Civil-liberties supporters hold conferences against FBI repression

by David Bernt
CHICAGO—Supporters of the 23 antiwar, international solidarity, and trade-union activists who have been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury have continued to organize a broad defense against this government witch hunt. The 23 activists have been subpoenaed to answer questions related to solidarity trips they made to Palestine and Colombia.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and the FBI have targeted the activists in an attempt to intimidate and criminalize all antiwar and international solidarity activism.
Over 800 people attended regional conferences in February in New York, Chicago, Oakland, and Chapel Hill, N.C., to organize the fightback against this attack on civil liberties and free speech.  The subpoenaed activists reiterated their refusal to participate in the grand jury, and vowed to continue the fight.
In Oakland, Calif., on Feb. 12, Tom Burke, a leader of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, told the crowd that the targeted activists were proud of their antiwar work and their efforts in solidarity with the Palestinian and Colombian people. In Chicago on Feb. 12, Jose Lopez, director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, told of his own experience before a grand jury and his refusal to participate, which resulted in a several-month prison sentence for contempt.
The Committee to Stop FBI repression has called a March 8 national call-in day. Organizers are asking supporters to call Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, and President Obama to demand an end to the grand jury. For the phone numbers, see www.stopfbi.net.
Meanwhile, at a March 4 press conference, attorneys for Mick Kelly announced plans to proceed with a lawsuit against police from an incident during the protests against the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities in 2008. Mick Kelly, who is one of the 23 subpoenaed activists, was shot by a police officer at close range in his stomach with a high velocity marking projectile.
The lawyers announced plans to subpoena “Karen Sullivan,” an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the Twin Cities antiwar movement for two years. Law enforcement failed to reveal the presence of an undercover agent in an earlier lawsuit.
Jess Sundin, one of the main organizers of the protest at the Republican Convention, a leader of the Twin Cities-based Minnesota Anti-War Committee, and one of the subpoenaed activists, stated, “There is a pattern of repression against antiwar activists before, during, and after the Republican National Convention. They sent in police agents to spy, and used violence on protesters at the RNC. To top it off, they continued their spying and raided our homes and office on Sept. 24, 2010. Many of us who organized the march at the RNC have received summons to appear in front of a Chicago grand jury. This is wrong, and we are pushing back.”              
                                                            

> This article was originally published in the March 2011 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.