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U.S. Attorney General Holder challenged on FBI repression

Anti-war, international solidarity activists interrupt his speech in Minneapolis
By staff |
May 28, 2011
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Protesters at Eric Holder visit to Minneapolis
Protesters at Eric Holder visit to Minneapolis (Fight Back! News/Kim DeFranco)

Minneapolis, MN - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder got a cold reception in Minneapolis May 27, where the Committee to Stop FBI Repression dogged him all day about FBI and grand jury attacks on anti-war and international solidarity activists. 100 people gathered outside his event at the University of Minnesota. The shouts of protesters outside could be heard inside, “Hey Holder, hear our fury! Stop the FBI, end the grand jury!”

In September of 2010, 14 peace and international solidarity activists in the Midwest, including Minneapolis, were subpoenaed to testify at a secret grand jury investigating material support for terrorism. In December, nine more activists were subpoenaed. The 23 activists have declared their refusal to testify and have declared their First Amendment right to protest, to free speech and to assemble. Last week, the FBI stepped up its repression when it participated in a raid on the home of Los Angeles immigrant rights activist, Carlos Montes.

As Holder began to speak at the University of Minnesota event, several people stood up to interrupt him with questions demanding that he explain his why his Department of Justice is pursuing activists.

The first to challenge him was Tracy Molm, one of the targeted activists and a member of Students for a Democratic Society. Holder talked with her after his speech, saying they would have to “agree to disagree” on whether international solidarity activism like hers is constitutionally protected.

Afterwards, Molm told the protesters gathered outside, "He can disagree all he wants, but people around the country believe these attacks need to end because they're killing our free speech rights, our ability to question our government and our ability to speak out."

All those who interrupted his speech were ejected by University police, but none were arrested.

Speaking for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Deb Konechne said, “It is disgusting that Eric Holder, who once defended Chiquita Banana’s payments to right-wing death squads and Colombia’s AUC - a designated ‘Foreign Terrorist Organization’ - is today the head of a grand jury fishing expedition against anti-war and international solidarity activists. This fishing expedition is, according to secret FBI documents released last week, predicated on the work of activists in the U.S. to publicize and advocate on behalf of Colombian trade unionists that have been AUC targets.”

Protesters also gathered outside a second speech by the attorney general at Augsburg College, but were barred from entering. When Holder exited the event, protesters sent him packing with these final words, “Hey Holder, you crossed the line. Political dissent is not a crime!”