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Archive for May, 2011

From Fight Back! News

May 18, 2011

Mick Kelly, Jess Sundin, and Bruce Nestor at May 18 press conference

Mick Kelly, Jess Sundin, and Bruce Nestor at May 18 press conference (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN – People crowded into the Anti-War Committee office May 18 when the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) revealed a cache of FBI papers left behind after a raid on an apartment in September 2010. The documents include interrogation questions for agents to use on activists and details of the weaponry used for the Sept. 24, 2010 raid. Since that day, 23 people – all involved in peace and international solidarity movements – were subpoenaed to a grand jury in Chicago. All have refused to testify.

The apartment of Mick Kelly and Linden Gawboy was one of nine raided early in the morning on Sept. 24. Kelly was served with a subpoena.

On April 30, Gawboy discovered the documents in a filing cabinet. She told Fight Back!, “I was trying to stash some data-entered CSFR pledges, shoving the folders back to make room and I saw one of the property forms sticking out.” During the raids, agents went through activists’ papers, confiscating many papers and returning the rest to boxes and filing cabinets. Apparently, the FBI documents were mixed with Gawboy’s personal papers as they were ‘re-filed’ by the FBI.

Jess Sundin, of the Anti-War Committee spoke first, “The documents confirm what I have been saying since Sept. 24 about this case: I am being targeted for who I know and what I believe, specifically for my work in solidarity with Colombia, work that has always been open, public and legal.”

The CSFR statement says that documents show “willful disregard for the rights of anti-war and international solidarity activists – particularly the first amendment rights to freedom of speech and association.”

Attorney Bruce Nestor pointed out that people in the fight against South African apartheid in the 1980s were doing the same type of international solidarity work as the targeted activists.

Mick Kelly, a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization who started his activism during the Vietnam War, spoke about the how the “Interview Questions” document hearkens back to the McCarthy era of the 1950s. “Communists, socialists and progressives of all stripes were hounded out of jobs, housing, the entertainment industry and institutions of higher education. More than a few people were jailed for their ideas…It is like the pages of the calendar have been turned back 60 years.”

The documents informed the FBI SWAT team that their September mission to the Kelly/Gawboy home was “dangerous.” According to the CSFR statement, “FBI agents were told to bring assault rifles, machine guns and two extra clips of ammunition for each of their side arms. Two paramedics were to stand by in the event of causalities.” The Anti-War Committee’s Meredith Aby drew chuckles when she said, “The portrayal of Mick as an action movie villain is absurd and an example of the type of fiction Officer Sullivan [the agent who infiltrated Minnesota movement] told the FBI and I assume the grand jury in Chicago.” But the tone quickly grew serious as Aby stressed that the agents were ready to hurt and kill people. When Aby’s home was raided in September 2010, her 18-month baby was asleep in her crib.

According to Jess Sundin, “None of this is about ‘material support of terrorism,’ as any normal person would understand it. None of us have ever given money or arms to any of the groups on the government’s list. Instead, this about criminalizing anti-war and international solidarity activists for practicing our rights to speak out and organize.”

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From the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

On May 17, 2011 at 5:00 AM the SWAT Team of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and members of the FBI raided the home of Carlos Montes, a long time Chicano activist and active member of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. The SWAT Team smashed the front door and rushed in with automatic weapons as Carlos slept. The team of Sheriffs and FBI proceeded to ransack his house, taking his computer, cell phones and hundreds of documents, photos, diskettes and mementos of his current political activities in the pro-immigrant rights and Chicano civil rights movement. Also taken were hundreds of historical documents related to Carlos Montes’ involvement in the Chicano movement for the past 44 years.

Carlos was arrested on one charge dealing with a firearm code and released on bail the following morning. His first court appearance is set for June 16, 2011.

This attack on Carlos Montes is part of the campaign of FBI harassment taking place against the 23 peace and justice activists which has until now been centered in the Midwest. Carlos Montes’ name was listed on the subpoena left in the office of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee last September 24. When Carlos Montes was placed in the LA County Sheriff’s car, an FBI agent approached and asked him questions about the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Carlos Montes has done nothing wrong. This is an attack on him and an attack on the Chicano movement for equality. Carlos has been involved and a committed leader in the immigrant rights, anti war, solidarity, and quality education movements his whole adult life.
Stop the Attacks on the Chicano and Immigrants Rights Movement!

We demand all charges be dropped against Carlos Montes. We call for the immediate return of all his property.

Please call and write U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (202.353.1555) and demand Hands Off Carlos Montes and other activists.

Join the LA Committee Against FBI Repression on May 24, 2011, at 7 PM to hear first hand about this attack and discuss the FBI repression targeting political activists and movements. The program will take place at F Square Printing, 519 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

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For Immediate Release:

May 10, 2011 | On Friday, May 6th, the bank accounts of Hatem and Naima Abudayyeh of Chicago were frozen. The bank manager at the TCF (Twin Cities Federal) branch could not explain what had happened but stated that the Bank Security Act prevented him from releasing any assets.

In a strange turn of events, the bank admitted today that they shut down the accounts, stating they no longer want to provide banking services to the Abudayyeh family. Simultaneously, TCF management informed the Abudayyehs today that they were issuing them a check for the value of their accounts.

Hatem Abudayyeh is one of 23 anti-war, Palestinian and international solidarity activists who have been subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Chicago. Many supporters of the Abudayyehs and the 23 activists suspected that the FBI and grand jury investigation against these activists was the cause of the seizure of the couple’s accounts.

Michael Deutsch, attorney for the family, said, “In my opinion, the bank did not act out of the blue. I suspect that the FBI and U.S Attorney investigation caused the bank to overreact and illegally freeze the Abudayyehs’ banking accounts that had been there for over a decade.”

In response to the seizing of the couple’s accounts, people across the country called the offices of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago, and those of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) demanding the return of their money and an end to the repression.

A Code Pink activist from Washington, D.C., called Fitzgerald’s office and was told, “We’ve received hundreds of calls.” The OFAC office was bombarded as well, and journalists from a National Public Radio affiliate, Al Jazeera and other agencies contacted them for an explanation.

TCF is well known for having links to the right-wing think tank the Center for the American Experiment.

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression and the Coalition to Protect People’s Rights see the return of the money to the Abudayyeh family and the admission by the bank of their action as a victory for their efforts and an affirmation of the constitutional right of Americans not to be deprived of property without due process of law. However, they are concerned that the actions of TCF management may violate state and federal public accommodations laws by denying the Abudayyehs banking services on a discriminatory basis.

Hatem Abudayyeh expressed his thanks to the many people who called in over the past two days. “Thank you all for your work. The pressure put on the US Attorney and OFAC no doubt caused them to contact TCF, who subsequently broke their silence and ended this frightening incident.”

Solidarity,
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression and
The Coalition for People’s Rights

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Treasury Department freezes bank accounts of Palestinian human rights activist and his family.
Office of Foreign Assets Control (a division of the U.S. Dept of Treasury) is the source of escalated attack on civil Liberties of Anti-War, Palestinian ActivistsTake action this afternoon and Tuesday:
Call the Office of Foreign Assets Control at
202-622-2410 and 202-622-1651

Demand:
Unfreeze the bank accounts of the Abudayyeh family
Stop repression against Palestinian, anti-war and international solidarity activists.

On Friday, May 6, the U.S. government froze the bank accounts of Hatem Abudayyeh and his wife, Naima. It appears that this is being done by the Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Background
This unwarranted attack on a leading member of the Palestinian community in Chicago is the latest escalation of the repression of anti-war and Palestinian community organizers by the US government. Hatem Abudayyeh is one of 23 activists from Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Chicago, and his home was raided by the FBI in September of last year.

One of the bank accounts was exclusively in Naima Abudayyeh’s name. Leaders of the national Committee to Stop FBI Repression, as well as Chicago’s Coalition to Protect People’s Rights, are appalled at the government’s attempt to restrict the family’s access to its finances, especially so soon before Mothers’ Day. The Abudayyehs have a five-year-old daughter.

Supporters of the Abudayyehs and the other 22 activists have learned that apparently OFAC can block your assets pending an investigation on charges of “material support for a foreign terrorist organization” without a hearing. No evidence is required to freeze assets. In the case of the Abudayyeh family, assets mean money for food and rent. As this statement is written, officials won’t even acknowledge that they are the source of the freeze.

There has been widespread criticism of the FBI and local law enforcement for their racist practices against Arab and Muslim communities across the country. These repressive tactics include infiltration of community centers and mosques, entrapment of young men, and the prominent case of 11 students from the University of California campuses at Irvine and Riverside who have been subpoenaed to a grand jury and persecuted for disrupting a speech by Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the US. There have been no charges against Abudayyeh or any of the other 22 activists; this action by the U.S. government is another example of the criminalization of Palestinians, their supporters, and their movement for justice and liberation.

Six members of the U.S. Congress, including five in the past month, have sent letters to either Attorney General Eric Holder or President Obama, expressing grave concern for the violations of the civil liberties and rights of the 23 activists whose freedom is on the line. Three additional U.S. representatives have also promised letters, as thousands of constituents and other people of conscience across the U.S. have demanded an end to this assault on legitimate political activism and dissent.

The Midwest activists have been expecting indictments for some time. The freezing of the Abudayyeh family’s bank accounts suggests that the danger of indictments is imminent.

In solidarity,
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression

StopFBI.net

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