Hawkins Condemns FBI Raids on Antiwar Activists

Howie Hawkins for Governor - Green Party

September 28, 2010

Says FBI Should Focus on Corporate Crime Wave


Howie Hawkins, the Green candidate for NY Governor, today condemned the recent FBI raids and investigations of antiwar activist in six states as an attack on the antiwar movement and constitutional rights.


Hawkins said the FBI should focus more on the corporate crime wave associated with the banking and home foreclosure crisis.


On Friday, Sept. 24, FBI swat teams and agents carrying with Grand Jury subpoenas raided the homes of several antiwar and social justice activists in Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois. FBI agents also contacted other activists in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and California.


The search warrants signed by U.S. Magistrate Judges and/or representatives of the U.S. Attorney’s office used the pretext of investigating “ terrorism” and “possibly providing material aid to terrorists.” They seized computers, cell phones, papers, and pictures. The activists were ordered to appear before Grand Juries in various cities investigating possible association with “terrorist” organizations in early October.


The individuals targeted included leaders of the Minneapolis Antiwar Committee, the Arab American Action Network, the Palestine Solidarity Group, the Colombia Action Network, and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Their so-called crime appears to be communicating with and supporting people working for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine and Columbia.


“These raids, seizures, and subpoenas are an attack on the all antiwar and social justice organizations that advocate an end to U.S. wars of occupation around the world. They constitute a fishing expedition against people engaged in legal activity protected by the First Amendment, a witch hunt that is designed to intimidate people critical of US foreign and military policy into silence.


“Everyone who values freedom and constitutional rights should demand a stop these repressive actions against peace and justice activists. We must demand that the FBI immediately return all confiscated materials, end the raids, and call off the Grand Juries.”


Hawkins cited the American Civil Liberties Union's July report, “ Establishing a New Normal: National Security, Civil Liberties, and Human Rights Under the Obama Administration – An 18 Month Review,” which stated, “...on a range of issues including accountability for torture, detention of terrorism suspects, and use of lethal force against civilians, there is a very real danger that the Obama administration will enshrine permanently within the law policies and practices that were widely considered extreme and unlawful during the Bush administration. There is a real danger, in other words, that the Obama administration will preside over the creation of a 'new normal.'


“We must now add repression of domestic dissidents to this shameful record, ” Hawkins said. “The FBI should focus on the corporate crime wave of fraud and theft that underlaid the banking crisis and the foreclosure crisis, which in Black and Latino communities has amounted to the dispossession of their middle classes and most of their wealth.”


Hawkins noted that the FBI transferred 2400 out of 12,500 total agents, including 500 white-collar crime specialists, to counter-terrorism after 9/11. He said there have been many cases of preemptive prosecution against Arab and Muslim citizens who were completely innocent or severely over-charged and/or over-sentenced, according to a data base maintained by Project Salaam. He also noted that despite a white collar crime wave of fraud and theft that was central to the banking crisis of recent years and the high unemployment, mass foreclosures, and destruction of wealth in home values and pension funds and retirement funds, white collar crime FBI prosecutions has plummeted to a third of their pre 9/11 level.


High rates of unemployment and foreclosures have particularly devastated Black and Latino communities, Hawkins said. He cited a report by United for a Fair Economy, “State of the Dream 2010: Drained – Jobless and Foreclosed in Communities of Color,” which found that in 2007, before the economic crisis took hold, Blacks had only 10 cents and Latinos only 12 cents of net worth for every dollar wealth that whites had. The Center for Responsible Lending (CLR) reported in June that 17% of Latino homeowners and 11% of Black homeowners have already lost their homes to foreclosure or are at imminent risk. CLR estimated due projected high foreclosure and property depreciation rates, Black communities will lose another $194 billion and Latinos another $177 billion between 2009 and 2012. The CLR report notes that the mortgage industry steered Black and Latino home buyers into segregated communities, overprices housing, and subprime loans when these borrowers often qualified for prime loans and that that fair housing and anti racial redlining and discrimination laws have not been enforced.


“The Black and Latino middle classes are being devastated by these corporate crimes. High unemployment and foreclosure rates are causing the greatest loss of wealth among Black and Latinos since Blacks were systematically dispossessed by the demise of Reconstruction and the imposition of segregation. The FBI should be investigating these crimes, not the legal activities of critics of the administration,” Hawkins said.


Hawkins noted that the Washington Post investigative report on “Top Secret America” in July found that the post 9/11 federal counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence programs had become “so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.”


“The Democrats in power have proven themselves to be as repressive toward political dissent on the Left as the Republicans they replaced. It is time to demand deep cuts in the swollen Homeland Security bureaucracy as well as the Pentagon. It is time to repeal the PATRIOT Act that gives legal cover to this repression of nonviolent speech and political activity. It is time for progressives to stop voting for the pro-war, pro-repression Democrats and oppose them as vigorously as they do the Republicans. Our political freedom depends on it,” Hawkins said.

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