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Chicago activists act up, speak out on anniversary of FBI Raids

By staff |
September 26, 2011
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"FBI agents" caught in their own net at street theater
"FBI agents" caught in their own net at street theater outside US Attorney Fitzgerald's office in Chicago (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Chicago, IL - One year after the FBI raided two homes of well-known progressive leaders in Chicago, scores of supporters came together in two events to mark the anniversary.

40 people performed street theater to protest U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury fishing expedition against anti-war and international solidarity activists. The ‘FBI agents,’ members of the Palestine Solidarity Group (PSG), tried to net activists. They asked their victims many of the questions that the FBI intended to ask during the raids. These questions, along with secret FBI operations plans for the raids were left behind by the FBI at the raided home of Mick Kelly and Linden Gawboy in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The fishing expedition theater on Friday, Sept. 23 was held outside the Dirksen Federal Building, the location of Fitzgerald’s office and the site of the grand jury. All 23 of the raided and subpoenaed activists refused to appear before the grand jury. Maureen Murphy, who was subpoenaed in December 2010 (and who is also an activist in the Palestine Solidarity Group and managing editor of the online magazine, Electronic Intifada), narrated the protest.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, almost 100 people met in a church just four blocks from the raided home of Stephanie Weiner and Joe Iosbaker in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. The crowd included a large contingent from Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Guest speakers included Bernardine Dohrn, a leader of the Students for a Democratic Society of the 1960s and a grand jury resister in the 1980s; Jackson Potter, a co-founder of CORE (the Caucus of Rank and File Educators, which won election to the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) last year; and Karen Lewis, the chief of staff for the CTU President.

Bernardine Dohrn applauded the unity of the 23 people subpoenaed to this grand jury. She also spoke of other examples of resistance to oppression in this racist and oppressive society, especially Troy Davis who had been executed by the state of Georgia on Sept. 22, after an international outpouring of opposition that she compared to the movement against the killing of the Ethel and Julius Rosenberg in the 1950s.

Jackson Potter talked about the attacks on the working class that are focusing on the public sector unions, especially teachers. In his remarks, he put the attacks on the 23, many of whom are trade unionists as well, in the context of the wealthy class putting the crisis onto the backs of workers.

Matt Brandon, Secretary Treasure of SEIU Local 73 reinforced that message. All public sector workers are under attack. Working people must refuse to be divided: Black, Latino, Asian, Arab and white.

Hatem Abudayyeh, the other Chicago target of the FBI on Sept. 24, 2010, talked about the year of resistance to the FBI and grand jury repression. He warned the group that indictments are coming and that the emergency response plan for protests at the Chicago Federal Building have to be ready and that everyone has to be prepared to pack court sessions when Fitzgerald tries to put activists on trial. He spoke about the heroes among the people of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Colombia, who are dying and being tortured for their resistance to imperialism and occupation. The crowd responded with a standing ovation.

Sarah Smith, another of the subpoenaed activists, joined Stephanie Weiner in hosting this event. The crowd raised $1000 and trade unionists pledged over $1000 more for the national Committee to Stop FBI Repression.

Smith said, “Through these events, people recommitted to being part of the work of the Chicago Committee Against Political Repression.” She announced that Chicago would be hosting a national conference of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression on Saturday, Nov. 5.