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(updated Sept. 26) United States: Solidarity needed! FBI raids left activists under guise of `anti-terrorism'

Against the Current -- On September 24, the FBI conducted raided the homes of antiwar and left activists in Minneapolis, Chicago, Michigan and North Carolina. These provocations, under the guise of "anti-terrorism", appear to have targeted leaders of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, which publishes the Fight Back! newspaper and website. The articles below are from Fight Back! News, Twin Cities IndyMedia and War Times

Video interviews with two activists whose homes were raided


Activists denounce FBI raids on antiwar and solidarity activists' homes

Subpoenas, Searches, and FBI visits carried out in cities across the country

By Fight Back! staff

September 24, 2010 -- We denounce the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) harassment of anti-war and solidarity activists in several states across the country. The FBI began turning over six houses in Chicago and Minneapolis this morning, Friday, September 24, 2010, at 8 am central time. The FBI handed subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury to about a dozen activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan. They also attempted to intimidate activists in California and North Carolina.

"The government hopes to use a grand jury to frame up activists. The goal of these raids is to harass and try to intimidate the movement against U.S. wars and occupations, and those who oppose US support for repressive regimes", said Colombia solidarity activist Tom Burke, one of those handed a subpoena by the FBI. "They are designed to suppress dissent and free speech, to divide the peace movement, and to pave the way for more US military intervention in the Middle East and Latin America."

This suppression of democratic rights is aimed towards those who dedicate much of their time and energy to supporting the struggles of the Palestinian and Colombian peoples against US-funded occupation and war. The activists are involved with well-known antiwar groups including many of the leaders of the huge protest against the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota (MN), in September 2008. The FBI agents emphasised that the grand jury was going to investigate the activists for possible terrorism charges. This is a US government attempt to silence those who support resistance to oppression in the Middle East and Latin America.

The activists involved have done nothing wrong and are refusing to be pulled into conversations with the FBI about their political views or organising against war and occupation. The activists are involved with many groups, including the Palestine Solidarity Group, Students for a Democratic Society, the Twin-Cities Anti-War Committee, the Colombia Action Network, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera (a Colombian political prisoner).

Steff Yorek, a long-time antiwar activist and one of the activists whose homes was searched, called the raids “an outrageous fishing expedition”.

We urge all progressive activists to show solidarity with those individuals targeted by the US government. Activists have the right not to speak with the FBI and are encouraged to politely refuse, just say “No”.

Please contact info@colombiasolidarity.org or info@fightbacknews.org if you would like to provide support to the targeted activists.

At least four houses in Minneapolis raided, other houses in Michigan, NC, Chicago targeted

September 24, 2020 -- Update -- At least four known houses were raided this morning including another location at Stevens Square. There were also at least two subpoenas served on activists. Keep on alert! Know your rights! Don't talk to the FBI!

On Friday morning, three houses in the Minneapolis area are believed to have been raided by SWAT teams. While we have few details right now, the FBI appears to be targeting people associated with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Besides the raids in Minneapolis, houses in Michigan, North Carolina and Chicago were also targeted.

Raids occurred at 1823 Riverside, above the Hard Times Cafe, and the 2900 block of Park Ave. One other raid is reported, as well. Outside Hard Times Cafe, three unmarked black SUVs (one with an Illinois license plate) sat in the parking area as of 10am, when a lawyer observed 8 FBI agents sitting in the residence examining materials. Otherwise the scene was calm.

Agents had broken in the door there at 7am Friday morning, breaking an aquarium in the process.

The federal search warrants appear to be focusing on seizing electronic devices, international travel and allegeing "co-conspirators". They do not authorise arrests.

The search warrant for 1823 Riverside, the residence of activist Mick Kelly, sought information "regarding ability to pay for his own travel" to Palestine and Colombia from 2000 to today. The warrant hyped potential documents indicating any contacts/facilitation with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Lebanon' s Hezbollah -- what it called "FTOs" or "foreign terrorist organizations". It mentioned seeking information on the alleged "facilitation of other individuals in the US to travel to Colombia, Palestine and any other foreign location in support of foreign terrorist organizations including but not limited to FARC, PFLP and Hezbollah".

The wording of the warrant appears to indicate the government seeks to create divisions among social justice and international soldarity activists by hyping alleged connections to what they call "foreign terrorist organizations."

The warant also sought information on "Kelly's travel to and from and presence in MN, and other foreign countries [sic] to which Kelly has tavelled as part of his work in FRSO [Freedom Road Socialist Organization]", as well as materials related to his finances and the finances of FRSO, and all computer and electronic devices.

The federal warrant was signed by Judge Susan Nelson at 3:30pm , September 23.

FBI raids: What you can do

By Lynn Koh for War Times/Tiempo de Guerras

 

September 26, 2010 -- By now, most War Times/Tiempo de Guerras readers have heard about the September 24 FBI raids on peace activists' homes in Minneapolis and Chicago, and at the Minneapolis office of the Twin Cities Anti-war Committee. We add our voices to the rest of the progressive movement, and all those who value democracy, in denouncing these raids. We believe that the peace movement must support the folks who have been targeted for their antiwar work.

Plans for solidarity demonstrations are developing quickly. The Anti-War Committee has called for a demonstration at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, September 27, 2010, at the Minneapolis offices of the FBI, 111 Washington Street, South. Click here for more information.

We encourage War Times readers to call US Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-353-1555 and to send emails to the Department of Justice at AskDOJ@usdoj.gov. Ask Attorney General Holder to put an end to the FBI’s attacks on peace activists.

What do we know about these raids?

On Friday, September 24, the FBI raided at least six homes in Chicago and Minneapolis, with the explanation that peace activists were providing “material support to foreign terrorist organizations”, namely the FARC in Colombia, the Peoples Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hezbollah. The FBI also raided the office of the Anti-war Committee in Minneapolis, which had organised a demonstration during the 2008 Republican National Convention. Some of the peace activists whose houses were raided are members of the Anti-War Committee. The New York Times quotes an FBI spokesperson who said the raids were part of “an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation”.

While no arrests have been made so far, the activists have been served with grand jury subpoenas.

The raids appear to be "fishing expeditions" -- attempts to gather as much personal information as possible from the activists’ homes in the hopes of bringing some charges against them. The search warrant which we have seen authorises the federal agents to seize all documents and records related to any activities in the US or overseas, especially those related to the FARC, PFLP and Hezbollah, as well as emails, phone records and internet usage; it also asks for information pertaining to the activists' work in a left group called the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Click here to download a PDF of the search warrant.

What do these raids mean?

Many of the communities we work with live with state violence on a daily basis. Still, we believe these events to be of signal importance to the antiwar movement. In the post-9/11 political landscape, War Times/Tiempo de Guerras has worked to bring an internationalist perspective to the antiwar movement, a perspective which focuses not only on the domestic costs and victims of war, but also on the suffering war and occupation bring to peoples around the world. We believe this perspective is essential to achieving a US foreign policy based on justice and solidarity rather than on either domination or isolationism.

The FBI raids occur months after a 6-3 Supreme Court decision upholding a broad interpretation of "material support to foreign terrorist organizations", whereby offering advice, training and service to a designated terrorist organisation constitutes material support for terrorism -- even if the service in question has nothing to do with any "terrorist" act. In this context, Friday’s FBI raids contribute to the criminalisation of any communication with any group the US State Department has designated a terrorist organisation. Even advocating negotiating with one of these named groups may become a crime, not to mention deeper attempts to build solidarity with groups struggling against war and occupation. (It should be noted, for example, that Hezbollah forms part of the democratically elected government of Lebanon.) These raids, and the policy that underlies them, strike directly at the internationalist perspective that grounds all of War Times/Tiempo de Guerras’ work.

War Times has been a multigenerational project from its inception in 2001, and several of our members lived through periods of heightened government repression. These new FBI raids bring those experiences to mind, not least because of the deliberate and comprehensive targeting of Freedom Road Socialist Organization. The warrant authorising the search of one peace activists’ home instructs government agents to look for any materials related to the recruitment and political education activities -- referred to somewhat quaintly as "indoctrination" -- of Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to see a resurgence of FBI raids and grand jury subpoenas focused on today’s peace activists. This kind of red-baiting and demonisation of the left has a long history in the United States. These tactics have served US government efforts to undermine many social movements, from workers' rights to civil rights. The best known examples include the machinations of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover against Bayard Rustin, Stanley Levison and the entire leadership of the southern civil rights movement. Such methods are also familiar to people who worked in solidarity with Central American peoples fighting dictatorship and US intervention during the 1980s, and in the anti-apartheid movement in the 1990s.

So these tactics of intimidation are familiar. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore them. Unless we challenge the legitimacy of the FBI's raids now -- loudly, visibly and in as many ways as possible -- the antiwar movement may be facing a more dangerous and difficult road than we had imagined.

What you can do:

  • Call the Attorney General’s office at 202-353-1555 and demand an end to political intimidation of peace activists.

  • Call or write the “newspapers of record” such as the New York Times and Washington Post, asking them to give full and prominent coverage to this story.

  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, explaining why this kind of intimidation is a danger to democracy.

  • Call your local members of Congress to demand that the FBI stop harassing peace activists.

  • Participate in any local actions to protest these raids.

War Times/Tiempo de Guerras

PO Box 22748 | Oakland, CA 94609

http://www.war-times.org/

 

Comments

ANSWER condemns FBI intimidation tactics

Stand with antiwar activists targeted by the FBI!

ANSWER condemns FBI intimidation tactics

The ANSWER Coalition unequivocally condemns today’s FBI raids on the homes of anti-war and solidarity activists in Illinois and Minnesota, and the intimidation of activists there and elsewhere.

This morning, Sept. 24, teams of FBI agents from the “Joint Terrorism Task Force” served search warrants and grand jury subpoenas on the activists, allegedly relating to political speech in defense of the Palestinian and Colombian peoples. The FBI subpoenaed around a dozen activists to testify before a grand jury in Chicago in October. They confronted and intimidated activists in additional states as part of the operation.

Grand juries are notorious political tools used by the government against progressive activists when it lacks actual evidence against them.

The targeted activists have done nothing wrong. They are long-time organizers in the struggle for justice in the United States and against U.S. wars and repression abroad. They are leaders of organizations like the Twin-Cities Anti-War Committee, the Palestine Solidarity Group, the Colombia Action Network and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, among others. Many of the targeted activists helped organize the successful mass mobilizations at the RNC in Minneapolis, Minn. in 2008. Now, the government is attempting to implicate them in a bogus federal “terrorism” investigation. These allegations are baseless, reactionary and wrong.

The aim of the FBI raids is clearly the suppression of free speech and dissent. The government wants all activists to be afraid to speak out. And the Obama administration’s Justice Department is now leading the charge. But we cannot allow the government to stamp out the right of people to advocate for political beliefs that do not align with the aims of the Pentagon war machine. We cannot allow them to continue to erode our civil rights and civil liberties.

ANSWER encourages all anti-war activists to follow the example of the targeted activists if you are confronted by the FBI or other police agencies. The activists have refused to engage in conversations with the FBI about their political beliefs and anti-war organizing.

It is important for all activists and organizers to know your civil rights. People have the right to remain silent and to consult with an attorney. Even if the FBI shows up at someone’s home or office with a warrant, you are not required to engage in conversation. It is better to say to FBI or other law enforcement agents, “Let me have your contact information and my attorney will call you.” People will gain nothing by engaging in discussions with FBI officers.

ANSWER stands in full solidarity with our targeted sisters and brothers in the anti-war movement. We vow to struggle alongside them until the government harassment ends and they are completely vindicated.

An injury to one is an injury to all!

Solidarity (USA): Stand against FBI raids and intimidation!

By the Solidarity Political Committee

http://www.solidarity-us.org/current/

On Friday, September 24, the FBI used search and seizure warrants to raid the homes of several antiwar and socialist activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. Subpoenas were delivered to activists in other states. The charges related to supposed "material aid to terrorist organizations." In this case, the activists appear to have been targetted because of their active support for organizations in Colombia and Palestine that the US government has decided to name as "terrorist" organizations. The often arbitrary designation of international political organizations as "terrorists" is not new, and neither is government repression of domestic dissent.

Intense periods of repression against the left -- the Palmer raids of the 1920s, the Red Scare of the 1950s, COINTELPRO in the 1960s and 70s, and against the antiwar movement today -- have been the most well known instances in a fairly continuous practice of surveillance, infiltration, disruption and even violence against the movements for peace, socialism, Black self-determination, and labor rights. In each case, there were also clear efforts to isolate radical organizations active in the movements.

This record demonstrates important lessons. First, the U.S. government and its "intelligence" agencies are quick to strip individuals and organizations of their constitutional rights and ignore the basic rules of democracy in order to discredit and demoralize opposition from the left. Second, the most potent defense against this disruption has been the refusal to be intimidated, and the support to targeted individuals and groups provided by communities and movements.

Solidarity joins those who are outraged by this attempt to intimidate the antiwar and international solidarity movements. We cannot allow any activists or organizations in these movements to be isolated, and extend our full support on this matter to all of the individuals targeted. Despite political differences, we are part of one movement, and will not be divided.

FBI raids -- San Francisco Labor Council Resolution

[Note: The following resolution -- submitted by David Welsh, NALC 214, and Alan Benjamin, OPEIU 3 -- was adopted unanimously by the SFLC Delegates' Meeting on Sept. 27, 2010.]

Condemn FBI Raids on Trade Union, Anti-War and Solidarity Activists
Whereas, early morning Sept. 24 in coordinated raids, FBI agents entered eight homes and offices of trade union and anti-war activists in Minneapolis and Chicago, confiscating crates full of computers, books, documents, notebooks, cell phones, passports, children's drawings, photos of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, videos and personal belongings. The FBI also raided offices of the Twin Cities Anti-war Committee, seizing computers; handed out subpoenas to testify before a federal Grand Jury to 11 activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan; and paid harassment visits to others in Wisconsin, California and North Carolina; and
Whereas, one target of the raid was the home of Joe Iosbaker, chief steward and executive board member of SEIU Local 73 in Chicago, where he has led struggles at the University of Illinois for employee rights and pay equity. Brother Iosbaker told the Democracy Now radio/TV program that FBI agents "systematically [went] through every room, our basement, our attic, our children's rooms, and pored through not just all of our papers, but our music collection, our children's artwork, my son's poetry journal from high school -- everything." He and his wife, a Palestine solidarity activist, were both issued subpoenas. The earliest subpoena dates are October 5 and 7; and

Whereas, the majority of those targeted by the FBI raids had participated in anti-war protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul MN, which resulted in hundreds of beatings and arrests [with almost all charges subsequently dropped]. Many of those targeted in the 9/24 raids were involved in humanitarian solidarity work with labor and popular movements in Colombia -- "the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist"-- whose US-funded government has been condemned by the AFL-CIO and internationally for the systematic assassination of hundreds of trade unionists; and

Whereas, the nationally coordinated dawn raids and fishing expedition marks a new and dangerous chapter in the protracted assault on the First Amendment rights of every union fighter, solidarity activist or anti-war campaigner, which began with 9/11 and the USA Patriot Act. The raids came only 4 days after a scathing report by the Department of Justice Inspector General that soundly criticized the FBI for targeting domestic groups such as Greenpeace and the Thomas Merton Center from 2002-06. In 2008, according to a 300-page report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI trailed a group of students in Iowa City to parks, libraries, bars and restaurants, and went through their trash. This time the FBI is using the pretext of investigating "terrorism" in an attempt to intimidate activists.
Therefore be it resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council denounce the Sept. 24th FBI raids on the homes and offices of trade union, solidarity and anti-war activists in Minneapolis, Chicago and elsewhere; the confiscation of computers and personal belongings; and the issuance of Grand Jury subpoenas. This has all the earmarks of a fishing expedition. The FBI raids are reminiscent of the Palmer Raids, McCarthy hearings, J. Edgar Hoover, and COINTELPRO, and mark a new and dangerous chapter in the protracted assault on the First Amendment rights of every union fighter, international solidarity activist or anti-war campaigner, which began with 9/11 and the USA Patriot Act;

And be it further resolved, that this Council make the following demands:

1. Stop the repression against trade union, anti-war and international solidarity activists.

2. Immediately return all confiscated materials: computers, cell phones, papers, documents, personal belongings, etc.

3. End the Grand Jury proceedings and FBI raids against trade union, anti-war and international solidarity activists;

And be it further resolved, that this Council participate in the ongoing movement to defend our civil rights and civil liberties from FBI infringement; forward this resolution to Bay Area labor councils, California Labor Federation, Change to Win and AFL-CIO; and call on these organizations at all levels to similarly condemn the witch hunt;
And be it finally resolved, that this Council urge the AFL-CIO to ensure that denunciation of the FBI raids is featured from the speakers' platform at the October 2, 2010 One Nation march in Washington, DC, possibly by inviting one of those targeted by the raids, for example the SEIU chief steward whose home was raided, to speak at the rally.

Stop FBI raids and grand jury witchhunts of antiwar activists!

Stop FBI raids and grand jury witchhunts of antiwar activists and radicals!

Statement by Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women

September 28, 2010

On September 24, gun-toting FBI SWAT agents broke into homes of antiwar activists and associates of Freedom Road Socialist Organization
(FRSO) in Minneapolis and Chicago. These outrageous actions were ordered by a federal judge in order to seize materials for a grand jury investigation into supposed terrorism. Agents walked off with files, financial records, passports, phone lists, computers and other electronic equipment. The warrant for seizing activists' possessions includes items for "the recruitment, indoctrination, and facilitation of other individuals in the United States to join FRSO" and "the recruitment, etc. of individuals to travel to Colombia and Palestine...in support of FARC, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hezbollah." Other targets of the raid included the offices of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee and the Chicago home of Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of the Arab American Action Network.

In addition to the break-ins, the FBI is visiting people whom they assert may be involved in the antiwar movement or organizing support for Palestinians and Colombians. However, those raided have pointed out that they have the right to freedom of association and to organize without government interference or intimidation. Government attempts to halt solidarity with workers and the poor in other lands will not be tolerated. In directing these attacks, the Obama administration is continuing COINTELPRO-type operations the FBI used in the '60s and '70s to divide the movements and smash dissent.

There are various conjectures being put forth as to why the Obama administration is staging these raids now: to appear tough on terrorism before the Congressional elections; to chill activists before the antiwar demonstrations on October 9-16; or to take attention away from last week's Justice Department admission that the FBI used false claims to mount "counterterror" investigations as a cover for spying and infiltration of activist groups across the country. Whatever the reason, there are definitely steps to be taken to strengthen the message that antiwar and Left forces will not be intimidated and will continue to fight back!

The FBI is a huge internal spy network that reports to the Justice Department and serves the interest of big business. The most effective defense against the FBI is to build community support as is being done in Minneapolis and Chicago: protest loudly while exercising the right to refuse to speak to them. If they show up or call, tell them you've nothing to say and tell them to leave you alone. The FBI are not the cops. Short of a search warrant, you have no legal obligation to tell them your name or anything else.

The Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women call on all organizations, activists and friends of free speech to condemn government intimidation, unconstitutional McCarthyite raids, and grand jury inquisitions in the strongest terms possible and to demand that the stolen possessions be returned immediately.

To join the national movement to stop FBI repression, leave contact information at www.antiwarcommittee.org, website of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee.

Stop the witchhunts and attacks on free speech! Return property seized in the raids! End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the occupation of Palestine!

Send protests to:

Attorney General Eric Holder Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington DC 20530-0001
202-514-1057 Main switchboard
202-353-1555 Comment line AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

President Obama The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500
202-456-1111 Comment line www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Issued by:

Freedom Socialist Party, U.S. Section
4710 University Way N.E. #100 Seattle WA 98105 fspnatl@igc.org www.socialism.com

Radical Women, U.S. Section
625 Larkin St. #202 San Francisco, CA 94109 RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com www.radicalwomen.org

Socialist Party USA:

By Billy Wharton & Andrea Pason

http://www.socialistwebzine.org/2010/09/no-to-fbi-raids-yes-to-political...

September 30, 2010 -- The long tradition of US government suppression of left-wing activists was re-activated during the recent FBI raids on the homes of activists in Minnesota, Illinois and North Carolina. Government agents targeted activists in groups such as the Minneapolis-based Anti-War Committee, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Students for a Democratic Society. The raids are designed to criminalize anti-war activism at a time when speaking against US military aggression is more politically necessary than ever. As socialists, we condemn these governmental actions and stand in solidarity with our fellow activists by calling for the return of the materials taken from them, an end to all raids and, eventually, the dismantling of the US security state.

A disgraceful tradition of governmental suppression of political activists is woven into US history. This history of repression begins in the early 20th century with the Palmer Raids that led to arrest and deportation of left-wing activists. This was followed, in the 1950s, by the infamous McCarthy period in which Communists and Socialists were red baited out of government and private employment. The violence was escalated in the 1960s and 70s during the COINTELPRO program that targeted left-wing groups such as the Black Panthers and led to several high-profile political assassinations.

Although the governmental repression following the attacks of September 11, 2001 did not target the left, it did serve to massively expand the security state. Today, more than 800,000 people are employed by the government to spy on, track and investigate. It is widely believed that the recent raids are the result of a “fishing expedition” by one or multiple parts of this expanded repressive apparatus. Taken together with the continued undercover governmental disruptions of large-scale protests such as the G20 demonstration in Pittsburgh, these raids represent the increasing disruption of civil liberties.

We say in a clear voice that peace and other political activism are not crimes. Being politically active is, instead, the duty of all people interested in living in a democratic society. It is not enough to have rights on paper. We must have the ability to exercise them without repression.

The solution to the raids and the security state is the creation of a broad movement that demands not only the defense of civil rights, but also their expansion in order to guarantee political freedom for all. Socialists should be at the front of this movement because we have learned that democracy is vital to the creation and operation of a socialist society.

We stand by the words of the founders of our organization who argued, “Nothing is more revolutionary than freedom.”

NO to the FBI Raids!
Yes to Political Freedom!
End the Wars and Occupations! Dismantle the Security State!

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