label activists as domestic terrorists! The fight for a better world is not a crime!
We encourage everyone to sign on to the petition to repeal Jessica’s terrorist enhancement, and to put pressure on the Biden Administration to repeal the use of this enhancement in future court cases: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/protecting-water-is-never-terrorism-repeal-jessica-rezniceks-terrorist-enhancement?source=direct_link
Letters are another great way to express solidarity with those that are incarcerated! Imprisonment is used by the state to isolate activists from their community, and so letters are a great form of support that can help them remember there are people on the outside rallying behind them. You can write to Jessica at the following:
Jessica Reznicek # 19293-030
PO Box 1731
Waseca, MN 56093
For more updates on how to support Jessica, visit the Support Jessica Reznicek website!