On September 24, the FBI raided eight homes and offices of antiwar activists in Chicago and Minneapolis and subsequently issued a summons for them to appear before a grand jury in Chicago. I won’t go into the details of this egregious violation of the Constitutional rights of US citizens because this Democracy Now piece (part one above, part two, below) does a thorough job in covering all the sordid details. (You can read the transcript here.)
If you live in the Chicago area (and are outraged at the increasing criminalization of dissent in post 9/11 America), I encourage you to attend a rally to against the raids and support of the peace activists subpoenaed by the FBI on Tuesday, October 5 at 8:30 am outside the Dirksen Federal Building, 230 S. Dearborn Avenue, Chicago.
If you can’t attend the rally, please join me and a growing list of signers who have added their names to the following interfaith statement (to sign, send an email to MMcConnell@afsc.org):
We are people of faith and conscience who condemn the recent FBI raids in Chicago as a violation of the constitutional rights of the people and organizations raided. They are a dangerous step to further criminalize dissent. The FBI raids chisel away and bypass fundamental constitutional rights by hauling activists before grand juries under the guise of national security. An overly broad definition of “material support for terrorism” in the June 2010 US Supreme Court ruling concerns us as people of faith who continue to be actively engaged in humanitarian work and peacemaking.
The real illegitimate activities are U.S. foreign policies that support war and occupation. We believe that peacemaking is a sacred commandment. We feel compelled to work to end military solutions that kill and maim innocent people, destroy civil society institutions, create massive poverty and dislocation of people from their homelands, militarize our own nation and continue to create more animosity against the United States, thus undermining our security.
We are committed to a just peace in Israel and Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia. Some of us have visited these conflicted areas and accompanied those most affected by the violence. Some of us have permanent staff and volunteers working nonviolently for a peaceful resolution to these conflicts. We all stand opposed to the United States’ and all nations’ support of military aid and military intervention in these countries. The infusion of military aid has exacerbated violence rather than resolved it.
We believe in a divine spirit of justice and hope that promotes understanding and equality of all humanity. We refuse to remain silent in the face of the latest efforts of the FBI to chill dissent against war by invading homes of peace activists and calling a grand jury with sweeping powers to manufacture fear. We denounce the use of fear and the far-reaching labeling of critical dissent as “terrorism” that tramples on not only our right, but our duty to dissent as people called to a moral standard of justice for all.
Thanks, as always, for speaking out for those who face persecution, Brant. Now they come for the peace activists…
Not much of a surprise…I would like to hear white anti-war activists who are targeted speak solidarity with communities whose lives are DAILY ruined by the FBI and their actions. I was disappointed that these two (white-looking albeit) activists had nothing to say about the fact that this has been happening to Arab/Muslim/South Asian communities for a long time and often.
“this has been happening to Arab/Muslim/South Asian communities for a long time and often.”
Thanks for mentioning this Gigi. I am on the Executive Board of a local non-sectarian non-profit that provides cultural programs and social services to the local Arab community. While no actual raids have taken place as far as I know, for about a year we had FBI agents regularly attending our events, asking questions, and even attempting to become members. We assume based on others’ experience that one of their goals is to use our Center to infiltrate the community and recruit informants with the goal of nabbing “terrorists”. None of them is of Arab origin, and though our events and membership are open to all regardless of nationality or background and we are not a political organization, on the advice of civil rights attorneys we formally objected to their presence on the basis that it is harming us by intimidating community members, reducing attendance at our events, and discouraging people from joining our organization. They did back off after that, but it looks to us as if they were on some kind of fishing expedition. This kind of thing is happening all over the country, and constitutes a real threat to any Arab or Muslim-oriented organization and members of the community it serves.
Thanks for speaking out! One of the activists whose home was raided is an acquaintance and colleague of mine at Wright College. We are furious!