Minneapolis, MN – About 70 people packed a hall in South Minneapolis to urge that the Canadian government drop the charges against prominent Twin Cities activist Joe Callahan. Callahan, who has received widespread support, is facing several immigration related charges and is scheduled to go on trial Oct. 31 in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
A statement from the Joe Callahan Support Committee gives the following summation of the case:
“On July 31, 2011, after two Salvadoran immigrants went to Canada to apply for asylum, long-time Twin Cities activist, Joe Callahan, was arrested by Canadian police at the Pigeon River border station. Joe was alone in his car. The Canadian police used a backpack, maps and other items found in Joe’s car as the grounds for his arrest.
Joe was charged with ‘aiding and abetting an immigration without a visa,’ and ‘providing false and misleading information.’ As a result of these charges, Joe was locked up in the Thunder Bay District Jail in cramped, crowded conditions where inmates are frequently forced to sleep on the floor, as Joe did for the first several days he was there. Joe was in custody for a month, and during that time, the authorities added the charge of ‘smuggling’ or ‘human trafficking.’ This charge is much more serious and carries a maximum sentence of ten years.”
The ‘smuggling’ or ‘human trafficking’ charge was recently dropped.
The Joe Callahan Support Committee is organizing a caravan of Twin Cities activists to attend the Oct. 31 trial.
Speakers at the indoor rally to support Callahan included Anh Pham of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression; Mary Bird and Francis Thatcher, Canadian attorneys representing Callahan; Mel Reeves, Occupy the Hood; Lisa Luinenburg, Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Coalition; Stefanie Levi, Socialist Action; April Knutson, Haiti Justice Committee; Wayne Wittman of Vets for Peace; and Joe Callahan.
Many of the speakers talked about the important role that Callahan plays in the Twin Cities labor, peace and immigrant rights movements.
Anh Pham, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression noted that Callahan was among the progressive Twin Cities leaders that spoke out against the FBI raids on anti-war and international solidarity activists and urged people to attend Callahan’s Oct. 31 trial in Thunder Bay, Canada.