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”.
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
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!
By the Solidarity Political Committee
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.