Monday March 27, 2023
| Last update: Sunday at 9:37 PM

Protests at Federal Building in Chicago

Activists "Will Not Participate in" Grand Jury
By staff |
January 26, 2011
Read more articles in
Photo of activists protesting at Dirksen Federal Building.
More than 350 activists in Chicago converged on the Dirksen federal building on 25 January 2010 to stand in solidarity with the nine Palestine solidarity activists and community organizers summoned to appear before a federal grand jury that day. (Maureen Murphy)

Chicago, IL - Speaking at a rally of 350 supporters Jan. 25, Sarah Smith explained that being subpoenaed hasn't had the effect that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wanted. The crowd cheered when she said, “I'm not backing down. In fact, I've been made stronger by the support from all of you to be become more politically active.”

Sarah Smith wanted to see for herself how the Palestinians lived. She traveled last summer with friends on a delegation organized by the Palestine Solidarity Group. For this she was subpoenaed to a grand jury by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

The protest at the Dirksen Federal Building featured Smith and Maureen Murphy, two of the nine persons in Chicago who were to have appeared before the grand jury today. Murphy read the statement from the group, all of whom had been visited by the FBI in December. The crowd roared loudest when she proclaimed, “We will not participate in this fishing expedition.”

Federal marshals kick press conference out of public press area

Picketing began while a press conference was convened inside the Dirksen Building. However, before the press conference could begin, federal marshals ordered the spokespersons from the Committee Against Political Repression out of the press area. Claiming that only ‘government officials’ can hold press conferences in the federal building, four marshals and Chicago police officers took cameras out of the hands of supporters who were filming or photographing the press conference that was about to get under way. One officer was overheard threatening to issue a citation to an activist for the offense of filming the marshal who took a camera from a trade unionist. As people exited the building to hold the press conference outside, one of the network camera men said, “This has never happened before,” referring to being ejected from the press area.

Movements come together to support resisters

The crowd was lively, with trade unionists marching next to youth from the Puerto Rican Cultural Center school, members of Students for Justice in Palestine and anti-war veterans from the 1960s. Buses full of Palestinian and Puerto Rican youth joined the rally.

Bill Chambers of Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago pointed out that more than 50 organizations had endorsed the protest. Basil Ali of American Muslims for Palestine denounced the repression, but explained that the U.S. attorney and the FBI had failed, because “They have not hurt us; they have made us stronger. They have brought all of our movements together to stand in solidarity with the anti-war activists.”

Speakers also include the president Christine Boardman of SEIU Local 73; Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union; Ricardo Jimenez, a Puerto Rican activist for the release of political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera. Jimenez was also a political prisoner for 20 years.