Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Protests arise nationwide over FBI raids


The two sides of Washington Avenue South in front of the Minneapolis FBI headquarters were in stark contrast Monday evening.

On one sidewalk stood a group of about 200 chanting protestors denouncing a string of FBI raids and grand jury subpoenas, including three against University of Minnesota employees and one against a former student.

On the far side of the road, a group of about 13 Minneapolis Police officers leaned nonchalantly against squad cars and a “booking bus,” monitoring the situation. But police never had to leave their post.

A slew of speakers from local protest groups including the Anti-War Committee, the Twin Cities Peace Campaign and Women Against Military Madness rallied against a string of FBI raids performed Friday on six Twin Cities addresses.

Two other raids were carried out on Chicago addresses Friday, and about 120 protesters rallied outside the Chicago FBI office Monday afternoon.

Chants like, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, FBI harassment has got to go!” belted out by the crowd were coupled with signs reading, “Stop attacks on civil liberties” and “Stop FBI harassment.”

“It’s mostly to show we won’t be stopped by intimidation,” said former University student Tracy Molm, whose home wasraided Friday.

The raids and subpoenas concerned “the material support of terrorism,” FBI spokesman Steve Warfield said Friday.

Agents took cell phones, computers, books and CDs from the activists. In several cases, they stayed for multiple hours conducting searches and left after handing out subpoenas.

University clerical worker Jessica Sundin said she knows of 13 people who have been subpoenaed, including two

from the Twin Cities.

Minneapolis resident Sarah Martin, a WAMM member, received one of Monday’s subpoenas. Sundin said the other person did not want to be named.

Grand jury hearings are set to begin Oct. 5 in Chicago, Sundin said.

Sundin’s raid was connected to her work with the Anti-War Committee and a 2000 trip to Columbia, she said. Sundin acknowledged that during that trip she met members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist guerilla group which has long battled the Colombian government.

Sundin said when she met rebels in 2000, they were holding peace talks with the Colombian government.

The AWC’s office in the University Technology Center in Dinkytown was also raided Friday.

Molm visited Palestine in 2004 and is active in Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota. She last

attended the University in fall 2009.

Mick Kelly, a University Dining Services cook, and Anh-Thu Pham, an executive accounts specialist in the Office of Academic Affairs, were also subpoenaed Friday, and their homes were raided.

Kelly edits Fight Back! News, whose staff is made up of activists and organizers. The organization called for a nationwide protest of the raids.

Monday’s event was meant to turn attention to perceived injustices in Palestine and Columbia and demonstrate solidarity with the subpoenaed activists.

“Your mind kind of wanders a little bit when you’re alone, so it helps to be in a group of people,” Sundin said. “It helps to remember that I’m not alone.”

Smaller, related protests were staged Monday outside federal buildings in Milwaukee, Wis., and Salt Lake City, Utah.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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