Minneapolis, MN - About 40 people gathered at the Federal Building here, Nov. 18 for a press conference and picket in response to moves by Illinois U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to bring three Twin Cites anti-war and international solidarity activists - Tracy Molm, Anh Pham and Sarah Martin - before a grand jury.
During and after the Sept. 24 FBI raids, subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury were handed to 14 activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan. All of them then submitted legal documents invoking their Fifth Amendment rights and did not appear before the Grand Jury.
Now the three of the 14 are being told that they will have to appear in front of the Grand Jury.
Speaking at the press conference, Tracy Molm, a union organizer for AFSCME Local 3800 and anti-war activist said, “I will continue to speak out against war and injustice. I will not be intimidated by FBI raids or the threat posed by the grand jury.”
Marie Braun of Women Against Military Madness and the Twin Cities Peace Campaign told the crowd, “I have worked with Sarah Martin in WAMM for many years and she is a close personal friend.” She also stated, “I have also worked with Tracy and Anh in the Iraq Peace Action Coalition and other coalitions to organize non-violent anti-war protests, rallies, protests at the Republican National Convention, educational events to speak out against sanctions, torture, pre-emptive war polices, the atrocities of wars and many other issues. They too are my friends and I am appalled that they are being subpoenaed to appear in front of a grand jury.”
Jess Sundin, one of the main organizers of the 30,000 person march on the Republican National Convention, stated, “If our friends choose not to testify, they could be imprisoned. It could be for months or even years, like in the case of Professor Abdelhaleem Ashqar, who faced the same prosecutor we face and who was investigated of violating the same law we are confronting. Before he was acquitted of the charges against him, Dr. Ashqar was sentenced to criminal contempt for refusing to testify before Fitzgerald’s grand jury in Chicago. The punitive sentence against him was more than 11 years. Again, he was acquitted of the crimes the grand jury was investigating.”
Sundin concluded, “This is a frightening tale, but it shows how very important our work is. We have to make it politically untenable for these three women to be imprisoned. Fitzgerald has political aspirations; he hopes to be the next head of the FBI. That’s a White House appointment, open next year. We’ve got to build a movement to stand behind Sarah, Anh and Tracy, a movement so big, broad and loud, that it cannot be ignored. A movement so strong, that Fitzgerald won’t do to them what he did to Dr. Ashqar.”