We are calling for solidarity to all political prisoners and people facing charges from BLM protests in Rochester, NY. One protester, Rylea, has a case coming up before federal court and needs support.
Rylea is a trans anti-fascist activist who is being targeted by both local and federal law enforcement for political speech. The Rochester Police Department arrested Rylea in September while she was attending a protest. Video evidence conclusively showed that RPD lied about Rylea’s actions and the charges were quickly dropped. However, as a result of this, RPD started surveilling Rylea’s social media. This illegal surveillance led to the FBI investigating and the DOJ charging Rylea with a violation of the anti-riot act after Rylea shared a publicly available article on Facebook about how to make a Molotov cocktail. Now Rylea is facing up to 5 years of incarceration for posting a publicly visible article from the internet.
Compare Rylea’s treatment to the murderers of Daniel Prude, who are facing no criminal charges after a grand jury failed to indict them. NYS Attorney General Leticia James knowingly undermined the case against the officers by including clearly biased testimony that was meant to exonerate the officers of any wrong-doing. Rylea will not receive the same light treatment as murderous police officers receive.
The FBI has a long history of obstructing political movements and Rylea’s prosecution is an extension of FBI anti-protester actions of the past. Resharing a link on Facebook is not violence! We see the true priorities of the FBI, the DOJ, the NYS AG and our whole corrupt criminal injustice system. They single out activists and the real violence in the form of police violence goes unchecked. This bad faith prosecution must be stopped!
The prosecution has been very stressful for Rylea. She is facing up to 5 years of incarceration with up to 3 years conditional release, and a possible $200,000 fine in prison if she decides to take the case to trial. A plea deal would mean less time in prison but a felony record that would follow her the rest of her life. It’s an impossible situation for someone who did nothing wrong and is at the mercy of the DOJ. Rylea has essentially been on house arrest since September. She is living with a curfew, travel restrictions, and random drug screenings. This has taken away her ability to participate in protests, and to live her life freely. She also has to go to a court where prosecutors and court officials consistently misgender her and refer to her by her deadname. The whole ordeal has been extremely stressful and Rylea can use the support.
Rylea is not alone. She is one of many protesters who were targeted by law enforcement for protesting. It is clear that local law enforcement is retaliating and criminalizing protest. The police have an interest in deterring a movement that is trying to defund their budgets and transform how public safety is organized in our neighborhoods. We must stand with Rylea and others so that the rights to protest are protected and our most vocal members are not silenced by the forces we oppose.
You can support Rylea by signing this petition to the federal prosecutor so we can apply public pressure to stop this malicious prosecution.
You can also send Rylea a personal message of support to boost her morale as she struggles through these stressful times.