On November 15, three FBI agents came to the Chicago home of an international solidarity
The War Resisters League deplores the ongoing raids by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies on the homes and workplaces of peace/antiwar and international solidarity activists in Chicago and the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Activists’ homes have been searched; their computers, cell phones, and papers have been seized; and the activists have been summoned to appear before grand juries allegedly investigating “terrorist” activities.
The government actions directly threaten all U.S. citizens’ rights of free speech and dissent and are particularly ominous for those who work for peace and justice, most especially for people who work or have worked in international solidarity groups or efforts. A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project extends the Patriot Act so that even talking to a group that the U.S. government opposes might now be criminalized.
Anyone who has ever
• been involved in the South Africa anti-apartheid or divestment movement;
• been involved in the Central America solidarity movement;
• traveled to Cuba on a solidarity brigade;
• gone on a delegation to see first-hand the effects of U.S. foreign policy;
• been a supporter of the republican movement in Ireland;
• organized against the wars in Afghanistan and/or Iraq; or
• worked for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel and for justice in Palestine
has engaged in activity that could be targeted by future raids, harassment, and prosecution.
The government actions are a frightening limitation on our right to free speech. A grand jury is a secret court proceeding where the jury members are not screened for bias, where witnesses are not allowed to have a lawyer present, and where there is no judge. It is frightening to think nonviolent activists might be separated from their families and loved ones and face jail terms on bogus, trumped-up charges.
Finally, the War Resisters League applauds the targeted activists, who are the dear friends and colleagues of many WRL members, for refusing to be silent in the face of the FBI's repression, and commends the initial, powerful response of thousands around the country in decrying the diminution of our freedom. As a result of this public outcry, all of the subpoenas were dropped, though with the government weighing its next move, continuing pressure remains essential to put a definitive end to this sorry episode. We also call upon our members and supporters to participate in local actions in solidarity with the three Minnesota activists who will face renewed subpoenas.
We at the War Resisters League remember May 9, 1969, when our national office was broken into, trashed, and nothing was stolen – except our mailing list. It was movement solidarity then that enabled us to survive and thrive despite this raid. We know that nonviolent resistance to repression is ultimately what safeguards all of our civil liberties, and is the only thing that makes it possible to advance freedoms here and around the world.
In this spirit, we ask all of you reading this to act now to end the latest FBI raids and harassment. Please call, write, or email the following officials today demanding that they act to stop the repression of antiwar and international solidarity activists, immediately return all confiscated materials: computers, cell phones, papers, documents, etc., and end the grand jury proceedings against anti-war activists:
• 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, [email protected]
• Your Representative and Senators, http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm; https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml)
Sample phone message: My name is ______________ and I live in _____________. I want to protest the September 24, 2010, FBI raids on Minneapolis and Chicago peace and justice activists. People involved in peaceful, antiwar activism and humanitarian justice work should never be harassed in this way. Please return their belongings to the activists, drop grand jury hearings, and end surveillance of peace and justice activists.