[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.
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.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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