December 22, 2010
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is circulating the following statement from Palestine solidarity activist Maureen Murphy. Maureen is the managing editor of the popular online publication, Electronic Intifada, and she is also the co-chair of the Chicago Committee Against Political Repression, which has been leading work in Chicago to oppose FBI repression of antiwar and international solidarity activists. On Tuesday Dec. 21, Maureen received a subpoena from the FBI to appear before a federal grand jury.
Dear friends, family and sisters and brothers in the struggle,
As many of you know, yesterday morning the FBI came to my residence and issued me a summons to appear before a federal grand jury on January 25. Three other activists were subpoenaed in Chicago yesterday as well, bringing the number of activists targeted by this witch hunt to an outrageous total of 23.
This fishing expedition began on September 24 when more than 70 federal agents in a coordinated raid burst into the homes of prominent anti-war, international solidarity and labor activists across the Midwest, seizing many of their possessions. These are activists who have dedicated their lives towards peacefully organizing for justice at home and abroad. For more information about this case, please see: www.stopfbi.net.
So far no one has been charged with any crime and no arrests have been made. We don’t know what the scope of this will be as the number of subpoenaed activists climbs each week. We believe that this is not an investigation into any particular suspected crime but is actually an attack on a successful movement that is challenging the status quo of unjust US foreign policy in the Middle East and South America. I believe it is the latest in a long history of US government attempts to criminalize the Palestine national liberation movement in the US — which I did an investigative piece on last month along with my colleague Nora Barrows-Friedman: electronicintifada.net/v2/article11626.shtml.
However, if the intent of these raids and subpoenas is to chill our movement, it is having the opposite effect. In Chicago I have been co-chairing a local committee (the Committee Against Political Repression) that has formed to support those who have been targeted and we have visited legislators, protested outside federal buildings and jammed the lines of those in the government who can stop this witch hunt. There is growing broad support for the targeted activists and I have been extremely moved by the outpouring of solidarity I have received since yesterday.
So far none of the subpoenaed activists have taken part in this grand jury fishing expedition. The 14 activists originally subpoenaed all stated their intent to invoke their fifth amendment right and their subpoenas were withdrawn. However, three of those activists have had their subpoenas reactivated and while they do not yet have a court date, they are expected to be offered “immunity” — in other words, they will face the choice of informing the government about the activity of other activists in the US and in various countries they have visited or face immediate and indefinite detention (for more information see: www.stopfbi.net/2010/11/17/three-twin-cities-anti-war-activists-told-they-must-appear-front-grand-jury).
The grand jury has long been used by the US government to repress social justice movements. It was used to imprison abolitionists before slavery was abolished. It was used to detain labor activists organizing for an eight-hour work day at the turn of the last century. And in Chicago it has been used in recent decades to oppress the Puerto Rican independence movement.
Many of the activists who have been targeted in this latest grand jury investigation have small children. Some of them are in partnerships where both parent has been subpoenaed. So they have begun to make legal arrangements in the event that they are no longer able to care for their children. This is an outrageous price to pay for peaceful political organizing.
Tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 23 I will be speaking to the press at 10am in the lobby the Dirksen Federal Building, 230 S. Dearborn (at Jackson St.) in downtown Chicago. Supporters are urged to attend. I will be speaking alongside Michael Deutsch of the People’s Law Office, who for decades has defended political activists who have been brought before the grand jury.
And just to be clear, there is no reason to believe that the subpoena I received is in any way related to my work with The Electronic Intifada. Please read this editorial that EI published today condemning the grand jury fishing expedition: electronicintifada.net/v2/article11690.shtml.
If you can’t attend tomorrow morning please read below other ways to support me and the 22 other targeted activists.
1. If you live in Chicago and want to be involved in the pushback against this attack on our movements and our civil liberties, the next meeting of the Committee Against Political Repression will be 4pm Sunday, Jan. 2 at Kent School of Law, 565 W. Adams, room 520.
2. We have a team of the best lawyers in the US supporting us and we need to raise a massive amount of money for the legal defense fund. Please find out about making a donation here: www.stopfbi.net/donate.
3. There is an online petition that you can sign that has so far generated 427,000 messages to elected officials: www.stopfbi.net/petition.
4. Contact or email President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder and demand a stop to the repression against anti-war and solidarity activists; the immediate return of all materials confiscated from activists’ homes; an end to the grand jury against anti-war activists. President Obama — 202-456-1111 or www.whitehouse.gov/contact and US Attorney General Eric Holder — 202-353-1555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Contact your legislators and ask them to speak out publicly against FBI and grand jury harassment of anti-war activists. Use this legislator finder: www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/ to see who your state and national legislators are.
6. Talk to your friends, co-workers and family about the case. There are factsheets and background info on the case at stopfbi.net.
7. Get your organization to pass a resolution in support of the activists. Some sample resolutions are at stopfbi.net/solidarity-statements/.
8. Find out about events, fundraisers and actions in Chicago to support the targeted activists by joining the Committee Against Political Repression’s low-volume, announcement-only email list: groups.google.com/group/committee-against-political-repression—outreach.
For more information, visit <www.stopfbi.net>. Cf. “Historically, Democratic administrations have been the ones to repress civil liberties and anti-war organizing with the firmest hand. The Obama administration is no exception, and its thuggish, anti-democratic nature should be clear if it wasn’t before. The Obama administration is not yielding to an oppressive atmosphere of Islamophobia and rightist chauvinism. It is fomenting it” (Max Ajl, “Solidarity with Activists Targeted by the Government,” Jewbonics, 23 December 2010).