January 31, 2011

USLAW Condemns Raids on Activists' Homes as "Criminalization of Dissent"

USLAW Steering Committee
September 29th, 2010

On Friday, September 24th the FBI raided homes in Chicago, Minneapolis, Michigan and North Carolina, with the justification that peace and international solidarity activists who resided in them were providing "material support to foreign terrorist organizations".

The activists whose homes were raided are members of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee, the Palestine Solidarity Group, the Colombia Action Network, Students for a Democratic Society, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization – all organizations that have actively opposed U.S. foreign policies. The FBI also raided the office of the Anti-war Committee in Minneapolis, which had organized a demonstration during the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Among those in Chicago was Joe Iosbaker, an executive board member of SEIU Local 73, a USLAW affiliate in Chicago.

Doors were kicked in during the early morning raids and personal belongings, including children's artwork and posters of Martin Luther King, Jr, were taken, as well as cell phones, computers and boxes of paper records. No charges have been filed; no arrests were made. But about a dozen activists from Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan have been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury.

The F.B.I. broke down Mick Kelly's door around 7 a.m. Kelly is a food service worker at the University of Minnesota who was a key figure in organizing the successful 2008 anti-war street protests that embarrassed the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

The FBI justified these raids claiming that they were "seeking evidence relating to activities concerning the material support of terrorism."

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26452.htm Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, commenting on the raids, observed:

"Material support" is another of those undefined police state terms. In this context the term means that Americans who fail to believe their government's lies and instead protest its policies, are supporting their government's declared enemies and, thus, are not exercising their civil liberties but committing treason."

The "material support" statute is so broadly written that it can, and does, include international peace-building activities that are not in any way intended to support terrorism. The raids come just days after the U.S. Justice Department Inspector General issued a report sharply critical of FBI surveillance of peace groups from 2002-2006, concluding among other things that there was no factual basis for the terror claims the FBI made to justify their actions. The Inspector General report also found that FBI Director Mueller testified falsely to Congress about the surveillance of peace groups.

The very same day, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) released an 88-page document titled The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the U.S.

The government attacks on the anti-war movement over the weekend will remind the more "seasoned" among us of the days of COINTELPRO and grand jury abuse at its worst. A broad coalition of organizations has called for a rapid response with demonstrations and other forms of protest across the country.

USLAW co-convenors believe that USLAW affiliates and the entire labor movement should protest these raids and act to preserve the civil liberties underlying robust protest in this country. We are not just supporters of the organized anti-war movement, we are part of it.

These raids are but one example of how dissent in our country is being criminalized. The raids took place just a week before tens of thousands of people will descend on Washington, DC in what promises to be a huge protest for jobs, peace and justice. Among the nearly 500 participating organizations are 96 peace organizations (including USLAW). Rather than intimidate, these raids will infuse the One Nation Working Together March on Washington with new energy and even greater import.

Use the links below to access additional reports about the raids. Below them is a statement issued by United for Peace and Justice, with which USLAW is affiliated, and a resolution adopted Monday evening by the San Francisco Labor Council.

DEMOCRACY NOW! report (23 minutes) Monday Sept 27: