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by Scott Scheffer
Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 at 8:29 AM
Twenty three anti-war, social justice activists - mainly from Minneapolis and Chicago, have received subpoenas demanding that they testify before a Grand Jury on January 25th about their political activities. Many are refusing to comply. Coordinated protests are set in many cities across the country on the day of the Grand Jury proceedings.
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The Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) is calling on everyone who can to join a national day of coordinated actions set for Jan. 25. Organizers in Los Angeles have called a protest that day at the Westwood Federal Building – the headquarters of the FBI – from 4 pm to 6 pm, and will hold the last planning meeting for the protest on January 19th at 7 pm at 2170 W. Washington Blvd., L.A.
In December the FBI delivered nine new subpoenas to anti-war and solidarity activists in Chicago. Since September the state has served 23 subpoenas. The new subpoenas order the nine people to appear at a grand jury in Chicago on Jan. 25. (www.stopfbi.net)
These activists are involved in many groups, including the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee, the Palestine Solidarity Group, the Colombia Action Network, Students for a Democratic Society, and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Along with many others, they all helped to organize the 2008 anti-war marches during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
The subpoenaed activists have earned the entire movement’s support as they refuse to cooperate with the grand jury’s vicious probe. Last October all 14 activists from Chicago, Minneapolis and Michigan decided not to participate in the secret grand jury proceedings. Each signed a letter invoking their Fifth Amendment rights. Three of them, all women from Minneapolis — Tracy Molm, Anh Pham and Sarah Martin — now face reactivated subpoenas. But they are all still standing strong, despite the risk that the jury can jail them — even if they are not convicted of any crime, but simply for refusing to testify.
The FBI's infamous campaign to discredit Dr Martin Luther King was on the minds of local CSFR organizers as they prepared to march in the gigantic MLK Day parade in Los Angeles with signs and banners against the Grand Jury subpoenas. “The FBI harassed and monitored Dr. King throughout his entire political career,” says Charla Schlueter, a member of Students for a Democratic Society, “Today, the FBI is still bullying activists in the social justice movement, conflating free speech with terrorism.”
“We are demanding that the FBI end its repression of progressive activists, immediately return all confiscated materials, and end the grand jury proceedings,” said Carlos Montes, a veteran activist and co-founder of the Brown Berets. “Attorney General Eric Holder has the power to do all of these things — and if he really wanted to honor the memory of Dr. King, he would.”
“The FBI’s harassment and probable murder of Martin Luther King had the effect of making him one of the most respected social justice figures in world history,” said John Parker, the West Coast Coordinator of the International Action Center, “They may think that this witch-hunt will stop the progressive movement, but as long as racism and police brutality is rampant in the U.S., and as long as they continue their wars and occupations, and if they can’t provide jobs, then the movement will just continue to grow.”
The next step in fighting this wave of injustice is to make Jan. 25th a day of struggle and stand with those who refuse to submit to grand jury intimidation.
As the Committee to Stop FBI Repression writes:
“Defend free speech! Defend the right to organize! Opposing war and occupation is not a crime! ... Tell Federal D.A. Patrick Fitzgerald to call off the grand jury!”
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