Two self-proclaimed anarchists said the government prosecuted them unfairly. Katie Olejnik, 23, and Matt Duran, 24, talked to KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter James Schugel for the first time since getting out of Seatac Federal Detention Center. They were supposed to tell a grand jury what they knew about Seattle’s May Day riots, including the names and political beliefs of people involved.
Anarchists vandalized downtown Seattle businesses and a courthouse last May. They used sticks and bats to damage several buildings and a courthouse and to vandalize vehicles. When Olejnik and Duran wouldn’t share information about the riots, the government sent them to prison. They stayed there for more than three months.
“They were like, ‘Do you know this person?'” Oljenik said, “and they would say a name, and I wasn’t going to answer. Then they started asking me about people’s political beliefs, and I couldn’t answer that in good conscience.”
“I believe in a lot of different ways of organizing, and that may be one thing somebody does,” Duran said. “But I can’t control what they do.”
A judge released the two from prison two weeks ago, on the grounds that confinement made them more resolute and was pointless.
Schugel asked Olejnik and Duran if the rioters did the right thing. “I can’t control anyone else’s actions,” Olejnik said. “This is going to sound really horrible, but I don’t really care what happened on May Day. I don’t have a strong opinion either way.”
Olejnik and Duran told Shugel that they think the government targeted them because they had jobs and a reason to give up information and stay out of prison. Now that they have been released, Olejnik is working, but Duran is looking for a job.
Olejnik and Duran said the horror they went through in small cells while in isolated confinement was well worth it to keep their secrets. The two could still be charged with criminal contempt of court and put back in prison.
“We could just be going on with our lives, moving forward, and it could happen at any minute,” Olejnik said.