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Minneapolis event inspires people to defend civil liberties

By staff |
August 23, 2012
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Minneapolis, MN - On August 17 more than 80 people attended a rally here in defense of civil liberties. The event, held at the Communications Workers of America Local 7200 union hall on Lake Street, featured twelve speakers who all emphasized the need to wage a broad, united fight to defend civil liberties in the face of deepening state repression.

The event was co-sponsored by Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Socialist Action, and was endorsed by many organizations active in the struggle for justice.

The event featured local speakers as well as some out of town and international speakers. Meredith Aby of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression spoke about the Sept. 24, 2010 FBI raids and ongoing investigation of anti-war activists in the Twin Cities, Chicago and elsewhere as part of a bogus hunt for those in “material support of terrorism.” Aby noted that the Chicago-based prosecutor Barry Jonas recently refused to return the possessions of Hatem Abudayyeh that were taken from his home in the 2010 raid. She cited this as a key reason to keep the pressure on to end the investigation and encouraged people to stay vigilant for the possibility of indictments coming out of this investigation.

Jess Sundin spoke for Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Sundin was one of several members of Freedom Road who were among those raided and subpoenaed in the 2010 FBI raids. Jeff Mackler of Socialist Action and a leader in the campaigns to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and Lynn Stewart, also spoke, as did Joe Lombardo, the co-coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition. Dakota leader Dr. Chris Mato Nunpa spoke about the 150-year anniversary this year of the genocidal U.S. war against the Dakota people in 1862 and the Dakota peoples’ ongoing struggle for justice. Long-time Twin Cities activist Joe Callahan rallied support as he faces an Oct. 31 trial in Canada for allegedly helping two Salvadoran immigrants reach Canada to apply for asylum. Ana Vazquez of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee spoke about the daily violations of the basic rights and civil liberties of immigrants. Kieran Knutson, chief steward of Communication Workers of America Local 7250 and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) emphasized the need for workers to understand that repression against one member of the working class needs to be treated as an attack on the whole working class. David Sundee and Linda Leighton, members of the IWW and grandchildren of the historic 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike leader V.R. Dunne, spoke about the state repression and jail time faced in the 1940s by the 1934 Teamster strike leaders. There were also international guest speakers from the left in Ireland and Greece.

According to Jess Sundin of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, “We were honored to participate side-by-side in this event with others who are committed to fighting against repression. We’ll continue to build a broad front to fight back against the wave of repression targeting Muslims, Arabs, Palestinians, anti-war and international solidarity activists, the Occupy movement and anyone who dares to speak out or act against the policies of the U.S. government. Together, we can win.”