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Vol. 75/No. 5      February 7, 2011

(front page)
Rally in Chicago opposes
grand jury witch hunt
Militant/Laura Anderson
Chicago protest against government harassment of opponents of U.S wars was joined by high school students demanding freedom for Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar López.

CHICAGO—Chants of “FBI is out of line! Organizing is not a crime!” drowned out rush hour traffic here January 25 as more than 400 demonstrators rallied outside the Dirksen Federal Courthouse to protest the ongoing federal government harassment of 23 antiwar and Palestine solidarity activists in the Midwest.

Nine of the 23 had been summoned to appear before a federal grand jury earlier that day. Like their 14 counterparts who had previously received grand jury subpoenas, they refused to testify.

Maureen Murphy, cochair of the Chicago Committee Against Political Repression and an activist with the Palestine Solidarity Group, read a statement on behalf of the nine who refused to testify. “We will not take part in this fishing expedition… . We will not allow our solidarity to be construed as material support for terrorism… . We cannot allow the FBI and grand jury to intimidate us.”

Close to half the participants in the spirited two-hour picket were high school and college students from Chicago and surrounding cities.

Among them were more than 40 students from Pedro Albizu Campos High School carrying Puerto Rican flags and a large portrait of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. “We’re out here petitioning to bring Oscar López Rivera home,” Bleusette Morris, one of the students, told the Militant. “He’s been unjustly locked up for 30 years.”

Michael Johnson, an African American student at Columbia College and member of Art Activists Columbia, helped organize a January 14 student protest against the grand jury subpoenas. “I’m here to stand in solidarity with freedom of speech, the right to association, and the right to stand up for rights no matter the borders,” he told the Militant. “Our group also calls for a moratorium on deportations because we believe that immigrant rights are human rights and no so-called national security concern should ever violate that.”

Among those joining the action were Mark Clements, a leader of the Jail Jon Burge Coalition, and others active in the fight against the death penalty. Burge, a Chicago police lieutenant involved in torture of suspects, was recently sentenced to four and half years in prison. Clements, a victim of cop torture, spent 28 years in prison before winning release.

Also speaking was Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, which adopted a resolution in support of the political activists. Plans are under way for regional conferences in February to discuss how to widen the reach of the campaign against FBI and grand jury intimidation.
Related articles:
No to grand jury witch hunt!
Prosecutor has long frame-up history  
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