Solidarity versus FBI repression
Published Mar 3, 2011 8:18 PM
Attendees at regional conferences Feb. 19 in New York City and Chapel Hill,
N.C., enthusiastically applauded anti-war and solidarity activists who have
stood up to extreme intimidation and refused to testify before a Chicago grand
jury. The meetings were part of growing support for 23 activists who have all
taken the principled position that they will not appear before the grand
The New York conference endorsed an action program that includes participating
in national anti-war events in March and April, calling mass protests when
activists are summoned to appear at grand jury sessions, and organizing
emergency protests when indictments are handed down.
Two earlier regional conferences were held Feb. 12 in Oakland, Calif., and
An original 14 subpoenas were issued last September after FBI raids on the
homes of activists, mostly in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago. Those subpoenas
were vacated, but nine new ones were issued in December and three of the
original 14 were issued second subpoenas. On Jan. 25 the newly subpoenaed
people also refused to testify. The grand jury now must decide how to go on
with its attack on the movement, which those affected believe will continue in
one way or another.
Muslims also target of FBI
One session of the New York conference focused on the many other instances of
state repression after passage of the Patriot Act. Most of those targeted have
been Muslims victimized by provocateurs working with the FBI, who entrapped
people into nothing more than questionable conversations. The state would then
bring charges of “conspiracy,” since nothing was actually done.
Hundreds of people have been convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.
Another important session included discussions by attorneys from the National
Lawyers Guild, who provided strategy on what to do if the FBI knocks without
having obtained warrants for arrest or search.
Speakers explained how someone subpoenaed but not charged with any alleged
crime could still face jail time. The grand jury can offer immunity from
prosecution based on a person’s testimony. When that happens, the person
no longer has Fifth Amendment protection and cannot refuse to testify. The
grand jury can then find those who refuse to testify to be in civil contempt
and can imprison them, without any trial, for as long as the grand jury is
Both Feb. 19 conferences drew organizers from labor, the local communities,
anti-war groups, political groups, civil rights and civil liberties
organizations. More than 100 — including people from Alabama, Tennessee
and Georgia — were present in Chapel Hill at the University of North
Carolina School of Law, while some 250 attended the New York meeting, including
people from upstate New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Three of those who had been subpoenaed were invited speakers at the New York
conference: Sara Martin of Women Against Military Madness; Mick Kelly, editor
of FightBack newspaper; and Hatem Abudayyeh, the executive director of the Arab
American Action Network, a community-based organization in the Chicago
For more information, see www.stopfbi.net.
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