Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Detroit Meeting to Stop FBI-Grand Jury Repression

Detroit Meeting to Stop FBI-Grand Jury Repression

Gathering coincides with Justice Department report whitewashing imam’s assassination

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

DETROIT—Since the raids on the homes several antiwar and solidarity activists in Chicago, Minneapolis, and other cities and the serving of others with grand jury subpoenas, there have been several local demonstrations and organizing meetings held in response to the
escalating government repression.

On October 13, a meeting took place at Central United Methodist Church to further advance the work in defense against those who have been targeted and to inform the activists’ community and the public in general of the significance of the attacks on several organizations as well as the ongoing persecution of the Islamic and other oppressed communities in the U.S.

The call for the meeting was issued by representatives of the Michigan
Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) along with
longtime civil rights Attorney William Goodman and retired Judge
Claudia Morcom, both of whom are veteran members of the National
Lawyers Guild. Over 40 people attended the meeting and voted to form a Detroit Committee to Stop FBI-Grand Jury Repression.

A delegation from the Detroit and Michigan National Lawyers Guild
attended the meeting. John Royal, who is the president of both the
Detroit and Michigan Chapters of the NLG, gave a brief presentation on the history of grand juries in the United States and how they are
increasingly being used to suppress dissent and opposition to both
domestic and foreign policy. During the grand jury proceedings, the
person subpoenaed cannot have a lawyer in the room while they are
being questioned by government prosecutors.

Royal said that a recent Supreme Court ruling in the case of Eric
Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, where the justices re-defined the
meaning of “material aid to terrorism,” may be the basis for the
recent raids and grand jury subpoenas. The Humanitarian Law Project in the U.S. had been targeted for providing legal assistance to people
thought to be associated with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, a Marxist
liberation movement in Turkey, and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam
(LTTE), a movement seeking self-determination for the Tamil minority
in Sri Lanka.

In addition, information considered hearsay or even false, can be
utilized to build indictments against targeted individuals and
organizations. All 14 activists who were either raided or subpoenaed
are associated with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO),
the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bail Out, Women Against
Military Madness (WAMM), the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Minnesota Antiwar Committee, among other groups.

The targeted activists have written to the government saying that they
have nothing to say to a federal grand jury. Even though the subpoenas have been withdrawn, the government may take additional measures.

Other activists were visited by the FBI in the aftermath of the first
scheduled grand jury appearance in Chicago. Instead of testifying
before the grand jury, Stephanie Weiner and Joe Iosbaker held a press
conference outside federal plaza in downtown Chicago where over 100
supporters and media representatives attended.

U.S. Justice Department Continues Cover-up of Assassination of Detroit imam

Earlier on October 13, the U.S. Justice Department summoned numerous Muslim, Arab-American, Asian-American, civil libertarian and civil rights organizations to the McNamara Building downtown under the guise of providing a briefing on their investigation into the shooting death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah by FBI agents at a Dearborn warehouse last October 28. When the meeting was about to convene, the government issued a press release stating that all FBI agents involved in the killing of Imam Abdullah were absolved of any criminal liability.

Several community organizations as well as Congressman John Conyers of Detroit, who is chair of the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, had called for an internal Justice Department review of the killing of the imam. The Justice Department report comes on the heels of two other similar findings by both the Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and the Dearborn Police Department.

All three reports released by the law-enforcement agencies involved in
the killing have been rejected by Muslim and community organizations
throughout metropolitan Detroit. At a press conference on October 14
at the Muslim Center on Detroit’s westside, the son of Imam Abdullah
stated that the report only relied on interviews given by the agents
involved and informants for the FBI who had infiltrated Imam
Abdullah’s mosque for over two years.

The report issued by the Dearborn Police indicated that
counter-terrorism agents were flown in from Quantico, Virginia to
execute the raid. Other agencies present included the Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), as well as the Detroit and Dearborn Police Departments. Members of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI), which organized three demonstrations in the aftermath of the imam’s killing, stated that the death of Imam Abdullah was a “targeted assassination.”

The Detroit Committee to Stop FBI-Grand Jury Repression will hold its
next meeting on October 27 at the offices of MECAWI located at 5920
Second Ave., just north of the Wayne State University campus at 7:00.

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