September 28, 2010

Anti-war movement unites against DOJ repression

Hundreds of people rallied in Minneapolis, Chicago, Duluth and other Midwest cities on Monday to denounce FBI and Department of Justice intimidation of anti-war and Left organizers. At the Duluth Federal Building, World War II combat veteran and longtime activist Andy Anderson read a NAWC statement of solidarity with activists who were targeted in weekend raids in Minneapolis and Chicago (see below); and Rev. John Pegg of Witness for Peace explained how accusations of terrorist ties have been used to discredit peaceful social movements both in Colombia and, increasingly, in the US. NAWC steering committee member Joel Kilgour called on Senators Franken and Klobuchar to intervene with the DOJ on behalf of the Midwest anti-war movement; and for the Duluth police to refuse to cooperate with any federal investigation of local activists. For media coverage of the event, see the Northland News Center and the Duluth News-Tribune.

The weekend raids represent a disturbing trend, initiated under Bush and continued under the Obama Administration, to discredit and criminalize anti-war and justice movements under the guise of combating terror. Key to this strategy, as it was during COINTELPRO and the Palmer Raids, is to divide our movements. While the DOJ under both Bush and Obama have made a habit of surveilling and harassing groups like School of the Americas Watch, the Catholic Worker, PETA and Greenpeace, it has targeted anarchist and socialist organizers with very public smear campaigns designed precisely to push the anti-war movement to the margins.

We must not be intimidated or divided. Whatever political differences we may have -- Republicans, Democrats, Greens, anarchists, socialists, libertarians, pacifists -- we will stand together and fight the erosion of our basic rights to organize, assemble and think freely. Our best next move is to continue our activism, undaunted and undivided.

September 26, 2010
Northland Anti-War Coalition Statement on FBI raids

On Friday, September 24, FBI agents raided four homes of anti-war and social justice activists in Minneapolis, the offices of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee (AWC), two homes in Chicago, and others in Michigan and North Carolina. All of the activists targeted have been involved in legal, open political work against U.S. wars and for solidarity with the people of Palestine and Latin America. None have yet been charged with any crime. Reports indicate that this raid was more than a year in the making, and it follows on the heels of a U.S. Justice Department investigation revealing that the FBI has been illegally spying on activists in the peace and social justice movements for several years. Activists had their computers, cell phones, other personal effects, and even their children's art work carted away for probing by the Feds.

These raids appear to target activists for their political affiliations and ideas. The fact that an organization very similar to the Northland Anti-War Coalition, in the same state, had its offices raided should give all Northland activists pause. Whether or not we personally agree with the politics of those under investigation, all activists are potential targets, and we must stand in solidarity with those who are victimized, lest we be next.

The FBI says it is looking for ties between the targeted activists and so-called Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). Many local residents in various organizations, secular and religious, have visited the Middle East and Latin America and met with groups that have perspectives at odds with U.S. authorities'. Equating peace and justice solidarity with support for terrorism is false and sets a chilling precedent, betraying the democratic principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

The Northland Anti-War Coalition rejects the criminalization of solidarity, anti-war and social justice activism.

We reject the notion that the United States Government has a right to arbitrarily label foreign organizations "Terrorist" based not on their tactics, but on whether or not their aims conform to U.S. foreign policy.

We demand that the FBI return everything taken from the raided homes and office and that the Obama Administration issue an apology to the targeted activists.

We refuse to be intimidated by the FBI's actions. We call on all people of conscience in the Twin Ports area to join us in a protest for money for jobs and schools, not for war on October 11, 5 p.m. in front of the Historic Old Central High School and 6:15 p.m. in front of City Hall.

1 comment:

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall said...

Unfortunately Cointelpro didn't stop in the 1970s - at least in Seattle. In 1981 the FBI collaborated with Marcos agents to gun down Filipino cannery workers and union organizers Domingo and Viernes. Then between 1987-2002 they targeted white supporters of the campaign to create an African American Heritage Museum with intense Cointelpro-style harassment. I write about this in my recent memoir THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ACT: MEMOIR OF AN AMERICAN REFUGEE ( I currently live in exile in New Zealand. Which is ironic in a way, as the Palmer Raids forced my great grandfather (a German immigrant and communist) to leave his family and flee to South America.