Chicago faith leaders issue statement in support of activists targeted by the FBI

Chicago anti-war and international solidarity activists whose homes were raided by the FBI last month publicly declared their decision to resist government intimidation and harassment today in Chicago.  The Chicago activists decided to invoke their Fifth Amendment right not to testify in front of a Grand jury investigation.

This morning the peace and solidarity activists were surrounded by a diverse community of Chicagoans who stood outside the Federal Court building to send a clear message that FBI raids and grand jury subpoenas will not silence dissent and peace activism in the United States.  Stephanie Weiner, one of the subpoenaed activists, said to the press in Chicago, “We believe we have been targeted because of what we say and who we know. This sets a dangerous precedent and endangers the rights of every person. It goes beyond this corner and those subpoenaed.” 

Similar protests and rallies have been held in over 60 locations around the country since the late September raids on 14 activists, mainly located in the midwest. Yesterday a successful National Call-In Day was organized with thousands phoning to demand that U.S. President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Holder publicly call off the Grand Jury investigation.

People of faith and conscience were among those standing in the early Fall crisp Chicago weather, holding signs that read “FBI Raids and Grand Juries Chill the Faithful Call to Peacemaking.”  A statement prepared by Chicago’s progressive interfaith community condemned the raids as a violation of the constitutional rights of the people and organizations raided and as a dangerous step to further criminalize dissent.  Several of the 18 groups who initiated the faith statement have first-hand experiences in conflict areas including the Middle East, Colombia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The FBI raids chisel away and bypass fundamental constitutional rights by hauling activists before grand juries under the guise of national security. An overly broad definition of “material support for terrorism” in the June 2010 US Supreme Court ruling concerns us as people of faith who continue to be actively engaged in humanitarian work and peacemaking.”

The statement continues: “The real illegitimate activities are U.S. foreign policies that support war and occupation. We believe that peacemaking is a sacred commandment. We feel compelled to work to end military solutions that kill and maim innocent people, destroy civil society institutions, create massive poverty and dislocation of people from their homelands, militarize our own nation and continue to create more animosity against the United States, thus undermining our security.”

People who would like to view the Chicago Faith community full statement, can read and sign the petition at:www.ipetitions.com/petition/chicagofaith

To follow or support the ongoing organizing work around these FBI raids, visit http://stopfbi.net

About Jennifer Bing

Jennifer Bing is the Middle East Program Director in the Chicago office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Jennifer began her activism on Palestine and Israel in 1982, and during the early years of the first Intifada she was a teacher at the Friends Boys School in Ramallah and a human rights researcher at Save the Children. Jennifer’s research on the first Intifada and its impact on Palestinian children was published in a three volume human rights report printed by Radda Barnen (Swedish Save the Children) in January, 1990.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 15 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Dan Crowther says:

    We feel compelled to work to end military solutions that kill and maim innocent people, destroy civil society institutions, create massive poverty and dislocation of people from their homelands, militarize our own nation and continue to create more animosity against the United States, thus undermining our security.”

    *********

    Word.

  2. Neoconvict says:

    If they helped the Kurds, for example, write a petition to be heard before the United Nations to get relief funds for displaced people…..they could go to jail on that fact alone.

    That’s a pretty amazing Supreme Court decision, really. And the tea party talks about limiting federal powers….right. They must have missed this one. Obama/Holder, the quiet guys.

  3. syvanen says:

    This article begins with Chicago anti-war and international solidarity activists which causes me to question its accuracy. The people who were the targets of these raids support FARC — this does not sound like antiwar activist to me. FARC is a rebel group that is dedicated to the violent overthrow of the Columbian government. Perhaps this government deserves to be ousted but these rebels are dedicated to the use of violence — armed conflict with government forces, assassination, kidnapping for ransom and active participation in the cocaine market to finance their guerrilla operations. Those who support them cannot be called antiwar activists.

    Having distanced myself from these fools, these FBI raids are nevertheless disturbing. It so easy for the government to attack the politically isolated elements on the extreme left to establish precedents that can be used against real antiwar activist groups. Unfortunately, as of today, I will wait this one out for awhile — if these guys are dumb enough to support FARC in the first place, they may be dumb enough to enter into some real conspiracies with them.

    But it is not sensible at this point for a site dedicated to achieving justice for the Palestinians using non-violent means to take up their cause.

    • kapok says:

      armed conflict with government forces, assassination, kidnapping for ransom and active participation in the cocaine market to finance their guerrilla operations

      Yeah, they should apply to NED for a grant.

      Do you know anything that hasn’t come through your tv?

  4. Here are two questions:

    If one held a fundraising event for a charity that could tenuously be tied to Hamas (because the charity is in Gaza and has to get government-issued permits to operate), could one be tried for material support of terrorism?

    How about if the fundraiser lost money?

  5. Citizen says:

    The ADL is behind this Big Brother state of affairs: link to adl.org

    The SCOTUS ruling effectively puts the full power of all four branches of our government behind the handful of unelected and hidden appointees who decide/dictate who/which states/groups gets on our official Terrorist shit list (and who gets off it).
    “material support for terrorism.”
    Frum’s Axis of Evil is in full bloom. The terrorist scare has trumped the old red scare. Collective punishment is now standard practice. Those who once fought McCarthyism and their spiritutal kin have now taken over this country under the guise of “homeland” security and “national defense.” We indeed do have a frum government.

    • Citizen says:

      Note the three who dissented in this SCOTUS ruling, which reaches a new height in curtailing freedom of speech:
      link to firstamendmentcenter.org

      • Citizen says:

        During arguments in February, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, President Obama’s successful nominee to the court, defended the law and urged a broad interpretation that would allow prosecution of a U.S. citizen who filed a legal brief on behalf of a terrorist organization.

        “What Congress decided,” Kagan told the court, “is that when you help Hezbollah build homes, you are also helping Hezbollah build bombs.”
        Obviously Kagan is/was confident that the ruling will never impact
        the myriad of tax-exempt NGOs aiding and abetting and funneling funds to the Illegal and violent Israeli settlers, confident that the state of Israel and/or settler groups will never end up on Uncle Sam’s terrorist sh** list.

    • lysias says:

      An ADL executive appeared on RT television shortly after the SCOTUS decision in a debate in which he defended the decision. It was clear from what he was saying that he had Hamas in mind (even though the case directly concerned material aid to the PKK Kurdish rebels and the Tamil Tigers). The majority opinion does mention Hamas in a couple of places, referring to an amicus brief filed by the ADL.

  6. Chaos4700 says:

    So much for Rahm Emmanuel’s easy win of the mayorship of Chicago, huh.

  7. Another brick in the wall … , political difference joins terrorism, deviation from the authority will not be tolerated, only the party line is allowed to be heard. Should you not comply, compliance will be enforced, either by terror or by taser, the post-midnight knock on the door whilst asleep, that untrue unfounded accusation of complicity, authoritarians will not be questioned.

    An ongoing imperial process of destruction, of terror, of hegemony, of dominance will not be averted by those in whose name it is done. A beast is loose upon mankind; the pathological, sociopathic monster drinking from the deep wells of inhumanity, intolerance and ignorance walks the earth.

    One such victim link to guardian.co.uk
    destroyed 8,000 to 10,000 years of civilization and a people whose lineal descent goes back to the very beginnings of civilization based upon no more than the mendacity fathered by ideology, mothered by racism, midwifed by rapacious greed and blessed by fictitious belief. This may count as a more grievous crime (if possible) but at least as grievous as that crime of the holocaust. Those who call for atonement, for justice by the responsible powers are to be protected and sheltered from the self-serving machinations of criminal authority. Justice at law must prevail, must be seen to prevail – or all is lost.

  8. marc b. says:

    it has been mentioned here before, but it bears repeating: when will the public supporters of MEK be prosecuted? one of the problems with these laws is the consistently inconsistent application. the recent russian ‘spy’ case is another example of this.

    • lysias says:

      There are strong grounds for suspecting Israel was complicit in the PKK attack on the Turkish naval base at Iskenderun (the base from which any aid to the Freedom Flotilla would have departed) two hours before the Israeli attack on the flotilla.

      If Israel is providing material support to the PKK, what does that say about people who provide material support to Israel?