FBI raids spark free speech protests


CHICAGO -- Peace and solidarity activists, concerned about simultaneous FBI raids last week in Minneapolis and here, held picket lines in front of FBI headquarters in more than 20 cities, including Atlanta, Los Angeles (click here for video) and New York. Protestors here carried handmade signs that included slogans such as "Freedom to dissent."

The FBI supeonas seem to suggest it's an investigation into "material aid" for groups on the United States terrorist list. But civil liberties advocates warn that the government's definition of "material aid" is too broad and vague and could trample free speech rights. Activists also say this is a way to intimidate and harass law-abiding, nonviolent activists who disagree with U.S. foreign policy. The Department of Justice Inspector General, just days before the raid, issued a report on unwarranted FBI spying of peace groups from 2001-2006.

The following video is Stephanie Weiner, one of the antiwar activists whose home was raided, speaking at the Chicago rally. (Story continues after video)

The Chicago Sun Times, in an editorial this week, "Keep U.S. secure but don't chill free speech,"  reminded its readers of Chicago's notorious Red Squad, which spied on tens of thousands of Chicagoans involved in antiwar and civil rights activism, and incited violence.

"In the 1960s and '70s, the Chicago police Red Squad kept dossiers and spied on tens of thousands of locals. The squad was supposed to target anti-war violence, but often pursued people simply because they opposed then-Mayor Richard J. Daley, were active in unions, were neighborhood or environmental activists or were independent aldermen.

"Police spies eavesdropped, committed burglaries and tried to incite violence.

"We could hear echoes of the complaints about the Red Squad on Monday, when hundreds of protesters showed up at FBI offices in Chicago and Minneapolis to denounce the agency for searching the homes and offices of anti-war activists. During the searches, agents confiscated computers, cell phones, numerous documents and financial records."

The newspaper, known for its tabloid-style and rightward take on the news, said the FBI raids "can be a major deterrent to speaking out. It also discourages associating with those who have been targeted."

The Committee to Stop Repression of Antiwar and International Solidarity Activists suggests taking the following actions:

Call the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-353l-1555 or write an email to: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov with the following message:

• Stop the repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists.

• Immediately return all confiscated materials: computers, cell phones, papers, documents, etc.

• End the grand jury proceedings against anti-war activists.

The committee asks that all concerned circulate statements of solidarity to your friends, neighbors and communities and ask them to sign on and do the same.

Photo and video:  Activist Stephanie Weiner speaks in front of FBI headquarters in Chicago, next to her teenage son, whose room was also searched by the FBI. (John Bachtell/PW)


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  • This government will never support what is in the best interest of the people becuase we live in a capitalist society that is ruled by the wealthiest 2 percent in America. They are appeased by both parties because both serve the same destructive force. The main issue we face is coming out of the shadows and defending are views and immediately start a viable comunication network. The one nation rally today shows that americans are fed up and they are not afraid to take a stand. Our philosphy is one that neither party will embrace, because they do not have the needs of all citizens as their first priority. We must all get to the polls next month to stem the right wing tide momentarily and immedaitely begin the organizing of a true peoples led revoltuion that informs the nations citizens, rallies them to our fight and mobilizes everyone in a quick and effecient manner. We must eliminate a capitalist system that exploits everybody not only locally but globally. When we are complete every american will eat, be housed and have equal benefits no matter of race religion or gender. Our troops will be home and we will begin the journey towards an international peace and labor equality. I start the process right here to show there is no fear of big brother or any other hatred that might come from right-wing extremists for my beliefs. Today I start the comunication process. The Email address is as follows. the_peoples_revolution@yahoo.com If you are for the revolution know someone who is, or you are going to take the forefront on the battle and start the organizing of the people contact me via the email address and tell everyone you know to email me so we can begin to mobilize our efforts.

    Posted by Travis Day, 10/03/2010 12:05am (5 years ago)

  • Great video and article. I got a better picture of the rally from this than I was able to get from actually attending the event!

    Posted by Bobbie, 10/01/2010 11:15am (5 years ago)

  • Knowing something about the history of repression in our country,we suspect that the timing of this documented repression is no co-incidence.
    However,this is in a double sense,and perhaps designed to incite fear and discourage activism and organization,we are active and hopeful once again that,experienced activists remain cool headed and remember that in less than 24 hrs perhaps 500,000 activists will assemble in our nation's capital,Washington D.C. to protest for training and sustainable jobs.
    These 500,000 should and could be energized to show the resiliency of further organizing co-workers friends,relatives and community against governmental repression,while in an concrete action to protest another kind of governmental neglect,that of leaving all, youth,the millennial generation,our middle aged,the baby boomers,and our elderly disposed to the economic want of a failed capitalist economy.
    This economy,as our great forerunners W.E.B. Du Bois and Martin Luther King Jr. warned,is deathly flawed,based on a debilitating "universal selfishness",our government aiding the wealthy in profligate self-aggrandizement,while tendering to millions of millions,even our majority, a "bad check" returned marked "insufficient funds".
    Reviving yet another cycle in a series of righteous protest and indignation,to Washington D.C.,we would come to the seat of our government,to our nation's elected leaders,including our top executive,president Barack Hussein Obama and attorney general Eric Himpton Holder Jr.,two African American first,to do two things:

    (1) Protest to demand a massive jobs program to employ all who are able and trainable for sustainable,gainful,green,unionized jobs

    (2) Protest to stop the ineffable repression of international peace and justice activists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,since this activism is indispensable in the attainment of the very massive,sustainable,gainful,green,unionized jobs we seek

    Further,the protection of this movement,indicated and duly executed by the seated government is legitimate,meet and proper. This is the job of Barack Obama and Eric Holder. It is orderly and expedient.
    Experienced activists know that the international community has to be enlisted and informed of these legitimate demands and claims for there is and there has been tyranny in governments since governments,and it is our right and duty,according to our Constitution to resist this tyranny wherever it is,including in our own country and government. Now,in this binary age this means that we must use the internet to inform and enlist support in our increasingly close knit world.
    All international contact with the international community should be strengthened,redoubled. Especially our connections and relations with the United Nations and its internal mechanisms for protecting international human rights. This with all international human rights and anti-repression organizations.
    We have to succeed in this struggle and we shall.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 10/01/2010 5:52am (5 years ago)

  • Nothing more than a complete violation of the rights of American citizens. Only goes to show the fear that the U.S. governement has for the reprucussion of their policies that continue to breed hate and anger throughout the world.

    Posted by Travis Day, 09/30/2010 11:38pm (5 years ago)

  • A great article. I posted the video on Digg and signed the petition.

    Posted by Sean Mulligan, 09/30/2010 10:16pm (5 years ago)

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