Two Portlanders refuse to testify before grand jury after FBI raid

Two Portlanders refuse to testify before grand jury after FBI raid »Play Video
Leah-Lynn Plante and Dennison Williams.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Two people from Portland say they're refusing to testify in front of a grand jury in connection with three Portland homes the FBI raided last week.

One of the homes that were raided is off Northeast 8th Avenue. Neighbors said they believe at least one of them was squatting at the house.

They say the home has been empty for years until some of them started seeing secret activity in the last month or two. And since the date of the FBI raid on July 25, a sign is now on the door of the house showing the house is owned by a bank.

Supporters of Dennison Williams and Leah-Lynn Plante say the two were subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Seattle at the same time as the raid. They believe it's part of an investigation into anarchists and other political activism.

Williams and Plante released an online statement this week, saying they will not cooperate and will not say anything to the federal grand jury in Seattle but their names.

"The secret nature of grand jury proceedings creates mistrust and can undermine solidarity ... our passion for freedom is stronger than the state's prisons," they wrote.

Williams was confronted by a KATU News reporter in late June for squatting at a different North Portland home. He had nothing to say then as Portland police collected evidence.

In April 2011 police arrested Williams for assaulting an officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

About 20 supporters, some identifying themselves as anarchists, peacefully demonstrated outside the federal courthouse in Seattle Thursday to support them.

"People who have been subpoenaed to grand juries are left with this option of either snitch on your movement, snitch on your friends or go to prison," said Evin Morgan with the Committee Against Political Repression.

One neighbor of the Northeast Portland home raided, who didn’t want to be identified, said she recognizes Williams as a squatter in the home, and he ignored her attempts to talk to him.   
"Just trying to be neighborly, like hey, just try and figure out what was going on, like no eye contact, just walk off," the neighbor said. "You want to know who is across the street from your kids and in your neighborhood."

The FBI search warrant to enter the house last week is sealed, but The Oregonian reported it was found left at the residence after the raid. The search warrant shows police were looking for clothing, flags and other "anti-government or anarchist literature or material."

Supporters say that's a violation of their freedom of speech and they believe the FBI raids and recent subpoenas are in connection to other raids in Olympia and Seattle as well as May Day vandalism to the federal courthouse in Seattle.

Late in the day Thursday supporters said that grand jury testimony was postponed until Aug. 30. Williams and Plante did appear and gave their names, but said they would invoke their Fifth Amendment rights Aug. 30, supporters said.

The FBI is not commenting on the investigation and what was or wasn't said in front of the grand jury is sealed.