Revolution #235, June 12, 2011

New Developments in Targeting of Activists

Sheriffs and FBI Raid Home of Chicano Activist in Los Angeles

There have been significant new developments in the targeting of antiwar and international solidarity activists by Obama's Justice Department. On May 17 the LA County Sheriff's SWAT team and members of the FBI raided the home of Chicano activist Carlos Montes. In Minneapolis, the next day, FBI documents were brought to light that further expose the escalation of political repression of political organizations that began last September.

From a statement by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, at 5 a.m. on May 17:

"The SWAT Team smashed the front door and rushed in with automatic weapons as Carlos slept. The team of Sheriffs and FBI proceeded to ransack his house, taking his computer, cell phones and hundreds of documents, photos, diskettes and mementos of his current political activities in the pro-immigrant rights and Chicano civil rights movement. Also taken were hundreds of historical documents related to Carlos Montes' involvement in the Chicano movement for the past 44 years."

The statement continues:

"Carlos was arrested on one charge dealing with a firearm code and released on bail the following morning. His first court appearance is set for June 16, 2011.

"This attack on Carlos Montes is part of the campaign of FBI harassment taking place against the 23 peace and justice activists which has until now been centered in the Midwest. Carlos Montes' name was listed on the subpoena left in the office of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee last September 24. When Carlos Montes was placed in the LA County Sheriff's car, an FBI agent approached and asked him questions about the Freedom Road Socialist Organization."

On September 24 of last year, the FBI carried out coordinated raids of seven houses in Chicago and Minneapolis and the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis. The raids were aimed at activists, including in the antiwar movement; the Colombian and Palestinian solidarity movements; and Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). The warrants authorizing the raid claimed that the Joint Terrorism Task Force (which includes the FBI) was seeking evidence in an ongoing investigation into "material support of terrorism." Fourteen people were served with subpoenas to appear before a federal grand jury. All signed letters from their lawyers refusing to testify and the subpoenas were temporarily suspended, with three later being reissued. In December a new round of subpoenas was served on nine additional people, mainly Palestinian solidarity activists. These nine also signed a statement refusing to appear before the grand jury. All those with active subpoenas face the possibility of being granted limited immunity and jailed if they continue to refuse to testify.

The documents released by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression on May 18 are FBI documents that the FBI left behind in one of the September raids. The documents include a list of "interview questions" prepared by the FBI that is seeking to gain information about these political organizations with questions like: who are the leaders, who are the members, how is the organization structured, what does it do, what is discussed at the meetings, etc.?

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression said in its May 18 statement:

"While we have no way of knowing if it was speaking tours or educational events on Colombia that got them so riled up, there is something we can state with certainty: There is nothing illegal about traveling to Colombia, or visiting the areas where the FARC is in charge. This is something that journalists, including U.S. journalists, do, and we have yet to hear of their doors being broken down. Upon returning from Colombia, [Meredith] Aby and [Jess] Sundin spoke at many public events about their experiences."

After the raids last September, people rallied in emergency protests across the country. Statements of support have been written, and people have signed pledges to respond to any indictments that come down. There have also been letters written by some legislators and mention of these raids in the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the section of Freedom of Expression. There is a need for all kinds of people who support the right to organize in opposition to U.S. policies to politically and legally oppose this repression and defend those who have come under attack. An emergency response in Los Angeles to the raid on Carlos Montes' house drew a hundred people on May 20 and another protest is called for June 16, the day of his arraignment in Alhambra.

As Revolution wrote last October, "The cold truth is this: The ruling class, and Obama, do not let rights supposedly guaranteed by law get in the way of what they perceive to be the interests of imperialism. But this does NOT mean that people should not fight for those rights. Far from it. What it does show is that we must struggle all the harder and without illusions against this repression, exposing both the cruel nature of the policies these raids are enforcing (and the interests behind those policies), and the ways in which these raids are totally illegitimate—a violation not only of the fundamental rights and of the fundamental beliefs of many, many people as to what is just, but of the actual laws as written." ("In The Age Of Obama, Criminalizing Political Opposition To U.S. Aggression and the FBI Raids on Antiwar Activists," Revolution, October 31, 2010)

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