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The Left Thu Jan 06 2011
The Chicago Teachers Union passed a resolution yesterday condemning the FBI raids on activist group in Chicago and Minneapolis, calling the recent federal grand jury subpoenas on activists a "witch hunt." (See the full text of the resolution after the jump.)
In the fall, FBI agents raided six homes in Minneapolis and two in Chicago, issuing subpoenas to eight people to appear in front of a federal grand jury in Chicago. The search warrants for the raids cites a federal law that prohibits "providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations," according to Democracy Now; the bureau claims they are looking for ties to terrorist groups in Palestine and Colombia.
Photo by Alan Wilfahrt
Numerous groups have condemned the raids--the subpoenaed activists held a press conference condemning what they called a "fishing expedition." Joe Iosbaker, one of the activists targeted in the raids, saw the subpoenas as part of a history of bureau suppression and disruption of social movements, saying, "The FBI acts today as they have always acted: to intimidate and disrupt the anti-war movement and the movements for peace and justice."
Protests in 20 cities took place in September, and additional protests around the country are planned later this month, but the teachers union is one of the more mainstream groups to release a public statement in support of the activists. The CTU resolution echoed Iosbaker's sentiments:
[T]he FBI has a long history of violating peoples' human and civil rights. During the 1960s the FBI COINTELPRO spied on and harassed civil rights and anti-war activists, including the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The union also vowed continue to "participate in the ongoing movement to defend our civil rights and civil liberties from FBI infringement."
That the CTU would debate and pass such a resolution seems indicative of the activist, progressive tone set by the union's new leadership, the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, who won a runoff election against the incumbent leadership slate in June. Since then, teachers have hit the streets more frequently and have supported actions like the Whittier Elementary sit-in in Pilsen.
But the field house occupation was conducted by concerned parents who wanted a library and community center for their kids; many of the FBI raids' targets include those trusty scoundrels of yore, socialists, who provide the Right with a good villain whenever there's not a better one lying around. That the CTU would be willing to publicly stand with such maligned activists suggests that, unlike under past leadership, the CORE slate identifies strongly with progressive and radical activists in the city.
Full resolution text:
The House of Delegates passed this Resolution today with a unanimous vote of support.
CTU Resolution - FBI Raids on Trade Union, Anti-War and Solidarity Activists
FBI Raids on Trade Union, Anti-War and Solidarity Activists
Passed by the House of Delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union on January 5th, 2011
Whereas, early morning September 24 in coordinated raids, FBI agents entered seven homes of union workers and anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, confiscating crates full of computers, documents, cell phones, children's drawings, photos of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and personal belongings. They handed out subpoenas to testify before a federal Grand Jury to 14 activists.
Whereas, 10 of the 14 people subpoenaed are union members and 2 are teachers with a long history of activism and leadership within their unions and local labor communities. One target of the raid was the home of Joe Iosbaker, chief steward and executive board member of SEIU Local 73 in Chicago, where he has led struggles at the University of Illinois for employee rights and pay equity.
Whereas, the FBI has a long history of violating peoples' human and civil rights. During the 1960s the FBI COINTELPRO spied on and harassed civil rights and anti-war activists, including the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr .
Whereas, the grand jury for those subpoenaed is an unfair process where the defendants' lawyers are not present, nor is the grand jury screened for biases. Similar to how teachers have a right to due process by their unions, these 10 union members and 4 other activists have a right to receive a fair judicial process.
Whereas, the nationally coordinated raids and fishing expedition is an assault on the First Amendment rights of every union fighter, solidarity activist or anti-war campaigner. This time the FBI is using the pretext of investigating "terrorism" in an attempt to intimidate activists.
Therefore be it resolved, that the Chicago Teachers Union supports the following demands:
1. Stop using the national security laws to intimidate people from using their 1st amendment rights.
2. Immediately return all confiscated materials: computers, cell phones, papers, documents, personal belongings, etc.
3. End the Grand Jury proceedings and FBI raids against trade union, anti-war and international solidarity activists
And be it further resolved, that the Chicago Teachers Union participate in the ongoing movement to defend our civil rights and civil liberties from FBI infringement; forward this resolution to the Illinois Federation of Teachers; and call on similar organizations at all levels to similarly oppose the witch hunt.