FBI raids activist homes in Minneapolis, Chicago

One of the raids took place at an apartment above Hard Times (photo from The Uptake video)

FBI agents raided the homes of six activists in Minneapolis and two in Chicago on September 24, seizing computers, cell phones, CDs, files and papers. They left behind subpoenas ordering at least some of the targeted individuals to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago. The FBI agents were seeking evidence of ties to "FTOs," or foreign terrorist organizations, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Steven Warfield, the FBI media coordinator, said that six warrants were issued in Minneapolis and two in Chicago as part of a terrorist investigation.  The FBI agents were searching for evidence of "material support to terrorists."  When asked about any subpoenas that were issued today, Warfield said "I can't tell you about any grand jury activities." 

CORRECTION 9/26/2010 Peter Erlinder teachs law at William Mitchell College of Law, not at the Univerity of Minnesota.

William Mitchell Law Professor Peter Erlinder, who was arrested this summer near the Rwandan capital for representing Victoire Ingabire, attended a press conference at one of the homes that was raided on Park and 29th Street.  He said that the raids today were not simply a small issue that happened on the South Side of Minneapolis.  They were the result, he said, of a recent Supreme Court ruling, Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project, which upheld a statute that made it illegal to support any organization that the Secretary of State deems terrorist because it is opposed to U.S. policies.  The Supreme Court ruling makes providing "material support" to terrorist organizations a felony even if that support was peaceful.  Thus, a lawyer providing legal services or a doctor providing medical services to a terrorist organization would technically be committing a felony, Erlinder said.  "The individual doesn't have to intend to be furthering the illegal activities," Erlinder said.

Press conference on Friday afternoon.

One of the homes that was raided was that of Mick Kelly and his wife, Linden Gawboy.  Gawboy said that at seven this morning, while Kelly was at work, she heard banging on the door.  She heard them say that it was the FBI and they had a warrant.  "I asked them to put the warrant up to the peep hole," she said.  She was struggling to read it, and asked them to hold it up longer, at which point the kicked down the door.  The FBI then searched the house while Gawboy watched.  "We have lot of junk here- we've lived here a long time," Gawboy said. 

The agents took computers, Kelly's cell phone and passport, cds, and boxes of papers, including Gawboy's personal papers although the warrant was for Kelly's possessions.  "They also broke my fish tank," she said.

In the late morning, men in three piece suits arrived and delivered Kelly a subpoena. 

Gawboy and Kelly have both been outspoken about injustice and peace for many years, and edit the newspaper Fight Back News. 

"I think it was a terrible injustice against free speech," Gawboy said.  "But it doesn't matter-we're going to keep speaking out."

Mick Kelly said that he is "angry that the government is targeting folks standing up against war and injustice."  He said it was premature to comment about whether he would be showing up to the grand jury in Chicago. Kelly's subpoena ordered him to bring:

For 2001 to the present: (1) all pictures and videos relating to any trip to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel; (2) all items relating to any trip to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel;(3) all correspondence, including but not limited to emails and letters, with anyone residing in Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel;(4) all records of any payment provided directly or indirectly to Hatem Abudayyeh, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ("PFLP") or the REvolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ("FARC"); (5) all records of any telephonic or electronic communication with anyone in Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel; and (6) any item related to any support provided to any designated terrorist organization, including the PFLP or the FARC.

 

Tracy Molm

29-year-old Tracy Molm, who also attended the press conference, said she was woken up at 7 a.m. this morning to pounding at her door.  The FBI agents shoved a search warrant in her face and she was told she could not leave the couch.  They were at her apartment for two and a half hours.  They took her computer, cell phone, bank statements, a poster she made during the RNC, and a Palestinian flag that she bought when she visited the country in 2004.  Her trip was part of a solidarity delegation where she spoke with community groups in Palestine, she said.  She is a former member of the Anti War Committee and also has been involved with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.  Currently she is a member of Students for a Democratic Society.  She said she was subpoenaed to a grand jury in Chicago in October because of her activities with the Anti War Committee.  She said the agents also mentioned Colombia, although she has never been to that country. 

Following the press conference, supporters gathered at Walker Community Methodist Church, where more than a hundred people gathered to show solidarity for those whose homes were raided.  At the meeting it was announced that there will be a rally/protest on Monday at the FBI offices at 111 Washington Ave S at 4:30 p.m.  "They raided our homes, let's raid theirs!" one supporter said. 

Speakers at Walker Church meeting

Steff Yorek, who attended the meeting at Walker, said her home was raided at 7 a.m. this morning just as her daughter was waking up.  Yorek was just walking up to the door when eight FBI agents "pushed their way into the house."  Her daughter, who is six years old, was very frightened, she said.  Yorek was subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury in Chicago along with her partner Jessica Sundin. 

Yorek said the subpoena indicated her activities in regard to Palestine, Colombia and two organizations, FARC and PFLP. "I've never been to Colombia or Palestine," she said, "but I have expressed political support for people."  In particular, she has spoken out politically in support of FARC leader Ricardo Palmera,  and attended his trial in Washington D.C., but she said "as far as I know, it's not illegal to express political beliefs." 

Yorek said she will be consulting with an attorney, but that she is "disinclined to cooperate with a grand jury investigation." 

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND LINKS, SEE REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK ON THIS STORY - and video coverage from The Uptake.

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    Sheila Regan's picture
    Sheila Regan

    Sheila Regan (sheila [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net) is a Minneapolis theater artist and freelance writer.

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    FBI raidsF

    The FBI raids today at the homes of peace activists were outrageous!  Once again the government has used the Patriot act to suppress the first amendment rights of citizens.  When will this end?  We need to speak out against this injustice.

    it's all just kinda silly

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    many of my activist friends say that the reason these raids happen (RNC 8 in the same vein) is because the feds would prefer that the population stay fearful of the government... a fearful population is controllable, managable... never mind real liberty.  while this may be true to a certain extent, i would throw out another possibility. 

     

    mostly privileged white men make up the FBI and other federal agencies.  white men who may feel the need to justify their social position or agency's funding.  because the US government's policies have been so corrupt (imperialism since before the Spanish-American War, waging class wars for the rich...), the only thing left for the feds to do is to point the finger at those not in power and shout the only word they know these days: "Terrorist!"  enough people allow the corruption to continue ad nausea.  in the end: it's all just kinda silly... and sad.

    Great Reporting

    Great reporting and interviews.

    more info on rally

    Does anyone have more official info on the rally this Monday? I'd like to attend and want to make sure it's for sure going to happen.

    Great article. Thanks for

    Great article. Thanks for writing about this important news

    here's a fb listing about the

    here's a fb listing about the rally:

    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=149869111718473

    Erlinder is incorrect about

    Erlinder is incorrect about Dr.s . The Material Support law excludes medical help and religious materials from prosecution.

    FBI raids

    Not long ago the only word that the FEDs new was “Communist” and they treated the accused the same way then, black listing anyone that thought for themselves. This is the new McCarthyism.

    Why they do it

    They think they're doing the right thing.  That may be difficult to believe, but bear with me through my somewhat long-winded explanation.

    A long time ago I heard on a radio news program a brief mention of a study that showed that people decide what to believe based on their feelings, and then look for reasons that support their choice--but they perceive it as happening in reverse--that they look at the facts and decide what to believe based on that. I remember thinking, “I'm one of the exceptions to that rule.”

    But it stuck in my mind and I thought about it from time to time for several years. I began to wonder how I could possibly know if I was truly an exception. After all, wouldn’t everyone think they’re the exception, if everyone does perceive that they make decisions based on facts rather than making decision based on emotion then looking for facts to support their decision? How could I know if I was truly an exception to this?

    Every few years, I’d hear of some other, similar study proving the same thing. I started to take a look at how this occurs. Once people have decided what to believe, you can provide them with all the evidence possible, and they will rationalize away your evidence. For example, ninety-five percent of the meteorologists, climatologists and atmospheric scientists in the world could agree that greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to global climate change, but someone who wants to believe global warming is a hoax will come up with reasons to refute those scientists—even though they themselves have never formally studied climate, atmospheric chemistry, meteorology, etc. It's the same with a lot of other things, like evolution--people who have never studied the sciences involved in evolution will decide that all the scientists who believe in it are wrong. And yet those same people, when faced with a medical emergency, would not assume that modern medicine is a hoax even though it has depended on science for its development, or would take flight on an airplane, even though they are designed in accordance with scientific principles.

    When people choose what to believe based on their emotions, every time they encounter some piece of evidence that seems to support their belief, they automatically believe it (no matter how shaky the source), exaggerate its importance in the scheme of things, and remember it well. When faced with evidence that conflicts with their belief, they disbelieve it (no matter how reliable the source), minimize its importance and tend to forget it quickly. By this method, they see overwhelming support for their belief everywhere—so overwhelming that it should be obvious to everyone that their point of view is right.

    In this way, we each create our world view, out little bubble of reality that we walk around in. Because we frame our communication based on our assumption that our world view is correct, and others listen to our communication through the framework of understanding that their view is correct, intelligent people often sound like gibbering idiots to other intelligent people who have a different view. The reality is probably something closer to we’re all gibbering idiots living in a fiction of our own creation and thinking we and those who agree with us are the only ones who can see clearly. And though I'd love to believe I'm an exception to this, I'm probably not.

    When you look at the biggest mass killings in the world, it seems as though all of these events were the result of people taking their own ideas so seriously that they were willing to kill for them. Hitler thought the Jews were evil and was trying to cleanse the world, in his view. Stalin and Mao both also had noble reasons (so it seemed to them) for killing dozens of millions of people. The terrorists thought they were doing God's will, and the US government had only the best of intentions for supporting wars and dictatorships in the Islamic world for the past 60 years. Everyone is absolutely convinced that they're right and completely unwilling to try to see things from the other guy's point of view.

    This is how an FBI agent can kick in the door of a fellow citizen who is guilty of nothing but speaking out against war and oppression and still sleep at night--in the agent's mind, a threat existed and was dealth with appropriately.  I'm not saying I excuse their behavior.  I'm just saying I understand how they can do it.