Friday, January 28, 2011

Solidarity Activists Make Statement on Refusal to Testify Before Grand Jury; Memphis Organizers Harassed by Federal Agents, Police

Statement on the Grand Jury

Published on Thu, 2011-01-27 01:04

The 9 activists subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago on January 25 explain their reasons for refusing to testify.

This is their statement:

In the month of December, the FBI delivered or attempted to deliver grand jury subpoenas to nine activists in Chicago. Six of these went to members of the Arab American community; the remaining three went to Palestine solidarity activists and individuals who have recently travelled to Palestine.

Those of us subpoenaed in December were ordered to appear before the grand jury on January 25th. This is the same grand jury that was impaneled by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in order to indict individuals from among those whose homes and offices were raided in September.

We have made our decisions to stand strong with the other 14 subpoenaed activists from Illinois, Minneapolis and Michigan. We WILL NOT take part in this fishing expedition.

Fitzgerald’s new wave of repression in Chicago started one month after the re-activation of subpoenas for three Palestine solidarity activist women in Minneapolis. Tracy Molm, Anh Pham and Sarah Martin are being asked to appear before the grand jury again, despite refusing to speak in October.

Under the rules of the secretive grand jury process, these three women, who have again boldly stated that they WILL NOT testify, can now potentially face jail time if Fitzgerald chooses to be cruel.

The delegations to Palestine that have been taken and organized by many of the now 23 persons subpoenaed to the grand jury were designed to have people from this country meet with Palestinians to learn about their experience facing brutal repression from the U.S. funded Israeli occupation. The delegates bring these stories back to people in the U.S. Hearing about the reality of U.S. military aid is not a crime, and yet this appears to be the target of this investigation.

Our subpoenas are a part of the fishing expedition targeting solidarity activists and the U.S. Palestinian community. We understand that the grand jury has been used against the anti-war movement, as well as Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. for decades, and this repression has intensified since Sept. 11 2001. The grand jury has been used as a tool of political repression against every major movement for social change in this country.

We fear the government may be seeking to use the recent Supreme Court decision Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project to attack activity protected by fundamental rights of freedom of association, speech and inquiry. We will not allow our solidarity to be construed as "material support for terrorism."

We'll continue to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and work to end US aid to Israel. We must speak out and encourage others to visit Palestine to help break down the isolation that the Israeli occupiers attempt to impose on them. Like all those who are engaged in solidarity work – organizing in the Palestinian community here; carrying out efforts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel; or traveling to the occupied territories of Palestine, including Gaza – we can’t allow the FBI and grand jury to intimidate us.

We have received an incredible show of support and love from the international solidarity movement, the anti-war movement, the labor movement, the civil rights and civil liberties movement, and the communities of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim peoples in the US. We will continue to work in opposition to U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will continue to oppose military aid towards repressive regimes such as Israel and Colombia. We will continue to extend our support and love for the people of Palestine

Together with the 14 activists raided in September, we declare our right to organize to change US policy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Memphis Activists Harassed by FBI

(While Protesting FBI Harassment)

Local activists, including members of the Memphis Socialist Party,
gathered at the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center yesterday to file
Freedom of Information Act requests as part of a nationwide day of
action against recent FBI harassment of anti-war and international
solidary activists. A few hours prior to the event, three FBI Joint
Terrorism Task Force agents visited the Center to inform them that
there was going to be a demonstration. They left after they were told
that the Center was not only aware of the event but had planned it.

Approximately two hours later, the Memphis Police Department's TACT unit arrived with at least six unmarked black SUVs and one marked squad car. When questioned about the reason for their presence, they replied that they were there to keep the peace. The Center was eventually able to get into contact with the unit's chief, who made a vague statement about a call from a "concerned citizen."

On the same day, at least two activists (including the Chair of the
Memphis Socialist Party) had their homes entered by the Shelby County Sheriff's Department on the pretext of warrants issued for failure to appear in court. In both cases residents were not given the
opportunity to view the warrant, despite multiple requests. At the
deCleyre Cooperative, police entered without permission through an
unlocked door and moved through every room with their guns drawn,
searching for someone who hadn't lived there in years.

Why were residents not allowed to see the warrants used to enter their homes? Why was the TACT unit, described by MPD's website as "not subject to regular calls," and "responsible for handling barricade situations, hostage rescues, counter terrorism, and high risk felony apprehensions," sent to respond to a single, unverified phone call?

How is it a coincidence when the same group of activists is targeted
by three separate law enforcement agencies on the same day?

The FBI has a long history of intimidation, harassment, and
repression, but we refuse to be silenced by it. We will continue to
stand in solidarity with our activist brothers and sisters.

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