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Tampa protest against FBI repression of peace activists

By Corey Uhl |
September 24, 2012
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Sign with the Palestinian and Colombian flags at Tampa protest against FBI repre
Sign with the Palestinian and Colombian flags at Tampa protest against FBI repression. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tampa, FL - About a dozen activists gathered outside of Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse here, Sept. 24, to mark the second year anniversary of the FBI raids against anti-war activists in 2010. These events and the subsequent grand jury investigation amount to nothing more than a witch hunt, with the aim of interfering with the anti-war movement. The protest demanded an end to the federal investigation of the peace activists.

The courthouse is also famous for being the site of the show trial of Palestinian activist and former University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian, who was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to organizations engaged in struggle against the occupation of Palestine by Israel.

Many of those gathered were also involved with organizing for the 2012 Coalition to March on the RNC, which also had a strong anti-war message. Jared Hamil, a spokesperson for the Coalition, had this to say about FBI repression:

“Just as we’ve seen with the takedown of the Occupy movement last year, the protests against NATO in May, or the 23 activists in 2010, speaking out against either the economic violence here, or the violence in other countries brought by the U.S. military, speaking out can land you in jail. The city of Tampa spent $50 million in an effort to turn the downtown area into a militarized police state, while also launching a campaign to paint activists as ‘terrorists’ in order to justify the expenses.”

Marisol Marquez, a local organizer with the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, also made note of the recent Committee victory in Los Angeles, which saw the frame-up of Carlos Montes defeated. She added, “The Tampa Committee to Stop FBI Repression will not stop until other victims like Hatem Abudayyeh and Tracy Molm are no longer targets of these witch hunts.”

“It’s a shame that the United States allegedly promotes peace, yet when individuals try to voice their opposition to the reality of U.S. foreign policy, they are persecuted, and this hardly seems fair,” said local student Maritza Jaramillo, who attended the protest. She also says that it is important to stand in solidarity with those who are being persecuted, because then “anybody could be next.”

Aside from students and other organizers in the community, there was also a showing from local union members, such as Dustin Ponder, who recently became aware that the FBI was “wasting millions of dollars to try and silence peace activists and union members, over wars that have bankrupted our country and destroyed our economy,” and then added that it made him sick. “We have to stand up now and say ‘no more.’ If they can persecute these activists, anyone who opposes the 1% agenda of greed and war is open game.”

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