Protesters vs. FBI repression say: ‘Solidarity is not a crime!’
Published Feb 5, 2011 4:38 PM
When the FBI delivered subpoenas for nine Palestine solidarity activists in
Chicago to appear before a grand jury on Jan. 25, the response was loud and
clear: Protests, press conferences and forums were held in more than 45 cities
in the U.S. and around the world on that date to stand in solidarity and say no
to FBI repression.
WW photo: Judy Greenspan
This same grand jury was impaneled by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to
indict 14 individuals in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, some of whose homes
and offices were raided in September. Many feel it’s a fishing expedition
targeting activists in solidarity with Palestine and the Colombian people. Six
of those subpoenaed to appear in Chicago were Arab Americans.
Many of the protests denounced this attempt by the U.S. government to
criminalize solidarity with the Palestinian people. Protesters, including those
summoned to appear before the grand jury in Chicago, vowed to continue to work
to end U.S. aid to Israel.
WW photo: Judy Greenspan
Organized by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, one of the largest
demonstrations took place outside the Dirksen Federal Building in
Chicago, where more than 250 people crowded the sidewalk
during rush hour. A number of the activists who were subpoenaed but refused to
appear before the grand jury addressed the rally.
In New York City people rallied in front of the FBI offices
chanting, “Stop the subpoenas, Stop the raids! We are here and not
afraid!” Groups supporting the protest included the May 1st Coalition for
Worker and Immigrant Rights, Al-Awda-NY, the Freedom Road Socialist
Organization, the International Action Center, Veterans for Peace-NY, the
Pakistan-USA Freedom Forum, Workers World Party, The World Can’t Wait,
the Free Mumia Coalition and others. Ralph Poynter, spouse of jailed lawyer
Lynne Stewart, read her statement. Stewart is serving 10 years in federal
prison after being framed up by the government for her steadfast defense of
politically targeted defendants.
WW photo: Judy Greenspan
At a picket line and street meeting in Cleveland, speakers
stressed the long history of FBI spying and grand jury harassment against Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activists and the anti-war movement.
In Los Angeles, protesters gathered outside the Westwood
Federal Building, which houses the FBI offices. A tribunal was held where
members of Students for a Democratic Society, the Freedom Road Socialist
Organization, the International Action Center, the South-Asian Network, the
Labor Strategy Center, the Freedom Socialist Party, the Answer Coalition and
the National Lawyers Guild testified as witnesses to crimes committed by the
FBI against solidarity activists. Participants pledged to intensify
In Atlanta a dozen people withstood cold wind and rain to
stand downtown with banners against FBI repression and in solidarity with
imprisoned soldier Bradley Manning. Flyers were distributed and a press
conference was held.
WW photo: Susan Schnur
Subfreezing temperatures failed to dampen the spirits of participants in a
strong, diverse picket line in Detroit comprised of members of
labor unions, youth groups, anti-war and other progressive organizations.
Chants included “From Iraq to Palestine, solidarity is not a
crime!” and “FBI off our backs! Enough attacks!”
A speakout after the picket included solidarity statements from youth/student
organizations at two universities in Arizona. Debbie Johnson of the Michigan
Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, sponsor of the rally, demanded
an immediate halt to grand jury proceedings; that those targeted receive
justice and have returned to them all of the items that were stolen by the FBI;
and that all government attacks against progressive and revolutionary activists
‘Free, free Palestine!’
In Philadelphia a press conference brought a number of
activists together to denounce the FBI harassment campaign. It was followed by
a forum on FBI entrapment of innocent Muslims featuring attorney Steve Downs, a
founding member of Project SALAM; Dominick Calsolaro, member of the Albany,
N.Y., City Council, which passed a resolution in support of justice for Muslims
targeted by preemptive prosecution; and Burim Duka and Leila Duka, brother and
daughter of members of the Fort Dix 5. Endorsers included the ACLU-PA, the
CAIR-PA; the Brandywine Peace Community; the International Action Center; and
Philadelphia Against War.
Speakers and audience members commented on and linked the FBI repression of
activists; the targeting of Muslims; Immigration and Customs Enforcement and
police collaboration; police brutality, including Philadelphia’s
stop-and-frisk policies; and the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security
spying on more than 300 groups and individuals in 2010 for potential
“terrorist” activities. Abdus Sabur, father of a young Black man
brutally beaten by police in September, spoke movingly about his son’s
experience and urged Philadelphia’s City Council to pass a resolution
supporting the Muslim community.
In Raleigh, N.C., activists gathered outside the Federal
Building with signs reading “Federal Bureau of Intimidation” and
“Hands off Activists.” Participants included the Triangle Committee
to Stop FBI Repression, the Durham Bill of Rights Defense Committee, FIST
(Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) and the National Lawyers Guild. Khalilah
Sabra of MAS (the Muslim-American Society) Freedom read a statement by a
ninth-grade student on the injustice of repression.
At a noontime rally and an early evening demonstration in
Boston hundreds of flyers were distributed to passersby and
rush-hour commuters, many of whom applauded the demonstrations. A man whom
activists suspected was an undercover agent, likely FBI, filmed participants
and appeared to be trying to provoke a response.
More than 200 people chanting, “Free, free Palestine! Solidarity is not a
crime!” protested in front of the Federal Building in downtown
San Francisco. Coordinated by the newly formed Bay Area
Coalition to Stop Political Repression, participants staged a dramatic
enactment of 23 duct-taped grand jury resisters marching into the Federal
Building to return their subpoenas.
Speakers included Richard Brown of the San Francisco 8, who served time for
refusing to cooperate with a grand jury witch hunt targeting the Black
Liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Brown stated, “The FBI and
police are the real terrorists.” Monadel Herzallah, a key organizer and
member of the Arab American Union Members Council, announced that the
subpoenaed brothers and sisters did not come to court as ordered.
Another case of FBI intimidation was reported from Memphis,
Tenn., where solidarity activists planning a public event at the
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center were visited by the FBI and a Memphis police
SWAT team who claimed they were there to “keep peace” at the
demonstration. Two activists’ homes were also visited by the
sheriff’s department with bench warrants.
For reports on actions and events in other cities, including St. Louis; Salt
Lake City; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Dallas; Tucson, Ariz.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Seattle;
Providence, R.I.; Asheville, N.C.; Louisville, Ky.; Albany, N.Y.; and Kyiv,
Ukraine, visit the Committee to Stop FBI Repression at www.stopfbi.net.
John Catalinotto, Judy Greenspan, Dianne Mathiowetz, John Parker, Bryan G.
Pfeifer and Susan Schnur contributed to this roundup.
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