Peace activists protest FBI investigation
Protesters called out the FBI yesterday for its investigation into local anti-war groups.
More than 100 people swarmed the sidewalk in front of the Federal Building in Minneapolis Tuesday evening to protest the grand jury investigation into local anti-war groups.
Waving signs that read "Opposing war is not a crime" and "Hands off free speech," the protesters denounced the government's infiltration of their groups with undercover agents, and said again that they will not cooperate with the grand jury, even if it means going to jail.
"This is not a fight that I asked for, but it's one I can't walk away from," said Jess Sundin, one of nine Twin Cities activists who had their homes raided by the FBI in September.
"We still don't know who the prosecutors hope to target with indictments, but every one of us reached the same conclusion: Nothing could compel us to testify against the movements we have helped to build."
The protesters took over the plaza in front of the local FBI headquarters for more than an hour.
Because no charges have yet been brought, all that is known about the grand-jury investigation by Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, is that it concerns the material support of terrorism. The 23 activists in Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois who have been subpoenaed insist that they have broken no laws and have no connection to terrorism.
What is known is that the government case relies on the testimony of an undercover agent going by the name of Karen Sullivan who infiltrated local anti-war groups over the course of two and a half years.
Since the subpoenas, the activists have aggressively built a network of opposition to what they say is illegal federal harassment of peaceful political dissidents. Tuesday's demonstration in downtown Minneapolis was one of nearly 40 simultaneous protests across the country, as well as in Ireland and Ukraine.
So far the activists have refused to testify, and there's a good chance that if they continue that way, they'll be sent to jail for contempt of court. The activists say they're undeterred, but concede that the shadow of jail time weighs heavily on them.
The Minneapolis activists who have recieved subpoenas from the Chicago grand jury.
"That's why these events today are so important to us," said Mick Kelly, one of those subpoenaed. "They keep our spirits up."
The mood Tuesday evening was certainly boisterous and defiant. Misty Rowan, a member of one of the groups targeted by the investigation, took the microphone and faced the Federal Building to read a poem she composed for the occasion.
"This is called 'An Open Letter to the FBI,'" she began, turning to face the Federal Building as she read the first line:
"Fuck you guys."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.