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

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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

To follow or support the ongoing organizing work around these FBI raids, visit

About Jennifer Bing

Jennifer Bing is director of the Palestine-Israel program at American Friends Service Committee. She organizes education and advocacy campaigns and has worked in and led delegations to the region.

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