Nationwide Conferences Spotlight Threats to Political Activism

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Date: 
February 28, 2011

Warning that civil liberties and constitutional rights are being eroded by ambiguous counterterrorism laws, thousands of anti-war and other activists participated in conferences across the country during February 2011. Organized by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the conferences featured speakers discussing the impact of the Sept. 24, 2010 FBI raids on activists and subsequent grand jury subpoenas on constitutional rights and described other attempts by the government to suppress political activism.  The conferences were held in several U.S. cities, including Chicago, Oakland, New York, and Chapel Hill (click on the city to view its conference report).

“From the time the FBI first knocked on my door, it was clear that this was all about our ideas and political beliefs,” said Jess Sundin, an activist whose home was raided in September and spoke at the conference held in Chicago. “They were after flyers, address books and information about political events.”

Topics discussed at the conferences included:
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression was formed after 14 activists in Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan were ordered to testify before a federal grand jury in Chicago after the government raided some of their offices and homes. Another nine activists in Chicago were subpoenaed in December. All 23 have refused to testify.  According to the FBI, the raids were conducted to collect “evidence in support of an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism.”  No arrests were made.