You may have seen the news today that Ross Ulbricht, the man who created the Silk Road, the world’s most infamous black market “darknet” site, has been sentenced to life in federal prison with no possibility of parole. Given the unfair trial he was subjected to from start-to-finish, the fact that he did not take a plea, and because the feds want to “send a message” to underground market operators and participants, it’s sad but no surprise he got the maximum. Ross plans to appeal and fundraising is being done for that now.
One of the big questions at the time was, what did Ross want? We knew what his understandably-frightened mother and his court-obedient attorney wanted, but was their wish Ross’ wish?
Free Keene Bloggers James Cleaveland and Jay Freeville Outside the Ulbricht Trial
Local liberty activist David Crawford decided to write Ross and find out. Unfortunately, Ross didn’t write back until after his conviction, and in what may be the first publicly available letter from Ross Ulbricht, he exonerates the liberty-loving activists who came out to support him.
Ross thanks the activists for their support at trial and says he’s glad they were there, doesn’t think they did anything wrong, and appreciated their effort. He also expresses hope to not receive the life sentence. The full text of the letter appears below.
I got your letter a few weeks back, thank you for writing, and thank you for your support at the trial. I’m glad you were there protesting. You should be able to voice your opinions and hold signs, especially at a courthouse where it is especially important to have that freedom. I know it was touchy because the judge wanted to control what the jury was exposed to, but I don’t think you did anything wrong and I appreciate you trying to help even though I was found guilty in the end. Now I have to focus on sentencing. I really don’t want to get that life sentence even though I know the prosecutors will be pushing for it. Please thank the others that were with you showing me support at trial if you get a chance.
You can meet Ross’ mother, Lyn, at Porcfest 2015 next month, as she’ll be speaking about this harrowing experience at the yearly camping festival thrown by the Free State Project.
P.S. This story was originally posted in early March and then quickly pulled at the request of Ross and his family. They were worried it might affect his chances at sentencing. It didn’t. So, I’m reposting it now.
Last week, the principal of Monadnock Regional Middle/High School sent a letter to certain parents promoting Free Keene, and for that I thank them. However, the letter also told a big lie. The letter’s purpose was to stir up concern among parents that some people from Free Keene have been recording on campus, (here’s the video) and further claims falsely:
This is a violation of your child’s privacy and because it happened on school property, we want to make sure you are aware of this video.
This is a lie. It was not Derrick’s intention to record the students, and the principal’s letter does admit the students were filmed inadvertently. That said, even if it had been his intention to record the students, it would not have been a violation of their privacy, given they were all outdoors, on ostensibly public property. Beyond that, the school district has already informed parents their kids will be recorded, not just for their school security system, but for newspaper, radio, TV and web! Here’s the proof. According to the “student registration” form for the Monadnock Regional School District, which covers Monadnock Regional Middle/High School, parents agree to the following statement, in a lengthy four-page form (check the bottom of page 3 for this):
I agree to allow the student to be recorded or photographed for public use by newspaper, radio, TV and web
So, this is nothing more than a dishonest, fearmongering hit piece that is designed to make the school look like they are somehow protecting the students from us horrible bloggers by claiming they are consulting with law enforcement and have formulated plans to remove us from the premises next time. All the while, they are recording the students on their own security system on a daily basis, and have had all parents sign a waiver allowing any media to use their images!
For those who have been following the saga of the Shire Free Church: Monadnock, here’s the latest, much of which was well-covered by the Keene Sentinel’s Martha Shanahan last week. After bringing on liberty attorney Brandon Ross for our tax appeal case last year, the church board decided to dismiss the 2014 case in favor of re-filing in 2015. We’ve since filed the 2015 tax exemption with our attorney’s oversight.
Given the state’s rejection of multiple liberty churches’ tax exemptions in 2014 (including the Peaceful Assembly Church – also represented by Ross), the board wanted to make sure we were putting our best foot forward, legally.
There has been a misconception that this is all about money; it’s about religious freedom. We don’t believe that the Shire Free Church, or any other church, should owe taxes. However we have nonetheless continued to give voluntary contributions to the City of Keene’s operations we support, like road maintenance and fire protection.
Shire Free Church: Monadnock is established to promote peace and other divine virtues, and to promote the study of religion in freedom and fellowship. We believe there are many paths to God, one for each individual. We believe God is the source of all creation; and divinity is expressed through compassion, empathy, forgiveness, freedom, generosity, honesty, humility, kindness, mercy, patience, and peace.
This is not about keeping money. If it were, we’d not be hiring an attorney. In fact, Shire Free Church: Monadnock’s board decided to go ahead and pay the full amount demanded by the city for 2014 in order to forestall any violent acts by the city agents and start our 2015 appeal without any liens on the property. The state religion is a dangerous, aggressive religion and we will use their system to protect your right to choose a religion of peace instead of believing in the violent, morally-corrupt state.
The author of the article, student Kellie Doc Gordon, excoriates the Keene Sentinel and journalist Meghan Foley, claiming Foley’s article on the pledge controversy was “biased” against the school. Of course the reality is that the only reason the article seemed one-sided was because the school bureaucrats basically refused to comment. They’re circling the wagons. All Foley got from them was the school superintendent saying they’ve dealt with the situation. No one else from the school, including the teacher in question, was willing to comment.
“The Pawprint Newsletter”, the school’s weekly propaganda rag, also included an editorial cartoon which suggests that the military is somehow risking their lives for your freedom of speech, which is demonstrably false. The military is fighting in foreign lands to uphold the commands of politicians, whose interests have nothing to do with preserving freedom and whose actions result in the further destruction of those freedoms. The military are merely the enforcers for the military industrial complex. Don’t believe me though, take it from a decorated Marine, Major General Smedley Butler, the author of, “War is Racket“.
I will write up some future posts about this incident (was awaiting outcome before writing anything) but there are a few things I would like to get out immediately:
1) The “substance” found was not Klonopin. I’m still baffled why the sheriff department was telling the people who were calling on my behalf that it was Klonopin when the officers involved in the search identified the substance during the actual search. The substance is a medicine for which I have a prescription to treat a condition I have.
2) I really appreciate all the assistance I received from the “liberty” community at large especially Virginia copblockers and Keene activists (I’ll write up a post about this later).
3) New Hampshire is honestly the “best” state in my opinion in terms of freedom (post to follow).
4) My real “sin” in my opinion was not consenting to a search of the vehicle.