**Change of date** Trial Rescheduled for April 26th
Update: Raymond's trial has been rescheduled to begin with jury selection at 9am Monday, April 26th. Please pass this on to any friends and acquaintances of Ray and mark your calendars to come out and support him then!
Local artist, activist, and street philosopher Raymond Merchant, aka AC is set to go to trial 9am
Monday, April 5th at the Hennepin County District Court (300 S. 6th St). AC is a south Minneapolis resident, community organizer, HipHop artist, and father of two. Despite much evidence indicating his innocence, AC is facing two bogus charges of aggravated robbery. Anyone who has met AC knows just how utterly ridiculous these charges are. This is a man who tries to make everyone smile, cracks jokes, and offers astrological explanations; an artist who makes his own jewelry and clothes and keeps a daily hip hop journal full of positive messages. Not the man who pointed a gun at his neighbors for money. We are encouraging everyone who can to come support AC, lifelong friends and acquaintances alike, to pack the courtroom and show solidarity with him as he stands trial. This is a visible way of showing the judge and the jury our opposition to convicting our friend of a crime he would never commit.
Some Background: Missing for several days in late October, friends became worried when AC failed to arrive to a show he was scheduled to perform at. After contacting his family, it was confirmed he had been abducted by police just blocks from his home while out for a walk.
On the evening of October 24th, AC was arrested on his way to a gas station to get some coffee creamer. Unaware of a robbery being committed just blocks away, AC walked north along Portland Ave towards 35th Street, the scene of the crime. As he was walking he was stopped by police and was taken into custody as a suspect in the armed robbery of two brothers. While the police and prosecution would like to make this an open and shut case, saying he "fits the description" as a Black man walking nearby the crime site, a simple reading of the facts tells an entirely different story. Raymond was walking TOWARDS the area where the robbery allegedly occurred, which would seem odd if he was guilty of a robbery at that location or even had any prior knowledge of it. When initially stopped by the police, Ray was calm without signs of perspiration or distress, interesting considering the victims reported the assailant had run away after the robbery minutes before. He did not flee when stopped nor was he observed dropping or throwing anything and yet when searched he was found to have no money, no property of the victims on his person, and no gun. This was just minutes after the robbery took place. While it is true that the two victims IDed him as the robber, there was never a police line-up or any further investigation on the part of the police for the gun, stolen property, additional witnesses, or other suspects.
Prison is a heinous punishment for anyone, and targets Black men especially harshly. As AC describes, “the police were out there just getting their quota. I truly believe the cops knew I didn't do this, but arrests equal money for the city, and they gotta keep the system rolling. I asked the one cop why he arrested me, and he just turned his head and wouldn't answer me. He knew.” The recommended sentencing guidelines are 48 months for two counts of aggravated robbery. Stand with us against racial profiling and unfair prosecution the week of
April 5th April 26th and join AC in court.
And as many past and current defendants will tell you, support can take many forms. The state apparatus, with its ability to print more money has seemingly endless resources with which to judge and incarcerate our neighbors and loved ones. Good legal representation and investigation do cost money, much of which comes from sympathetic community members. Help us raise the estimated $2500 of legal expenses for AC's legal defense by going to www.raymondmerchant.com and clicking on the paypal button on the left side of the screen. All contributors who give $50 or more will receive a free t-shirt and patch with the illustration below. Also, thank you to all who came out to Friday night's benefit show for AC – we were able to raise about $150 and enjoyed some great music! Many thanks to the musicians and those who organized the show.
To fight with us as we support AC contact email@example.com
See you in court on April 26th.