Montes faces six felony charges, up from one
Carlos Montes, the Los Angeles-area activist whose home was raided by Sheriffs and the FBI last month, had his first court appearance today. He now faces six felony charges of allegedly violating firearms codes, instead of the one count he was originally informed of.
On May 17, the LA Sheriff’s Department SWAT team and FBI agents raided Montes’ Alhambra home. He was arrested for allegedly forging a firearm application.
The six felony charges that Montes faces are relating to perjury and an ex-felon having a gun and ammunition.
Critics say the raid was politically motivated. Montes, who is a member of the LA Committee to Stop FBI Repression, is a long-time Chicano activist and heavily involved in the peace and solidarity movements.
While in police custody, Montes said the FBI questioned him regarding his political activities. According to Montes, agents seized documents related to his more than 40 years in activism, along with his cellphones, computer, and a kaffiyeh, a type of Arabic scarf.
Last year, Montes was also named on a warrant that targeted 23 anti-war activists in the Midwest and North Carolina for alleged material support for terrorism. It is part of an ongoing Justice Dept. investigation focusing on the peace movement. Critics say it is an effort to silence dissent toward U.S. foreign policy.
Approximately 80 supporters of Montes picketed the Alhambra courthouse while he waited to appear before the judge.
“I’m nervous, but, with all this support, I feel good,” he said.
Acting as his own attorney, Montes requested a copy of the police report and affidavit regarding the raid on his home. District Attorney Kathy Gentry would only agree to turning over redacted versions of the documents, along with the stipulation that they not be released to news outlets.
Judge Carlos A. Uranga granted Montes three weeks to procure legal representation. His next court appearance is on July 7.
As he exited the courthouse, Montes received cheers, hugs and high-fives from supporters.
“This is a political attack,” he told the group. “The fact that the FBI was there, questioning me directly about my political activities and also going through all my political documents, has nothing to do with the issue that they are charging me with.”
[For related stories about Carlos Montes and the FBI, click here.]