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Over a Thousand March to Stop the Wars and FBI Repression

Activists raided by the FBI speak out
By Doug Michel |
October 19, 2010
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Mick Kelly, standing with three others subpoenaed activists, denounces FBI raids
Above:
Mick Kelly, standing with three others subpoenaed activists, denounces FBI raids (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Palestine solidarity activists wield  huge flag
Student contingent fights back against the war on dissent
Right:
Palestine solidarity activists wield huge flag (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Left:
Student contingent fights back against the war on dissent (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Chicago, IL - Over 1000 rallied and marched here at a regional anti-war demonstration Oct. 16. Protesters called for an end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, an end to U.S. foreign aid to Israel and an end to FBI repression against anti-war and international solidarity activists.

Speakers at the rally denounced Obama’s escalation of the Afghanistan war, citing the increase of killings in the war-torn region, including in Pakistan and Yemen, since the Bush administration. As the Afghan war enters its tenth year, tens if not hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been slaughtered under ‘Operation Enduring Freedom.’ Protesters vowed to continue to demonstrate until every U.S. solider is out of Afghanistan.

During the march, there were several energized contingents. Newcomers from Loyola University and students from Indiana joined those from Colombia College Art Activists, Wright College and University of Illinois-Chicago Students for a Democratic Society in the student contingent. People from Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago, American Muslims for Palestine and others wielded a huge Palestinian flag and led chants such as “End the siege on Gaza now!”

The most prominent theme of the march and rally, however, was the FBI raids that happened on Sept. 24. Five of the people targeted by the FBI were present at the demonstration.

“Lawyers are calling this the most dangerous assault on the right to dissent since the McCarthy trials of the 1950s,” opened Christine Geovanis, leader in the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism. “An injury to one is an injury to all!”

Four activists subpoenaed, including two from out of town - Tom Burke of the Colombia Action Network and Mick Kelly, an anti-war activist and editor of Fight Back! - gathered at the stage to address the recent raids. The two who have been at the forefront of the Chicago Coalition to Stop the FBI, Stephanie Weiner and Joe Iosbaker, spoke together at the rally.

“This is not about Joe and I in our yellow house, the fourteen subpoenaed, or the others visited by the FBI,” said Stephanie Weiner, member of Palestine Solidarity Group. “Already we’ve seen a tremendous amount of support in 60 demonstrations in cities across the U.S. and even international support. This is because we know anti-war activism is not a crime!”

“This is because of our ideas,” said Mick Kelly, “It is because the U.S. has built an empire that expands across the globe and anyone disagreeing with that can be a target.”

Kelly continued, “It is vital that we shut down this Grand Jury. We will not cooperate with the Grand Jury - no matter what it takes.”

After the march, Fight Back! newspaper hosted a successful fundraising benefit for those subpoenaed by the FBI. For the first time since the raids, Hatem Abudeyyah of the Palestine Solidarity Group and the Arab American Action Network spoke to friends and colleagues in attendance about how the investigation has affected him and his family.

Everyone stressed the need to continue a united push back against the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI in the coming months.

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