[Ppnews] Chicago Activists Raided by FBI Refuse to Participate in "Fishing Expedition"

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 7 12:22:35 EDT 2010

Original Content at 

October 6, 2010

Chicago Activists Raided by FBI Refuse to Participate in "Fishing Expedition"

By Kevin Gosztola

by <http://>Kevin Gosztola

Weeks after the FBI raided their home, two Chicago activists, 
Stephanie Weiner and Joe Iosbaker, stood before a crowd of about 150 
Chicagoans gathered outside the Dirksen Federal Building and declared 
during a press conference they, and twelve others who were 
subpoenaed, have no intention to go before any grand juries and 
participate in a "fishing expedition."

Weiner read a statement on behalf of the 
<http://stopfbi.net>Committee to Stop FBI Repression, a coalition 
formed in response to the FBI raids on activists in Chicago and 
Minneapolis. She recounted, "On September 24, the FBI raided the 
homes of anti-war and international solidarity activists and 
delivered grand jury subpoenas to activists across the country. The 
subpoenas claim that the grand jury is investigating violations of 
the 1996 law on the issue of "material support" of "designated 
foreign terrorist organizations."

Weiner, Iosbaker and three other activists had been called to testify 
before a grand jury on October 5th. He shared that he was outside the 
Federal Building at a press conference and not inside giving 
testimony to a grand jury, as he and Weiner had been scheduled to do, 
because they were given a postponement until October 19th. Three 
others submitted letters invoking their Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

Iosbaker reported, "Nine others who have dates scheduled for later 
this month have also submitted letters invoking their right not to 
testify." And declared, "Today, we are here to state to the press 
that we too have nothing to say to a grand jury."

The fourteen activists have not been charged with anything. That is 
why they were called before a grand jury -- so the government could 
find information they could possibly use to press charges. Attics and 
other parts of activists' homes have been searched, property has been 
seized, but none of the activists at the press conference spoke as 
individuals charged with committing any crimes.

Weiner explained to the crowd and press that were present, "One does 
not even need to be opposed to U.S. foreign policy to recognize that 
the government is working here to establish a dangerous precedent in 
targeting us. This case endangers the right of every person in the 
U.S. to organize for and express their views."

The statement appeared to encapsulate the reason for the outpouring 
of support and solidarity the activists have been experiencing. 
Reverend Dan Dale, senior pastor of United Church of Christ, read an 
interfaith statement by the Faith-Based Alliance of over thirty 
Muslim, Jewish and Christian organizations and over eighty religious 
leaders and clergy.

"We are people of faith and conscience who condemn the recent FBI 
raids in Chicago as a violation of the constitutional rights of the 
people in organizations raided. They are a dangerous step to further 
criminalize dissent," declared Rev. Dale. "The FBI raids chisel and 
bypass fundamental constitutional rights by hauling activists before 
grand juries under the guise of national security. An overly broad 
definition of "material support for terrorism' in the June 2010 
Supreme Court ruling concerns us as people of faith who continue to 
actively engage in humanitarian work and peacemaking."

Anne Sullivan, an individual who had been involved in the struggle to 
end apartheid in South Africa, and Miryam Rashid from the American 
Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization of people of 
various faiths committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian 
service both expressed solidarity with the subpoenaed activists. 
Sullivan reminded people of how Nelson Mandela and the ANC (which 
Mandela was part of) had been regarded as a "terrorist" organization 
by the U.S. government at one point. And, Rashid told the crowd and press:

"The AFSC has worked for over 90 years to end the wars and to help 
give voice to the most vulnerable members of society. This is not the 
first time that our government has come after Palestinians and the 
progressive community in Chicago. Recently, the target was Muhamma 
Salah and it was intended to make Palestinians afraid of helping 
their families who are struggling for civil rights and equality in 
Palestine. Now the target is Hatem Abudayyeh, a father and a friend 
to many of us and to many members of the progressive community in Chicago."

A man from the Michigan Emergency Committee to End War and Injustice 
was invited to go up to the microphone and give a few words on his 
organization's support for the targeted activists.

Weiner shared how those targeted "have been very involved in the 
anti-war and international solidarity movements for many years" and 
"all worked together to organize an anti-war protest attended by tens 
of thousands at the Republican National Convention in 2008." Some 
even "traveled to other countries to understand [the U.S.] 
government's role in places like Palestine and Colombia."

The Committee's statement outlined the U.S. government's history of 
using grand juries as tools of repression:

"The grand jury has been used as a tool of political repression 
against many movements for social change in this country. From the 
pre-civil war abolitionist movement to the Civil Rights movements, 
the movement against the war in Vietnam, the American Indian 
Movement, the Central America solidarity movement, the Puerto Rican 
Independence movement, animal rights and environmental movements, 
there have been many targets of political repression and grand jury 

In fact, on GreenistheNewRed.com, Will Potter has written regularly 
about the ongoing criminalization of environmental activism in 
America. Recent revelations on FBI surveillance of the Thomas Merton 
Center in Pennsylvania, which the FBI engaged in 
connect antiwar activism to terrorism, is another indication of FBI 
involvement in the suppression of dissent. Finally, all one has to do 
is look at drafted legislation that was put together years ago (but 
didn't pass) the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act 
to see how government has been growing increasingly interested in 
obstructing dissent and activism.

Jim Fennerty, a lawyer representing activists subpoenaed, mentioned 
the government has, in connection to this case, been asking for 
"documents on how people are indoctrinated. You know, it's amazing." 
And, he urged those present to call their congressman and express 
support for a new Church Committee to be formed to look into routine 
violations of civil liberties by agencies like the FBI in this country.

Despite the government's history of political repression of 
activists, those subjected to raids displayed a sense of empowerment. 
The knowledge that over 60 demonstrations were held across the 
country in the past weeks to show solidarity gave them hope that the 
people will be there to help them through this injustice. It also 
gave them hope that there will be a groundswell of activism aimed at 
re-asserting the people's right to fundamental civil liberties in America.

As Iosbaker said to the press, "I think the government never expected 
that thousands of people would speak up against repression after 
their home raids and subpoenas. I think that they are very 
surprised." And as Stephanie added, "The American people do not want 
laws that can be rolled out on a whim with no lawyer there, with no 
judge, and no charges. The American people don't want America to go 
there. That's what this is about."

On Monday, Minneapolis activists protested and declared that they 
would not be traveling to Chicago to testify before the same grand 
jury Chicago activists have been called to testify before either. 
TheUptake.org has 
of the activists targeted in Minneapolis.

*Here is video of Stephanie Weiner's statement at the press conference:

**For more on this story, visit <http://stopfbi.net>StopFBI.net. 
Several statements of solidarity for the activists subpoenaed can be 
found on the coalition's website.

Author's Bio: Kevin Gosztola is a multimedia editor for OpEdNews.com. 
He follows media & activism, religions and their influence on 
politics, and sometimes writes movie reviews for OEN. His work can be 
found on Open Salon, The Seminal, Media-ocracy.com, and a blog on 
Alternet called Moving Train Media. He can be heard on a weekly radio 
show called the "Saturday News Hangover." He is a 2009 Young People 
For Fellow and a documentary filmmaker who graduated with a 
Film/Video B.A. degree from Columbia College Chicago in the Spring 
2010. In April 2010, he co-organized a major arts & media summit 
called "Art, Access & Action," which explored the intersection of 
politics, art and media and was supported by Free Press. He is also a 
member of the Media Democracy Day Think Tank in Chicago.

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