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People’s Thanksgiving: Giving thanks for Fight Back!

By Joe Iosbaker |
December 5, 2011
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People's Thanksgiving 2011 event in Chicago
People's Thanksgiving 2011 event in Chicago (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Chicago, IL - 125 people gathered on Dec. 3 here for the People’s Thanksgiving. Sarah Smith was one of them. “There are two anniversaries to make note of today,” Smith told the crowd. “One year ago, the FBI contacted me to tell me I was being subpoenaed to a grand jury.” Smith is one of the 24 anti-war and international solidarity activists targeted by the FBI.

“And tomorrow, Dec. 4, is the 42nd anniversary of the murder of Fred Hampton.” Hampton, the chair of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party, was murdered by the FBI and Chicago Police, along with another Panther, Mark Clark, in 1969.

Smith spoke on behalf of the Committee Against Political Repression (CAPR) , one of the groups honored at this annual event, which was sponsored by Fight Back! newspaper. CAPR’s award was named the “Big Bill Haywood Award: Opposing War is Not a Crime.” Haywood, a leader in the Industrial Workers of the World, was convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 during World War I.

Over $1000 was raised for Fight Back! newspaper and another $1000 was raised for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the national group that CAPR is a part of.

Also honored were Students for Justice in Palestine (the Steve Biko Award, named after the martyred student leader of the anti-apartheid struggle) and Mark Clements of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, honored for his role in the fight to save Troy Davis’ life. Clements spent 28 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, tortured into confessing by a racist Chicago cop.

Finally, Occupy Chicago received an award named for Chicago’s Lucy Parsons, whose husband was one of the Haymarket Martyrs and who helped lead the workers’ movement in Chicago for almost 70 years. The award quoted Parsons’ speech to the founding convention of the IWW in Chicago in 1905, when she said, “If anyone is to starve - let it be the capitalist class.” The award ended, “To Occupy Chicago - Who delivered to the 1% the message of the 99%.”