Revolution Online, October 10, 2010

Round Up: Protests in 60 Cities Against FBI Raids

Starting on September 27 and continuing through the week, people across the country, in some 60 cities, came together for emergency protest rallies at FBI offices and federal buildings. People pulled together on short notice to denounce the September 24 FBI raids on homes in Minneapolis and Chicago and on the offices of the Minneapolis Anti-War Committee and the Twin Cities Educational Fund. The protests condemned the issuance of subpoenas to 14 activists to testify before a federal grand jury in Chicago in October.

In a defiant mood, people brought their homemade signs, their impromptu chants and their outrage at what some called out as an ominous attack on the basic right to speak out and to oppose the crimes of the U.S. government around the world.

A common theme among the various actions was that this was an attack on the broader anti-war movement, not just those subpoenaed. Speakers also drew attention to the diminishing of civil liberties that is taking place under Obama's administration as well as pointing to the history of repressive attacks on opponents of the government in past decades and vowed not to tolerate replays today.

In addition to a demonstration in Chicago (See "Snapshot of rally in support of anti-war/Solidarity activists in Chicago"), here is a slice of other protests, big and small, that took place from coast to coast that week:

In Minneapolis, a reported 500 to 600 people, including representatives from over a dozen organizations, rallied at the Minneapolis FBI office. They carried signs emblazoned with the following slogans: "FBI thugs: We are not intimidated!"; "Terrorism does not Equal Activism—Watch your Rhetoric, Washington!"; "Welcome to the Twilight Zone/Police State!"; They chanted, "From Colombia to Palestine, solidarity is not a crime!"

In Urbana Champaign, Illinois, a dozen people including members of AWARE (Anti-War Activism Effort) and Campus Anti-war Network (University of Illinois) held a rally. Most of the protesters then went into the FBI offices in order to ask them some questions regarding the political nature of the FBI raids. The FBI officials denied any knowledge and involvement in the raids.

In Boston, 30 to 40 people set up a lively picket line at the federal building organized by the Boston Mayday Committee. A homemade sign declared: "FBI Raids the Constitution!" The Committee to Free Leonard Peltier issued a written statement with the demand to repeal the USA Patriot Act.

In Salt Lake City, 12 people rallied at Utah Valley University. A speaker told the crowd that this attack must be opposed as a chilling effect on First Amendment speech.

In Newark, New Jersey, 15-20 people circled the federal building chanting, "FBI, We're Not Afraid! We'll Stop Your Illegal Raids!" Hundreds of people passing by at rush hour saw the protest.

In Columbus, a protest organized by the Students for a Democratic Society faced a massive police presence. When protesters began telling the rush hour crowd in front of the federal building what impact these raids could have if they are not derailed, many people joined in.

In San Francisco, a crowd of diverse nationalities and political persuasions rallied. On September 27, the San Francisco Labor Council passed a resolution condemning the FBI raids.

It was an important beginning and welcome immediate response to the raids and grand jury subpoenas.

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