Originally posted by Rob Bluey @ The Foundry
Armed federal agents raided Gibson Guitar’s Nashville headquarters in August, creating a national outcry over the high-profile persecution. But today, six months after the raid, the Department of Justice has yet to file any charges against the company.
Why did the government go after Gibson? A new video from Reason.tv explores the implications of the case, problems with the Lacey Act and how overcriminalization is threatening the American way of life.
“They…come in with weapons, they seized a half-million dollars worth of property, they shut our factory down, and they have not charged us with anything,” says Gibson Guitars CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, referring to the August 2011 raid on his Nashville and Memphis factories by agents from the Departments of Homeland Security and Fish & Wildlife.
The feds raided Gibson for using an inappropriate tariff code on wood from India, which is a violation of the anti-trafficking statute known as The Lacey Act. At issue is not whether the wood in question was endangered, but whether the wood was the correct level of thickness and finish before being exported from India. “India is wanting to ensure that raw wood is not exported without some labor content from India,” says Juskiewicz.
Andrea Johnson of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) counters that “it’s not up to Gibson to decide which laws…they want to respect.” She points out that Gibson had previously been raided under The Lacey Act for imports from Madagascar.
This much is clear: The government has yet to file any charges or allow Gibson a day in court to makes its case, much less retrieve its materials. “This is not about responsible forestry and sustainable wood or illegal logging, this is about a bureaucratic law,” argues Juszkiewicz, who testified last year before a congressional hearing convened by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). It is, he says, “a blank check for abuse.”
At the time of the August raid, the second on the company since 2009, agents were working off a tip that Gibson broke laws in India and Madagascar, two countries that supply Gibson with ebony and other scarce woods for its guitars. At issue is the Lacey Act, which makes it illegal to import some tropical hardwoods in violation of foreign laws. As a result of both raids, federal agents seized more than $1 million of Gibson’s property.
Gibson’s supporters have rallied behind the company. Musicians ranging from blues legend B.B. King to rock stars with Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith have used its guitars. Gibson chairman and chief executive Henry Juszkiewicz has testified before Congress about the ordeal. He visited Heritage last year to speak out against what he called unfair persecution from his own government.
Even though both India and Madagascar say Gibson did nothing wrong, the company is facing an uncertain future as a result of the government’s actions. It is unclear when or if the Department of Justice will file charges.
Juszkiewicz, himself a conservationist devoted to preserving natural resources, said it is a classic case of Washington’s overreach.
Watch our interview with Gibson chairman and chief executive Henry Juszkiewicz
In a little over 48 hours, it will be over! It’s been a hectic two weeks of planning, media blitz, phone calls, interviews, travel itineraries and more! But Saturday at 1PM, I think you are all going to be ~very~ happy with the results!
Weather.com currently has the forecast for Saturday as Clear and Sunny with a high of 83! Perfect weather!!
3 things everyone should know about the rally:
1) EXCITING NEWS!! We are totally jazzed to announce the entire “We Stand With Gibson” rally will be available to those unable to attend via a live stream webcast! The great folks at Gigcasters are helping us with this. Just point your browser to the rally’s homepage at http://gibsonrally.com and starting at 1PM (or thereabouts) the event will be webcast! There is no charge for this, you can watch it and enjoy it absolutely free!! There will be a Google Checkout button above the player for donations to offset the cost of the webcast for those who wish to help. As with donation requests related to the event, we will meet expenses and ALL monies raised in excess of expenses are being donated to Music City Honor Flight. PLEASE don’t use this as an excuse not to attend personally. We are trying to make the event available to everyone with this. But we need you there to show the watching world that We Stand With Gibson!
2) Parking will be across McGavock Pike from the Wax Museum and the Nashville Palace in a secure lot and leaving just a short walk across the street to the event. There is a cost of $5 per car to park there but proximity, safety and being a good neighbor to businesses in the area make this the best solution. This link will give you an eagle-view of the area, including the event location (marked with “A”) and the parking lot across from the Nashville Palace. Watch for (and please follow any suggestions/directions from) our parking volunteers who will be holding signs and patrolling the “No Parking” areas.
3) I apologize for even having to mention this – but it needs mentioning. We are totally fine with signs at the event if they are rally relevant. “We Stand With Gibson,” “We Support Gibson” or signs generally supporting America, State’s Rights, Free Markets, Capitalism and such will likely be acceptable. Unacceptable signs include, but are not limited to, those from any campaign, issue or organization. Signs from those with booths at their booths are fine. Unacceptable signs in the crowd, even all the way at the back, are not permitted. Should organizers deem a sign inappropriate, we will ask once – nicely – that it be put in a vehicle or that we be allowed to dispose of it. We cannot “save” signs until later. Since we have permission to hold the event on this private property and are responsible to provide a setting to enable all in attendance the best chance to enjoy themselves, organizers have the final say. We will be polite. However, in the interests of time and with many responsibilities, we will not entertain discussion or objections. If you are unsure about your sign in any way, please ask at the information table when you arrive.
For those not having a booth, passing out materials at the event is also not permitted. It is reasonable for event guests to expect those passing out materials to have been vetted by us. That is why we have booths. Buttons, stickers, T-shirts, hats and the like, including campaign swag, are fine. Anything sold by our vendor may be displayed. But let your swag do the talking. The event is about Gibson. Please refrain from specifically engaging people about your candidate, issue or cause. We are gathering to stand with Gibson and ask that you make that your top and only priority for the day. If needed, we will practice the ask once nicely strategy listed above.
I apologize for the blunt and lengthy nature of point #3. But we believe it necessary to ensure those attending to support Gibson are able to accomplish that goal in the midst of a like-minded crowd.
Thank you SO much for your support and your participation in this event. We can barely contain our excitement and can’t wait to see you all on Saturday! Remember, bring plenty of chairs and come early from 1 to 2 for music, booth visits and food. Scoreboards will have a great BBQ platter available at a very reasonable price. The there’s the event itself from 2 to 4 followed by another hour of music, booth visits and food!
Oh – did I mention there will be raffles? There will!! We have some great giveaways, including something special donated just for you musicians!! You must be present to win so stay until the last drawing. Of course the best chances will be early on so get there at 1PM and get your tickets right away!!
See you at Scoreboards standing with family and friends as we stand with Gibson!!
Ken Marrero for Ben Cunningham and the rest of the organizers!!
We Stand With Gibson Rally
Gibson Guitar Henry Juszkiewicz was invited to Obama’s speech to Congress tonight. (TPM)
Gibson Guitar Corp. CEO Henry Juszkiewicz slammed “big liberal” Obama after his partisan speech to Congress tonight.
The Corner reported:
Henry Juszkiewicz, the chief executive officer of Gibson Guitar Corp., tells National Review Online that President Obama, a “big liberal,” has done “untold damage to business” and should not be applauded for his jobs speech. ”He’s a government fan,” he says. “He has a problem with successful businesses. He thinks they’re the problem, that they shouldn’t be quite as successful.”
“He is using the levers of government to not only redistribute, but to penalize,” he adds. “I see a difference between what he said and what he’s doing.” More