August 31, 2011

United National Antiwar Coalition Statement on Carlos Montes Defense

United National Antiwar Coalition Statement on Carlos Montes Defense

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The Federal Government escalated their attacks on trade union and antiwar activists on May 17 at 5 a.m. when the FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s SWAT team broke down the door, high powered rifles drawn, and raided the home of Carlos Montes, a Chicano activist with over 40 years committed to building movements of working people and the oppressed. UNAC stands opposed to this coordinated federal and local government targeting of persons who are dedicated to organizing against reactionary bipartisan U.S. government policies that target U.S. immigrant workers and millions throughout the world whose countries have been ravaged by the U.S. military and foreign policy.

Montes is also an active supporter, along with UNAC, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, that formed in defense of The Midwest 23 and other progressives being swept up in this new McCarthy-style dragnet.

UNAC denounces the methods of terror and seizure to which Montes was subjected, tactics that mirrored those of the September 24, 2010 FBI raids against 23 union, antiwar, and solidarity activists: phones, computers, documents, photographs, and records related to Montes’ political activity were confiscated. Montes was arrested on a spurious charge of possessing guns, which he had legally registered. UNAC stands with CSFR in demanding that all of his property be returned and that the charges against him dropped.

On May 18, the day after the raid on Montes, the National Committee to Stop FBI Repression held a press conference to denounce the attacks against The Midwest 23 and Montes and to publicize the release of FBI documents left by agents during last year’s raid on Mick Kelly’s and Linden Gawboy’s apartment in Minneapolis. The documents revealed that the FBI was targeting activists who traveled to Columbia and Palestine, where movements– with whom UNAC stands in solidarity—are fighting the repressive governments of Columbia and Israel, both funded with billions in U.S. tax payer dollars. The documents also revealed that the FBI instructed agents to bring assault rifles and extra ammunition to the raid of Kelly and Gaboy’s apartment, and even arranged for paramedics to be on the scene. UNAC denounces these heave handed tactics from the FBI, which could have easily got someone hurt or killed. This unjustified assault on activists is clearly an attempt to frighten and intimidate activists.

The timing of the raid the day before the press conference can’t be passed off as coincidence; rather, it was a conscious attempt by the government to intimidate Stop FBI Raids committees, the antiwar movement, and now, the immigrant rights movement. The raid against Montes is a new phase of government repression insofar as it targets the very organization formed specifically to demand “FBI Hands Off!”

Moreover, the raid also marks the deployment of joint federal and local government repression against the antiwar movement—unprecedented in recent times–and mirrors the expanded attacks against undocumented workers by the collusion of repressive local and federal agencies operating under programs like the Clinton-era 287 (g) legislation and the current administration’s grossly misnamed Secure Communities program. It’s further proof that the government stands opposed to those who defend the victims of reactionary local, state and federal policy–foreign and domestic. UNAC reaffirms its demand that the government cease its raids and seizures; they are a clear attack on the entire antiwar movement and all organizations seeking social justice as well an end to U.S. wars of intervention around the world.

Immigrant rights and antiwar leaders in Chicago responded on May 25 to point up the real connection between this escalation of the witch-hunt against the antiwar and immigrant rights movements and the deportations of immigrants, which has increased under the Obama administration, surpassing Bush. It’s significant, also, that Montes played a leadership role during the Chicano Moratorium in the summer of 1970, when over 30,000 L.A. area Chicanos and undocumented workers mobilized in their own name against the Vietnam War. UNAC supports similar mobilizations of those in this country that bear the brunt of U.S. government attacks–immigrants, Muslims and people of color.

The raid against Montes came on the heels of U.S government (FBI and U.S. Attorney) investigation of Chicago area antiwar leader and Palestinian activist, Hatem Abbudayeh. It caused, according to his lawyers, “his bank to overreact and illegally freeze the Abudayyehs’ banking accounts that had been there for over a decade.” TCF bank has since returned his assets and refused to allow him to open another account.

The raids, grand jury, and ongoing harassment of these activists has nothing to do with “material support for terrorism.” The now 24 activists who have been raided and/or subpoenaed by the government are being targeted for their active and public opposition to U.S. foreign policy. The government is not only attempting to silence these activists, but to silence activists in all progressive social movements. The government is sending a message that McCarthy era witch-hunts are back, and activists beware. This makes it all the more important to stand with the targeted activists and show the government that we will not be intimated by its assault on those who speak out against injustice.

Danger continues to loom of federal indictments against the Midwest 23 for refusing to submit to the Federal Grand Jury. UNAC stands in full solidarity with these courageous activists as the government threatens jail time for their refusal to testify against others in the movements to stop war, Islamophobia, and attacks on workers, immigrant and otherwise.

UNAC stand in solidarity with those under government attack:

* Drop All Charges against Carlos Montes, and immediately return all of his property!
* Stop Government Attacks on the Chicano and Immigrant Rights Movements!
* Call Off the Expanding Grand Jury Witch Hunt and FBI Repression of Chicano, Immigrant Rights, Anti-War and International Solidarity Activists NOW!
* Cancel the Subpoenas! Cancel the Grand Juries!
* Government Hands Off Chicano, Immigrant Rights, Anti-War and International Solidarity Activists!