It’s been one year since we refused to show up in a kangaroo court, loaded up our van and left the USA with our family. It’s been the adventure of a lifetime and while it has not been easy, it has been good. This is the story of what happened.
Only in the most oppressive regimes in history is this level of 3rd world justice tolerated! The acts of our public officials are unfit for a free people and I will not comply.
I left because I refuse to be terrorized. It’s more than just refusing to be forced to unlock my phone for a prosecutor and not consenting to a kangaroo trial. I’ve been an activist for years. But before that, I had a good business and a good life. I spoke up because things needed to be said and many of my video has exposed corruption in my now Grant County. Some people don’t like my approach and that’s their right. But we’re a nation founded by men bolder than myself who said they would not tolerate tyranny and warned us to remain bold. I was raised to stand and to speak out against bullies. I even remember Ephrata officers helping me do that long ago. How times have changed.
The abuse and murder of those who live free and speak the truth is a theme for our government.
From the natives, cop watchers, and investigative journalists, to peaceful retirees like the Browns. From Ranchers like the Bundy’s and good men like Schaffer Cox, to and the blood of a cowboy in the snow. Babies are stolen from their mother’s arms, the dying screams of children in the Waco Massacre, Randy Weavers porch covered in the blood of his wife at Ruby Ridge. All at the tender ministrations of people calling themselves the law who to this day are not been held accountable. This is not the USA and I will not tolerate it.
The people in Mexico are generally far more friendly than in the US
Maybe it’s the pretty veneer that has grown over our quiet communities as we’ve failed to see the rising authoritarian hand of a government. No patriotic American should consent to live this way. I’m doing in the streets what journalists used to do as a matter of course. For years now I’ve been treated to threats, my family has been mocked and officials have harassed, assaulted and violated my rights on camera. All because I said they were wrong and told tens of millions of people about it. Never have I done the same to them as they did to me; I am always a man of peace.
Patrick Canady broke the law when he arrested me without probable cause. He broke the law when he lied in his police report about past interactions with me, particularly where he stated regarding a video I made on 12/18/14 that, “At one time Seim gives me an ultimatum to to stop doing what I’m doing or else.” The video of that account proves his word false. His entire case was based on his feelings, not law. He was angry because I was not afraid to tell him and the world what I believe we are becoming.
At no point did I harass or obstruct, yet when I first appeared in court on Sept 13th 2017, judge Janis Whitenermoberg tried to skip past the probable cause hearing which is required under the Constitutions and CrRLJ RULE 3.2.1. I pressed for it anyways and neither the prosecutor nor the judge was able to articulate probable cause. I when I tried to state my case, the judge prevented me, leaving the courtroom without addressing the total lack of probable cause.
During the next hearing, a pro-tem judge by the name of Mark Chmelewski was brought in. The blatant ignoring of my legal arguments continued. The prosecution admitted they had no evidence as they suggested they were unsure know how to proceed without being able to access video on my phone. This alone was evidence that there was never probable cause at all. This phone they presumably wanted, for a video that would already be released, had that phone not been taken without a legal warrant. The judge even told me an open court that I would not be forced to give them access.
I will not unlock my phone!
A computer is your privacy, like the thought or a diary in a family safe. A government official has the right to demand we give them access to it any more than they have a right to demand a journalist’s confidential sources. No there’s nothing terrible, incriminating or illegal on my phone. But it’s mine and people need to stop believing we should co-operate with officers and prosecutors who bring malicious charges and bully defendants so they can violate due process without fear. This is happening in our courts. These prosecutors are not arguing the law, they are using lies, force and committing crimes, to win!
I was arrested for filming a cop this Fall because I told him he was a crook and he got angry that I keep calling out him and his buddies. It’s not the first time I’ve been arrested for defending my rights, but what followed was a pattern of a government corruption that I’ve too many times. And I decided to do something about it.
I’m being asked to stand before a judge who neither defends my rights or even knows the court rules as well as the pro-se defendant standing before him. Grant County has expanded countless taxpayer dollars over a man filming an officer. In recorded interviews from discovery, Prosecutor Dano himself is manipulating the testimony of witnesses to create his own narrative. Prosecutor Marc Fedorak files motions raising years of peaceful activism I have done, in which he intentionally leaves out critical details on events such as the video Officer Canady lied about; all so he can paint the picture he wants. To win!
Walking in the town Centro with the family. Centro is a town square where people gather to actually interact.
I’m not running from law… These officials have nothing to do with that. They are engaged in a criminal conspiracy to create evidence and a case where none exists. A conspiracy to silence the truth speakers. Those are felony offenses under 18 USC 241 and 242 and judges today don’t care, because the they are no longer held accountable. So when this court tolerated the consideration of me being forced under threats by give them access to my devices, enough was enough. If I believed due process was could occur, I would have no problem taking this to trial because I know I committed no crime. But then if there was due process, the charges would already be thrown out. I’m considering my legal options and the court has my motions for dismissal on their table.
Grant County courts violated the law at every step of this case and I don’t need to argue before an illegal court to prove that my 1st amendment right exists. I live in a country where police try to murder Journalists like Jeff Weinhaus and lock them in prison when they fail to die. I choose not to willingly become the next journalist in prison, or activist dancing from a rope in a prison cell because of trumped in charges, illegal proceedings and unprincipled prosecutors. God help me. No one should have to prove their innocence, but that’s what our courts have become.
Don’t ever let someone tell you that courage is defined by whether you submit to a bully.
I won, the day I walked away! We left because our life and liberty were in danger and it was time to set an example; no one should submit to the crimes of bully courts. If the people refuse to comply, their power is gone.
No one should have to argue that their rights are their own, yet in the USA we are compelled to do so at the point of a gun.We’re neither giving up or breaking the law by declining to participate; we’re refusing to surrender our rights. Jesus taught us to leave behind cities persecute us. Our founders taught us to walk away from tyrants. Our common sense says, why am I still here! Courage is not surrendering to a tyrant or agreeing to play the game their way. Courage is being afraid and still saying I WILL NOT COMPLY!
Why leave home over a phone? Because I refuse to love as a slave. How long will I be gone and what happens next? I can’t say. Truth demands a great price, but it also sets us free. The people of Mexico have more freedom than the people of the USA and that feels good. But in the end it’s not really about a phone, it’s about liberty and the God given rights we share as human beings. The officials in Grant County think they can rule over our those. I choose to be the man who says no more. For my safety, for my family’s safety and as an example to my people. I will not comply
— Gavin Seim
PS: I’ll be doing videos and live streams from Mexico to expose the propaganda we think of about Mexico. If you want to explore the real Mexico, follow my Real Mexico series on Facebook and YouTube. You can also see more photos on my Instagram.
These are the names of those directly responsible: Judge David Estudillo, Judge Mark Chmelewski, Judge Janis Whitenermoberg, Prosecutor Marc Fedorak, Prosecutor Garth Dano, Officer Patrick Canady, Ephrata Police Department, Ephrata Sheriffs Depratment. You can Phone the Grant County prosecutors office at 509-754-2011
The very production lands in the State of Nayarit.
Exploring the jungle in the truth van.
A $6 plate of amazing shrimp at a small fishing village.
The kids playing in the park. It feels very safe here.
Cheeses at the Mercado. Think a huge farmers Market, but open every day of the year.
On the morning of April 15, 2011, a group of about 10 P’urhepecha native women from Cheran, Michoacan, Mexico, detained one of the hundreds of trucks that passed through Cheran every day, transporting wood stolen from the community’s forests.
The men in the trucks were invariably armed to the teeth and today was no exception.
The forests of Tres Equinas, Pakarakua, San Miguel, Cerritos El Cuates, Carichero, Cerrito De Leon,Patanciro and El Cerecito, from which the wood was taken, belonged to the people of Cheran, but people who brought that up to these bandits were humiliated insulted and threatened until they were silent. If they would not be silent, they were murdered.
The bandits also took what they wanted from the local women, but when these crimes were reported to the local authorities, they were met with complicit Indifference. It had been that way for years. It did not matter the charge. Rape, Kidnapping, Assault, Robbery, even murder. The local authorities did nothing, because the bandits paid better and were far more intimidating then the people of Cheran. Or so they thought.
Sexual assault of the local women was a daily occurrence. Rosa, a 34 year old woman from Cheran, and one of 10 women who stopped the truck said that when the bandits passed her in town, they would say “Soon, we will run out of timber to take. But there is more for us than timber in Cheran. There are the women. And there are still plenty of women for us to take.”
Something had to be done, so these ten women stopped the truck, and with it a piece of heavy cutting equipment coming down from the forests. They intercepted the vehicles at corner of Avenida Allende and Avenida Dieciocho de marzo.
They had no grand plan, no guns,not even any vehicles with which to block the road. Just 10 women, standing in the way. 10 women willing to say “No!” Wives and mothers, daughters and sisters, with nothing to protect them against the bandits guns. In a matter of seconds, they could have been mowed down, their blood mingled with the dirt, and their families left grieving. But that is not what happened.
“We just stopped the cars.” Says Rosa. “It was scary, but at the same time we were firm in the confidence that we were doing what needed done. We could not let things stay the way they were.” The people of Cheran saw what was happening, and their courage emboldened others. More men and women joined in. The bandits tried to to jam the truck into gear and force through,
“…And we pushed back. We felt the swell of courage, but we were still a little afraid. We pulled the men from the cabin truck, We decided to take a stand!”
By that afternoon, most of the towns 18,000 people had gathered: Around fires, in groups in their neighborhoods, outside their homes on the same streets they hardly dared walk earlier the same day, for fear of the terror wrought by organized crime and complicit local officials. They had expelled the bandits. No one had been killed or maimed, but the bandits were warned firmly to not return. Cheran was theirs again.
In the local native language Cheran meant “to frighten” and in their neighborhoods and around their campfires spoke of their fears. They talked about the panic that they would feel when the alarms were sounded. When the Bandits returned. Everyone knew they would return. By the fires, they shared their fear, their anger, along with their coffee and tea, their Mezcal and their food.
Over that dinner, they rediscovered their dignity. And with it came their courage. The bandits would be back. That did not matter. The government would not easily let them be free. That did not matter, either. They had stood once, unprepared and afraid, because ten women said no. They would stand again, but they would be prepared, they would be courageous, and they would be far, far more than ten.
In the next few weeks, they expelled the equipment the bandits used. It was returned to the thieves who owned it. The problem was, the local government and the police sided with the bandits. That could not be tolerated, so they threw them out of office, and in their place established their own government, local and small, governing at the will of the people. The bandits and their government lackies sued.
Cheran fought back. By the 2012 election, the supreme court of Mexico agreed. Under article 39 of the Constitution of The United Mexican States, the people of Cheran had every right to govern themselves, by their own customs. In Cheran, they placed 150 bonfires, gathering places for political discourse.
Everyone had a right to come and be heard, and each campfire served only about 120 people. By a series of public votes, they chose a council of 12 people, called the Keri. The Keri have no authority to make law. That is done at the bonfires. The Keri simply carry out the decisions made at those bonfires. At any time, the people assembled, can by vote, remove the power of the Keri.
As a result of this system, Cheran did not participate in the last 2 federal elections in Mexico, in 2012 and 2015.The town was not filled with the propaganda and compromises, with the bribes and false promises that political parties thrive on. However, in 2015, Cheran elected its second Keri, 5 years after they won their freedom.
They still face countless challenges within, and mounting pressure from outside. In spite of all that, and whatever happens, they have demonstrated a policy very different from the ones that have drowned Mexico in blood. From the very beginning, the entire idea has been met with skepticism, and sometimes hostility and disdain, from the elite.
How can a small indigeoneous community defy the limits set by big government, political parties, corporate media, big business? “It is impossible for Cheran to last” they said. Now, years later they say “It is impossible for Cheran to survive.”
Perhaps it is as impossible as 10 women facing down a truck full of men with AK-47s. But it is not as impossible as anything good coming from politics as they are. But what if? What if they keep doing what is called “Impossible.”
What if their system, in spite of the doom and gloom of politicians and analysts, keeps working? What if words like Justice, Truth, Dignity and Community are more than fantasy?
As of April 15, 2017, Cheran celebrates 6 years of independence. Surely it really is impossible not to congratulate them! Happy Anniversary!
Thanks to Ruptura Colectiva and Ramon Olmedo, our sources for this story.
Below is the text in Spanish, that this story was largely translated from.
“Una política de emancipación radical no se origina en una prueba de posibilidad que el examen del mundo subministraría.” Alain Badiou, Condiciones, p. 210
La mañana del 15 de abril del 2011, un grupo de alrededor de 10 mujeres del municipio p’urhépecha de Cherán, Michoacán, detuvieron a una de las centenas de camionetas que todos los días cruzaban el pueblo para transportar madera robada de los bosques de la comunidad.
Las camionetas siempre iban tripuladas por hombres armados hasta los dientes.
Desde al menos el 2008, los criminales no sólo habían arrasado los bosques cercanos de Tres esquinas, Pakárakua, San Miguel, Cerritos los Cuates, Carichero, Cerrito de León, Patanciro y El Cerecito, sino que asesinaron, insultaron, humillaron y amenazaron a cualquiera que insinuara un reclamo. Al parecer, también violaron a varias jovencitas. Las múltiples denuncias de la comunidad naufragaron por años en un valle de silencio e indiferencia en las oficinas de gobierno. En general, la agresión sexual a las mujeres del lugar era pan de todos los días.
Rosa , una cheranense de 34 años de edad, cuenta con los ojos y las mejillas a punto de reventar: “Ya cada que pasaba, decían: ya se va a acabar la madera; pero seguimos con las viejas de aquí de Cherán, decían.”
Rosa fue parte del grupo de mujeres que detuvo a la camioneta mencionada en la esquina de Allende y 18 de Marzo, cerca de la Iglesia del Calvario, en el Barrio Tercero de Cherán. Esas mujeres no usaron ningún camión o auto para cerrar el paso a los talamontes. Tampoco recolectaron armas previamente ni planearon una emboscada. Ni siquiera se pusieron de acuerdo un día antes. Los únicos vehículos con que se enfrentaron a los criminales fueron sus cuerpos.
Los suyos eran cuerpos hechos de los mismos átomos que los de los demás: con los mismos tejidos, las mismas cicatrices, las mismas asimetrías de carne, las mismas redondeces, los mismos granos, los mismos excesos. Es decir, en principio, cuerpos como cualquier otro y como ningún otro. La verdad es que frente a ese grupo de hombres armados, los cuerpos de esas mujeres eran cuerpos que pudieron terminar baleados en cuestión de segundos. Ahí hubieran quedado los huérfanos, los viudos, las madres con las lágrimas rebotando en los regazos. Por fortuna no fue así.
Aunque después se sumaron los jóvenes y el pueblo entero, el horizonte para transformar la realidad se constituyó, al menos en los momentos iniciales, por un manojo de cuerpos de mujer: cuerpos quebrantables, precarios, vulnerables, en perpetuo riesgo de perderse en el abismo de la muerte. Cuerpos que en ningún momento perdieron el miedo; tampoco la rabia, la ira, el coraje necesario para transformar su mundo.
Como dice Rosa: “Nomás detuvimos los carros. Se daba miedo. Pero al mismo tiempo se daba miedo y coraje de que no podíamos hacer otra cosa más que de echarle ganas. Los señores trataban de aventar el carro así. Pues el carro así pa’rriba. Se levantaba como parándose de llantas. Y nosotros pus lo parábamos. Era mucho coraje […] pero teníamos un como temorcito dentro del corazón. […] Se decide uno a levantarse porque ya no le importa a uno el coraje, y así pues.”
Ese 15 de abril por la tarde, la mayor parte de los 18,000 habitantes del pueblo se reunió alrededor de fogatas que instalaron en sus barrios, en sus esquinas, afuera de sus casas. En esas mismas calles de las que habían sido expulsados por la complicidad del crimen organizado y el gobierno local.
Cherán en p’urhépecha significa asustar. Los habitantes de este pueblo descubrieron que en esas fogatas podían no sólo compartir el susto, el miedo, el pánico cada vez que las alarmas anunciaban que regresaban “los malos”. Ahí, junto a las llamas protectoras, también compartieron la ira, el café, la dignidad, el té de nuriten, el mezcal, el amargo y la cena.
En las primeras semanas del movimiento, expulsaron a los talamontes ilegales, a la policía coludida con el crimen, al presidente municipal y a todos los partidos políticos. El pueblo entero se organizó en una forma de democracia innovadora que desde entonces se concentra en la participación directa en unas 150 fogatas instaladas a lo largo y ancho de la comunidad. La Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación aprobó una controversia constitucional que permite a Cherán regirse por sus usos y costumbres.
Eligieron, en voto público, un concejo mayor formado por 12 notables llamados Keri (grandes). Todos ellos propuestos primero en sus fogatas, elegidos en sus asambleas de barrio y designados por la asamblea general. La mayor grandeza de estos Keri es que no son autoridades. Como lo explican con orgullo los habitantes de Cherán: al interior de la comunidad “los Keri son sólo representantes; la única autoridad es la asamblea”.
Lo que esto significa de manera práctica es que los Keri sólo pueden ejecutar las decisiones que se toman en fogatas y asambleas y pueden ser relevados de su puesto en cualquier momento que la asamblea lo decida. Algo bien distinto a lo que pasa con el resto de los representantes del país.
Como resultado de esta nueva política, Cherán no participó en las elecciones federales del 2012 y 2015. El pueblo no se llenó de propaganda ni de las componendas, sobornos y promesas con las que todos los partidos políticos de este país operan. En mayo del 2015, Cherán eligió, por usos y costumbres, su segundo Concejo Mayor. A la distancia de cinco años, la comunidad enfrenta un sinnúmero de desafíos al interior y de presiones continuas del exterior. Sin embargo, pase lo que pase, el municipio de Cherán ha dado testimonio de cómo crear una política muy distinta a la que tiene a este país ahogado en sangre.
No obstante, desde el comienzo del movimiento y hasta la fecha, la mayor parte de los analistas, estudiosos y políticos han mostrado escepticismo, cuando no hostilidad y desdén, hacia el proceso que se lleva a cabo en Cherán. Para muchos, es imposible que una pequeña comunidad p’urhépecha despliegue de manera duradera una política que desafía los límites establecidos por las instituciones gubernamentales, los partidos políticos, los medios de comunicación y las empresas. “Es imposible que Cherán dure”, dijeron muchos hace cinco años. “Es imposible que Cherán sobreviva”, dicen muchos cinco años después.
Es tan imposible como que 10 mujeres detengan a un doble rodado tripulado por un comando de criminales armados con AK47; tan imposible como que los huicholes detengan el avance de las mineras canadienses en Wirikuta; tan imposible como que los zapatistas existan desde hace más de 30 años; tan imposible como que la política signifique algo más que la tragedia con que se gobierna a este país. Quizá la política, al menos la política como se practica en Cherán, sea justo eso: una especie de compromiso con la imposibilidad.
La política como una suerte de alfarería de lo imposible; como un telar en el que ?a contrapelo de lo que nos dictan los partidos políticos, las instituciones y los gobiernos? se teje un rebozo imposible que atraviesa y cobija a todos los que participan en ella. O quizás esta política sea como una máquina sin poleas ni engranes en la que se fabrican palabras imposibles como justicia, verdad, dignidad o comunidad; palabras que se afirman como posibilidades a partir de los despojos de la imposibilidad. Este 15 de abril del 2017 se cumplen 6 años de imposibilidad en Cherán.
These robbers run like crazy when you stand up to them and ask simple questions and to figure out why they are harassing people. As expected this was not a stop that had anything to do with safety. It was just a thief stealing money from the driver who apparently was trying to move a camper. Instead of helping, he harassed.
Independence day is not about what American politicians want you to think. At the beginning of America we were all British. The redcoats were not an invading army, they were our people, or officers and our solders. But instead of blindly praising them as heroes or of saying they just doing their job and it was not their fault, out founding fathers killed them for their crimes against human rights.
Look at both sides.
We’re all human beings and we’re looking down the barrel of angry revolution. We have loyalists, rebels and lots of people who just want it to go away. The argument for enforcement is always safety. This is something we can agree on and it was no doubt the argument in 1770. But is the blue line saftey? — “What do you suggest beside law enforcement” people ask me. — My answer is that I want real law enforcement instead of the Sheriff of Nottingham doing as he pleases. — “Who will stop the rapists” they say. — My honest answer is that often the officers are the rapists and the judge will be the one protecting the from justice.
Not one sheriff in America will honor their oath. Not one will stop the prosecutors or judges, or the illegal federal arrests of their people, or the denials of due process. Not one of the blue line will defend the law or our rights and most will actually take part in violating them. Just as the Redcoats, there are some better and some worse. They are still human. Still, cowardly and violent law keepers are not law and order. Do we crave a tyrant simply because we are afraid we cannot find a honorable officer. I say we stop the tyrant first and from that courage good officers will arise.
What of the Revolution?
These acts did not happen overnight. Our founding fathers started slow. They shouted, they disobeyed, they threw rocks and destroyed goverment property, blocked roads and threw tea. When all else failed they exercised their right to self defense en-masse.
Our blue line and the government they serve is worse than the redcoats. Our bluecoats summarily kills more Americans in a year that the redcoats did in a decade. Our founders would have acted long ago to stop the terror and violence of Americas enforcers; this should be a sobering reminder for those who dawn the uniform. No matter how much people like myself plead for peace, people will eventually stop tolerating your actions.
Do we seek violence? We seek to avoid it! We are in a different time and peoples independence and honor is less. We have sold people tyranny as freedom and taught them to be dependent on goverment. Tyranny has rooted so much deeper than in did in the years leading up to the American revolution, but the people are more unstable than ever. Bloodshed is the natural eventuality of abuse and if our goverment continues, violence will come. But as it stands it will not be that principled seeking liberty that we read about in history books. If we have war now it will be an ugly French Revolution, multiplied with the weight of powerful weapons and angry hungry mobs.
Find every reason NOT TO KILL!
We need a change of our hearts. Peace starts no more by sending letters begging for justice than it does by rushing to war. Start with powerful words and disobedience to tyrants. Build a forest of peaceful resistance to clog up the gears of tyranny. Kill the idea of corrupt police as lawful authority we must obey. Our rights are the law and we establish those by exercising them as we shame their abuses.
We want the foot solder of tyranny to stop showing up for work because it’s not worth it. Tyranny evaporates without it’s collectors and enforcers. Let the treasonous goverment and it’s officers be warned. You are not the heroes and despite my calls for peace you will be judged and your abuse in the name of saftey will eventually cost you everything. If not before an angry army, then before God.
Defense is our right; but only the foolish cheer violence rather than resist for peace. This is seen every coward who refuses to stand now, but speaks with eagerness of the war that is coming, as if then they will be brave on that day, as if they are waiting for war because the rest is now worth their time. Hearts like these will no more save freedom than the blue line.
The hardest revolution to win in the one in our hearts and minds. If we win that, blood can be spared. Freedom starts in with us, in shaming evil, in preventing our children from being taught lies and in teaching a generation how to to be brave and how to love their neighbor as themselves.
Let us be peacemakers and indulge with great restraint the idea that violence will set us free. — Gav