Minneapolis, MN - At a press conference here, Jan. 12, Jess Sundin of the Twin Cites based Anti-War Committee (AWC) blasted police infiltration of the anti-war and international solidarity movement, stating, “We are here today to express outrage that our democratic rights have been violated by a government operation of spying, infiltration and disruption of our anti-war movement, which was carried out over the course of at least two and half years.”
The exposure of an undercover law enforcement agent in the Twin Cities anti-war movement is linked to the Sept. 24, 2010 FBI raids on peace and international solidarity organizers and the subpoenas that have been served on 23 activists to appear in front of a Chicago Grand Jury.
The infiltrator, who used the name ‘Karen Sullivan,’ joined the AWC in April 2008, and about a year later she joined the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. A statement from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression notes, “In conversations between our attorneys and the prosecutor’s office in Chicago, we have had confirmation that Karen Sullivan was in fact a law enforcement officer working undercover.”
Sundin said, “In April 2008, law enforcement officer Karen Sullivan joined the Anti-War Committee. In 2008, we were involved in organizing the anti-war marches on the first and last days of the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul. At that time, there was a massive security operation here which included the infiltration of the RNC Welcoming Committee. We now have it confirmed that in this same time period, we too became the subject of government investigation. The difference is that our spy made herself comfortable and decided to stay awhile, posing as a fellow anti-war activist and pretending to befriend us.”
Misty Rowan, of the Anti-War Committee, said, "The AWC played an important role in organizing the permitted march on the Republican National Convention on Sept. 1, 2008 and also organized a rally and march on the fourth day of the convention. We can only assume that this First Amendment protected organizing was the reason that this agent, Karen Sullivan, infiltrated the AWC. It is the same kind of infiltration criticized in the October 2010 Inspector General report and highlighted in the recent release of documents from the Richmond, Virginia, police, where any sort of assembly is defined as a disturbance and threat."
Sullivan’s spying was local and national in scope. She was present in Detroit, at the 2010 United States Social Forum, where she spoke on Plan Colombia. She was also present at the School of the Americas protests, at Fort Benning, Georgia, where she claimed to have met her partner, who goes by the name ‘Daniela Cardenas.’
Sundin states, “Unfortunately, Officer Sullivan took a special interest in the Anti-War Committee’s coalition work. She represented our committee at meetings of the Iraq Peace Action Coalition and the Coalition for Palestinian Rights. She also represented us in national venues - the Latin America Solidarity Coalition, at the School of the Americas Watch protests and at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit last summer. About a year ago, she also joined Freedom Road Socialist Organization, which is talked about by the government in this case, in a manner reminiscent of the McCarthy era political witch hunts.”
In the summer of 2009, Sullivan signed up to go on a solidarity trip to Palestine. Three members of the delegation were denied entry at the Tel Aviv airport and eventually sent back to the U.S.: Sarah Martin, Katrina Plotz and the agent.
Jess Sundin said, “When I speak of disruption, I am referring to an August 2009 solidarity delegation to Palestine. This delegation was a fact-finding mission, where participants were to witness the conditions for Palestinians living under U.S.-backed occupation, and to express our solidarity in a person-to-person way. Officer Sullivan made public her plans to join this delegation, she helped to promote it and fundraise for it here in our community. At the same time, she was secretly working to sabotage the trip entirely. Through her work, reports were passed onto Israeli authorities, who then barred entry to the two Minneapolis women traveling with Karen Sullivan. Her action, on behalf of the U.S. government, deprived these women of their rights to travel, association and dissent. The government was wrong to disrupt our important and legal work against U.S. aid to Israel.”
Attacking international solidarity
According to reports, it seems that the investigation of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is focused on small donations to the daycare and women’s center projects of the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees, an NGO registered with the Palestinian Authority, with local offices in towns across the West Bank and Gaza. The Union is a progressive women's organization that strives to build respect for women's rights.
“It has become apparent to us that this delegation, and some of the fundraising work done to support it, is of great concern to the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago. In order to help fund the travel of the three women from Minneapolis - including Officer Sullivan - and to send a token symbol of solidarity to the Palestinian people, a series of fundraisers were organized. We were very open about our work to support the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, which is an NGO registered with the Palestinian Authority, and which is not illegal under Israeli or international law,” said Sundin.
Sundin continued “The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees works for women’s equality. Their activities include support for women refugees and women political prisoners, and providing basic social services for women, including several child care centers. These women are right to be working for justice in Palestine and there is no reason we should be criminalized for supporting them. However, that is exactly what has happened.”
Push back against repression
Steff Yorek, of Freedom Road Socialist Organization denounced the infiltration, "We are appalled that we were infiltrated by police agents, targeted for our political organizing and views. This violates our rights to freedom of association and speech."
Speaking at the press conference, Joe Callahan of the Iraq Peace Action Coalition demanded the “immediate end to government spying” and the removal of all agents from peace groups.
Jess Sundin conluded, “We, the anti-war and international solidarity activists being targeted by Fitzgerald, have the support of every progressive movement in this country - from trade unionists to the immigrant rights movement, from students to people of faith and everyone in between. Opposing war is no crime. International solidarity is not a crime. We are not alone, we have done nothing wrong and we will not be afraid.”
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is planning a National Day of Protest for Jan. 25, in cities across the country. This protest is in solidarity with people refusing to testify at the secret grand jury in Chicago on that day.