Protest on anniversary of FBI raids
September 25, 2011
Minneapolis, MN – About 175 people, representing a broad section of the Twin Cities progressive movement, participated in a march and rally here, Sept. 24, to demand an end to government repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists.
Protesters assembled at the home Jess Sundin and Steff Yorek, which the FBI raided exactly one year earlier, and then marched through South Minneapolis, to Walker Church for an ending rally took place.
On Sept. 24, 2010 the FBI raided the homes of seven anti-war and international solidarity activists in Minneapolis and Chicago, as wells as the office of the Twin Cities based Anti-War Committee. A total of 23 activists were served subpoenas to a federal grand jury investigating allegations of ‘material support for terrorism.’
Marie Braun, of the Twin Cities Peace Campaign told people at the rally about what happened that day, “Early on a Friday morning, one year ago today, I received a call from Sarah Martin that the homes of several of my friends – Jess Sundin, Meredith Aby and Mick Kelly – were being raided by the FBI. Sarah asked me to get out an email informing people of the raids and suggesting that we go to their homes immediately. I sent out an email to the Twin Cities Peace Campaign Yahoo list and another to aides of Amy Klobuchar and Keith Ellison, and then headed down to Meredith Aby’s home in shocked disbelief. It was only later that we learned that several other homes had been raided, not only in Minnesota, but also in Illinois.
Braun continued, “As soon as the word got out, calls started coming in from their friends and from people around the country…a great show of support that has grown and been maintained because of their refusal to be intimidated, their refusal to be silent even in the face of the threat of years in prison.”
Speaking on her doorstep, Jess Sundin talked about how to resist the repression, stating, “Our strategy is simple: Shine a light on this case of government repression and unite all the people we can to oppose it. First, this meant the 23 subpoenaed activists had to stand together and resist the grand jury. We will not help the government prosecute ourselves and our fellow activists. And because our support was so broad and so visible, the government has not had the will to jail us for refusing. This is a real victory we’ve won in this struggle.”
Sundin also spoke about the fight to drop the charges against veteran Chicano leader Carlos Montes, who is the 24th person in this case, stating “Our next victory needs to be in the case of Carlos Montes, who is facing trumped-up charges from the FBI-initiated raid on his home in May. We’ll be watching on Sept. 29 as he has his next court date and we’ll take whatever action he needs to demand justice.”
Sundin concluded, “If they try to bring us into court, our legal team will help us fight them there, as you will continue to fight them in the streets. We are not just fighting for my freedom – the potential charges in this case could mean the rest of my life in prison. We are fighting for the freedom of all of us. This is not a battle that any of us chose, but it’s one that we must fight, and that we cannot afford to lose.”
Bruce Nestor, of the National Lawyers Guild, warned of possible indictments for the anti-war activists and mentioned an important legal development in the case. On Sept. 22, Nestor filed a motion for return of their property seized a year ago.
Minneapolis City Council member Gary Schiff praised the subpoenaed activists and presented them with enameled pins representing the city of Minneapolis. Labor leader Phyllis Walker, the President of AFSCME Local 3800, stated she was proud to stand with the targeted activists. Mike Perkins, of Military Families Speak Out, talked about how the Department of Justice “would rather prosecute good people who work for peace and justice instead of the real criminals who profit from human suffering by manipulating Wall Street banking and keeping us in a state of constant war.”
Mick Kelly, of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, said that from Palestine to Colombia the U.S. government is lying by calling freedom fighters working for national liberation, ‘terrorists.’ He then blasted the red baiting, anti-communist nature of the attacks on the activists stating, “It is like the clock was turned back 60 years.”
After rally, protesters held a spirited march on the streets of South Minneapolis, including on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, Lake Street. Outside Walker Church, Michelle Gross, of Communities United Against Police Brutality – which took a break from their national conference to attend the protest – spoke and invited the activists to share food afterwards. The Anti-War Committee’s Meredith Aby was the last speaker before the closing music and galvanized the crowd to be ready to fight.