Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Minneapolis protest against FBI raids, Chicago grand jury

Alan Wilfahrt: I had taken two sets of two posters I had produced in 1991 in protest of the Gulf War. I placed them in one of the piles of posters. A woman selected the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, and I managed to capture a few shots. (All photos by Alan Wilfahrt, all rights reserved.)

October 06, 2010

Protesters gathered outisde the FBI office in Minneapolis on October 5, the day that some targeted Minnesotans had been subpoenaed to appear before a Chicago grand jury that is conducting a secret investigation. All grand jury investigations are secret, with the government prosecutor and grand jurors questioning witnesses, who are not allowed to have their lawyers present in the room.

The Minneapolis activists who were subpoenaed have said they refuse to testify. Witnesses can assert their Fifth Amendment right not to say anything that will incriminate themselves, unless they are granted immunity from prosecution. In that case, refusal to testify can result in imprisonment for up to 18 months.

Those whose homes were raided by the FBI on September 24 were also subpoenaed and ordered to bring extensive records with them:

For 2001 to the present: (1) all pictures and videos relating to any trip to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel; (2) all items relating to any trip to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel;(3) all correspondence, including but not limited to emails and letters, with anyone residing in Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel;(4) all records of any payment provided directly or indirectly to Hatem Abudayyeh, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ("PFLP") or the REvolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ("FARC"); (5) all records of any telephonic or electronic communication with anyone in Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel; and (6) any item related to any support provided to any designated terrorist organization, including the PFLP or the FARC.

More information and connections

Grand Juries: What are they? How can we resist them? Public meeting on October 10

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Is Progressive Dissent Public Enemy #1?

FBI agents raided the homes of six activists in Minneapolis and two in Chicago on September 24, seizing computers, cell phones, CDs, files and papers. Protesters also asked that this property be returned to its owners.

The FBI has said that its investigation concerns "material support to terrorists," and that it cannot commenet on grand jury activities. The FBI agents were seeking evidence of ties to "FTOs," or foreign terrorist organizations, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

In an October 4 press release, several of those targeted by the raids explained their positions:

"We believe the FBI is targeting and investigating people for their ideas. We think we have the right to this political speech. You don't have to agree with our conclusions and ideas about these international movements or even oppose the war, to agree that being targeted for those views is wrong and a dangerous attack on our civil liberties", stated Stef Yorek, whose home was raided on September 24th.

Jess Sundin, another target of the raids, said, "These raids and subpoenas are an attack on anti-war and other progressive movements. It is an attack on our freedom to speak, our freedom to assemble with like-minded people, and our freedom to tell the government that their actions and policies are wrong. It is an attempt to clear the way for more wars and occupations of other countries by the U.S. military."

"Many people of conscience have traveled to understand our government's role in places like Palestine and Colombia. We went to learn about how Palestinians and Colombians experience brutal repression from U.S. sponsored regimes and to bring their stories back, so that Americans are connected to these people. Hearing about the reality of U.S. military aid is not a crime, " stated Meredith Aby.

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