National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Condemns Hearings Targeting Muslims

U.S. Representative Submits Poster From Bay Area Workshop As An Exhibit
The National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) stands with civil and human rights organizations across the country in denouncing the “radicalization” hearings Representative Peter King (R-NY) is commencing this Thursday, March 10, 2010 in Washington D.C.  “King’s hearings combine racial and religious bigotry with political scapegoating, shamefully reminiscent of Senator McCarthy and the House Unamerican Activities Committee (“HUAC”) of the 1950s.  The National Lawyers Guild was one of the only legal organizations to stand up for targets of the HUAC hearings, and is proud to ally itself with U.S. American Muslims targeted by King’s vitriolic hatred today,” said Michael Flynn, President of the NLG SF Bay Area chapter.

Representative King has submitted a poster used to promote a NLGSF Know Your Rights workshop in Oakland as an exhibit in the hearings. The workshop took place in response to the federal Grand Jury convened in Chicago against 23 international anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists whose homes were raided by the FBI in various cities in the Mid-West last fall.  A portion of the poster was created by activist artists in the 1970s in the context of unlawful COINTELPRO surveillance, monitoring, and raids of civil rights and anti-imperialist organizations by the FBI and other government agencies.

“The poster is a reminder to targeted communities of their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. As attorneys, it is our responsibility to counter the FBI’s often misleading and coercive tactics by informing people about their constitutional rights and encouraging them to consult an attorney before deciding whether to submit to interrogation,” said NLGSF attorney Rachel Lederman.

King’s misleading and hateful attitude towards Muslim Americans provides a platform to white supremacist groups, and is fueling increased hate attacks on Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim. “Just this past Saturday two Sikh men were murdered in a drive by shooting in the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove. Last month a group openly insulted and threatened families, including children, attending an event to benefit a Muslim charity in Orange County.  Their taunts were full of bigotry and expletives,” said Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director of the NLGSF.

We call upon Representative King to immediately cancel the hearings and issue an official apology to the Muslim-American community for shamelessly and irresponsibly promoting the government-sanctioned profiling, discrimination, and harassment of Muslim-Americans. “Rather than demonize the Muslim community, Representative King would do well to investigate the gross violations of constitutional rights committed upon this community by law enforcement. Rather than target Muslims, King might look at his own support for wars in largely Muslim countries as well as the unlimited detention of prisoners, many Muslim, in Guantanamo Bay without charges or criminal trials,” said Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild.

The NLGSF is one of the many chapters of the National Lawyers Guild, a human rights association of lawyers, legal workers, and law students dedicated to the end that human interests are prioritized over property interests.