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After what seems to be years of work on the part of ISP to pin charges on perceived leadership of I-69 resistance, two Indiana residents, Gina ‘Tiga’ Wertz and Hugh Farrell, were arrested April 24th. The charges are essentially charges of conspiracy to collectively organize, to attempt to challenge environmental and social devastation in the form of I-69 in Southern Indiana. The name the state is giving this challenge is felony corrupt business influence, essentially a racketeering charge used against the mob under RICO statutes . Clearly these charges are a move by the state to further erase social organization as a possibility within our communities.
Tiga, a long time Indiana resident, was arrested early in the afternoon as she appeared in Gibson County court on charges stemming from anti-I-69 actions this past summer. The arrest was made by the Indiana State Police, including Officer Brad Chandler, a particularly slimy scumbag whose full time job is to harass environmental activists. Tiga was taken to the Pike County jail, where she was held for 11 days while the $10000 needed for her bail was raised. Her arrest warrant details five charges: 2 counts of intimidation, 2 counts of conversion (all misdemeanors) and 1 count of corrupt business influence (a class C felony).
A couple hours after Tiga was accosted at the courthouse, Hugh was arrested in northern Indiana by a US marshal driving an unmarked vehicle. Rather than pulling over the vehicle Hugh was traveling in, the cop trailed the car for some unknown duration waiting for it to stop, then arrested Hugh outside of a gas station. He was then taken to join Tiga in the Pike County jail, where he was held on $20,000 cash bond for 4 days. His charges are the same as Tiga’s, though many of the details of their warrants differ. Maximally, their charges carry 12 year sentences.
These arrests are an obvious continuance and escalation of the harassment of anti-I-69 activities in southern Indiana over the past two decades. Recently, I-69 resistance in both Evansville and Bloomington has been systematically targeted by myriad law enforcement agencies from throughout the state as well as by federal agencies. To varying degrees, nearly 20 people now are held captive by the court system on the basis of their alleged involvement in various anti-I-69 protests occuring last summer. Chad Frazier of Evansville is currently serving a 2 month sentence for alleged events surrounding a tree-sit eviction by the police. As the state tries to squash its opposition by ensnaring individuals in isolating court cases, by monitoring and threatening individuals to try to pinpoint ‘leaders’ or groups responsible, it is important to recognize how any such instance of individual repression might easily and effectively become supportive of repression in general. To counter such repression with honest reflection on its functioning and on how we might challenge rather than support it, is to stand in solidarity with Tiga and Hugh.
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