The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 74/No. 38      October 11, 2010

(front page)
Protests denounce FBI raids
in Chicago and Minneapolis
AP/Paul Beaty
Protest in Chicago September 27 against FBI raids and seizure of property at homes of antiwar and union activists. Speaking at left is Stephanie Weiner, whose home was searched by FBI.

CHICAGO—Chanting “FBI raids have got to go!” and “Freedom of speech under attack!” more than 350 people rallied in front of the FBI headquarters here September 27 to protest raids three days earlier on the homes of anti-war, union, and other political activists in Chicago and Minneapolis.

Some 150 people also protested the raids outside the FBI offices in Minneapolis, and demonstrations took place in more than a dozen other cities.

The FBI seized computers, cell phones, passports, and other documents and issued subpoenas to 11 people in Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago.

FBI spokesman Steve Warfield said the raids were part of an “ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism.”

Among those whose homes were raided in Chicago were antiwar and union activists Joe Iosbaker and Stephanie Weiner, and Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of the Arab American Action Network.

Walter Soria, 20, who came with a group of friends to the Chicago picket, said, “We came because we don’t like this kind of thing. The government abuses its power.” Richard Berg, former president of Teamsters Local 743, told the Militant that “this is an attack on the entire labor movement. Joe and Stephanie have been trade unionists for many years.”

Iosbaker, a staff member at the University of Illinois at Chicago and chief steward for Service Employees International Union Local 73, and Weiner, a professor at Wilbur Wright College, have been served subpoenas to appear before a grand jury on October 5. Tom Burke of the Colombia Action Network was also subpoenaed.

According to the Chicago Tribune the subpoenas are for records detailing their travel to the Middle East and South America as well as for donations to Abudayyeh’s group and two groups on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

At the program following the picket line in Chicago, Iosbaker reported that 25 FBI agents searched his house from top to bottom for 12 hours. Jim Fennerty, the National Lawyers Guild attorney representing Abudayyeh, spoke, as did Andy Thayer, a leader of the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism; and Kristen Szremski, representing American Muslims for Palestine.

“We are deeply concerned at the FBI’s violation of first amendment rights of freedom of speech and assembly,” Szremski said. “We urge you to stand strong. We can’t allow this to scare us.”

Jorge Mújica, a leader of the immigrant rights movement, said he was visited by FBI agents following the 2006 May Day march. “They asked me why I wanted to change U.S. policy,” he said. “We are not terrorists—we only want real change, not what we’re getting from Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.”

Other speakers included Hatem Galal, president of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Stan Willis, of the National Conference of Black Lawyers; John Beacham, of the ANSWER Coalition; Shaun Harkin, International Socialist Organization, and Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate.

According to the warrant issued to Mick Kelly, a union cafeteria worker at the University of Minnesota, the FBI was granted the powers to gather evidence related to people “providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support” to terrorist organizations. The warrant listed Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), according to Ted Dooley, Kelly’s attorney. The warrant also allowed the FBI to gather information connected to the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Kelly is editor of FightBack!, a Minneapolis-based newspaper and Web site and a leader of the Anti-War Committee, also based in Minneapolis.

American Indian Movement leaders Clyde Bellecourt and Bill Means joined the Minneapolis protest.

Frank Forrestal in Minneapolis contributed to this article.
Related articles:
Hearing protests FBI targeting Arabs, Asians
Socialists: End spying and disruption!
FBI raids aimed at working class  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home