Signatories include the American Friends Service Committee (Western Region), National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and American-Arab anti-Discrimination Committee, as well as four San Francisco Supervisors, and Rashida Tlaib of the Michigan House of Representatives.
The jointly signed letter will be presented today at 2pm EST, and comes in response to the September 24th raids on the Illinois and Minnesota homes and offices of at least 14 community activists. Included among those targeted for alleged “Material Support for Terrorism” are community members and organizations that have worked for as many as 20 years to achieve peace through non-violent means, all them engaged in legitimate and protected political dissent.
Masao Suzuki, a member of San Jose Nihonmachi Outreach Committee, also was questioned by the FBI in California on a related visit the same day of the raids. “I exercised my right not to answer his questions, but had no idea why he came. Then I learned that the homes of seven anti-war activists and the office of an anti-war organization had been raided in Chicago and Minneapolis,” said Suzuki. “The government seems to be trying to criminalize the political view of these activists, who have spoken out in solidarity with people who have suffered the loss of their lands and their rights.”
The organizational and individual signatories to this letter are demanding that the FBI cease further investigations and use of infiltrators against the legitimate political activities of anti-war and international solidarity activists. The FBI has a history of using such tactics against political movements, including the infamous COINTELPRO, a government program of harassment and intimidation of community activists.
Organizations throughout the country are concerned that these investigations are an attempt to silence those who engage in community-based work and speak out against government policies. Miryam Rashid, a member of Chicagoland’s Arab and Muslim Community Coalition commented, “There is something very, very wrong with what our government is doing. The right to speak out against foreign policies that make people suffer is NOT a crime. The right to dissent is NOT a crime.”
Local politicians in other parts of the country are also concerned that the FBI may attempt to expand these investigations to other cities. “San Francisco has a long tradition of working for human rights at local and international levels. We stand with those targeted in other cities and will do everything in our power not to let this type of intimidation be used here in our city,” commented San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos.
On October 19th, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression is calling for a 3rd National Call-in Day to demand that President Obama and US Attorney General Holder call off this Grand Jury and return all materials seized by the FBI. More information can be found at www.stopfbi.net.