The video presents a statement on behalf of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, a coalition group formed in response to a series of raids by the FBI against anti-war and international solidarity activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. According to a story by Kevin Gosztola at The Seminal/Firedoglake, Chicago activists Stephanie Weiner (see video above), Joe Iosbaker "and three other activists had been called to testify before a grand jury on October 5th.... Iosbaker reported, 'Nine others who have dates scheduled for later this month have also submitted letters invoking their right not to testify.' And declared, 'Today, we are here to state to the press that we too have nothing to say to a grand jury.'"
None of the fourteen activists asked to testify before a grand jury have been charged with anything, and the coalition is vowing not to testify, refusing to take part in the government's "fishing expedition" against antiwar and other political activists. Weiner makes the point that this kind of governmental repression has a long history, and she vowed she and others would "push back against this attack," and "refuse to be silent" about the government's actions.
The Committee’s statement outlined the U.S. government’s history of using grand juries as tools of repression:In a related story by Bill Quigley and Rachel Meeropol at Truthout, Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security (OHS) authorities have released copies of contracted intelligence briefings from an Israeli-connected company, the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), which analyzes a number of left and liberal activist groups that ITRR has been monitoring on behalf of Pennsylvania OHS. The list includes "MoveON.org, the Ruckus Society, Immokalee Workers, the new SDS, Jobs with Justice, the Brandywine Peace Community, ANSWER, PETA, Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty, MOVE, The Yes Men, Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, Climate Ground Zero, the Rainforest Action Network, pro-Palestinian Groups, Puerto Rican nationalists, prisoners' rights organizations, citizen conservation groups and immigration activists opposing Arizona's crazy attempts to criminalize all noncitizens."
"The grand jury has been used as a tool of political repression against many movements for social change in this country. From the pre-civil war abolitionist movement to the Civil Rights movements, the movement against the war in Vietnam, the American Indian Movement, the Central America solidarity movement, the Puerto Rican Independence movement, animal rights and environmental movements, there have been many targets of political repression and grand jury inquisition."
Marian Wang at ProPublica broke the story last month, and since then the director of Pennsylvania's OHS has resigned and the state governor has apologized. But while the exposés and the aftermath of the ProPublica reporting is good news, as the FBI raids and subsequent grand jury summonses demonstrate, state repression against political opponents who stand at all outside the mainstream are being targeted in Barack Obama's America.
Please support these activists with words, deeds, and contributions. They are being targeted today, but tomorrow it could be you or me.