Rally Against Federal Surveillance at Champaign FBI Office

9/27: Champaign-Urbana Rally Against Federal Surveillance/Raids of Antiwar Activists

 

On Monday, September 27, 2010, a dozen activists, members of AWARE (Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort), and Campus Antiwar Network, held a demonstration at the FBI office in Champaign. This demonstration was held as part of a nationwide 3-day long effort to protest the federal surveillance and raids of anti-war and other social justice activists and organizers. These federal raids occurred on September 24th when eight houses belonging to anti-war activists and an office were raided by the FBI. Subpoenas were sent to 11 activists in Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and activists from North Carolina and California were harassed. The FBI stated that no arrests were made, but these tactics point to a larger climate of state repression against anti-war, anti-imperialist and other social justice activists.

 

The demonstrators carried signs with slogans such as: “FBI Anti-War Raids Cost Tax Payer Money” and “Hands off our Activists”. A majority of the demonstrators went into the FBI office to question the FBI about these raids. When questioned about the raids, the staff at the FBI office denied FBI involvement and knowledge of these raids.

Hundreds protest FBI raids on anti-war activists

By Steve Karnowski
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Hundreds of protesters gathered outside FBI offices in Minneapolis and Chicago on Monday, bearing signs and shouting chants condemning the agency's recent searches of homes and offices of anti-war activists in both cities.

About 150 people protested in Minneapolis, with signs reading: "Stop FBI harassment. Opposing war is not a crime." Roughly 120 people marched in Chicago, chanting, "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! FBI raids have got to go!"

Search warrants had indicated investigators were looking for connections between the activists and radical groups in Colombia and the Middle East. Activists interviewed by The Associated Press scoffed at the suggestion that they might have provided material support to terrorism, and denied contributing money to terrorists.

One of the homes searched was that of Jess Sundin of the Minnesota Anti-War Committee. She told protesters that she knows of 13 people who have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago next month.

Sundin and two other Minnesotans who were searched — Mick Kelly and Meredith Aby — acknowledged in interviews Monday that they've had ties to activist groups and have traveled in the Middle East and-or Colombia. But they all denied contributing any money to terrorist groups.

"We have provided no material support," Kelly said. "I can't stress that long enough or loud enough, and honestly I don't believe that's why we're facing this scrutiny."

The FBI had searched five homes of anti-war activists in Minneapolis on Friday, plus the offices of the Minnesota Anti-War Committee. They also searched two homes of activists in Chicago. Agents confiscated computers, cell phones, large amounts of papers and financial records, the subjects and their attorneys said.

Agents were seeking "evidence relating to activities concerning the material support of terrorism," the FBI said. Chicago FBI spokesman Ross Rice declined on Monday to discuss what agents were looking for, citing an "ongoing criminal investigation." There have been no arrests.

Search warrants and subpoenas indicate authorities are looking for connections between the activists and groups including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hezbollah. The U.S. government considers those groups to be terrorist organizations.

Among the speakers in Chicago were two activists whose home was raided, Joe Iosbaker and his wife, Stephanie Weiner.

"We will not be intimidated," Iosbaker told the crowd, with people cheering in response.

Iosbaker told the crowd FBI agents had gone through everything in their home, including their music collection and their sons' school notebooks. He said the agents also found more than 20 boxes containing family papers and mementos dating back decades.

"What they learned is that we are packrats," he said, laughing.

All of these searched in Minnesota were involved in organizing a mass anti-war march at the start of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

The subpoena delivered to Kelly ordered him to produce records he might have relating to the Middle East and Colombia, along with "all records of any payment provided directly or indirectly to Hatem Abudayyeh."

The searches in Chicago also targeted Abudayyeh, a Palestinian-American and executive director of the Arab American Action Network, which has been fighting anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment following the Sept. 11 attacks. Abudayyeh's attorney, Jim Fennerty, said agents took a laptop and any documents containing the word "Palestine" during Friday's search.

Fennerty said Abudayyeh doesn't have ties to terrorist groups. Abudayyeh has not responded to multiple requests for comment; voicemail boxes for his cell and work phones were full on Monday. Fennerty said Abudayyeh is with his hospitalized mother.

Sundin said Monday she met FARC rebels when she visited Colombia in 2000, but noted that the Colombian government was holding peace talks at the time with the rebels, who held public forums where she met them. She said she has had no contacts with FARC since.

Kelly and Sundin acknowledged they're active in the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, a group named in several warrants that openly supports FARC and PFLP and shares their Marxist ideologies. Two groups use the name after a 1999 split. They said their Freedom Road is a small group, but that they weren't sure how many supporters it has. Kelly edits its newspaper.

An anti-war activist in Durham, N.C., also said his home was searched Friday. Kosta Harlan said FBI agents tried to question him about an ongoing terrorism investigation, but he refused to answer questions. He would not say what the agents asked.

___

Associated Press writers Michael Tarm and Sophia Tareen in Chicago contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 Post-Bulletin Company, LLC

Artilce from Portside

September 24, 2010 -- 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.

Hotline & “Know Your Rights” Materials Available for Activists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2010
2:11 PM

CONTACT: National Lawyers Guild
Marjorie Cohn, NLG President, marjorie@tjsl.edu; 619-374-6923          
Radhika Sainath, NLG Free Gaza Committee, radhika.sainath@gmail.com, 917-669-6903

National Lawyers Guild Hotline and “Know Your Rights” Materials Available for Activists Targeted by the FBI

NEW YORK - September 28 - The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and its Mass Defense Committee provides legal defense and educational resources to activists, including those subjected to the September 24 raids and grand jury subpoenas in Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois. The Guild denounces the attacks on free speech, freedom of association, and the right to dissent that these actions represent. The raids and summonses reflect escalating hostility toward individuals and groups working in solidarity with the Palestinian and Colombian people and are blatantly political attacks on peaceful activists.

National Lawyers Guild lawyers, in their continuing efforts to protect the right to dissent, are coordinating defense of these activists. The NLG offers several resources for activists who are subject to similarly aggressive and politically motivated breaches of their rights.

NLG Hotline: 888-NLG-ECOL (888-654-3265)

-A hotline for U.S. activists who have been contacted by the FBI. Callers are matched with NLG defense attorneys in their states who have experience dealing with similar cases.

Know Your Rights Brochure: www.nlg.org/resources/know-your-rights

-A two-page brochure that summarizes the rights of citizens when they are contacted or stopped by the police or federal authorities. Available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Farsi and Punjabi.

Operation Backfire: www.nlg.org/publications/operation-backfire

-A booklet that discusses government attacks on activists and subsequent prosecutions. Available for free download.

The National Lawyers Guild recommends that activists consult and make use of these resources. The Guild advises anyone visited by the FBI to assert your right not to answer any questions, to get the card of the FBI agent and state that you will have an attorney contact the agent on your behalf.

###

The National Lawyers Guild is dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system. Through its members--lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers and legal workers united in chapters and committees--the Guild works locally, nationally and internationally as an effective political and social force in the service of the people.


VFP Appalled at Recent FBI Raids

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2010
5:46 PM

CONTACT: Veterans for Peace
Mike Ferner, 419-729-7273
Dennis Lane, 314-306-0024

VFP Appalled at Recent FBI Raids

WASHINGTON - September 28 - Like other peace advocates, Veterans For Peace is appalled by the heavy-handed actions of the FBI in raiding the homes of anti-war activists.  We would also be astonished by those actions were it not for the FBI's long history of harassing peaceful dissent.  From the disgraced leadership of J. Edgar Hoover down to these 2010 raids in Minneapolis and Chicago, the Bureau has allowed itself to become the dark agent of stifling democratic opposition to America's embarrassing military adventures abroad and its resistance to equality at home.

The idea that the victims of these home invasions are providing "material support of terrorism" by opposing brutal U.S. foreign occupations is ludicrous.  It strikes at the very heart of the freedoms that VFP members thought they were donning the uniform to defend.  For those of us who sought to protect democracy from alien forces it is particularly disheartening to watch that democracy now being eroded from within by our own government.  Are we truly to believe that the FBI is all that stands between us and the terrorism of the Quakers, the Catholic Worker, Greenpeace, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?

It is further more than a little ironic that these raids of harassment should occur only a week after the Justice Department Inspector General himself concluded that the FBI does indeed have a long sorry history of baseless intimidation of dissenters to American policy.  Veterans For Peace members themselves were victims of these actions surrounding the infamous police violation of dissenter rights at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Republican Convention in 2008.

As veterans and as seekers of peace we stand in solidarity with our comrades in sister organizations who are victims of this sinister FBI action.  Who knows who its next targets will be?  Pressing our government to withdraw from aggressive and mindless wars should be viewed as heroic activity, not a hostile act subject to persecution.

###
Veterans For Peace is a national organization founded in 1985. It is structured around a national office in Saint Louis, MO and comprised of members across the country organized in chapters or as at-large members. The organization includes men and women veterans of all eras and duty stations including from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), World War II, the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and current Iraq wars as well as other conflicts. Our collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent. Thus, other means of problem solving are necessary.

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