FROM THE WEB
Manning & the Law
CROSSING THE LINE
Corruption in U.S.
Activism Not a Crime
War in Arizona
James Patrick Jordan
Hyatt v. UNITE-HERE
Medicare for All
Chamber & Capitalism
Savage Imperialism 4
"No Progressive Champion"
CULTURE & FILM
The Gay Oscars
Saviors and Survivors
Zaps - 03/11
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Activism is Not a Crime
On January 25, when I was summoned to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago, I decided not to 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. When it raided several prominent organizers' homes and offices on September 24, the FBI acknowledged that there was no immediate threat to the American public. So what is this investigation really about?
The activists who have been ensnared in this net, work with different groups to end the U.S. wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military aid for Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, and U.S. military aid to Colombia. All of us have publicly and peacefully dedicated our lives to social justice and a less deadly U.S. 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, checkpoints, and the ugly reality of life under Israeli occupation, which is bankrolled by the U.S. government.
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 U.S. foreign policy in those places so we may educate fellow Americans and build movements. Travel for such purposes should be protected by the First Amendment. But new legislation now allows the U.S. government to consider such travel as probable cause for invasive investigations that disrupt our movements and our lives.
The June 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision Holder v. 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 winter a member of the ruling coalition, is listed as a "foreign terrorist organization" by the U.S. State Department. "The vague language of the law leaves us wondering if we will be prosecuted for our work to promote peace and freedom."
Former FBI officer Mike German, who now works with the American Civil Liberties Union, told "Democracy Now!" that the subpoenas, search warrants, and materials seized from activists' homes indicate that the government is interested in "address books, computer records, literature and advocacy materials, first amendment sort of materials."
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 call it a witch hunt. There is a long 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. The grand jury has been scrapped in virtually all countries and more than half the states in U.S.
The U.S. government didn't really 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 written countless articles over the years that can be easily found through an Internet search.
It is a dark day for America when people face jail for exercising the rights that we hold so dear.
Maureen Murphy is a journalist and Palestine solidarity activist who lives in Chicago. This article first appeared on commondreams.org.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.