Posted on May 3, 2012 by FightBack! News
Minneapolis, MN – More than 1500 people marched on Lake Street for immigrant and workers rights here on May 1, International Workers Day. Organized by the May 1st Coalition and initiated by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc), the march focused on legalization for undocumented immigrants, ending deportations and support for workers and their unions. The march had the support of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (AFL-CIO), most immigrant rights groups in the city and many Latino student groups from nearby colleges and high schools.
The march started at 3:30 p.m. at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue. Cleaning workers from the Center for Workers United in Struggle (CTUL) spoke across the street from the local K Mart to denounce the exploitation of immigrant workers that clean their stores. Rafael Morataya of SEIU Local 26 spoke when the march passed by Wells Fargo bank, to denounce the bank’s support for corporations that exploit immigrants, like Corrections Corporation of America, which builds private prisons and immigrant detention facilities while lobbying for harsher anti-immigrant laws to fill those jails.
A member of Mujeres en Liderazgo (Women in Leadership) spoke out for their campaign for a Minneapolis municipal ID that would be accessible for immigrants, as well as for their campaign for the right of immigrants to get a driver’s license.
Rap artist Maria Isa did two songs at the rally at Powderhorn Park at the end of the march, energizing the crowd and expressing her support for the immigrant rights and anti-racist struggle. Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria read a poem about the immigrant struggle. Emilia Avalos and other immigrant youth spoke about their struggle for access to education.
There were also speakers from other immigrant communities in Minnesota, like Sadik Warfa who spoke from the Somali immigrant community and Azannia Tripp of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. Christian Ucles of Minnesotans United for All Families spoke in support of marriage equality and of the importance to unite against the right-wing attacks against LGBTQ people and against immigrants.
Thistle Parker Hartog from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression spoke about Carlos Montes, whose trial starts May 15 in Los Angeles on trumped up charges and about the case of Joe Callahan, an anti-war and immigrant rights activist in Minnesota accused of ‘human trafficking’ for supposedly helping two Salvadoran immigrants cross into Canada to seek asylum.
Pangea World Theater did a brief performance and Carlos Lombi played music.
Mel Reeves of Occupy the Hood spoke, as did Alejandra Cruz, a well-known immigrant youth leader in Minnesota. She spoke about her struggle fighting against her home’s foreclosure. Her family is in danger of imminent eviction and they are seeking support to defend their home from the bank.
Javier Morillio, President of SEIU Local 26, spoke about current union struggles and representatives of the unions that endorsed the march took the stage together to be recognized by the crowd for supporting the International Workers Day march. Cecilia Martinez of CEED spoke about the struggle for climate justice.
Ana of MIRAc spoke about the need for immigrant workers and their supporters to continue the struggle for legalization for all, an end to deportations and an end to all racist anti-immigrant laws.
Posted on March 22, 2012 by FightBack! News
New York, NY – Dozens packed into a standing-room only panel discussion at the Left Forum called, “U.S. Imperialist Wars, Political Prisoners, Past & Present, and the Anti-War Struggle” on March 18. The Left Forum, one of the largest gatherings of left and progressive thinkers in the country, hosted thousands of activists and academics organizing for social justice.
Speakers included Jess Sundin of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. Sundin’s home was raided by the FBI on Sept. 24, 2010, along with other anti-war and international solidarity activists. She called on all the audience to stand in solidarity with Carlos Montes.
Sundin said, “Carlos is an innocent man and has done nothing wrong. Quite the opposite, he is a hero who has dedicated his life to winning freedom and liberation – not only for the Chicano people, but for all the world’s peoples. He survived COINTELPRO the first time around, but today, once again, the government is working to imprison him.”
Sundin urged everyone present to sign the petition to drop the charges against Carlos Montes. “We can’t let that happen. He is a freedom fighter and we must work to ensure he not become the next political prisoner.”
Carlos Montes, Chicano leader and immigrant rights activist, facing trial after FBI directed LA Sheriffs raid on his home.
Midwest Grand Jury Resisters – 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists subpoenaed to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s Grand Jury in Chicago, the FBI raided seven homes in Chicago and Minneapolis on September 24, 2010.
Steve Downs of Project Salam will speak along with family members and activist leaders from Arab, Muslim, anti-war, labor, and other groups. Topics include: civil rights, civil liberties, the law, and organizing against war and occupations.
More information coming soon! Please write to email@example.com with questions.
Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression:
Support Carlos Montes as he goes to court Friday, August 12
Sample call: “My name is ________ and I am calling from [city, state]. I’m calling about Carlos Montes of Los Angeles. He is one of the anti-war activists being targeted by the FBI. I want you to tell Attorney General Holder [or President Obama]:
On Friday, August 12, Carlos Montes will appear in a Los Angeles court again, for a preliminary hearing. At his last court date on July 6, Carlos pled “Not guilty!” to six charges, including a felony charge each for a firearm and ammunition, and four related to the permits’ paperwork. Like millions of Americans, Carlos has for many years held legal permits. So why is it that all of a sudden the government is saying there is a problem? These charges are a pretext to attack Carlos for his years of activism.
Please join us in calling U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama, demanding a stop to the prosecution of Carlos Montes. We need to stop the persecution of political activists like Carlos, like the 23 Midwest anti-war and international solidarity activists, people like you and me.
Make no mistake; the U.S. government’s trial of Carlos Montes is an attack on the immigrants’ rights and anti-war movements. So please call today and let Holder and Obama know we are building a movement that will not bow down to dirty tricks and political repression.
In addition, the Los Angeles Committee to Stop FBI Repression is mobilizing to pack the courtroom 8:30 a.m. on Friday, August 12, in Department 100 at the Criminal Courts Building, 210 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, when Carlos Montes appears.
About Carlos Montes:
Carlos Montes is a veteran Chicano activist known for his leadership of the 1968 East Los Angeles education reform movement (see film Walkout), the historic Chicano Moratorium against the U.S. war in Vietnam, and the recent immigrants’ rights mega-marches of 2006. Carlos Montes was a co-founder of the Brown Berets, a Chicano youth organization that stood for justice, equality, and self-determination.
With the 2003 Bush administration war and occupation of Iraq, Montes helped form and lead L.A. Latinos Against War. In recent years, Carlos helped initiate and organize the Southern California Immigration Coalition, to fight against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and police repression.
About this case:
Now Montes himself is the target of government repression and the FBI’s dirty tricks. When the FBI raided several Midwest homes and served subpoenas on September 24, 2010, Carlos Montes’ name was listed on the FBI search warrant for the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis–the organizing center for the 2008 Republican National Convention protests, where Carlos participated.
Then on May 17, 2011, the LA Sheriffs broke down Carlos’ door, arrested him, and ransacked his home. They took political documents, a computer, cell phones and meeting notes having nothing to do with the charges. The FBI attempted to question Montes while he was handcuffed in a squad car, regarding the case of the 23 Midwest anti-war and solidarity activists.
On June 16, 2011, Carlos appeared in court and obtained the arrest documents showing the FBI initiated the raid. A reporter interviewing a Los Angeles Sheriff sergeant confirmed that the FBI was in charge. Carlos Montes is facing six felony charges with the possibility of 18 years in prison due to his political organizing. Carlos Montes case is part and parcel of the FBI raids and political repression centered in the Midwest. We need you to take action against this repression.
You can also invite Carlos Montes to speak using a live Internet video call. It is easy to do and works well. More details on the video calls coming next week.
Please sign the petition for Carlos Montes on the International Action Center website.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is pleased to circulate the following letter from Congressman Kucinich, addressed to Attorney General Holder. Rep. Kucinich is the tenth Congressional representative to raise concerns about the FBI’s repression of anti-war and solidarity activists.
As the CSFR’s national campaign to end the repression gains momentum and growing support, the FBI attacks continue as antiwar and immigrants’ rights activist Carlos Montes, who was raided by the FBI in May, faces a court hearing on August 12 for six trumped-up felony charges brought against him. Like the other targets of the FBI raids, Carlos Montes was a leader of the huge protests outside of the 2008 Republican National Convention. As Rep. Kucinich points out in his letter, the FBI repression originates from infiltration and surveillance of permitted, non-violent protests at the 2008 RNC.
As you read Kucinich’s letter, please consider donating to the legal defense fund, getting involved in our grassroots support committees, and signing the Pledge to Resist FBI and Grand Jury Repression.
Finally we thank Rep. Kucinich for asking tough questions of Attorney General Holder. We encourage other Congressional representatives and Senators to follow Rep. Kucinich’s example by standing strong in defense of our civil liberties and speaking out against political repression.
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
July 25, 2011
July 25, 2011
For Immediate Release
The Honorable Eric Holder
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Holder:
I am writing to express my concern over reports about the investigation that the Department of Justice has been conducting of anti-war activists in several cities including Minneapolis and Chicago. I do not want to interfere in your investigation in any way, but there are two aspects of it that cause me great concern. I am hoping that your answers to my questions will resolve my concerns.
The first aspect is that the investigation appears to have begun, as early as April of 2008, with the assignment of an undercover agent to infiltrate the meetings of anti-war groups and individuals who were planning protests and demonstrations at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis that summer. The introduction of an undercover agent into meetings of anti-war groups would normally be cause for concern in isolation, but it is especially worrisome in the context of other efforts during the previous administration to stifle legitimate anti-war dissent including, as disclosed last month, that the Bush White House had asked the CIA to investigate Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who was a strong critic of the Iraq War. Why was an undercover agent assigned to infiltrate groups that were planning peaceful protests at the Republican National Convention? And, if the justification for that assignment was to determine whether any violent activities were being planned, why was that undercover operation continued after the Convention was over?
The second aspect is that the focus of the investigation appears to be whether these small, local groups have somehow provided “material support or resources” to foreign terrorist organizations. This suggestion defies credibility. What possible “material support or resources” could these small, local groups provide to foreign terrorist organizations? And, what contacts could they have conducted that would justify an investigation in which seven houses were searched and 23 individuals were subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury?
The statute that prohibits “material support or resources” to foreign terrorist organizations is very broad and unclear. It has been amended several times in response to judicial decisions that have found its provisions to be unconstitutionally vague or overbroad. While the Supreme Court provided some guidance in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, that clarification did not exist until June 21, 2010.
Holder clarified the scope of conduct that could be prosecuted under the statute. However, almost 90% of the time period subject to your investigation occurred prior to that clarification. During those 26 months, the controlling legal authorities included the 2007 and 2009 decisions of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Humanitarian Law Project v. Mukasey, which did not allow prosecution of individuals who provided “training,” or “expert advice or assistance,” or “service” to those organizations. If that is the nature of the conduct that you are investigating, is it fair to bring criminal charges for acts that were viewed by some courts as lawful at the time they were committed?
One of the biggest problems with vague criminal statutes is the opportunity they provide for differential enforcement. The Washington Post and other news sources have reported that former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former White House security adviser Frances Townsend, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani have publicly expressed their support for the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (MEK), an organization that has been on the foreign terrorist list of the State Department since 1997. They spoke in support of the MEK, in Paris last December, at a rally organized by an international group that lobbies for the MEK. Can their public advocacy truly be “independent,” within the meaning of the Holder decision, if it is solicited by an organization that lobbies for the MEK?
I fully support their constitutional rights to express their opinions on this issue and any others. But, I don’t understand why their support of a foreign terrorist organization goes unchallenged by law enforcement, while anti-war activists are targeted with FBI searches and grand jury subpoenas. Is there any distinction that justifies the different treatment of these two groups other than the fact that one of them is composed of prominent people who support the wars conducted by two successive administrations and the other is composed of ordinary people who do not?
It has been reported recently that “the MEK has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists, PR agents and communications firms to build up pressure on Secretary Hillary Clinton to take the group off of the terrorist list.” In Holder, the Department of Justice, under both your direction and that of Attorney General Mukasey, argued that it was a felony to file an amicus brief on behalf of a foreign terrorist organization, or even to engage in public advocacy on behalf of such an organization, unless that advocacy was totally “independent” of the organization. How do you reconcile those arguments with the total absence of attention paid to lobbying activities in support of the MEK? How do you reconcile that inaction with the apparent overkill that had been directed at the anti-war activists in Minneapolis and Chicago?
A federal prosecutor has tremendous power and resources. Because of that, he has a concomitant obligation to exercise that power with judgment and discretion. Is it good judgment to direct the overwhelming resources of the federal government onto small, local groups and individuals whose primary interest is peace? Is it good judgment to investigate them under a vague and broad statute whose text and interpretations have changed numerous times over the past decade? Is this really the best use of Department of Justice personnel?
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress
Cc Robert S. Mueller, III
Patrick J. Fitzgerald
Published on June 27, 2011 by The Electronic Intifada
By Maureen Clare Murphy
In an op-ed published by Al Jazeera English today, I write about the US government’s attempts to criminalize the Palestine solidarity activists — including the State Department’s threats to prosecute activists involved with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. I also appeared on Al Jazeera English’s The Stream today to discuss FBI raids and subpoenas targeting activists.
As I write in the op-ed, “I am a Palestine solidarity activist in the US, and one of 23 UScitizens who have been issued with a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury as part of what the government has said is an investigation into violations of the laws banning material support to foreign ‘terrorist organisations.’”
This investigation takes place in the context of a new Supreme Court decision that greatly expanded what constitutes material support and has been widely criticized. It also takes place in a situation of even more relaxed restrictions on the FBI’s investigative powers — the FBI is planning to issue a revised edition of its operations manual that will give agents “significant new powers” to go through people’s trash and infiltrate groups even if they are not suspected of any wrongdoing.
The New York Times recently commented in an editorial entitled “Backward at the FBI” that “Instead of tightening the relaxed rules for FBI investigations — not just of terrorism suspects but of pretty much anyone — that were put in place in the Bush years, President Obama’s Justice Department is getting ready to push the proper bounds of privacy even further.”
The use of counterterrorism tools against social justice acts is nothing new. But it poses a special threat to the growing Palestine solidarity movement in the US, which is increasingly challenging the US government’s military aid to Israel and its diplomatic cover for Israeli war crimes and apartheid.
In my op-ed for Al Jazeera English, I write that what happens to me and the two dozen other activists who have been targeted in this bogus investigation of prominent activists will have a significant impact and set a precedent for Palestine activists in theUS. The US State Department is already hinting at the prosecution of activists involved with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla for violating the material support laws:
The State Department also issued a statement on the second flotilla- which will include approximately fifty Americans – in which it warned that “delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to, or for the benefit of, a designated foreign terrorist organisation, such as Hamas, could violate US civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration”.
Hamas, which is the ruling party in the Gaza Strip and which won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006, is on the US State Department’s unilateral foreign terrorist organisation list – along with every other major Palestinian political party besides Fatah (though its armed wing is on the list). This means that the US has essentially criminalized the entire Palestinian people and the parties which represent them – except for those that collude with the Israeli occupation.
And as I have reported on previously for The Electronic Intifada, with my colleague Nora Barrows-Friedman, the US government has long attempted to criminalize Palestinians in the country raising money for humanitarian aid to Palestinian charities and for advocating for a change in US policy towards Israel and the Palestinians. There are people serving out long prison sentences in the US for doing just that, such as the Holy Land 5 and Abdelhaleem Ashqar. Or they have been subjected to house arrest and are facing deportation, like Dr. Sami al-Arian.
And as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement gains more and more ground in the US, the repression against it will sharpen. It is important that solidarity activists be aware of this but it should not stop us from doing our necessary work. It should compel us to get organized and and push back against political repression today.
As Al Jazeera’s The Stream reported today during their feature on FBI repression of activists, longtime Chicano and immigrant rights activist Carlos Montes’ home was raided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department and he faces up to 18 years in prison for trumped-up charges related to firearms code violations for firearms he holds legal permits for. During the raid, political documents related to his decades of activism were seized and FBI agents questioned him about his political associations. Montes was named in the search warrant used to raid the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis last September.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression has announced a call-in day to Attorney General Eric Holder for July 6, which is when Montes is called to court to enter a plea.
The committee’s announcement states:
Carlos is a longtime Chicano activist known for his leadership during the 1968L.A. high school reform walkouts (see HBO film “Walkout!”) and the immigrants’ rights mega-marches of 2006. More recently in September 2010, Carlos Montes’ name appeared on the FBI search warrant left in the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis, where the protests against the 2008 Republican National Convention were centered. The attack on Carlos Montes is part of a sweeping campaign tied to 23 Midwest activists whose homes the FBI raided or who were subpoenaed to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s Grand Jury in Chicago, as the Washington Post reported.
In addition, when the LA Sheriffs broke down Carlos’ door and ransacked his home, they took political documents, a computer, cell phones and meeting notes having nothing to do with the legal charges. Later, the FBI approached Carlos to ask him questions about the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the target of this new McCarthyism. Those who know the history of Martin Luther King Jr. and the American civil rights movement understand the repression Montes now faces.
When Carlos went to court on June 16, he demanded police and court documents. Not surprisingly, the District Attorney grew angry, at first refusing, and eventually relenting. There is the not-so-hidden hand of the FBI at work here and its goal is to disrupt and criminalize activists and movements for social justice.
Make no mistake: The US government trial of Carlos Montes is an attack on the immigrants’ rights and anti-war movements. So please call July 6 and let Attorney General Holder know we are building a movement that will not bow down to dirty tricks and political repression.
The committee adds:
Please call U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at (202) 514-2001
Suggested text: “My name is __________, I am from _______(city), in ______(state). I am calling to tell Attorney General Holder:
Drop the charges! Hands off Carlos Montes! Stop the FBI raids and Grand Jury repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists. Return all property to Carlos Montes and the other activists raided by
Published on July 10, 2011 by truthdig
By Chris Hedges
On May 17 at 5 in the morning the Chicano activist Carlos Montes got a wake-up call at his home in California from Barack Obama’s security state. The Los Angeles County sheriff’s SWAT team, armed with assault rifles and wearing bulletproof vests, as well as being accompanied by FBI agents, kicked down his door, burst into his house with their weapons drawn, handcuffed him in his pajamas and hauled him off to jail. Montes, one of tens of thousands of Americans who have experienced this terrifying form of military-style assault and arrest, was one of the organizers of the demonstrations outside the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., and he faces trial along with 23 other anti-war activists from Minnesota, as well as possible charges by a federal grand jury.
The widening use of militarized police units effectively nullifies the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the use of the armed forces for civilian policing. City police forces have in the last few decades amassed small strike forces that employ high-powered assault rifles, armored personnel carriers, tanks, elaborate command and control centers and attack helicopters. Poor urban neighborhoods, which bear the brunt of the estimated 40,000 SWAT team assaults that take place every year, have already learned what is only dimly being understood by the rest of us—in the eyes of the state we are increasingly no longer citizens with constitutional rights but enemy combatants. And that is exactly how Montes was treated. There is little daylight now between raiding a home in the middle of the night in Iraq and raiding one in Alhambra, Calif.
Montes is a longtime activist. He helped lead the student high school walkouts in East Los Angeles and anti-war protests in the 1960s and later demonstrations against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was one of the founding members of the Brown Berets, a Chicano group that in the 1960s styled itself after the Black Panthers. In the 1970s he evaded authorities while he lived in Mexico and he went on to organize garment workers in El Paso, Texas. He and the subpoenaed activists are reminders that in Barack Obama’s America, being a dissident is a crime.
“It was an FBI action, as I recall,” Sgt. Jim Scully told reporters of the Pasadena Star-News. “We assisted them.”
Montes was arrested ostensibly because he bought a firearm although a felony conviction 42 years ago prohibited him from doing so. The 1969 felony conviction was for throwing a can of Coke at a police officer during a demonstration. The registered shotgun in his closet, bought last year at a sporting goods shop, became the excuse to ransack his home, charge him and schedule him for trial in August. It became the excuse to seize his computer, two cellphones and files and records of his activism on behalf of workers, immigrants, the Chicano community and opposition to wars. Prosecutors said Montes should have disclosed his four-decade-old felony charge when he bought the shotgun at Big 5 Sporting Goods. Because he neglected to do this he will face six felony charges. The case is to be tried in Los Angeles.
“The gun issue was clearly a pretext to investigate my political activities,” he said when I reached him at his Alhambra home. “It is about my anti-war activities and my links to the RNC demonstrations. It is also about my activism denouncing the U.S. policy of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, their support for Israel and the Colombian government. I have been to Colombia twice.”
“I thought someone is breaking in, somebody is trying to jack me up,” he said. “I was a victim of an armed robbery in December of 2009 in my home. I do have a gun in my bedroom for self-defense. I was startled. I jumped out of bed. I saw lights coming from the front-door area. They looked like flashlights. I saw men with helmets and rifles. I gravitated towards the front door. I didn’t take my gun. I could have done that. I have it there. It is a good thing I didn’t pick anything up and put it in my hand.”
“I yelled, ‘Who is it?’ ” he said. “They said, ‘The police. Carlos Montes, come out’ or ‘come forward,’ something like that. I approached the entryway. They rushed in. They grabbed my hands. They turned me around. There were two police officers on each arm. They brought me out holding my arms. I have a little patio. They handcuffed me and patted me down. I am on a little hill. I looked down the street and [it was] full of sheriff’s vehicles, patrol cars and two large green vans. They were bigger than vans. People could stand in there. They didn’t have any logos on them.… I thought it was an Army truck at first. Later on I found it was from the sheriff.”
“It was kind of misty,” he said. “The ground was wet. They put me in the back seat of the car. I was handcuffed. They closed the doors and the windows. I was sitting there looking around, in a state of shock, thinking is this a dream or the real thing? I tried to close my eyes for a little while to see if I could wake up from this nightmare. I always had it in the back of my mind, one day they will come and raid me. My name was on the anti-war committee FBI search warrant raid in Minnesota. People were saying ‘we all got raided and your name is there.’ The lawyers said, ‘Beware—it could happen to you sooner or later.’ They were raided on Sept. 24 last year.”
Those who were raided were all issued subpoenas to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago. They have refused to testify. The March on the RNC organizing committee was infiltrated by an agent although the protest groups had obtained licenses to demonstrate at the Republican National Convention. The Justice Department’s inspector general later released a report that criticized the FBI for invoking anti-terrorist laws to justify its investigations and harassment of peace and solidarity groups, including Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Catholic Worker.
While Montes was in the back of the police car a man in a windbreaker and a baseball cap approached the vehicle. The sheriff’s deputies rolled down the right rear window. The man in the baseball cap told Montes he was from the FBI and wanted to speak with him.
“I blurted out, ‘Do you have a card?’ ” Montes said. “He laughed and said, ‘I don’t have a card.’ He said, ‘I want to talk to you about Freedom Road Socialist Organization.’ I didn’t say anything. I kept quiet. And then he walked away.”
Montes has written articles for the newspaper Fight Back News about Chicano immigrants’ rights struggles in Los Angeles, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fight against the rise of charter schools. He said he was not a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization. The organization, a Marxist group, is reportedly being investigated by the FBI because of connections with the Colombian rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Palestinian group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, both of which have been labeled as terrorist organizations. The Sept. 24, 2010, search warrant for the anti-war committee offices in Minneapolis lists Montes’ name among the group’s affiliates.
Montes was taken to the Los Angeles County Jail, known as the Twin Towers, and held for 24 hours until he was able to post a $35,000 bail.
“They called my sister to secure [my] house,” he said. “She called the handyman and he put a piece of plywood over my door. I did not have my wallet with me. When I got out of the county jail I did not have any phone numbers or money or an ID. I was walking around in slippers—at least they gave me slippers—and my pajamas. I got back about 5:30 the next morning. I got the door off. There were files and papers on the floor along with photograph albums of the anti-war movement, Latinos Against the War, the ’92 Rebellion, my son’s wedding, my daughter’s birthday, scattered on my kitchen table and floor. It looked like they lined up a bunch of stuff on tables and went through it. It was the same thing with my living room table. They had a file out from 1994 when we did a campaign against police brutality when the sheriffs were going crazy killing people. In my closet I had Chicano archives going back to the 1960s and 1970s. Those were pulled out and on the floor. They went through all my political documents, including my work with the Southern California Immigration Coalition and the campaign to elect a school board member, which we won, to stop the privatization of the local high school and the charters coming in. They went through all those files. It took me a couple of weeks to clean things up. They took a bunch of stuff.”
“The government sees the Chicano people as a threat,” he said. “We were able to turn out millions of people in 2006. In 1994 we had hundreds of thousands. We are growing. There are millions in the Southwest. We are all over the country, but especially in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California. We are still unorganized, but if we get organized we could really demand changes. We had millions of people out in 2006 and then they came after us hard in 2007. There was a lot of police repression, especially in Los Angeles. They fear the Chicano people challenging the status quo.”
“Many of the activists that were raided by the police are anti-war and solidarity activists,” he went on. “And even though the anti-war movement is not massive right now, the potential is there because there is an economic crisis. There is mass disgust with this economic system. People are out of work. It is not yet like COINTELPRO [Counter Intelligence Program] started under Hoover and the FBI to carry out surveillance, infiltrate and disrupt domestic political organizations, but the situation is getting worse. That is why we have to have demonstrations to put a stop to it now.”
Minneapolis peace activists rallied on the Lake Street Bridge on July 6 in support of recently arrested friend and ally, Carlos Montes. He was in the Twin Cities for the Republican National Convention in 2008 and has been vocal in support of peace activists targeted by the FBI.
On May 17 at 5 a.m. the SWAT Team of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and members of the FBI raided Montes’ home. Montes is a longtime Chicano activist and member of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. The SWAT Team smashed his front door and rushed in with automatic weapons as Carlos slept. The team of sheriffs and FBI agents proceeded to ransack his house, taking his computer, cell phones and hundreds of documents, photos, diskettes and mementos of his current political activities in the pro-immigrant rights and Chicano civil rights movement. Also taken were hundreds of historical documents related to Carlos Montes’ involvement in the Chicano movement for the past 44 years. Carlos was arrested on one charge dealing with a firearm code and released on bail the following morning.
This speech was given at the National Day of Action in Solidarity with Carlos Montes protest at the FBI building in Minneapolis on 6/16/11
We are here today to say drop the charges and to strongly condemn the raid and arrest of Carlos Montes, a nationally known Chicano immigrant rights activist. When law enforcement, including the FBI, raided Carlos’ home they used the pretext of a weapons charge as an excuse to seize 44 years worth of political materials, his cell phone and his computer. Then when they got Carlos into the squad car their main interest was to ask him questions about the anti-war and international solidarity activists that have been subpoenaed to testify at a secret grand jury in Chicago. Just like the raid on my house, what they were after was information – information about who we do our organizing with, what people’s beliefs are, what protests and actions people have organized – information that should be LEGAL and protected under the 1st Amendment.
Carlos is a long-time activist in the Chicano movement, a leader in the Southern California Immigration Coalition and in Latinos Against War. Although he is best known as a leader in Chicano liberation and immigrant rights struggles, I also know Carlos for his commitment against imperialism and for his international solidarity work, in particular with the people of Colombia.
I believe I first met Carlos when I went to Los Angeles in 2000 to protest Gore’s support for U.S. military aid to Colombia and his connection to Occidental Oil at the DNC. People throughout the protest came up to Carlos and it was apparent that he had the respect and love of the activist community in LA for a lifetime working for peace and justice. Carlos became an important person to me that day when he took me under his wing and got me out of downtown LA safely when the LAPD started firing rubber bullets at protesters. I needed him and he stepped up to keep me safe.
The MN Anti-War Committee, which I’m a part of, considers Carlos a friend of our committee. Carlos played an important leadership role with us in the Coalition to March on the RNC. He participated in the organizing conference we had here in January 2008 and on national coordinating phone calls. He spoke on the stage at the protest on day 1 of the convention and was a powerful voice for ending US warfare and occupation in Iraq. He also spoke at the Anti-War Committee’s protest on day 4 of the RNC and even stepped up to help lead the protest on the ground after the majority of our committee was arrested in the police’s attempt to prevent our protest from disrupting McCain’s speech at the Excel Center. In 2008 over 30,000 people from across the country came together to say no to the Republican agenda of war. Unfortunately, the FBI investigated the impressive coalition that we pulled together locally and we are still feeling the affects of that surveillance. The investigation, harassment, grand jury subpoenas and now charges against Carlos all come out of law enforcement’s infiltration into the Anti-War Committee and the Coalition to March on the RNC. In the past 2 weeks our case has been used in the Senate Judiciary Committee, on the cover of the Washington Post, and in the Nation and Progressive magazines to demonstrate that the FBI and the federal government are abusing their power and trampling on the right to dissent in this country. Our movement is getting the attention of politicians and media outlets! Protests like this one are crucial in our battle to protect our movements and our activists!
It is imperative for us to denounce the FBI’s use of COINTELPRO tactics and demand an end to these attacks on activists! Today we join with activists, teachers, and community members from LA and around the country to stand in solidarity with Carlos! Carlos Montes has dedicated his life to struggling for immigrant rights, for education rights, and against war. He has done nothing wrong. This is an attack on him and an attack on the Chicano movement for equality and the immigrant rights movement as a whole. Thank you today for standing up for Carlos, for the 23 subpoenaed activists, and for your own right to protest!
(For more information on Carlos Montes’ case or the 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists who have been subpoenaed go to stopfbi.net.)