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Many uses for a can of pop

Rob Ruckus | 09.09.2003 12:19 | Repression | London | World

3 strikes an your out!

Just Ask Robert Middaugh, a political prisoner and Chicano antiracist activist!

Robert Middaugh (aka Ruckus), was released from Avenal Satate Prison recently, after serving two years for trumped up charges stemming from his involvement in the now infamous 2001 Long Beach May Day demonstration, which resulted in over 100 arrests. The prosecutor wielded every possible charge he could at Rob. He was charged with assaulting an officer, conspiracy to commit a crime, and riot. He was already on parole due to an earlier incident that occurred with the LAPD, which led to his first strike.

Rob was initially looking at 16-17 years in prison if found guilty for the May Day charges, so his only viable option was to accept a plea bargain. He was sentenced to three years and given his second strike.

Unfortunately, this is not the end of the police harassment. After he was released from Avenal, Federal Marshals came for him. He is now being charged with assaulting a government official, wearing a mask to conceal his identity, and possession of a dagger.

The incident in question took place at a July 4th demonstration in 2000, at the Westwood Federal Building in Los Angeles. An anti-immigrant hate group rallied on the south side of Wilshire Blvd. with a sound stage on the Federal Building lawn (granted by federal authorities). Meanwhile, antiracist demonstrators gathered on the north side of Wilshire Blvd. In response to racial slurs and other taunts, a contingency of antiracist protesters crossed the street and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with anti-immigrant demonstrators. LAPD officers swiftly intervened on behalf of the anti-immigrant protesters (surprise!). During the scuffle, unknown person(s) allegedly used unopened cans of soda as projectiles. According to the prosecution's complaint, a can exploded and splashed one of the unfortunate officers with the carbonated contents. The officer (Thomas.G.Goldsmith) proceeded to arrest Rob for "assaulting an officer." In this case, BEING SPLASHED WITH SODA supposedly constituted federal assault charges.

In addition to the ludicrous nature of the "assault" charge, other questionable aspects surround Rob's arrest. Throughout the demonstration, Rob had his shirt tucked in and a sheath was clearly visible over his clothes. The sheath housed the dagger that he had had in his possession. It was legal for him to carry it, because it was visible over his clothing. After Rob was arrested, the officer that searched him untucked his shirt, which caused the weapon to BECOME CONCEALED. Thus, the dagger was concealed AFTER the handcuffed Rob was handled by police.

Furthermore, the officer alleged that he "saw Middaugh with a soda in his right hand throw the can at [him]." However, Rob is LEFT-HANDED. Why would a left-handed individual hurl a projectile with his weaker hand?

Finally, the charges were initially filed on Jan. 11, 2002. Rob demanded a speedy trial, which should have taken place 180 days after the charges were filed. He was arrested by Federal Marshals in August 2003, and the case is barely coming to trial. This is an aberration that further illustrates how the "justice" system is a farce and fails to adhere to its own policies.

Rob has been active with several organizations and has protested against various issues, such as police brutality, racism, indigenous relocation, environmental destruction, animal rights, and militarization of the Mexican border. The disparity in this case between what occurred and the charges filed against Rob is an outrage. Clearly, he was targeted for his outspoken political activities. This ongoing case is a travesty and a mockery of the justice system, and illustrates how far the government will go to squash dissent.

Rob needs help with his legal defense. He is currently on house arrest. You can reach him at:

Rob Ruckus
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