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11 March 2008

Briana's Detention Hearing Wednesday - Full Update

This is an update for those who have been following the trial of Briana
Waters, a wonderful mother and violin teacher from the Bay area who to this
day maintains her innocence of these charges she was just convicted of. We
are going to continue doing our best to support her in the ongoing legal
battle for justice.

An important update is there is a detention hearing on Wednesday March 12,
at 1:30 at the Federal courthouse in Tacoma to determine if Briana will be
allowed to go home and take care of her life in preparation for her
sentencing on May 30th. We are reminding people to get there early, like at
12:30, and people in Olympia will be carpooling from the Grocery Outlet
Parking Lot at 11:45. Obviously, if she is living at home over the next 3
months she will be better able to prepare for an appeal, as well as be able
to take care of her daughter. She and her lawyers are requesting as many
people as possible to come to show that she is part of a community and NOT a
flight risk. Though that should be obvious, as she has showed up to every
court date and hearing in 2 years. Join us then, at 11:45 to get a ride up
there and show that we are watching the so-called justice system at work.

What happened in Briana's trial on Thursday was very upsetting for those of
us who hoped that common sense would prevail over fear and lies. It was a
very emotional and stressful time, knowing that the prosecution had done
their best to stretch and twist the evidence to their favor, and there was
also a lot of hope that the jury had seen through their antics.

The judge decided first that he would accept a partially hung jury, and
there was a question of whether the jury would be polled on the hung
counts…. I believe both Prosecution and Defense were pushing for this, (the
prosecution's reasoning being that they would have more info to go on when
they were deciding whether to re-try Briana on the hung counts). Burgess
struck out on his own in this one and didn't allow it, so nobody knows what
the ratio split was in the jury on the other 3 counts.

The jury was brought in, and the air was dense with anticipation. The
courtroom was packed, with Briana's supporters and a few media outlets on
our side, and a collection of FBI agents and other feds, and more media on
the other side.

It started to feel surreal, as the jury foreman passed the note to the court
clerk and she read the guilty verdicts on counts 5 and 7, or Arson of a
building used in Interstate commerce, and Arson of a building that receives
Federal funding. These 2 counts are for the same arson of course, just
various excuses for the Gov't to heap on extra charges. It was a very
emotional time for those of us who know she is innocent.

The jury was instructed not to talk to either side's lawyers about the case
at any point in the future, which seemed very unusual. Defense lawyer Bloom
argued that they would like to have the ability to determine if the jurors
had been influenced by the big arson fire in Woodinville on Monday morning.
They were wanting some idea how much that contaminated the jury, with
references made in initial news reports of devices and explosives(!) found
in the unburned houses, worries about Booby-traps(!!), and the immediate
pinning of those fires on the ELF and the requisite sound bites about

Though Bloom argued for the ability to contact the jury later to learn this,
Burgess wouldn't hear it, for no apparent reason (not unlike many of this
judge's 'decisions'). Needless to say, there are various groups that are
concerned about this sort of thing and wish we had more of this kind of

One court observer was quoted saying "I thought justice was supposed to be
blind, not deaf and dumb…"

At the hearing on Thursday afternoon, Bob Bloom argued eloquently for Briana
to be released pending her sentencing hearing May 30th, citing the character
witnesses that had testified to her exemplary life, the fact that she was
absolutely NO flight risk, and no danger to the community. He also went over
in some detail some of the main appellate issues. The judge though, didn't
seem to consider any of these points interesting, and ordered her detained,
though they scheduled the detention hearing for this Weds. where his
decision could be reversed.

So, out of all this are many, many grounds for an appeal of the verdict. I'm
not sure right now of the timeline for this, but we at Olympia Civil
Liberties Resource and other friends and supporters of Briana will continue to post
and update people. Please join our low traffic listserve about this case,
and possibly other Civil Liberties/Green Scare issues, with carpool info,
etc. by sending an email to olycivlib-subscribe(at)

The first thing you can do is come to the Detention Hearing at the Tacoma
Courthouse this Weds. at 1:30pm. We have to arrive early! We will be
gathering on the Westside of Olympia at 11:45. Please be there!

Another thing is to write to Briana where she is being held right now. The
moral support that we can give right now is invaluable. The address is:

Briana Waters
FDC – Seatac
Federal Detention Center
P.O. Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198

There are a few guidelines for writing to her to keep in mind:
All letters must have a return address on the envelope.
Put your name and address on each page of a letter, as it will be opened,
and she may not get the envelope.
Written correspondence and drawings may be in pencil, standard ink pen,
typewritten, or computer generated. No felt pens, markers, crayon, or
colored pencil, etc.
Do not discuss her case or anything related to illegal activities. Keep in
mind that all mail is read by authorities.
Most facilities will NOT accept stamps or envelopes mailed to prisoners.
Avoid using white-out, stickers, tape, colored ink or glitter.
All personal artwork must be in black & white, copied pages can be in color.
Most facilities do not allow torn pages from books, magazine or newspaper
clippings. Photocopies, however, are accepted

And of course, there are many costs that have come up through the course of
this ordeal. Donations are needed by Briana and her family to continue
fighting for justice in this upcoming period. If you can, donate through
Briana's website: Local donations can be arranged
through Olympia Civil Liberties Resource by emailing us. Thank you!

We'll see you all on Wednesday!

06 March 2008

Briana Waters Found Guilty on Two Counts

Tacoma Jury Convicts Woman of Arson; Hangs on Other Counts

author: Civil Rights Outreach Committee

For immediate Release: March 6, 2008
Contacts: Kassey Baker, 360-561-5261
Lauren Regan, Atty, Civil Liberties Defense Center, 541-687-9180

Tacoma Jury Convicts Woman of Arson; Hangs on Other Counts

Tacoma, WA - A federal jury was unable to reach a decision on conspiracy and transportation of a destructive device but convicted Briana Waters, a 32-year-old mother and violin teacher and former resident of Olympia of arson. The government charged her with being a lookout in connection with the May, 2001 arson of the Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington in Seattle. If convicted on all counts, Waters would have faced a sentence of 35 years. The two informants who testified against her in the case, who admitted to participating in the arson, face between three and seven years. Ms. Waters' sentencing is set for May 30.

Without any physical evidence linking Ms. Waters directly to the arson, the government built its case on the testimony of the two informants, and a number of pieces of circumstantial evidence. The defense argued that the informants falsely accused Waters in order to avoid 35-year prison sentences themselves, and that their testimony was demonstrably false.

Among the pieces of circumstantial evidence introduced by the government was a folder with a note on the cover from Waters to one of the informants, Jennifer Kolar, containing various radical pamphlets and publications. Prosecutors highlighted the most sensationalist passages in the articles, and sought to ascribe these views to Ms. Waters. Waters testified that she did not write the materials, did not agree with them, and did not pass them to Kolar. The defense argued that the informant must have substituted other articles for the ones that Waters actually put in the folder. While Waters' fingerprints were on the folder, they were not on any of the articles. The government countered that Waters' boyfriend's fingerprints were on the articles, and that he is a "fugitive" suspected of one or more arsons. The defense pointed out that the boyfriend is not on trial.

"The government's case was primarily based on character assassination and guilt by association," said civil rights attorney Ben Rosenfeld, a member of the Board of Directors of the Civil Liberties Defense Center. "Evidence of other people's writings never should never have been allowed to be used against her."

Briana Waters has maintained her innocence to all the charges. An appeal is likely.

This trial is another chapter in the federal government's "Operation Backfire," also dubbed the "Green Scare," in which the government has hounded the environmental activist community, overcharged a number of individuals with a federal firearms enhancement applying to bombs and missiles, and branded them as terrorists, even though none of the events resulted in a single injury.

Central to the jury's consideration of two of the charges against Ms. Waters was the question whether she was responsible for helping to build or transport explosive devices. The jury deadlocked on these charges. During the first stages of the investigation of the "Street of Dreams" fires in a housing development in Snohomish County, WA, officials falsely reported that explosive devices were found. Later, BATF Spokesman Kelvin Crenshaw made that no such devices were found. "It is inconceivable that officials could have made such a mistake. It raises the question of deliberate jury tampering by the government, and also calls into question the reliability of the government's information in general," said Rosenfeld.

Briana Waters has steadfastly maintained her innocence.
Copies of a press packet with current related articles and background information are available from civilrightsoutreach(at) For more information, go to

05 March 2008

Briana Waters Trial Update (March 4)

The jury is still deliberating on her case. There is no way to know when a verdict will be reached...

As of Tuesday night we are still awaiting a verdict from the jury, and also woke up Monday morning to the disturbing accounts in the media about an arson up in Snohomish county, that the corporate media have already decided was perpetrated by the ELF... Though the judge was asked Monday morning to interview the jurors individually to find out if they had seen anything on the news about it, he sided again with the prosecution and instead told them there had been a news story that morning that might influence their deliberations, and he issued a rather bland pronouncement to the jury to tell him if they thought they couldn't make a fair ruling in the case. When no one spoke up, he sent them back to keep deliberating. Without any idea for sure if any of the jurors had been tainted by the news that morning, but a fair assumption that at least some of them had, the defense was forced to motion for a mistrial again, which was denied. At the end of the day Judge Burgess granted a defense request and instructed the jury not to watch any TV, listen to the radio, or view any other news source, as it would be virtually impossible to prevent some of the news from "jumping out and catching them".

One thing that is certain to those close to the case is that the arson Monday has only damaged Briana's chances of getting a fair verdict. The corporate media have consistently pointed out how curious the timing of the arson is, with the "UW Ecoterror Trial" still going on, further linking Briana with a shadowy ELF underground in the minds of the public. Anyone should have been able to predict the negative impact of an action like this on Briana's trial, and that just makes this whole event even more frustrating.

There are many reasons to view this fire and it's motivations as suspicious, and there is not yet any evidence that it was actually based on environmental motivations. The vast majority of arsons in this country are caused for run-of-the-mill reasons, and fraud or financial reasons are some of the biggest. The media seem all too happy to jump to conclusions about the people who started those fires based on the most preliminary investigations. Also there have often actions by agent provocateurs during political trials throughout history.

Anyway, we will continue to keep everyone informed about events as they come up.

Thanks everyone for your support!

02 March 2008

Meeting Tonight at Free School 7-8:30 PM

Olympia Civil Liberties Resource will hold a public meeting tonight at the Olympia Free School, 610 Columbia St. South, (across from Olympia Supply Hardware). March Meetings will be from 7-8:30 PM except on the 9th, which is scheduled for 4-6:30 PM due to another event that evening.

We are currently working on supporting Briana Waters throughout her trial, getting the word out about her trial and its implications to civil liberties for activists and everyone. Arguments are completed in this trial and the jury is in deliberation. Jury will reconvene Monday morning, and a verdict could come at any time after that.

If you want to support Briana or are just interested in learning more about this trial and its implications, you are welcome to attend.

26 February 2008

Pack The Court Wednesday! Briana To Take The Stand

Come Support Briana Waters - She Testifies Wednesday

author: Civil Rights Outreach Committee

Briana Waters is expected to take the stand in her own defense as early as Wednesday, February 27, in Tacoma's federal courthouse (1717 Pacific Ave.). Ms. Waters is on trial for allegedly acting as a lookout during the arson of the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001. Ms. Waters, a 32-year-old mother and violin teacher, steadfastly maintains her innocence.
Civil Rights Outreach Committee

If convicted, Waters faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years in prison. This trial is another chapter in the federal government's "Operation Backfire," also dubbed the "Green Scare," in which the government has hounded the environmental activist community, overcharged a number of individuals, and branded them as terrorists, even though none of the events resulted in a single injury.

The prosecution rested its case against Ms. Waters on Friday, February 22, after two weeks. The government's case is not based upon any concrete or forensic evidence, but instead almost entirely relied on the testimony of two informants who confessed to setting the University of Washington fire and who will receive vastly reduced sentences in exchange for their testimony.

The defense began presenting its case on Monday, February 25, and is expected to conclude by the end of the week. The defense impeached several of the government's witnesses, including the informants, by demonstrating that their accounts are inconsistent and unreliable. "Several witnesses were clearly testifying in order to reduce or eliminate the government's threat of their own lengthy prison sentences," said attorney Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center of Eugene, Oregon.

The defendant who admitted to over a dozen arsons in the Oregon conspiracy, Jacob Ferguson, will receive no punishment at all as a result of his extensive cooperation with the government. Stan Meyerhoff, who admitted to playing a leadership role in setting numerous fires across the country was sentenced to approximately 10 years. Regan continued, "Waters, who is solely alleged to have held a radio as a lookout, faces three times the punishment of these much more serious arsonists simply because she has plead not guilty and exercised her constitutional right to a jury trial. Such severe punishment does not fit the alleged crime and once again demonstrates the government's true intentions in scaring the public into submission and apathy."

The government is placing politics before justice and community safety by charging Ms. Waters and her codefendants with Draconian criminal statutes that carry disproportionate punishments. Whether a person burns a building for personal gain or a stated political reason, the US Constitution ensures equal protection under the law. Both must be prosecuted and punished equally. Further, the government must not punish citizens for exercising their rights to a fair trial.

"Briana Waters is innocent, a victim of the government's rabid persecution of environmental activists under the guise of fighting terrorism. The idea that this nonviolent mom is facing 35 years behind bars for something she didn't do is outrageous," said Jim Flynn of the Civil Rights Outreach Committee. "Doesn't our government have more serious crimes and national security threats to prosecute than an alleged incident of property damage that did not physically harm anyone."

Copies of a press packet with current related articles and background information are available from For more information, go to

25 February 2008

Benefit For Briana Feb. 29!

Benefit Flyer! Print and Distribute

There will be a benefit for Briana Waters on Friday 2/29 in Olympia at the
Eagles Hall! It starts at 7pm in the Eagle's Ballroom. There will be live
music, great food and drinks, and a silent auction. The silent Auction
closes at 10pm. The music and dancing goes late night!

The bands are Citizen's Band, The Pasties, Magmatone. Later on the bands
are: Port of the Sun, The Cause of Thunder, and Doomhawk.

The Eagles Hall is located at 804 E 4th Ave. Directions from I-5: Take
Port of Olympia exit. Take Plum Street until 4th Ave. Located on the
corner of 4th and Plum.

Briana Waters is a loving mother who is in trial right now in Tacoma for
the politically motivated arson at the Center for Urban Horticulture at
University of Washington. This is an important case for Olympia. Come
find out why and support your community.

More information at:

14 February 2008

Benefit For Briana Waters

Help Support Briana during her trial by joining us at the Eagles Hall Ballroom in Olympia (at 4th Ave. and Plum St.) on Friday, February 29 at 7 PM. Citizens Band will play and more bands will be announced. Also a Silent Auction for great stuff!!!

OlyCivLib Public Meeting Schedule

Olympia Civil Liberties Resource will hold public meetings in Olympia on Sundays throughout February and March, 2008. We are currently working on supporting Briana Waters throughout her trial, getting the word out about her trial and its implications to civil liberties for activists and everyone. If you want to support Briana or are just interested in learning more about this trial and its implications, you are welcome to attend.

Sundays throughout February and March
At Olympia Free School, 610 Columbia St. SW

Current schedule (check the online calendar for updates, see right side bar)

Feb. 10, 17, and 24, and March 9 at 4-6:30 PM

All other Sundays 7-8:30 PM

Lacey Phillabaum To Testify Today (Feb. 14)

Lacey Phillabaum is being called to testify against Briana Waters today, February 14th, as the last witness of the day. There is a chance her testimony will not be completed today and will resume Friday morning. Briana has asked for support in the courtroom if possible. If you can come to federal court in Tacoma, Washington, please plan to do so and spread the word. You will need picture id to enter the court, and cannot bring food, drinks, laptops or weapons etc. PLEASE dress appropriately for court or don't come anywhere near the courthouse (this is a jury trial, and how Briana's supporters present ourselves influences their opinion of her character). The CLDC website will be posting the first 2 days of court notes soon and regularly thereafter.

13 February 2008

Briana Waters Legal Updates and Information

Regular court updates and more information about Briana Waters' case are available on the website for Civil Liberties Defense Center here: