Tag Archives: Oppression

Killing People for Fun & Profit in Honduras

Americans need to know that in Honduras as around the world, our Government continues to support MegaCorporations against the people living in those countries. The U.S. Military trains and supports local military which oppress their people.

In Honduras, a democratically elected President was removed by a military in collaboration with Multinational Corporations and with the connivance of the Obama Regime.

Advertisements

Give Up Your Rights & We Will Protect You from the Bad Guys

Too many Liberals and Progressives have dismissed the recent FBI harassment of anti-war activists as something outside their circle of concern. “Well, they must have deserved it” or “Obama’s FBI can be trusted” or “you know some of those radicals could have been planning something”.

The trouble is that when rights are diminished for some, it becomes all the more difficult for others to preserve their own. Here is a report from the United Electrical Workers on FBI intervention in a labor dispute.

Once we create a class or undertake to label some with a epithet such as “radical” or “disrupter” or “terrorist” then all that has to be done is to assert that undesirables are involved and that justifies suppression of constitutional rights.

The United States will never adopt Fascism and establish a Police State to oppress its citizens but we may very well adopt Americanism and establish a Homeland Security State which will then protect us from radicals, disrupters and terrorists.

UE: FBI Investigation Hindered 2009 Bank Protest
By Kari Lydersen, In These Times, February 3, 2011
http://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/6912/ue_fbi_investigation_hindered_2009_protest/

Union workers at the Quad City Die Casting plant in
central Illinois expected their planned protest outside
a Wells Fargo Bank in July 2009 to be calm and civil.
They had already talked with local Rock Island police
and made it clear they “had no beef,” in UE Midwest
director Carl Rosen’s words, with the police or the
municipality, but wanted to make a statement about the
bank which was cutting the plant’s financing.

So when the day of the protest came, workers and their
supporters were surprised to see a heavy and relatively
combative police presence. At the time they didn’t know
what to make of it, and figured maybe Wells Fargo had
pressured the department to come out in force.

The plant was organized by the United Electrical Radio
and Machine Workers of America (UE), the same union
which eight months earlier had carried out the famous
Republic Windows occupation. Protesters heard a police
officer say the FBI had alerted them that “terrorists”
were coming to Rock Island for the action, but union
reps didn’t believe it.

“It seemed fantastical that the FBI would be interested
in us,” said Rosen. It wasn’t until more than a year
later that they understood what had happened.

The union members coming from Chicago in solidarity that
day included Joe Iosbaker, who, as it turns out, was the
target of an ongoing FBI investigation that became
public in September 2010 when agents raided his home and
the homes of 13 other labor and anti-war activists in
Chicago, Michigan and Minnesota.

As described in a statement adopted by the UE’s general
executive board at their national meeting January 27-28,
union leaders now believe the FBI had been spying on
communications of Iosbaker and other activists, and
called the Rock Island police to tip them off about the
Chicagoans’ plans to go to the protest.

Iosbaker is an executive board member and chief steward
of SEIU Local 73 in Chicago, and an outspoken labor
activist in general. He directly participated in the
UE’s Republic Windows and Doors occupation.

A number of unions and labor groups have passed
resolutions or made statements condemning the FBI
investigations as a violation of civil rights and free
speech. The UE statement points out how the FBI’s
actions not only targeted activists for their anti-war
views, but also as a side effect infringed upon the Quad
City Die Casting members’ right to peacefully protest
regarding their own situation.

“We’re supposed to be living in a democracy, and a
democracy means elections, but also the ability of
people to speak out about issues they’re concerned
about, whether popular or unpopular,” Rosen said.
“People need to have a right to address their grievances
to the government and the public at large-that’s what
our members were doing. They’d conferred in advance with
the local police so everything could run smoothly and
minimize the resources of the local police.”

He added that the FBI, rather than taxpayers, should
have been billed for the overtime or extra staff
resources utilized by the Rock Island police that day.
Rosen noted that even “under the wild speculation that
any of these folks that they`re investigating did
something improper with someone overseas,” it was
unnecessary and inappropriate for the FBI to have called
the local police. “They’re labor activists, one thing
you do as a labor activist is practice solidarity,”
Rosen said. “Nothing could have indicated these people
would in any way pose any danger here.”

Iosbaker and other people targeted by the FBI think the
investigation stemmed from their involvement in protests
around the 2008 Republican National Convention, and
expanded to focus on their solidarity work with
Palestine and Colombia. Iosbaker said he doubts the FBI
is specifically targeting labor activists, but
nonetheless the investigation could affect labor
struggles like Quad City Die Casting.

“Right now the main focus of repression is the anti-war
movement and international solidarity work,” Iosbaker
says. This was likely “a bleed-over from an operation
they had been doing deep undercover on the anti-war
movement,” he added, noting the Quad City Die Casting
protest was publicized through the Fight Back! newspaper
listserv he helps maintain. “But this stemmed from that.
They disrupted a protest action organized by the UE.
They harassed and intimidated them.”

As the UE statement notes, their members have a
particular interest in addressing civil rights
violations and overzealous FBI surveillance, since the
union was a target of anti-Communist counterintelligence
and covert repression in the McCarthy era.

The UE statement says:

   Our own union’s history has taught us that
   infringement on basic freedoms is a matter of life
   and death to the workers’ movement. During the “red
   scare” of the late 1940s and the 1950s, the combined
   forces of the corporations, the federal government,
   both major political parties, the media, and
   opportunistic business unions nearly succeeded in
   destroying UE and crushing progressive trade
   unionism.

   Because of the persecution that our union suffered
   and barely survived in that era, we in UE have a
   continuing obligation to speak out forcefully
   whenever civil liberties are endangered by political
   hysteria and repression.

Last September, it was revealed the UE was among about
200 civil rights, women’s rights and labor groups spied
upon by Pennsylvania’s Homeland Security office, which
reported to local law enforcement on groups they
considered terrorist threats. When the operation was
exposed it created widespread outrage and Pennsylvania
Gov. Ed Rendell demanded the program halted.

Rosen and Iosbaker said continued publicity and
expressions of support by labor activists and others is
important to make sure the FBI doesn’t over-reach and
violate civil liberties as part of the “war on terror.”

“The lessons of history are that when people don’t speak
up about the civil liberties of others being taken away,
more civil liberties get taken away from more and more
people,” Rosen said. “The sooner and the louder that
more people speak out, the more likely it is these
things will stop and we’ll get that element of democracy
back.”

The statement from the UE concludes:

   From the Industrial Workers of the World’s (IWW)
   fight for free speech in the 1910s, to the major
   labor-inspired civil liberties court decisions of
   the 1930s, the labor movement has often been in the
   forefront of defending the right to speak and
   protest. Unionists have understood that without the
   ability to speak out, union efforts would be
   crushed.

Exercising One’s Rights Is NOT a Crime

Heroes are just ordinary people who when faced with extraordinary times do the right thing

I have been summoned to appear before a federal grand jury
in Chicago on January 25. But I will not testify, even at
the risk of being put in jail for contempt of court,
because I believe that our most fundamental rights as
citizens are at stake.

I am one of 23 anti-war, labor and solidarity activists in
Chicago and throughout the Midwest who are facing a grand
jury as part of an investigation into “material support
for foreign terrorist organizations.” No crime has been
identified. No arrests have been made. And when it raided
several prominent organizers’ homes and offices on Sept.
24, the FBI acknowledged that there is no immediate threat
to the American public. So what is this investigation
really about?

The activists who have been ensnared in this fishing net
work with different groups to end the US wars and
occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, to end US military
aid for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and US
military aid to Colombia, which has a shocking record of
repression and human rights abuses. All of us have
publicly and peacefully dedicated our lives to social
justice and advocating for more just and less deadly US
foreign policy.

I spent a year and a half working for a human rights
organization in the occupied West Bank, where I witnessed
how Israel established “facts on the ground” at the
expense of international law and Palestinian rights. I saw
the wall, settlements and checkpoints and the ugly reality
of life under Israeli occupation which is bankrolled by
the US government on the taxpayer’s dime. Many of us who
are facing the grand jury have traveled to the
Israeli-occupied West Bank and Colombia to learn about the
human rights situation and the impact of US foreign policy
in those places so we may educate fellow Americans upon
our return and work to build movements to end our
government’s harmful intervention abroad.

Travel for such purposes should be protected by the first
amendment. But new legislation now allows the US
government to consider such travel as probable cause for
invasive investigations that disrupt our movements and our
lives.

The June 2010 US Supreme Court decision Holder vs.
Humanitarian Law Project expanded even further the scope
of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of
1996 to include first amendment activity such as political
speech and human rights training.

Even former President Jimmy Carter feels vulnerable under
these laws because of his work doing elections training in
Lebanon where one of the main political parties, until
earlier this month a member of the ruling coalition, is
listed as a “foreign terrorist organization” by the US
State Department. “The vague language of the law leaves us
wondering if we will be prosecuted for our work to promote
peace and freedom,” Carter has said.

Former FBI officer Mike German, who now works with the
American Civil Liberties Union, told the television
program Democracy Now! that the subpoenas, search warrants
and materials seized from activists’ homes make it clear
that the government is interested in “address books,
computer records, literature and advocacy materials, first
amendment sort of materials.” He added, “unfortunately,
after 9/11, [investigation standards] have been diluted
significantly to where the FBI literally requires no
factual predicate to start an investigation.”

The US government doesn’t need to call me before a grand
jury to learn my activities and my beliefs. I have often
appealed to my elected representatives to take a
principled stand on foreign policy issues, protested
outside federal buildings and have written countless
articles over the years that can be easily found through a
Google search.

Witnesses called to testify to a grand jury have no right
to have a lawyer in the room and the jury is hand-picked
by government prosecutors with no screening for bias. It
is the ultimate abuse of power for a citizen to be forced
to account to the government for no other reason than her
exercise of constitutionally-protected freedoms of speech
and association.

This is why these grand jury proceedings are a threat to
the rights of all Americans, and why those of us who have
been targeted, and others in the movements we work with,
call them a witch hunt. And, even though it means I risk
being jailed for the life of the grand jury, I will not be
appearing before it.

The grand jury has been scrapped in virtually all
countries and more than half the states in this country.
There is a long American history of abusing grand juries
to launch inquisitions into domestic political movements,
from the pre-Civil War abolitionist movement to labor
activists advocating for an eight-hour work day to the
anti-war movement during the Vietnam years.

We have done nothing wrong and risk being jailed because
we have exercised our rights to free speech, to organize
and hold our government accountable. It is a dark day for
America when people face jail for exercising the rights
that we hold so dear.

—– Maureen Murphy

Published by CommonDreams.org   and distributed by Portside