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Armed Robbery Charge Dropped: Pun & Craig Go To Trial July 16
Supernarc G. Gordon Liddy once proposed that domestic revolutionaries be kidnapped and held inside Mexico until after the re-election of Tricky Dick Nixon. The plot was foiled by John Mitchell and cronies, who decided on less ambitious methods to repress and control people who organize against Nixon ranging from media manipulation to armed robbery and break-ins.
The State of Michigan has yet to mastermind a plan quite so vicious and crazy as Liddy's, but it too has conspired to stifle, jail, harass, intimidate and smear politically active people opposed to its policies and practice. The most recent case of "political espionage" used by the State of Michigan against dissidents is the current attempted railroading of Pun Plamondon and Craig Blazier to prison for the rest of their lives.
Pun and Craig, both members of the Rainbow People's Party, are scheduled to go to trial Monday, July 16, in Cadillac, Michigan, before Benzie County Circuit Judge William Peterson on charges of extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, and criminal usury. If convicted they face a possible 65 years in prison apiece.
Originally the two were also charged with armed robbery, which carries a life sentence. But that charge was dropped on July 7 by Assistant State Attorney General John Wilson. Wilson used the armed robbery charge as the basis for the $100,000 bonds originally set for Pun and Craig, and for the media attack designed to paint the RPP and its members as mad dogs and violent criminals dangerous to the well-being of the community. The office of Attorney General Frank Kelley, which is trying the case in place of the local prosecutor, requested the high bonds and sent out a rare, sensationalized press release which made it slanderous front page news across the state.
A motion calling for dismissal of all the charges on the grounds that this is a political prosecution was defeated at a pre-trial hearing several weeks ago, but the theme is basic to the defense and will be argued throughout the trial. The dismissal motion calls the case a "bad faith, malicious and unlawful prosecution, brought for the purpose of staining the defendants with the taint of criminality, thereby announcing to the public that they should be shunned, silenced and avoided, in order to chill and deter the political activities of the defendants and for the purposes of harassing, intimidating and impeding the political activity and free association of the defendants, their friends, neighbors, fellow community residents, peers and political associates."
Buck Davis argued the motion for the defense before Judge Peterson in Beulah, Michigan, 250 miles north of Ann Arbor, where the charges were originally brought. Buck spoke from the defense table where Pun and Craig sat with court-appointed assistant defense attorney Ted Hughes. Across the way at the prosecution table was Wilson and State Police Officer Roger Ward, a plainclothes cop with long hair who's mug was featured in a recent issue of the SUN with the heading KNOW YOUR ENEMIES. Wilson waved the KNOW YOUR ENEMIES page from the SUN in court at one point to offer proof of the vicious and violent nature of Pun and Craig and the entire SUN staff.
"There are no laws against what we are charging," Buck argued, "because America has yet to recognize that there are political prosecutions in this country. The only other case we can cite is the U.S. versus Ellsberg and Russo case, where the judge found that the actions of the government were so illegal and offensive to justice that he dropped all the charges just before the case went to the jury."
At this point Buck pointed to the list of charges brought by various police agencies against RPP members since 1964, a series of attacks which has resulted in over 20 arrests but only four convictions. The rest of the charges were either dismissed by the court, dropped by the government or reversed on appeal. Three of the four convictions were for weed possession under a law that has since been declared unconstitutional due to John Sinclair's successful appeal of his Ten for Two sentence. All of the convictions have been on guilty pleas, no case that the RPP has ever fought resulted in a conviction or was won on appeal.
"What is it about the RPP that has brought about this response?" Buck Davis asked the court. Holding up a copy of the testimony from 1970 of State Police "Intelligence" Officer Detective Clifford Murray before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in Washington, he read aloud. "The White Panther Party (RPP) is working toward obtaining control of large masses of young people for the primary purpose of causing revolution in this country. The methods used to recruit these people is based upon a complete dropout of our society and the adoption of a system involving "rock" music and the free use of drugs and sex in a setting of commune living. Gentlemen, based on the information that we have obtained we would have to consider the White Panther Party an organization bent on total destruction of the present Government of the United States and detrimental to the welfare of this country." The above is why the RPP has received the response it has from the Attorney General and the MSP.
Buck then talked about Uwe Wagner, the only witness to tell the story as the state insists it occurred. Uwe testified that Pun and Craig threatened him with a knife and a gun and took his belongings, they then threatened him with harm in the future if he didn't pay money owed others in a weed deal.
But Uwe's testimony has been directly contradicted by another eye witness, Bruce Peterson, who was present during the whole event. Bruce testified that he never saw any knives or guns or heard any threats. He said Uwe voluntarily offered to give up his belongings as collateral on a debt owed to a third party. Bruce also testified that Uwe was a somewhat renowned rip off artist and death drugs dealer. Bruce's version of the story is essentially the same as Pun and Craig's.
Although he's admitted on the stand that he's dealt death drugs, the state has chosen not to bring any charges against Uwe. It's been learned that he may be in danger of deportation which may explain why he conspired with the police.
"We believe," Davis closed the argument, "that this prosecution is not being brought in the interests of the people of the state but has been initiated to restrict the rights of free expression of these defendants, and that therefore this motion should be granted and this case dismissed."
But Judge Peterson denied the motion and ruled that even though the state may have acted improperly in the past or even in this case, that he still felt that Pun and Craig could receive a fair trial in court.
The trial starts on July 16th in Cadillac and is expected to take two or three weeks. Jury selection will start on the 16th and last about three days, the Assistant Attorney General will present his case and then Pun and Craig's case will be presented to the jury.
In a last minute development, arrangements have been made for sister Liz Gains, an attorney from Syracuse N.Y. and active in the Attica Brothers Defense, to represent Craig during the course of the trial, the sisters powerful energy and legal ability strengthens an already strong defense.
Pun and Craig and the RPP Legal Defense Fund would like to thank all those who attended our last two benefits, and a special thanks to the bands: Radio King and His Court of Rythm, UPRISING, Terry Tate Blues Band, and DETROIT. As usual, more funds are urgently needed for travel costs, house rental in Cadillac, living expenses and other trial costs. Contributions should be sent to the RPP Legal Defense Fund, 1520 Hill Street, Ann Arbor.
-David Fenton and Pun Plamondon for the defense
Pun Plamondon and Undercover agent who arrested him
Head of WA.N.T.-Clarence Rye
W.A.N.T. agent William Burns