By Tom Burke | February 13, 2011
Kalamazoo, MI – FBI agents continue to harass anti-war and international solidarity activists, this time in Michigan. On Feb 3., longtime Michigan peace activist Dave Staiger received a phone call from the FBI. Special agent Karlie Wood asked to interview Dave in person. Staiger told the agent, “My policy is to contact a lawyer if the FBI or police want to talk to me.” The agent said, “Contacting a lawyer is not necessary,” and that Staiger was not in any trouble. Special Agent Wood then stated that she wanted to talk about matters relating to the Grand Jury subpoenas and FBI investigation in Minneapolis and Chicago.
On Sept. 24, 2010, the FBI raided seven homes in Minneapolis and Chicago, taking boxes of activists’ personal belongings, computers, cell phones and passports. The FBI delivered subpoenas to fourteen activists that month, including two people in Michigan. Then in December, under orders for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office in Chicago, nine more Palestine solidarity activists were subpoenaed for Jan. 25.
Sixty cities and campuses across the country and some overseas held protests Jan. 25. The original 14 and the new nine activists subpoenaed all refuse to speak at Fitzgerald’s Grand Jury. The Grand Jury is a secret court of inquisition, handpicked by Fitzgerald’s office, with no judge. Those called before a Grand Jury have no right to a lawyer in the room with them and no press is allowed to witness the proceedings.
Dave Staiger said he participated in the recent National Call-In Day to Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney General Holder and President Obama, asking them to stop the FBI raids and shut down Fitzgerald’s Grand Jury. This helped him in knowing what to say to the FBI and to not be intimidated.
Staiger states, “This is an attack on free speech and it is undemocratic. It is starting to remind me of the 1950s and the McCarthy era.”
Mick Kelly, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, has urged everyone in the progressive community to exercise their legal right to not answer questions put to them by FBI agents. “This is a witch hunt against anyone who is standing up against war and injustice. Tell FBI agents you have nothing to say. Period.” says Kelly.