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Informant takes stand in GOP Convention bomb plot trial

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 by Michael Mmay

MINNEAPOLIS — Austinite David McKay, 22, is on trial here at the U.S. District Court for allegedly building Molotov cocktails to burn police cars outside the 2008 Republican National Convention.


But here in court, it often seemed like FBI informant Brandon Darby, also from Austin, was the man on trial. The defense claimed that Darby, who is a decade older than McKay, entrapped McKay and Austinite Bradley Crowder (who pled guilty) by manipulating them into taking more and more radical actions.  Darby had built a reputation as a militant activist in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when he went to New Orleans with an AK-47 and the goal of protecting citizens of the Ninth Ward.


On Tuesday, the government began to present its case. They showed videos of McKay and Crowder protesting with other members of an anarchist group calling themselves the RNC Welcoming Committee. They seemed intent on simply creating chaos; in one scene, McKay and others took a large street sign and threw it onto a highway. The government also showed videos taken at a Wal-Mart showing McKay, Crowder and others purchasing the materials for the Molotov Cocktails: a gas can, motor oil, rubber bands and tampons to use as a fuse.


Darby took the stand Tuesday afternoon. In the direct examination, he explained how the FBI had asked him to infiltrate the Austin chapter of the RNC Welcoming Committee (called the Austin Affinity Group).  He claimed that he attempted to discourage McKay and the other activists from using violent methods.


During the cross-examination, the defense tried to use Darby’s own FBI reports to show that, in fact, he had actually goaded the two younger activists. At one point, Darby told the younger men they looked like “tofu-eaters” who needed to eat more meat and bulk up, because “direct action is intense.”  He said, “Whatever group I’m part of will be successful.”  Darby claimed that the bravado was part of his cover – he needed to gain their trust. 


Defense attorneys are scheduled to resume questioning Darby this morning. 

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