October 1, 2010

FBI Raids: Socialists & Anarchists Respond [Updated]

[UPDATE (11/14): I have, faced by a barrage of righteous indignation, pared down the who's-been-naughty list of groups who had not responded, as far as I could ascertain, at the time this was posted. Please read the comments (click on the link at the end of this article) for further details. Rather than do a full update here, let me refer folks to the even more impressive list, with links, at the website of the Committee To Stop FBI Repression. Included as well are a variety of other types of groups including labor organizations, among them, I am pleased to say, my old local, the New York Metro Area Postal Union. ]


A few days ago, I posted a piece here at FotM reflecting on the impact that the online social networking site Facebook had on the spread of news and analysis of the recent FBI raids. In it, I called the broad, swift and relatively unified response of the left to this outrage heartening.

We have seen more practical evidence of this as events unfold. More than forty protests around the country, almost all of them at Federal Buildings, have denounced these attacks—and that’s within a week of their occurrence! This video is simply the most recent I’ve seen, from Memphis, TN, yesterday (23 plus one infant at noon.)



More, a national Committee to Stop FBI Repression, including members of a number of left, socialist, anti-war, solidarity and civil liberties groups and concerned individuals, has convened its first conference call and will be working to provide direction to the movement to protest the raids and shut down the Grand Jury.

To look closer at this relatively unified response, I’ve collected a bunch of statements from national-level socialist and anarchist organizations in the US. (Students for a Democratic Society is also included, as SDS members are among those attacked.) All the statements denounced the raids as an extremely dangerous attack and a threat to all activists which requires the broadest possible unity to resist. Another common thread was the need to inform ourselves about our legal rights and be prepared for similar FBI harassment.

Who said—and didn’t say--what

While assembling them, I noticed some areas in which differences occur which may well be significant. Some statements mentioned the FRSO which was attacked—the one which publishes Fight Back!, not the one I’m in—others did not. Similarly some mentioned Colombia and Palestine and/or the FARC and the PFLP specifically—others did not.

Finally some targeted the Obama administration by name, while others made no mention of the president. The following table includes the results, with passing mentions indicated by a lower case x and anything slightly more detailed with an upper case X.

The obvious caveats apply. The evaluation is my own, as is the selection of excerpts. Some groups may not customarily issue organizational statements, but make their analysis and calls in their press (some of these are at the bottom of the list, marked with *.) Some statements were issued very quickly, others after a couple days of reflection.

Nota Bene: The text of other statements, or links to them, are welcome and could conceivably be included in an update.


(click to see enlarged version)

Groups with some 'splainin' to do

As far as I can tell, nothing has been heard from the following national groups save the sound, as they say on the Internet, of *crickets chirping*.

Progressive Labor Party
Democratic Socialists of America

Corrections or updates on this matter would be most welcome!

Excerpts from and links to organizational statements

FRSO/OSCL: Read the whole statement, it’s that good.

Solidarity: This record demonstrates important lessons. First, the U.S. government and its "intelligence" agencies are quick to strip individuals and organizations of their constitutional rights and ignore the basic rules of democracy in order to discredit and demoralize opposition from the left. Second, the most potent defense against this disruption has been the refusal to be intimidated, and the support to targeted individuals and groups provided by communities and movements.

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism
: We demand that the FBI cease and desist in these attempts to intimidate and divide, that the Grand Jury proceedings and subpoenas be vacated and stopped, and that the FBI return the belongings seized. We urge all Americans to repudiate this misadventure if they hold to the democratic values in our Constitution. Even if actions like these seem bizarre and aimed at relatively small groups, they must be nipped in the bud. An injury to one is an injury to all.

International Socialist Organization
: So it should come as no surprise that members of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization are the most prominent target of the latest raids. If history is any guide, the FBI and federal prosecutors believe they can drive a wedge between socialists and the wider left, including liberals, and establish a precedent for further violations of civil liberties and political repression.

Socialist Party USA: Although the governmental repression following the attacks of September 11, 2001 did not target the left, it did serve to massively expand the security state. Today, more than 800,000 people are employed by the government to spy on, track and investigate. It is widely believed that the recent raids are the result of a "fishing expedition” by one or multiple parts of this expanded repressive apparatus. Taken together with the continued undercover governmental disruptions of large-scale protests such as the G20 demonstration in Pittsburgh, these raids represent the increasing disruption of civil liberties.

Freedom Socialist Party/Radical Women: There are various conjectures being put forth as to why the Obama administration is staging these raids now: to appear tough on terrorism before the Congressional elections; to chill activists before the antiwar demonstrations on October 9-16; or to take attention away from last week’s Justice Department admission that the FBI used false claims to mount “counterterror” investigations as a cover for spying and infiltration of activist groups across the country.

Socialist Alternative: The timing of the FBI raids and grand jury investigation was almost certainly designed to coincide with Obama’s meeting with new Colombian president Juan Manual Santos on Friday, which was publicly billed to include discussion on continued U.S. assistance in the war against FARC. The day before, the Colombian military gained U.S. headlines for their assassination of a prominent FARC leader. The assassination and FBI raids appear intentionally coordinated to provide a useful media back-drop for the Obama-Santos meeting, underlining the cynical and politically motivated character of this state repression. Hopefully these events will dispel any lingering illusions that Obama is a friend of the antiwar movement!

First Of May Anarchist Alliance: The dedicated organizing in defense of the RNC 8 in Minnesota is a good example that can be built upon. We should begin discussing what it would take to unite all those (excluding the fascists and white supremacists) that have faced state repression into some common action. From the Muslim community, to the targets of the “Green Scare”, to the spied upon anti war activists in Iowa, to those activists hit by these most recent raids – we need to push back together.

Bring The Ruckus: The state is an enemy of peoples' struggles for justice and freedom. These latest attacks on US activists demonstrate that we cannot depend on, or cooperate with, the state in our organizing. We encourage all activists and organizers to take their safety and security seriously and to in no way cooperate with law enforcement or grand juries as they go about their business of trying to destroy our movements.

Students for a Democratic Society: The FBI are apparently looking for evidence linking activists to "material support of terrorism" specifically liberation struggles in Colombia and Palestine. In addition to SDSers being harassed in Minneapolis, two SDSers in Milwaukee were also contacted by the FBI about their anti-war activism.

Organization for a Free Society: While resistance, revolutionary, and national liberation movements represent the "threat of the good example" abroad, likewise the U.S. government will not stand for the "threat of the good example" within its borders. They try to divide us because they know what each of us must remind ourselves: that we be many and they be few! Together our love is more powerful than any bomb, more powerful than any F.B.I. raid. They cannot stop us. But to be unstoppable, together we must reinvent the art of politics in the United States.

Fight Back! (published by FRSO [Fight Back!]
] This suppression of democratic rights is aimed towards those who dedicate much of their time and energy to supporting the struggles of the Palestinian and Colombian peoples against U.S. funded occupation and war. The activists are involved with well-known anti-war groups including many of the leaders of the huge protest against the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN in September 2008. The FBI agents emphasized that the grand jury was going to investigate the activists for possible terrorism charges. This is a U.S. government attempt to silence those who support resistance to oppression in the Middle East and Latin America.


ANSWER statement (published at PSLweb.org, website of Party of Socialism & Liberation): The aim of the FBI raids is clearly the suppression of free speech and dissent. The government wants all activists to be afraid to speak out. And the Obama administration’s Justice Department is now leading the charge. But we cannot allow the government to stamp out the right of people to advocate for political beliefs that do not align with the aims of the Pentagon war machine. We cannot allow tem to continue to erode our civil rights and civil liberties.

Workers World (published by Workers World Party): On taking office President Obama made few changes in the Bush Justice Department, replacing only a few of the top personnel and keeping much of the racist, right-wing apparatus intact… Under the cover provided by Attorney General Eric Holder, this repressive agency has had an ever-freer hand, for example, to go after Black elected officials with all manner of spurious charges of corruption. Preventive detention and outrageous entrapment and frame-ups of Muslims have accelerated along with the continued campaign to execute Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Revolution (published by the Revolutionary Communist Party USA): This is a very sinister move by the government, one that should alarm and concern anyone who thinks the government should not be allowed to trample on people's rights, and who thinks it is important that there be opposition, and the freedom to oppose, what the government is doing here and around the world. This is a major escalation against the anti-war movements in particular.

People’s World (published by Communist Party USA): FBI raids spark free speech protests

Again, please leave any comments, additions and corrections in the comments section here.

And much respect to the website of the Kasama Project, where I found some of these. They've been posting and especially reposting a lot about the raids and their aftermath.

10 comments:

DW said...

Socialist Organizer is standing with this statement issued by:

http://palestineconference.org/uspcn-logo.gif

US Palestinian Community Network

Web: http://www.palestineconference.org + Email: uspcn@palestineconference.org + Twitter: http://twitter.com/uspcn

USPCN denounces FBI attacks on Palestinian, solidarity and antiwar activists

The US Palestinian Community Network denounces the FBI raids on anti-war, Palestine solidarity and Palestinian activists that took place in several U.S. cities on Friday, September 24. 2010. We are appalled at this gross violation of First Amendment Rights as well as the human and civil rights of social justice activists who speak for justice and peace for all our communities. We see this attack for what it is-an attempt at silencing opposition to U.S. wars in our homelands and our rights to express dissent at home. The movement for justice in/for Palestine in the United States will not be intimidated or silenced. We pledge our full support and our firm commitment to defend the targeted activists.

celticfire said...

The open communist left was there as well ;)

We just had a great demo with 75 people in Portland and a successful back and forth with local law enforcement.

Arthur said...

Socialist Action issued a statement
against the FBI raids the day after they happened. They also put up the initial Fight Back statement
following their own statement. All of this can be found at Socialst Action News.

Robert M Roman said...

For what it's worth:

http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng132.html#anchor125817

be well,
Bob Roman

eric ribellarsi said...

Hey Jimmy, I am with the FIRE collective in Houston, and also work with the Kasama Project.

I did a series of radio interviews (available here: http://thefirecollective.org/Opinion/two-interviews-on-fbi-raids-and-houston-protests.html) which laid out our general position thus far, linking the raids to the suppression Arabs since 9/11, calling out the Obama administration, and calling on our comrades to "cast off illusions and prepare for struggle."

We actually initiated the call for the demonstrations in Houston, and had a really great turnout organized very quickly, with lots of different kinds of political forces showing solidarity.

Anonymous said...

SWP issued a statement

http://www.themilitant.com/2010/7438/743820.html

http://www.themilitant.com/2010/7438/743858.html

eric ribellarsi said...

whoa, that first statement by the SWP was truly bizarre. It contained one sentence about the FBI raids, and then continues to incoherently talk about the SWP's electoral candidates...

Anonymous said...

The Spartacists' Partisan Defense Committee issued a protest statement about a week ago:
http://partisandefense.org/pubs/letters/2010-09-fbi-raids.html

blackstone said...

The Black is Back Coalition( I am not affiliated) also expressed solidarity. You can find it on my blog
http://power-2-people.blogspot.com/2010/10/black-is-back-coalition-opposes-fbi.html

Anonymous said...

Socialist Action issued a statement within 24 hours of the raids. I should know, I helped write it. http://socialistaction.blogspot.com/2010/09/defend-free-speech.html