FBI undermines US civil liberties

The antiwar activists issued grand jury subpoenas after last week’s FBI raids in Minneapolis and Chicago could face jail time for their political support for third world movements the US declares to be “terrorist”: here. And here.

Solidarity with US socialists and anti-war activists raided by FBI: here.

By Fred Mazelis in the USA:

Revealing episode from the history of the civil rights movement

Ernest Withers and the FBI

29 September 2010

The name Ernest Withers is known to only a small number of people—participants in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, historians and photographers. His work, however, includes iconic images of these early struggles and is known to many millions. It was Withers who covered the trial in the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, and who took the famous photo of the striking sanitation workers in Memphis carrying signs declaring, “I Am a Man.” He was with Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, the day the civil rights leader was assassinated.

It was thus of some historical importance when the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tennessee, revealed earlier this month that Withers, who died three years ago at the age of 85, had been an informant for the FBI.

Progressive Dissent Is in the FBI’s Crosshairs: here.

Raids on Activists May Indicate FBI Abuse of Power: here.

The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) said the September 24 raids had nothing to do with protecting the US people against terrorism and “everything to do with chilling the long-cherished tradition of the right to dissent”: here.

Left-wing, AntiWar and student groups are being spied on by the state of Pennsylvania: here.

William Bennett Turner, PoliPointPress: “Yetta Stromberg was 19 years old when she was a counselor at a summer camp for young Communists. It was 1929. The camp was in the mountains near San Bernardino, California. The campers came from working-class Communist families from Los Angeles. The 40 or so boys and girls ranged in age from 6 to 16. The parents paid only $6 a week per camper, as all the adults at the camp, including Stromberg, were volunteers. At 7:00 every morning, Stromberg led a flag-raising ceremony for the campers. As the children stood by their beds, one of them would raise a red flag while the others recited in unison this pledge. On August 3, 1929, the camp was raided by several carloads of American Legion members from nearby Redlands, led by George H. Johnson, the district attorney of San Bernardino County. The raid was prompted by the Better America Federation of Los Angeles and the Intelligence Bureau of the Los Angeles Police Department, who were keeping a close eye on radical activities”: here.

8 thoughts on “FBI undermines US civil liberties

  1. http://panafricannews.blogspot.com/2010/09/black-workers-for-justice-condemns-fbi.html

    September 28, 2010

    Black Workers For Justice Condemns FBI Raids Against Anti-War Activists

    “They come for the anti-war activists today; and they will come for us tomorrow. Stop the raids!”

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X in March of 1964. The two martyred leaders are considered the moral and social conscious of the 20th century struggle for African-American liberation.

    As African American activists engaged in the many struggles for social and economic justice and human rights, we are outraged by the recent FBI raids on anti-war activists in several U.S. cities, alleging they have connections to terrorism.

    We’ve seen these FBI and government raids and attacks on African American leaders and activists during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Medger Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and members of the Black Panther Party, among others, were assassinated, jailed, beaten and driven into political exile for leading demonstrations and speaking out against racism, U.S. wars and other injustices

    We are further outraged that these raids are happening under the Obama administration, as his election as the first Black U.S. President, grew out of a history of massive protests against racism and unjust wars.

    Those who profit from these wars and U.S. support for oppressive governments like Israel and Colombia hope that by having a Black President, it will discourage African Americans from speaking out in protest against these raids, and against attacks on other social justice fighters. Dr. King said that during times like these, “We must break our silence!”

    We know full well, that these attacks, while starting against antiwar activists, are aimed at all activists that organize and mobilize against the many injustices caused by a system that places profits and domination over human needs.

    It’s time for all struggles against injustice and for human rights in the U.S. and internationally, to close ranks against these attacks, and against the rapidly growing attack on all democratic rights, that is shaping the direction of U.S. society. They come for the anti-war activists today; and they will come for us tomorrow. Stop the raids!

    Black Workers For Justice
    P.O. Box 1863 Rocky Mount, NC 27802


  2. Work with BOPM on October 2 to make resistance to FBI raids visible
    10:00-11:00 Contingents / Feeder Marches:

    Student Contingent: gather 10:00 at Freedom Plaza, 14th St and Pennsylvania Ave, NW
    AntiWar-International Solidarity Contingent: gather 10:00 at 14th St and Constitution Ave.
    Immigrant Rights Contingent 10:00 in front of Capitol

    At main rally (all day long):

    look for the BOPM banner between 19th St. & 17th St. on the northeast side of the reflecting pool.

    At the rally on Saturday, Oct. 2, for jobs, peace and equality, many critical issues will be raised by the International Action Center and Bail Out the People Movement and other organizations, such as the need for a real WPA jobs program.

    However in the wake of the FBI raids and Grand Jury subpoenas against activists last week, the IAC and BOPM want to make sure that there is very visible opposition to FBI repression, with the understanding that the attack on these activists is an attack on all who are fighting against war, racism and for economic and social justice.

    The Bailout the People Movement, the International Action Center and many allied organizations will do this by bringing literature to distribute, as well as placards that address this issue at the rally. The main placard is a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, recalling the FBI’s attack on him, which says “Stop FBI attacks on anti-war and union activists.”

    The Bailout the People Movement will have a large banner that says “FBI and Tea Party Will Not Stop the People’s Movement for Jobs & Against War & Racism.”

    For all who will be in DC by 11:00 a.m.: There are several contingents that will have feeder marches to the main rally. The Student contingent will gather at Freedom Plaza, located at Pennsylvania Ave., and 14th St.NW (about one block north of the National Mall). It is very important to be there to help promote the Oct. 7th National Day to Defend Public Education.

    There is also an Antiwar/International Solidarity contingent gathering at 14th St. and Constitution Ave. (on the National Mall). And there is also an Immigrant Rights’ contingent at the Capitol which the IAC and BOPM will participate in. As of now, we understand that the plan is to march at 11 a.m. to the main rally.

    The metro stop closest to the Student contingent is Federal Triangle. This is also the metro stop closest to the Anti-war/International Solidarity contingent.

    For those who arrive in DC around noon, or will go directly to the rally at the Lincoln Monument, look for the BOPM banner between 19th St. & 17th St. on the northeast side of the reflecting pool. The closest metro stops are Farragut West or the Smithsonian (be prepared for a a long walk).

    To make a big impact we need your help and hope you or your organization will join in this effort.

    By boldly and popularly bringing the struggle against the FBI repression to this rally, all of us can help turn it back. We can refuse to let the FBI and big business isolate activists that are being targeted. We can also bring confidence and strength to all in doing this.

    * Get involved with the Committee to Stop FBI Repression! Go to stopFBI.net to find out how!

    * Sign the ONLINE PETITION at iacenter.org/stopfbi to send messages to President Obama, Attorney General Holder, UN Secretary-General Ban, Congressional leaders, the House and Senate Judiciary Commitees and the media saying STOP FBI REPRESSION OF ANTI-WAR AND SOLIDARITY ACTIVISTS! go to iacenter.org/stopfbi to sign

    * Join in the nationally coordinated demonstrations on Tuesday, Oct. 5 at federal buildings around the country. Go to stopfbi.net or iacenter.org to find one near you. If there isn’t one, organize one in your city or town!

    Bail Out the People Home | Donate

    Bail Out the People Movement
    Solidarity Center
    55 W. 17th St. #5C
    New York, NY 10011
    Email: bailoutpeople.org/cmnt.shtml


  3. http://stopfbi.net/2010/09/30/actions-to-stop-fbi-repression-take-place-across-the-country-further-actions-planned-for-coming-week-take-action-october-4-and-5/

    Actions to Stop FBI Repression Take Place Across the Country!
    Further Actions Planned for Coming Week: Take Action October 4 and 5
    Posted on September 30, 2010 by Committee to Stop FBI Repression

    Thousands have come together in response to the FBI raids on seven homes and an anti- war office on Friday, September 24, 2010. Across the country organizations and individuals are standing together to protest the United States government’s attempt to silence and criminalize anti-war and international solidarity activists.

    Jess Sundin 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.”

    Protests against the intimidation and harassment have taken place or are planned for 39 cities across the country. From Minneapolis and Chicago, to Los Angeles, Atlanta, Kalamazoo MI and Dallas Texas, The response has been tremendous an continues to grow.

    We are calling for further actions to take place in the coming week as the first Grand Jury Subpoenas call for activists to appear on October 5.

    Monday October 4 : Call Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General: 202-353-1555
    Demand : End harassment of anti-war and international solidarity activists
    Return all materials seized in the raid
    Stop the Grand Jury Subpoenas of activists.

    Tuesday October 5: Act in solidarity with activists called before the Grand Jury
    Take action at local federal buildings and FBI offices.

    Sign the Petition Now: http://www.iacenter.org/stopfbi

    Funds for legal defense will be needed. We will announce where they can be sent in the next few days

    Reach out to your organzation or community group and send a statement of soldarity.

    Steff Yorek, a long-time antiwar activist and one of the activists whose homes was searched said, “The assitance and support we have already received has been tremendusly encouraging, with your help we can stop this outrageous fishing expedition and attack on progressive movements.”

    Click here to download the leaflet
    ***Please print and distribute at Oct 2 March in DC and in your community today!

    Committee To Stop FBI Repression:
    Email: stopfbi@gmail.com


  4. [Trade unionists can sign also support the targeted activists by endorsing “Labor Activists Condemn FBI Repression,” posted at:
    http://stopfbi.net/2010/10/05/statement-on-grand-juries-from-committee-to-stop-fbi-repression/ ]


    Statement on Grand Juries from Committee to Stop FBI Repression
    Posted on October 5, 2010 by Committee to Stop FBI Repression

    “We fear the the government may be seeking to use the recent Supreme Court decision in Holder vs Humanitarian Law to attack conduct that clearly falls under the realm of freedom of speech and that we never imagined could be construed as “material support for terrorism.”

    On September 24, the FBI raided the homes of anti-war and international solidarity activists and delivered grand jury subpoenas to activists across the country. The subpoenas claim that the grand jury is investigating violations of the 1996 law on the issue of “material support” of “designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

    The activists targeted in the raids are people who have been very involved in the anti-war and international solidarity movements for many years. They all worked together to organize an anti-war protest attended by tens of thousands at the Republican National Convention in 2008. Some of those targeted have traveled to other countries to understand our government’s role in places like Palestine and Colombia. While there, they met with people to learn about their experience facing brutal repression from U.S. sponsored regimes, and brought their stories back to people in the U.S. Hearing about the reality of U.S. military aid is not a crime, and yet this appears to be the target of this investigation.

    The grand jury subpoenas are part of the fishing expedition targeting these committed activists and organizers. The use of grand juries to conduct sweeping investigations dates back to the Nixon administration’s attack on the social movements in the 1970s. The grand jury is neither fair nor even handed, no matter who is in charge.

    A grand jury is a panel of jurors who hear evidence from a prosecutor and decide whether or not to charge someone with a crime. The grand jury can subpoena pretty much anyone they want and ask about anything, and people can be jailed for contempt if they do not answer questions. The jurors are hand-picked by prosecutors with no screen for bias. All evidence is presented by a prosecutor in a cloak of secrecy. The prosecutor has no responsibility to present evidence that favors those being investigated. Grand jury witnesses have no right to have a lawyer in the room to object to how the prosecutor is conducting the proceedings.

    The grand jury has been used as a tool of political repression against many movements for social change in this country. From the pre-civil war abolitionist movement to the Civil Rights movements, the movement against the war in Vietnam, the American Indian Movement, the Central America solidarity movement, the Puerto Rican Independence movement, animal rights and environmental movements, there have have been many targets of political repression and grand jury inquisition.

    We believe we have been targeted because of what we believe, what we say and who we know. The grand jury process is an attempt to violate the inalienable rights under the constitution and international law to freedom of political speech, association and the right to advocate for change.

    One does not even need to be opposed to U.S. foreign policy to recognize that the government is working here to establish a dangerous precedent in targeting us. This case endangers the right of every person in the U.S. to organize for and express their views.

    We fear the the government may be seeking to use the recent Supreme Court decision in Holder vs Humanitarian Law to attack conduct that clearly falls under the realm of freedom of speech and that we never imagined could be construed as “material support for terrorism.”

    Those with Grand Jury dates for October 5 and those whose subpoenas are pending have declared that we intend to exercise our right not to participate in this fishing expedition. The next legal step is in the hands of the Department of Justice. They could cancel the grand jury. They could carry on, but leave us alone. They could send subpoenas again giving us the option to talk or go to jail. We don’t know when they will take the next step, or what it will be. We do know what our next steps will be.

    We will not be silent. We will not allow the harassment of activists to quiet our opposition to immoral policies. We will continue to speak out against the unjust investigation, the unjust law, and the unjust foreign policies of the US government. Our communities are strong, and are already showing amazing solidarity around the country with 60 demonstrations last week, many statements of solidarity and a very successful call in day yesterday. We will need that support to continue to push back against this attack.


  5. Call for International Solidarity: Stop Raids and Repression of Antiwar Activists

    October 8, 2010

    To all international solidarity activists;

    We are calling on our international allies to take action in support of long-time peace and human rights activists who have come under attack for their work against U.S. occupation and military intervention abroad. Take action now and sign the letter using our online form!

    On September 24th, 2010, the FBI subjected about a dozen anti-war activists and activists working in solidarity with struggles in Palestine and Colombia to searches and raids of their homes in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan. Activists in California, Wisconsin and North Carolina were also harassed.

    The activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan were served with Grand Jury subpoenas. They are refusing to testify, a brave choice which could land them in jail.The illegitimate Grand Jury process, which began on October 5, must be stopped. The raids and Grand Jury process constitute an FBI abuse of power clearly designed to create a climate of fear among those who dare to fight for peace and justice. We must be vigilant in our defense of these activists and their right to continue their important international solidarity work without harassment.

    This is an escalation of the daily targeting of and culture wars against Arab and Muslim communities and immigrants in the United States. It is a continuation of the long-standing repression of dissent in the United States from McCarthyism to the brutal targeting of peoples’ movements by COINTELPRO, and, of most recently, environmental justice activists. It is also part of an increasing wave of right-wing hate that has been legislated through state and federal policies that turn police into immigrant bounty hunters.

    We are calling on our counterparts — anti-war, human rights, Palestine and other international solidarity activists, anti-racist activists and grassroots organizers — to act in solidarity with those being targeted by political repression. We ask you to stand with us now to publicly defend the rights of all activists and communities in the United States who express dissent against U.S. policy and who work for peace, human rights and global justice within and beyond US borders.


    Tell them that the US government has to be held accountable for this repression and that you join with the US activists in condemning US war and occupation, including its support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and US intervention in Colombia.

    Below is a draft fax or email and is also useful for talking points if you call the US embassy.

    Here is a link to international US embassy contact information: http://www.usembassy.gov/

    IF YOU ARE IN THE UNITED STATES, Call the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-353-1555 or write an email to: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov.

    Please email your letters on 10/11 October and “bcc” or send a separate copy to stoptheraids@ymail.com.

    Here is a link to important statements and reports with greater details on the raids and calls to action: http://www.antiwarcommittee.org/?q=node/533.

    In the months ahead we will be contacting you again to ask that you demonstrate your solidarity as these activists face grand jury trials.

    Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

    In solidarity and joint struggle,

    Center for Constitutional Rights

    Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

    International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

    Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

    United States Palestinian Community Network

    Sample email or fax. Sign using our online form.

    As international anti-war and international solidarity activists and organizers, we denounce the raids of the US government on US-based Palestinian solidarity activists, anti-war activists, and other international solidarity workers that took place in several U.S. cities on Friday, September 24th, 2010. We denounce the daily raids on immigrants and the repression of Arabs and Muslims who stand up for their families and communities.

    We are outraged by the denial of human and civil rights of social justice activists who speak for justice and peace for our world. We pledge our solidarity with efforts to fight for the humanity of all people and against the role of the US government in domestic political repression, and international war, occupation and intervention.

    We demand that the US Government:

    **Hold the FBI and all intelligence and police agencies accountable to stopping the repression against anti-war and international solidarity activists

    **Immediately return all possessions taken from the activists’ homes: computers, cell phones, papers, documents, etc.

    **End the illegitimate grand jury proceedings designed to intimidate and criminalize the targeted activists

    The activists being targeted are involved with many groups, including:

    * The Twin Cities Anti-War Committee
    * The Palestine Solidarity Group
    * The Colombia Action Network
    * Students for a Democratic Society
    * Freedom Road Socialist Organization


  6. http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/6557/trade_unionists_speak_out_against_fbi_attacks_on_civil_liberties/

    Trade Unionists Speak Out Against FBI Attacks on Civil Liberties
    16 Oct 10
    10:48 am
    By Joe Burns

    “From the Industrial Workers of the World’s (IWW) fight for free speech in the 1910s to the major labor-inspired civil liberties court decisions of the 1930s, the labor movement has often been in the forefront of defending the right to speak and protest.”

    AFSCME says the recent FBI raids are reminiscent of the1950s McCarthy hearings and other historic First Amendment assaults. U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy is pictured here in 1950, holding a picture of British Prime Minister Clement Richard Attlee making a communist salute. (Photo from AFP/Getty Images)

    Important labor groups are speaking out against the recent spate of federal attacks on the civil liberties of U.S. peace and labor activists.. On October 1, 2010, the convention of AFSCME Council 5, representing 46,000 public employees in Minnesota, passed a resolution objecting to recent FBI raids of prominent peace and labor rights activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. Likewise, the San Francisco Central Labor Council delegates meeting voted on September 27 to denounce the raids and “participate in the ongoing movement to defend our civil rights and civil liberties from FBI infringement.”

    On September 24, the FBI raided the homes of seven activists, seizing computers, cell phones and documents. The FBI also raided the offices of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee, seizing their computer containing a database of supporters. The peace movement nationally has roundly condemned the FBI for attempting to silence dissent. In the weeks following the raids, demonstrators protested in dozens of US cities.

    The FBI also issued subpoenas requiring the activists to testify before a grand jury in Chicago. Many of those subpoenaed are trade unionists. The AFSCME Council 5 resolution noted that four of the subpoenaed activists were members in good standing of ASCME Council 5. The San Francisco CLC resolution made note that among the Chicago activists subpoenaed was Joe Losbaker, a longtime SEIU chief steward at the University of Illinois Chicago and a stalwart in the Chicago labor solidarity scene.

    They are also workers, parents and homeowners—real peoplewho face real consequences and a terrible choice: If they refuse to cooperate with this illegitimate fishing expedition, they face imprisonment. This jeopardizes their jobs, their homes and their families. All have informed the grand jury they will refuse to testify.

    The FBI raids came the same week the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General criticized the FBI (PDF link) for engaging in surveillance of domestic peace groups, including the pacifist Merton Center. The report found no compelling reason for the FBI infiltrating and conducting surveillance of these domestic groups.

    Why this a trade union issue

    Both the AFSCME resolution and the San Francisco Central Labor Council noted the importance of trade unionists speaking out on the issue. The AFSCME Council convention expressed

    its grave concern that the recent FBI raids are reminiscent of the Palmer Raids of the 1920s, the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s, and the FBI’s harassment of the civil rights movement, and our grave concern that these raids be the beginning of a new and dangerous assault on the First Amendment rights of every union fighter, international solidarity activist or anti-war campaigner.

    From the Industrial Workers of the World’s (IWW) fight for free speech in the 1910s to the major labor-inspired civil liberties court decisions of the 1930s, the labor movement has often been in the forefront of defending the right to speak and protest. Trade unionists understood that without the ability to speak out, union efforts would be crushed. Of necessity, the fight for civil liberties went hand in hand with the fight for workers’ rights.

    In 1909, when the city of Spokane, Wash., outlawed speaking on street corners, IWW members, known as Wobblies, put out a call to protect free speech. Hundreds of Wobblies rode the rails into town and filled the jails, forcing city officials to retract the law. In 1914, when a Federal Court seized the homes of 140 union members, intending to auction them off and turn the proceeds over to their former employer, Samuel Gompers asked every member of the AFL to donate an hour’s pay to a fund to buy those homes and return them to their rightful owners.

    Many of the key Supreme Court decisions regarding the right to protest grew out of the labor struggles of the 1930s. When the CIO tried to organize unions in Jersey City, New Jersey, the notoriously corrupt mayor, “Boss” Hague, suppressed union meetings and had CIO leafleters arrested. The CIO obtained a federal injunction against Hague, and the case eventually reached the United States Supreme Court. In the landmark decision, Hague v. CIO, the Supreme Court in 1939 upheld the view that parks and streets were public spaces where activity protected by the First Amendment was permissible.

    Trade unionists continually faced government repression. During World War I, labor organizers were prosecuted under state “criminal syndicalism” laws, which made it a felony to “advocate damaging an employer’s business.” After the war, the trade union movement was decimated by harassment and raids by the federal government, known as the Palmer raids.

    In the late 1940s, the CIO’s campaign to organize workers in the South, “Operation Dixie,” was plagued by local authorities’ harassment and arrest of organizers. Likewise, during the 1950s some of the best labor organizers were hounded by the FBI, fired from their jobs, and driven from the labor movement.

    Confronting power and privilege has never been popular in the United States. Anyone who has gone through a bitter strike knows all too well how the courts, the media and the government line up against striking workers. That’s why, as it has historically, the trade union movement must be at the forefront of defending the right to dissent.


  7. Pingback: FBI false evidence in the USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: FBI spy planes over Ferguson and Baltimore, USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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