Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The bureau that couldn't sheet straight [if only]




By Staff

Minneapolis, MN - People crowded into the Anti-War Committee office May 18 when the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) revealed a cache of FBI papers left behind after a raid on an apartment in September 2010. The documents include interrogation questions for agents to use on activists and details of the weaponry used for the Sept. 24, 2010 raid. Since that day, 23 people - all involved in peace and international solidarity movements - were subpoenaed to a grand jury in Chicago. All have refused to testify.

The apartment of Mick Kelly and Linden Gawboy was one of nine raided early in the morning on Sept. 24. Kelly was served with a subpoena.

On April 30, Gawboy discovered the documents in a filing cabinet. She told Fight Back!, “I was trying to stash some data-entered CSFR pledges, shoving the folders back to make room and I saw one of the property forms sticking out.” During the raids, agents went through activists’ papers, confiscating many papers and returning the rest to boxes and filing cabinets. Apparently, the FBI documents were mixed with Gawboy’s personal papers as they were ‘re-filed’ by the FBI.

Jess Sundin, of the Anti-War Committee spoke first, “The documents confirm what I have been saying since Sept. 24 about this case: I am being targeted for who I know and what I believe, specifically for my work in solidarity with Colombia, work that has always been open, public and legal.”

The CSFR statement says that documents show “willful disregard for the rights of anti-war and international solidarity activists - particularly the first amendment rights to freedom of speech and association.”

Attorney Bruce Nestor pointed out that people in the fight against South African apartheid in the 1980s were doing the same type of international solidarity work as the targeted activists.

Mick Kelly, a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization who started his activism during the Vietnam War, spoke about the how the “Interview Questions” document hearkens back to the McCarthy era of the 1950s. “Communists, socialists and progressives of all stripes were hounded out of jobs, housing, the entertainment industry and institutions of higher education. More than a few people were jailed for their ideas...It is like the pages of the calendar have been turned back 60 years.”

The documents informed the FBI SWAT team that their September mission to the Kelly/Gawboy home was “dangerous.” According to the CSFR statement, “FBI agents were told to bring assault rifles, machine guns and two extra clips of ammunition for each of their side arms. Two paramedics were to stand by in the event of causalities.” The Anti-War Committee’s Meredith Aby drew chuckles when she said, “The portrayal of Mick as an action movie villain is absurd and an example of the type of fiction Officer Sullivan [the agent who infiltrated Minnesota movement] told the FBI and I assume the grand jury in Chicago.” But the tone quickly grew serious as Aby stressed that the agents were ready to hurt and kill people. When Aby’s home was raided in September 2010, her 18-month baby was asleep in her crib.

According to Jess Sundin, “None of this is about ‘material support of terrorism,’ as any normal person would understand it. None of us have ever given money or arms to any of the groups on the government’s list. Instead, this about criminalizing anti-war and international solidarity activists for practicing our rights to speak out and organize.”

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