NYC forum builds resistance to state repression
By Dolores Cox
Published May 26, 2011 10:14 PM
Last September FBI raids took place in several Midwestern cities. Twenty-three activists had their residences searched. Their belongings, such as computers, personal documents, organizing materials and files, were confiscated. These activists were served with subpoenas to appear before a Chicago grand jury. All have taken the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify against movements for peace and social justice. As a result, some could be indicted, leading to extended jail time for not cooperating with the federal government. These indictments may be imminent.
The latest raid took place at the home of a Los Angeles veteran Chicano activist, Carlos Montes, by the FBI and the County Sheriff during the week of May 16, indicating the attacks haven’t ended.
The government says it’s investigating the activists’ “material support for foreign terrorist organizations.” In reality, the activists are being accused of speaking truth to power against U.S. wars and terrible regimes abroad that the U.S. supports. These activists have stood in solidarity with the struggles of peoples of the world, especially those in Palestine and Colombia.
In New York City on May 21 the New York Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Al-Awda NY, DRUM and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement sponsored an event to build the resistance and support network for the activists. The groups also stress the urgency of strengthening international solidarity.
Hatem Abudayyed, a Palestinian human rights activist whose home in Chicago was raided, was one of the speakers. He emphasized the importance of forming alliances with other organizations. He also spoke about the U.S. government’s repression and attacks against Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.
On May 6 the bank accounts of Abudayyed and his spouse were frozen. Organizers responded with a “day of action” against the government and the bank, making phone calls demanding the freezes be lifted. Five days later they were lifted, but the Twin Cities Federal Bank stated it no longer wanted them as customers and closed their accounts. Abudayyed stated that they’ve received support from the teachers’ union, academic community and religious leaders in Chicago.
Through an interpreter, the mother of a member of Desis Rising Up and Moving talked about the impact of local and federal law enforcement misconduct on South Asian, Arab and Muslim communities, particularly on the youth. At age 19 her son was targeted by the FBI and a New York police undercover agent in an entrapment scheme. He is now serving a 30-year prison sentence in a high-security Indiana prison built for Muslims, she stated. Youth there are not allowed contact with friends or family; none had prior criminal history. She added that people must make this government transparent and fight to change laws and the system.
Brandon King from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement gave an historical overview of the FBI’s counterintelligence program — founded in the 1950s — and police repression in Black communities. Black activists have always been targets of violence and assassinations. Statistically, there are more Black men in prison today than were enslaved in 1850. The establishment of COINTELPRO was to “neutralize” freedom fighters and groups during the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movements. King stressed the need to have an elevated consciousness and to put an end to wars, terrorism and occupation here in the U.S.
Lamis Deek, an Al-Awda NY member and National Lawyers Guild attorney, spoke of increased post-9/11 threats and expansion of Homeland Security activities. Palestinians in New York continue to be victims of FBI entrapment by informants in “predisposition-to-commit-crimes” cases.
A Center for Constitutional Rights attorney, Shayana Kadidal, gave a legal update on the scope of the Material Support Statute in the wake of the June 2010 Supreme Court decision, Humanitarian Law Project vs. Holder. According to the U.S. Department of State, no material support is allowed to be given to “foreign terrorist organizations” anywhere in the world. Support is defined as giving skilled training, expert advice/assistance, personal help or services (including intangible services). The government uses the term “agent” acting on behalf of a group, rather than the word “member” of a group. Activism is considered material support. But government interpretations are also ambiguous.
To support and build resistance to FBI repression, sign the online “Pledge to Resist FBI and Grand Jury Repression” at www.StopFBI.net. Important emergency responses are planned in the event that indictments are handed down. In New York City the emergency action will take place in Times Square 5-7 p.m. outside the military recruiting station. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 917-397-0103.