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FBI attempts to question Tampa activist

By Tom Burke |
January 28, 2016
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Tampa, FL - Tampa anti-war activist Jessica Schwartz says a family member handed her an FBI agent’s card. The card was stuck in the front door of the family home and belonged to FBI Special Agent A. Brett Fears.

Schwartz found another card stuck in a car window on the driveway and she says, “My brother let me know the FBI left a message on our home phone asking me to contact FBI Special Agent Fears for an interview. I have no intention of speaking to the FBI, but I did contact the Committee to Stop FBI Repression and a lawyer.”

Schwartz is a leader in the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR)-Tampa, one of the most active local groups in the country. Schwartz travels to the court dates of Palestinian icon Rasmea Odeh in other cities, and leads local solidarity rallies. She recently spoke about Rasmea Odeh to 70 people at a protest in Miami to close Guantanamo prison.

The U.S. government is targeting 68-year-old Rasmea Odeh because of her lifelong support for Palestine. After living and organizing in Chicago for 20 years, Odeh is awaiting an appeal decision. Odeh’s case is also linked directly to the Anti-war 23.

The FBI raided 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists in September of 2010. The subpoenas to a grand jury in Chicago claimed to be investigating “material support for terrorism” in Colombia and Palestine. The Anti-war 23 refused to appear at the witch hunt, and a new movement against political repression was born with the Committee to Stop FBI Repression.

In the course of the 2010 FBI raids, the FBI lost a file that contained, among other things, interrogation questions for members of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). The file became public and it revealed the FBI’s political agenda. Young activists like Schwartz joined the FRSO despite the repression.

Political repression is not a new phenomenon in Tampa either. Tampa is where Professor Sami Al-Arian went on hunger strike against one of the first cases of political repression under the Bush administration. FBI and Homeland Security harassment of Muslims, Arab Americans and anti-war activists is particularly notorious in Tampa, with police bragging about it following the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Schwartz underscored, “Nothing good can come out of talking to the FBI. They are the political police. They are not going to help you or our movements for peace and justice. Their job is to serve and protect the rich and powerful. So don’t talk to them, just say, ‘No thanks.’ Then hang up, close the door, or walk away.”

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