RFC Spring Grants Support Grand Jury Resister, Torture Survivors and Occupy Activists

We’re in the midst of our spring granting cycle this month at the RFC. We’ve made our first of two sets of awards. Already, three families and one targeted activist youth have joined our community as new grant recipients. These new grantees include:

  • A mother who became involved with Occupy Wall Street after being laid off from her job in communications. A month after she became involved with OWS, a national magazine published an article naming her as a key member of the group, which resulted in potential employers cancelling job interviews and temp agencies telling her that they were no longer interested in placing her. She had to relinquish full time custody of her daughter for six months to her child’s father, and faced eviction for nonpayment of back rent. She still owes thousands of dollars from this period. An RFC grant will pay for summer camp for her 11-year-old daughter.
  • A grandmother who is helping raise her three-year-old granddaughter, Carmen (not her real name). She was a pro-democracy activist who fought against the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, and was detained and tortured by the government. She spent five years in political concentration camps under horrific conditions; protests eventually secured her release. Once in the US, she and her husband, also a Chilean activist and torture survivor, founded a community center to serve as “a safe space for all,” especially those who were hungry, homeless, unemployed, undocumented or HIV-positive. The center offers food, support for drug addiction and homelessness, help with the citizenship process, English and Spanish classes, artistic workshops, and resources for survivors of domestic violence. She and her husband are also outspoken anti-torture activists. An RFC grant will help with childcare costs for Carmen while Carmen’s mother helps care for this grandmother (who is battling cancer) and also Carmen’s grandfather, who is fighting efforts by the US government to deport him back to Chile.
  • An Occupy activist who was arrested after traveling to the Midwest to protest the 2012 NATO Summit.  Along with several co-defendants, this father of a six-year-old son was ultimately charged with 11 felony counts, including material support for terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism under a never-before-used state statute. His attorneys argued that the prosecution was politically motivated, aimed at disrupting legal demonstrations again the NATO summit. While he and his co-defendants were acquitted on the more serious terrorism charges, they were convicted of lesser charges and face up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced at the end of this month. An RFC grant will send his young son to camp this summer.
  • A 24-year-old targeted activist youth who organized students on his campus for the new Students for a Democratic Society. He was also active in anti-war organizing, helping other activists navigate the legal system as they experienced increased police surveillance.  He was subpoenaed in 2009 to appear before a grand jury; he insisted publicly that he had no information and would not testify.  After a meeting between his attorneys and the judge, he was dismissed.  Four years later, he was re-subpoenaed.  He once again refused to testify and spent eight months in prison on contempt charges before being released. As he explained in his application, “I am no longer in prison, but prison remains in me…  My physical, mental, social, emotional, economic, and academic identity has been shaken by this experience, but I am firmly committed to picking up the pieces…." A Development Grant from the RFC will help him in his attempts to rebuild his life and focus on his educational and emotional needs.

We welcome these new members of the RFC Family and thank our supporters for making it possible for us to stand with them and their children.

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